12 Movies Like Minions (2015)

Staff & contributors

Through positively adorable characters and zero dialogue whatsoever, Shaun the Sheep Movie reminds viewers young and old of the sheer artistry that goes into a truly great children's cartoon. Animated by British stop motion godfathers Aardman Animations, the film delivers one excellent visual joke after another, while still telling a coherent story that arrives at surprisingly tender places touching on the importance of community and home. In an animation industry that's constantly trying to innovate, a movie like Shaun the Sheep stands as a reminder that there are certain fundamentals in storytelling that deserve to be preserved and passed down to every new generation. It's the loveliest thing around.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Kids

Actor: Andy Nyman, Emma Tate, John Sparkes, Justin Fletcher, Kate Harbour, Mark Burton, Nick Park, Omid Djalili, Rich Webber, Richard Starzak, Richard Webber, Sean Connolly, Simon Greenall, Stanley Unwin, Tim Hands

Director: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak

Rating: PG

In Motherwell, you either “get locked up or knocked up,” or so says Gemma, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood growing up in an old Scottish steel town. Gemma runs among a tight-knit group of friends, at the center of which is ordinary mischief, routine, and roughhousing. And beneath that lies a certain kind of everyday violence. 

As Gemma enters young motherhood, she reckons with how to reconcile her own aggressions with the protective tenderness she feels toward her newborn. Beautifully and thoughtfully directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin, Scheme Birds never feels invasive. Rather, their documentary lets Gemma speak for herself—and in doing so, illuminates not just her life, but the complicated lives that intersect hers, too. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin

Rating: Not Rated

This animated movie is absolutely wonderful. It’s an Irish production, and the drawings/graphics are so beautiful and different from what you usually see in this genre. This alone, along with the music, would be good reasons to watch this.

But what really makes this worth your time is the story – it’s about a boy dealing with the loss of his mother. He embarks on an adventure into a parallel world of feelings to save his sister.

I found it to be refreshingly original, sometimes quite intense (I cried, but I easily cry), and heartwarming. The details are great. And I love the way the story was interwoven with Irish mythology, making it magical.

Genre: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Brendan Gleeson, Colm ÓSnodaigh, Colm O'Snodaigh, David Rawle, Fionnula Flanagan, Jon Kenny, Kevin Swierszcz, Liam Hourican, Lisa Hannigan, Lucy O'Connell, Pat Shortt, Paul Young, Tomm Moore, Will Collins

Director: Tomm Moore

Rating: PG

A Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demand millions of dollars in ransom and from there on, a psychological drama between the pirates and the ship owner develops, as they negotiate the price for the ship and its crew. A really great thing about this film is the fact that it doesn't get tangled up in the weepy feelings of the families back home - but instead focuses on the shrinking hope of the ship's crew and the psychological consequences of the brutal negotiation, that drives the ship owner to the edge of madness. Inspired by a true story. Brilliantly acted.

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Abdihakin Asgar, Allan Arnby, Amalie Ihle Alstrup, Andre Royo, Carsten Eigil Hedegaard, Clancy Brown, Dar Salim, Gary Skjoldmose Porter, Jacob Lentz, Keith Pearson, Linda Laursen, Michael Christensen, Ole Dupont, Pilou Asbæk, Pilou Asbæk, Roland Møller, Roland Moller, Søren Malling, Søren Malling, Stephen Gevedon

Director: Tobias Lindholm

Rating: R

, 1997

In this powerful exploration of suppressed desires and societal constraints, Fire delves deep into the lives of two women trapped in loveless marriages. Radha's husband has banished all desires from their marriage due to Radha's infertility, while the newlywed Sita knows her husband still sees his lover. As they live their stifling lives being dutiful wives and taking care of their paralyzed matriarch on their own, they begin to find solace in each other—eventually igniting a forbidden romance that challenges what they thought living truly was. The performances by Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi are captivating, as they find renewed passion in each other's arms even as they question how tradition doesn't hold a women's benefit in mind. Fire is a bold and groundbreaking film that provokes reflection on love, freedom, and the courage to defy societal norms.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Alice Poon, Avijit Dutt, Javed Jaffrey, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Laurence Côte, Nandita Das, Ram Gopal Bajaj, Ranjit Chowdhry, Shabana Azmi, Vinay Pathak

Director: Deepa Mehta

There are comfort food movies, and then there are films like Big Night: comfort food movies about comfort food. Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub are brothers running a failing Italian restaurant. Their last chance to save it from foreclosure is to throw a colossal dinner bolstered by a dubious promise of a visit from singer Louis Prima.

The comedy is mellow and pleasant, and Tucci and Shaloub have wonderful chemistry as bickering brothers. Meanwhile, a great supporting cast featuring Isabella Rosellini, Ian Holm, and Allison Janney more than make up for the somewhat predictable script.

