3 Movies Like Good Grief (2023)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Good Grief ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

The messy, non-linear process of grieving is always tough to capture meaningfully on screen—and there are definitely parts of Good Grief that trail off without much feeling or go on for too long without making new points. But the good still outweighs the bad in Dan Levy's directorial debut, with the inherent impracticality of death taking center stage. At a certain age when one has too much going on in life, grief can become just another responsibility that needs to be managed, that often clashes with the priorities of one's friends. The film just falls short of making truly astute insights into loss or crafting complete characters, but it's reassuring all the same in how ordinarily it views something so tragic.

The agonizing tug of war between dogma and desire is sharply illustrated in writer-director Laurel Parmet’s feature debut, set inside the claustrophobic confines of a conservative Christian community in Kentucky. Seventeen-year-old Jem (Eliza Scanlen) is at the age her elders believe is the right time to start thinking about a lifelong partner — a choice they’ve pretty much already made for her by setting her up with the pastor’s youngest son. But it's his brooding older brother, married youth leader Owen (Lewis Pullman), who catches Jem’s eye.

The attraction is returned — but, while The Starling Girl does subtly indicate the toxicity of their relationship, it never lets this point eclipse either the more interesting coming-of-age story at its heart or its keen exploration of the wholesale damage that the cult-like church has done to all of its congregants (including Owen). While some of those threads threaten to distract the film’s focus away from its greatest strengths at times, the anguish of that central tussle between Jem's burgeoning sexuality and her otherwise rigidly controlled existence is brought to aching life by sensitive writing and direction and a brilliantly complex lead performance — qualities that ultimately win out to let The Starling Girl fly.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Austin Abrams, Claire Elizabeth Green, Eliza Scanlen, Jessamine Burgum, Jimmi Simpson, K.J. Baker, Kieran Sitawi, Kyle Secor, Lewis Pullman, Wrenn Schmidt

Director: Laurel Parmet

It’s kind of amazing how Johnson, who writes, directs, and stars in this feature, narrowly escapes narrative holes by being so darn self-effacing and likable. The female lead Maddy (Anna Kendrick) should be denounced as a Manic Pixie Girl, but because of Johnson and Kendrick’s overflowing charm, you don’t question the flimsiness of her character until much later on. The game itself should not make sense, but because Johnson is so committed in his physical performance, and so arresting in his charisma, all is forgiven. Self Reliance is like a tasty souffle that looks great at the moment, but left for longer, poofs and deflates. As long as you don't take it too seriously, the film should be a fun if forgettable ride.

Genre: Comedy, Thriller

Actor: Andy Samberg, Anna Kendrick, Biff Wiff, Bjorn Johnson, Boban Marjanović, Christopher Lloyd, Daryl J. Johnson, Eduardo Franco, Ely Henry, Emily Hampshire, Eric Edelstein, GaTa, Gloria Sandoval, Ilia Volok, Jake Johnson, Jeff Kober, John Hans Tester, John Ponzio, Karen Maruyama, Mary Holland, Miriam Flynn, Nancy Lenehan, Natalie Morales, Sky Elobar, Steven Littles, Theo Wilson, Wayne Brady

Director: Jake Johnson

Rating: R

True crime stories set in the world of crypto are still relatively unexplored and therefore have a real contemporary edge to them; they feel more relatable because these criminals share the same online spaces we do. Bitconned taps into this with a more casual, carefree energy, but it also brings up the same concerns—namely: how helpful is it, really, to give this much attention to a con artist currently running free? The film spends most of its time explaining how its main characters built their scam then failed spectacularly at covering their tracks, but after a while even the entertainment of others' mistakes needs to be supported by more thorough analysis, which this documentary doesn't provide.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Damian Williams, Ray Trapani, Robert Farkas, Sam Bankman-Fried, Sohrab Sharma

Director: Bryan Storkel

Rating: R