6 Movies Like Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher (2022)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

The Kings of the World is a surreal coming-of-age movie that follows Rá, Culebro, Sere, Winny, and Nano, street kids who are on their way to claim land that’s rightfully theirs. Their one goal is to finally make a home after living without one for so long, but they’re hindered by the inevitable tragedies that befall kids of their kind: impoverished, alone, and abandoned.

The title is ironic, but it also hints at their state of mind: these boys are unstoppable, rabble-rousers who live like there’s no tomorrow. They tear down private property and invade inns not out of spite, necessarily, but out of a knowledge that whatever they do they’re gonna be put down anyway, so they might as well live without rules.

Tackling powerful themes like land restitution and youth neglect, The Kings of the World is one of the most agonizing movies you'll ever see. It’s also Colombia’s official Best Foreign Language Film entry in the 2022 Academy Awards.

Genre: Adventure, Drama

Actor: Brahian Acevedo, Carlos Andrés Castañeda, Cristian Campaña, Cristian David Duque, Davison Florez

Director: Laura Mora

Rating: TV-MA

Remember Bing Bong from Inside Out? This time, there’s a whole world of imaginary friends that don't fade into the recesses of a child’s mind– instead, they transfer to another place, ready to take on the imaginations of children around the world. That’s the basic premise of The Imaginary. Of course, Studio Ponoc’s third film has been at least partially inspired by Studio Ghibli, with some of its staff having their start there, and with the film’s dreamlike portals and strange cats, but the film takes a more straightforward approach to its story and analogies. As Rudger fights against Mr. Bunting, the film examines, well, imagination, but in all its forms– fodder for corporations to feed on, propaganda to calm the masses, but also as the innately human response to grief, as a mature solution to life’s troubles. The Imaginary may not be a stand-out, but we can’t help but applaud Studio Ponoc’s sincerity in celebrating human creativity.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Akira Terao, Atsuko Takahata, Hana Sugisaki, Ikue Otani, Issey Ogata, Kokoro Hirasawa, Kokoro Terada, Mitsuaki Kanuka, Riisa Naka, Rio Suzuki, Sakura Andô, Takayuki Yamada

Director: Yoshiyuki Momose

Rating: PG

, 2022

Irish director Lorcan Finnegan's follow-up to the social dystopia Vivarium, too, centers around the trials and tribulations of a nuclear family. Overwhelmed by work and struck by an inexplicable disease, Christine (played by Eva Green) seems to have forgotten she employed a caretaker for her daughter Bobs. The plot thickens when a Filipino woman named Diana rings the door bell: what kind of mother forgets something like that? What follows is as nightmarish as it sounds, the film's visual potency summoning one's deepest fears and anxieties about reality slipping away. Green and Chai Fonacier (Diana) play an exquisite game of cat and mouse, but even the psychological thrill of that chase is not significant enough to overthrow the dubious racial politics at play. By the end, Nocebo makes an effort to position itself on the right side of history, but the power of its political critique wanes and wanes.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Anthony Falcon, Billie Gadsdon, Cathy Belton, Chai Fonacier, Eva Green, Mark Strong

Director: Lorcan Finnegan

Ambitious and sincere, Where the Tracks End is a sweet coming of age centered on a tender community and mutual aid in the face of worker exploitation. Alternating between the young son of a traveling worker adjusting to a new town and an inspector tasked with informing small schools of an initiative that will force their doors closed, the film loses the chance to be impactful with either. This love letter to teaching and the importance of education is admirable as it holds together the community element of the script. Although the impact goes off-track due to its lack of commitment to one solid narrative, the heart behind it (and the children's innocent will to live a better life) shines through every so often.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Actor: Adriana Barraza, Blanca Guerra, Clementina Guadarrama, Fátima Molina, Gabriela Cartol, Guillermo Villegas, Jero Medina, Leonardo Alonso, Tete Espinoza

Director: Ernesto Contreras

, 2023

Sayen is the kind of film that ultimately feels like it was written by a focus group: ample representation for a worthy cause funneled into the sort of escapism that should theoretically hit the widest demographic possible. But even with its solid production values and a determined performance by Rallen Montenegro, the film lacks the emotional bite that a less corporate-driven project likely would've had. It's not that Sayen comes off insincere about the plight of Indigenous peoples in Chile; it's that its desire to appear sincere stops most of its good ideas halfway. The action isn't particularly thrilling, the story doesn't develop so much as it stretches itself thin, and its supposed representation begins and ends with some terribly obvious—borderline tokenistic—scenes and character types.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Actor: Alejandro Trejo, Álvaro Espinoza, Aron Piper, David Gaete, Eduardo Paxeco, Enrique Arce, Loreto Aravena, Rallén Montenegro, Ramón González, Roberto García Ruiz, Serge Santana, Teresa Ramos

Director: Alexander Witt

At one point in The Whale, Brendan Fraser’s Charlie —  a morbidly obese, reclusive teacher — describes an act of abject cruelty as “not evil” but “honesty.” Darren Aronofsky seems to believe the same about his movie, but alas, he's gravely misled, because The Whale is flooringly glib. From the outset, the film actively and incessantly tries to choreograph audience disgust for Charlie, all so that it can pull off a manipulative “he’s human, actually” swing later on — a “twist” that won’t work if you, you know, already accept people’s humanity irrespective of their appearance. 

Cinematography, makeup, and score all conspire to paint Charlie as grotesque: the camera laboriously over-emphasizes his size and mobility issues, while histrionic music chimes in to frame trivial moments (like Charlie reaching to pick something up from the floor) as grand, tragic dramas. Even if you ignore all its needless cruelty, The Whale — which is adapted from a play — can never shed its stagy origins: the writing frequently reaches for transcendence, but its efforts are as subtle as its evidently retroactively-shoehorned-in-title. If it’s as sincere as it purports to be, this is one of the worst movies of recent years, and if it’s not — which is almost preferable — then it’s a landmark exercise in trolling.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Allison Altman, Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau, Jacey Sink, Sadie Sink, Samantha Morton, Sathya Sridharan, Ty Simpkins

Director: Darren Aronofsky