5 Movies Like The Zone of Interest (2023)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching The Zone of Interest ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

How do you make a film about the Holocaust feel new? How do you make the terrors feel fresh, like it was just in the news, without sounding redundant or without giving into the sensationalized and emotionally manipulative? For Director Jonathan Glazer, the answer lies in not what you show but what you don’t show. The Zone of Interest is shot from the point of view of Nazi Officer Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), who live a dreamy life right next to the infamous Auschwitz death camp. Glazer frames them plainly and without flourish as they ignore (or, arguably, revel in) the glow of burning bodies, the howls of pain, and the billows of smoke coming from the torture chamber a wall away. It’s a powerful, nauseating contrast that turns the question from “How can they do this?” to “Who among us is committing the same things right now?” Who among us is casting a blind eye to the atrocities and genocide being committed at this very moment to our neighbors? The film, which is also a technical feat in terms of the way it’s shot (the crew and cameras remained hidden so that the actors were free to roam, as if in a play) is chilling and thought-provoking, and it will unnerve you for days on end.

On the one hand, American Fiction is a razor-sharp satire that pokes fun at the hypocrisy of the literary and entertainment industry. It's only when Monk (Wright), a genius but esoteric writer, decides to pander and give in to what publishers have come to expect from Black authors (that is: trauma porn) that he is finally celebrated for his work. But on the other hand, the film is also a tender family drama. Monk sells out, as it were, partly because he’s fascinated by the stupidity of decision-makers and supposed intellectuals, but mostly because he needs to pay for his ailing mother’s care. His relationship with his siblings and deceased father likewise informs much of his character, and they complicate what could’ve been just an intellectual approach to a social issue. This is an educational and entertaining film, yes, one that looks at the complex intersection between identity, craft, and profit. But it’s also an empathetic film, told with a big heart and a surprisingly light touch.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adam Brody, Alexander Pobutsky, Bates Wilder, Celeste Oliva, David De Beck, Dustin Tucker, Erika Alexander, Greta Quispe, Issa Rae, J. C. MacKenzie, Jeffrey Wright, Jenn Harris, John Ales, John Ortiz, Kate Avallone, Keith David, Leslie Uggams, Michael Cyril Creighton, Michael Jibrin, Michael Malvesti, Miriam Shor, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Neal Lerner, Okieriete Onaodowan, Patrick Fischler, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Skyler Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross

Director: Cord Jefferson

Rating: R

The colloquial phrase "May-December" refers to romantic partners with a large age gap, but leave it to Todd Haynes to craft a poetic and unsettling world out of this (slightly troubling) banality of life. His new film is loosely based on the real case of Mary Kay Letourneau, who in 1997 was convicted as a sex offender after being caught having a relationship with a minor, a student of hers, 12 years old (22 years her junior). May December begins twenty years after the tabloid scandal surrounding the marriage of Joe and Gracie has died down. Elizabeth, an actress, is conducting research in preparation to play Gracie in a film production, but she doesn't know what to expect. Alongside her, we are welcomed into the family home, meet their teenage children, sit through their family dinners, marvelling at the levity and nonchalant atmosphere in the air. Something is missing, or at least that's what Elizabeth suspects. A psychological drama-thriller-black comedy, May December is impossible to pin down. A profound film on human confusion, identities, and past traumas, it unites two of the best Hollywood stars, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, in a delightfully eerie play of doubling and revelations.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Allie McCulloch, Andrea Frankle, Charles Green, Charles Melton, Chris Tenzis, Cory Michael Smith, D.W. Moffett, Drew Scheid, Elizabeth Yu, Gabriel Chung, Hailey Wist, Hans Obma, Joan Reilly, Jocelyn Shelfo, Julianne Moore, Julie Ivey, Kelvin Han Yee, Lawrence Arancio, Natalie Portman, Piper Curda, Zachary Branch

Director: Todd Haynes

Rating: R

After you get back home, and you tuck your kids to bed, we search for some easy entertainment in the late-night talk show. Quips about today’s news and intimate conversations with guests are just the thing to wind down, but theoretically, anything can happen at late night. Late Night with the Devil plays as a pseudo-documentary centered on late show host Jack Delroy on a Halloween night, pairing the charged, uncensored atmosphere with a supernatural twist. The film alternates between the color-toned show and black-and-white behind the scenes, and as Delroy tries to lead the show to safe entertainment, with David Dastmalchian’s genial aura, things don’t go as planned as Lily becomes host to a scary demon with Ingrid Torelli’s terrifying physicality. It’s creepy and slightly comedic, with the classic selling of the soul for fame interrupted with words from their sponsors, and it’s certainly a fun twist to the late night we’re used to seeing.

Genre: Horror

Actor: Adam Batt, Christopher Kirby, Clare Chihambakwe, David Dastmalchian, Elise Jansen, Fayssal Bazzi, Gaby Seow, Georgina Haig, Ian Bliss, Ingrid Torelli, John O'May, Josh Quong Tart, Laura Gordon, Michael Ironside, Miles Brown, Nicole Chapman, Paula Arundell, Rhys Auteri, Rik Brown, Steve Mouzakis, Tamala Shelton

Director: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Rating: R

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

As far as LGBTQIA+ stories go, 20,000 Species of Bees isn't the best at talking about its themes of identity and acceptance in a way that doesn't come off as clunky. But even with its on-the-nose dialogue and inconsequential subplots, director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren gives everything the warmth and the softness it needs to feel sincere despite everything. And no matter what, the film is always drawn back to the lead performance by Sofía Otero, who provides such a vivid image of this young trans girl's interior life that the world around her character begins to feel either more suffocating or more beautiful to behold.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ane Gabarain, Itziar Lazkano, Martxelo Rubio, Miguel Garcés, Patricia López Arnaiz, Sara Cózar, Sofía Otero

Director: Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren