6 Movies Like Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Staff & contributors

This is the true story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Black man in Oakland, California, who was shot dead by police in the morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Incidentally, 2009 was also the time when smartphones started going mainstream, and so the incident was not only captured by CCTV but also many private cell phone cameras. The murder went viral.

Grant is superbly played by Michael B. Jordan in what now counts as one of his breakthrough roles, when many only knew him as Wallace in the now-legendary crime drama The Wire. Director Ryan Coogler went on making two more movies with him, including Black Panther in 2018.

Produced by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker and compassionately told, Fruitvale Station surpasses the sadness of its subject matter and amounts to an extraordinary celebration of life. A must-watch.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ahna O'Reilly, Alessandro Garcia, Ariana Neal, Caroline Lesley, Chad Michael Murray, Chris Riedell, Christina Elmore, Denzel Worthington, Destiny Ekwueme, Joey Oglesby, John Burke, Jonez Cain, Keenan Coogler, Kevin Durand, Laurel Moglen, Liisa Cohen, Maleah Nipay-Padilla, Melonie Diaz, Michael B. Jordan, Nicole Maxali, Noah Staggs, Noah Zavala, Octavia Spencer, Robert Ajlouny, Ruben Rivera, Ryan Coogler, Tamera Tomakili, Trestin George, William Armando

Director: Ryan Coogler

Rating: R

Michael Douglas plays Grady Tripp, a craggy, lovable English professor struggling to finish the follow-up to a very successful first novel. It has taken him 7 years, and it's an obvious metaphor for his ridiculous life. The character navigates various tragicomic dilemmas with a stellar supporting cast including Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire, and Katie Holmes. His editor is Robert Downey Jr. and his nemesis is Rip Torn. Bob Dylan wrote the theme song. How do you not love this movie? It's one of those films that feels like a warm, cozy house (despite the fact that it takes place in a Pittsburgh winter), and it's a great blend of humor and drama.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alan Tudyk, Bingo O'Malley, Charis Michelsen, Elisabeth Granli, Frances McDormand, George Grizzard, James Ellroy, James Kisicki, Jane Adams, John W. Iwanonkiw, Katie Holmes, Kelly Bishop, Michael Cavadias, Michael Douglas, Philip Bosco, Richard Knox, Richard Thomas, Rip Torn, Rob McElhenney, Robert Downey Jr., Sean King, Tobey Maguire, Victor Quinaz, Yusuf Gatewood

Director: Curtis Hanson

Rating: R

You don’t have to have seen a single game of tennis to enjoy this mockumentary about the longest match that (n)ever took place in the sport’s history. Andy Samberg plays Aaron Williams, the mullet-sporting adopted brother of Serena and Venus (whose family “reverse Blind-Sided” him) made immortal by his record-smashing, week-long battle with posh, dim-witted English prodigy Charles Poole (Kit Harington) at Wimbledon. Things only get more riotously ridiculous from the premise: the team behind sports spoof Tour de Pharmacy chronicle the winding journeys the rivals took to that climactic seven-day showdown, from forays into the world of innovative underwear design to stints in Swedish jails, by way of a surreal tangent into the storied faux-history of courtroom sketch art. Suffice it to say: the tennis isn’t really the point here.

Real-life figures from the sport (including Serena Williams and John McEnroe) ground the spoof in enough reality to make the zany humor pop, with the comedy coming from a very game Fred Armisen, Michael Sheen, Lena Dunham, Will Forte, and Howie Mandel. With eccentric humor in spades — from the puerile to the surreal — and a lean runtime, 7 Days in Hell packs in as many dizzying jokes as Aaron and Charles do volleys in their absurd history-making rally.

Genre: Comedy, TV Movie

Actor: Andy Samberg, Chris Evert, Chris Romano, David Copperfield, Destiny Soria, Dolph Lundgren, Filip Hammar, Fred Armisen, Howie Mandel, Jim Lampley, John McEnroe, Jon Hamm, June Squibb, Karen Gillan, Kit Harington, Lena Dunham, Ludwig Manukian, Lyssa Roberts, Mary Steenburgen, Michael Sheen, Serena Williams, Soledad O'Brien, Will Forte

Director: Jake Szymanski

, 2011

Realistic, intimate, and compelling, Elena is a movie that makes you think a lot after you finish watching it. It is an inherently Russian movie, however there is something about how the story is told that makes it a universal family drama. A woman from a modest background to which she still has a lot of attachement is married to an old wealthy business man. Upon learning that the man might write her off his will, she feels pushed to get her hands dirty to honor her responsibilities towards her original family. The question of right and wrong when faced with extreme situations is at the heart of this aesthetically slow-burning family drama.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Aleksandr Kazakov, Aleksandr Slastin, Aleksey Maslodudov, Aleksey Rozin, Anastasiya Sapozhnikova, Andrey Smirnov, Anna Gulyarenko, Dmitry Pavlenko, Ekaterina Tarkovskaya, Elena Lyadova, Igor Ogurtsov, Ivan Dobronravov, Ivan Mulin, Larisa Khalafova, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Nadezhda Markina, Oksana Semenova, Olga Lapshina, Vasily Michkov, Vasily Zotov, Yana Lvova, Yaroslav Zhalnin, Yuriy Borisov

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Rating: Not Rated

In Swan Song, acclaimed actor Udo Kier stars as the real-life Pat Pitsenbarger, a local queer legend in the small town of Sandusky. He used to live a private but joyful life, beautifying socialities by day and performing in drag at night. But now the aging icon is resigned to live out his days in a bleak retirement home, where he takes part in feeble acts of rebellion to keep himself amused. This is bound to change when Pat returns to town on an oddly specific request. There, he makes peace with old friends and grabs at the chance to revive his inner beauty queen once more. 

It’s a simple story with a simple premise, but Swan Song is elevated by Krier’s powerful presence and director Todd Stephens’ obvious love for his hometown. Every diss Krier drops as the sassy Pat is to be savored, and every tribute Stephens makes to town life is to be admired. Filled, too, with colorful and euphoric moments that celebrate gay pride, Swan Song makes for quite the lovable film. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Annie Kitral, Brandon Lim, Bryant Carroll, Dave Sorboro, Eric Eisenbrey, Ira Hawkins, Jennifer Coolidge, Jonah Blechman, Justin Lonesome, Linda Evans, Michael Urie, Richard Strauss, Shanessa Sweeney, Stephanie McVay, Tim Murray, Tom Bloom, Udo Kier

Director: Todd Stephens

Rating: R

Based off the real life experiences of the film's writer, Jack Asser, Starred Up is a gritty crime drama set within a violent offenses prison in the UK. The film's name references a youthful offender who, by virtue of his crimes, is sent to an adult facility. The film hums along like a taut bit of wire, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat as the enormity of the prison subculture is unfolded in front of them.  Unlike many other prison dramas, this film isn't afraid to break cliches and explore new ground, and is populated with disturbingly real character studies, slices of dark and broken humanity.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aisha Bywaters, Amma Boateng, Anthony Adjekum, Anthony Welsh, Ashley Chin, Basil Abdul-Latif, Ben Mendelsohn, C.C. Smiff, David Ajala, David Avery, Duncan Airlie James, Edna Caskey, Frederick Schmidt, Gershwyn Eustache Jnr, Gilly Gilchrist, Ian Beattie, Jack O'Connell, Jack O'Connell, James Doran, Jonathan Asser, Mark Asante, Paddy Rocks, Peter Ferdinando, Raphael Sowole, Rupert Friend, Ryan McKenna, Sam Spruell, Sian Breckin, Tommy McDonnell

Director: David Mackenzie

Rating: Not Rated