5 Movies Like Josee the Tiger and the Fish (2020)

Staff & contributors

, 2022

Part fantasy, part road trip, and part coming-of-age, Suzume is a rich and fast-paced tale with no dull moments in between. The energy is relentless and the animation, as expected, is dazzling, so even though there are occasional plot holes and melodramatic reaches, you’d be hard-pressed not to forgive them. Suzume still wins you over. Of course, the fantastical aspects are what make Shinkai’s films his, but Suzume works best when it zeroes in on humans and their complicated feelings toward each other. The confrontation between Suzume and her aunt, where Suzume accuses her of suffocation and the aunt, in turn, laments the life she could’ve had if she wasn’t charged with caring for her dead sister’s daughter, is just as shattering as any scene involving slaying monsters or battling gods. I only wish there were more tender moments like this, but Suzume is just as endearing and entrancing all the same.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Fantasy

Actor: Aimi, Akihiro Tajima, Arisa Maesako, Ayumi Tsuji, Eri Fukatsu, Genta Nakamura, Hinano Harumi, Hokuto Matsumura, Kaito Ogawa, Kana Hanazawa, Katsumi Fukuhara, Kotone Hanase, Kyo Yaoya, Matsumoto Hakuō II, Nanoka Hara, Ryoko Nagata, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Sairi Ito, Saori Seto, Shinjirou Gouda, Shota Sometani, Takuya Yokota, Tomomichi Nishimura, Yoji Ueda, Yoshino Aoyama, Yuki Sorami, Yuri Kimura, Yuu Ayase

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Rating: PG

The humor, oh the humor! It's a breath of fresh air to be laughing with a Woody Allen film and not at it. He is so good at capturing the cheekiness in meet-cutes, secrecies, and lies, all powdered with exaggerated Frenchness. Forgive my surprised tone, but Coup de Chance surpasses all expectations in the way it turns a rather banal plot into an entertaining game of cat and mouse, without overstepping the boundaries of good taste. In developing a story about female infidelity (or all infidelity, for that matter), one can be overly moralistic just to squeeze out laughs and empathy from the viewer, but Allen refrains from all those cheap tricks. His script is tight and at times ridiculously funny. Whether or not you get behind Fanny and her convoluted ways of seeking happiness, Coup de Chance will offer you plenty of instances to better understand the character in a constellation of other people, who are equally affected by her decisions. In a way, the film is a comedy of ethics as well — something the American director hasn't successfully done in a long, long while.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Anne Loiret, Arnaud Viard, Benoît Forgeard, Bruno Gouery, Christophe Kourotchkine, Constance Dollé, Elsa Zylberstein, Éric Frey, Grégory Gadebois, Guillaume de Tonquédec, Isabelle De Hertogh, Jamel Elgharbi, Jeanne Bournaud, Juliette Plumecocq-Mech, Lou de Laâge, Melvil Poupaud, Naidra Ayadi, Niels Schneider, Philippe Uchan, Sâm Mirhosseini, Samantha Fuller, Sara Martins, Valérie Lemercier, William Nadylam

Director: Woody Allen

, 2021

This Japanese animated film employs a gorgeous blend of CGI and traditional animation—as well as intricately orchestrated original songs—to present a plausible simulation of virtual reality where people are truly free to do anything. Belle might not be as careful with its characters and the difficult situations they're put into "off-screen," but this is still ultimately an optimistic movie. Director Mamoru Hosoda suggests that uniting ordinary people through the internet won't actually lead to chaos. Instead, it'll help each of us become more empathetic of people around the world. And while that means Belle is still a sci-fi fantasy story more than anything, the film's wondrous images and music make it feel good to dream.

Genre: Animation, Drama, Family, Music, Science Fiction

Actor: Asami Miura, Fuyumi Sakamoto, Kaho Nakamura, Ken Ishiguro, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kōji Yakusho, Lilas Ikuta, Mami Koyama, Mamoru Miyano, Michiko Shimizu, Mitsuru Miyamoto, Ryo Narita, Ryoko Moriyama, Shota Sometani, Sumi Shimamoto, Taichi Masu, Takeru Satoh, Tina Tamashiro, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yoshimi Iwasaki

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Based on the 13-episode series of the same name, Violet Evergarden tells the story of Violet, a scribe commissioned to write letters at a time when telephones and computers had yet to exist. Shell-shocked from her time in the war, Violet is exceptionally stoic, except when she remembers Gilbert, her military superior and sometime lover. His parting words were "I love you," and through her letters, Violet has been examining the meaning of the phrase since then. 

Fans of the series will have no trouble following the events of the film, but if you're going in cold without any prior exposure to the franchise, it might take a while for you to adjust to its world. More an amalgamation of multiple cultures than a reflection of just one, the imaginary Leidenschaftlich is filled with Japanese-speaking citizens, in modern-day-influenced clothes, with architecture and vistas that could fit right in 1800s Western Europe. Against this backdrop, Violet attempts to restart her life as a writer. Living often doesn't feel easy, especially when PTSD comes in the form of shocks and painful flashbacks, but loving, as she finds out, might be even harder. A tale of self-forgiveness and forging on, despite all odds, Violet Evergarden is a moving ode to life and love at a time of war. 

Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Actor: Aya Endo, Aya Saito, Ayako Kawasumi, Daichi Endo, Daisuke Namikawa, Emi Shinohara, Haruka Tomatsu, Hidenobu Kiuchi, Hisako Kyoda, Jouji Nakata, Kanako Sakuragi, Kaori Mizuhashi, Koki Uchiyama, Kozue Harashima, Mayuno Yasokawa, Megumi Matsumoto, Minori Chihara, Mitsuru Miyamoto, Mugihito, Rie Hikisaka, Rina Sato, Rina Satou, Sumire Morohoshi, Takehito Koyasu, Yasuhiro Mamiya, Yui Ishikawa, Yuuki Sanpei

Director: Taichi Ishidate

With a great cast, a relevant story, and a stirring romance, The Boxer is all set to be a great film, but the resulting feature feels like a letdown. Irish director Jim Sheridan has teamed up with English actor Daniel Day Lewis for a feature depicting the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and for the most part, it’s decently made, but the film struggles to balance the romance and the politics of its story, with Day Lewis’ boxing lagging behind. There are plenty of interesting threads here– the right to self-determination, on both the individual and national level, the loss of youth, and the way war makes cities turn on themselves– which are all emotionally carried by the performances, but the structure fails to organize these ideas into a daring and cohesive statement. The Boxer isn’t a terrible watch, but it just feels like it could have delved more deeply into the conflict, or better yet, could have been at least two separate movies.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Brian Cox, Brian Milligan, Britta Smith, Ciarán Fitzgerald, Daniel Day-Lewis, David Hayman, Des Braiden, Don Foley, Eleanor Methven, Emily Watson, Frances Tomelty, Gerard McSorley, Ian McElhinney, Jer O'Leary, Joan Sheehy, John Cowley, John Wall, Ken Stott, Kenneth Cranham, Liam Carney, Lorraine Pilkington, Maria McDermottroe, Mark Mulholland, Mick Tohill, Niall Shanahan, Nye Heron, Paul Ronan, Peter Sheridan, Tom Bell, Tom Maguire, Veronica Duffy, Vinny Murphy

Director: Jim Sheridan

Rating: R