2 Best Movies to Watch by Mark Jeffrey Miller

Staff & contributors
October Sky doesn’t tread new ground—in fact, you’ll be forgiven for rolling your eyes at a couple of cliches, including the classic “Those are your dreams, dad, not mine!” moments—but it’s so unassuming and well-made that it’s hard not to get drawn in by its many charms. There’s Gyllenhaal’s breakthrough performance for one, and the small town coming together to help each other out for another. Perhaps because the film is based on Homer Hickman’s true story, it also feels more specific and lived in than most period pieces. And it smartly avoids villainizing young Hickam’s adversaries so that they feel more real and nuanced, as opposed to the other far-fetched parts of the film. Sure, the overuse of sweeping music can feel cloying at times, but stellar performances across the board and confident direction overall make it a heartwarming, inspiring winner.

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Andy Stahl, Blaque Fowler, Brady Coleman, Chad Lindberg, Charles Lawlor, Chris Cooper, Chris Ellis, Chris Owen, Courtney Cole-Fendley, David Dwyer, Don Henderson Baker, Doug Swander, Elya Baskin, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Digaetano, John Bennes, Kaili Hollister, Larry Black, Laura Dern, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Mark W. Johnson, Natalie Canerday, Neva Howell, Randy Stripling, Rick Forrester, Scott Thomas, Terrence Gibney, Terry Loughlin, Tommy Smeltzer, William Lee Scott

Director: Joe Johnston

Rating: PG

, 2023

The Syrian refugee crisis is still ongoing, so it can understandably be difficult to create a nuanced and accurate depiction. Jacir is an earnest attempt at this. Keeping it on the more personal side, the film focuses on the journey of one Syrian refugee as he gets to know members of his neighborhood, like his black co-worker Jerome and his opioid-addicted neighbor Meryl. Though occasionally bogged down by clunky dialogue, their struggles genuinely outline the same struggles faced by communities failed by their institutions. It’s only through banding together as a community that Jacir and his friends can survive.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Jonathan Stoddard, Lorraine Bracco, Luke Barnett, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Rosalyn R. Ross

Director: Waheed AlQawasmi