 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Allison Janney, Andre Belgrader, Campbell Scott, Caroline Aaron, Christine Tucci, David Wenzel, Dina Spybey-Waters, Gene Canfield, Hélène Cardona, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Jack O'Connell, Karen Shallo, Ken Cheeseman, Larry Block, Liev Schreiber, Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver, Pasquale Cajano, Peter Appel, Peter McRobbie, Robert W. Castle, Seth Jones, Stanley Tucci, Susan Floyd, Tony Shalhoub

Director: Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci

Rating: R

Just like with his mentor and contemporary, Fred Rogers, there are no dark secrets to Ernest Coombs' earnest belief in giving children the space to be gentle and creative. Even with relatively little "drama" throughout the life of the man called Mr. Dressup, it's still profoundly moving to see him put in the work to make the world a kinder place. Director Robert McCallum keeps this documentary exactly as straightforward as it needs to be, moving through Coombs's life with total reverence but plenty of modesty—making sure not to inflate the idea of Mr. Dressup into something Coombs himself would have disagreed with.

In its act of honoring this person with an everyman personality and a trunk full of quaint costumes, the film also serves as a tribute to low budget educational television. Working within a very small studio, with simple puppets and no strict script to follow, Coombs and his friends found any way possible to stick to their original idea of teaching very young kids that being kind and communicating one's feelings clearly were the best things one could achieve. Behind Mr. Dressup's softness is a remarkable work ethic, a deep respect for children, and a commitment to thoughtful, universal values.

Genre: Documentary, Family

Actor: Andrew Phung, Bif Naked, Bruce McCulloch, Catherine Tait, Ed Robertson, Eric McCormack, Ernie Coombs, Fred Penner, Fred Rogers, Graham Greene, Jim Creeggan, Jim Parker, Jonathan Torrens, Judith Lawrence, Kevin Hearn, Lynn Coombs, Michael J. Fox, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Peter Mansbridge, Scott Thompson, Terry McManus, Trina McQueen, Tyler Stewart, Yannick Bisson

Director: Robert McCallum

Consisting almost entirely of a single camera angle and long stretches of either silence or mundane conversation, The Plains makes for a particularly challenging—but incredibly unique—example of slow cinema. While its premise may seem almost too minimalist for its own good, the way the film is set up immediately draws us toward how distant people in the present day can be to each other despite our urbanized society. Stuck in this car with these two characters, one becomes hyperaware of how things are both moving too quickly and too slowly, and how so much of life is made up of the in-between moments. The film's fiction elements eventually break the docudrama illusion a little too bluntly (mainly through some suspiciously structured dialogue), but by then one should be too invested to want to get off.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Andrew Rakowski, Cheri LeCornu, David Easteal, Inga Rakowski

Director: David Easteal

Unlike in many films about old people on the doorstep of death, the titular grandmother in this movie is excited to leave for good. But when her town insists on celebrating her bid to be named the oldest in the world, unresolved conflict among her descendants begins to resurface. Quiet and unabashedly sentimental, Lola Igna offers a uniquely offbeat perspective on death—one that starts from a place of contentment, and only gets more conflicted as more characters reveal how much still has to be said and done. It has all the charm of a low-budget Filipino film, made all the more poignant by Angie Ferro's authentic and deceptively layered performance.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Angie Ferro, Chamyto Aguedan, Joel Saracho, Maria Isabel Lopez, Meryll Soriano, Peewee O'Hara, Royce Cabrera, Soliman Cruz, Yves Flores

Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.

, 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

Frankly, In the Morning of La Petite Mort is not as provocative nor as erotic as implied by the title. Sure, there are sex scenes, with plenty of nude shots. But these scenes come about silently, nearly without dialogue, with a lack of passion in between most of the lovers, a lack of connectedness. It’s no less visceral, though, as it mirrors the same disconnection the characters feel, being at the margins of Taipei. While it’s sometimes muddled with certain subplots, the haunting, strikingly-shot images stirs some compassion, especially with the cast’s performances, but the indirect approach makes the film feel unclear and sometimes unrealistic.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Cres Chuang, Huei-ling Jan, Ivy Yin, Jieh-Wen King, Tzu-Chiang Wang, Yun-Chih Wang, Yûsuke Fukuchi

Director: Yu-Lin Wang

As exciting as it sounds to have a real person transported into a fictional story, An American an Austen really doesn't do much with its protagonist's foreknowledge of the plot, nor is it particularly clear about the rules or consequences of Harriet's situation, if any. This means that much of the film consists of watching Pride and Prejudice play out in a slightly more tongue in cheek fashion, as the main character comments on things without doing too much about them. Similar to Hallmark's other recent Jane Austen-themed movies, however, there is a thoughtful message here about learning to face reality and not idealizing fictional romances—delivered in a pretty competent visual package. It's just a shame that this is buried at the end of a plot that has no stakes to speak of.

Genre: Comedy, Romance, TV Movie

Actor: Bert Seymour, Calypso Cragg, Catherine Hannay, Dominic Andersen, Eliza Bennett, Erica Ford, Grace Hogg-Robinson, J.R. Esposito, Kate Nichols, Nell Barlow, Nicholas Bishop, Olivia Benjamin, Richard Gibson, Robert Portal, Robin Weaver, Sarah Ferguson, Shin-Fei Chen

Director: Clare Niederpruem

Rating: G