8 Movies Like Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Staff & contributors

Putting the inherent eeriness of stop motion animation to perfect use, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's Anomalisa create a legitimately disturbing experience of a man's paranoid delusions, as he tries desperately to make a real human connection while perceiving everyone around him as the same person. It's that (unfortunately) rare animated film that understands that this medium can tell complex, even terrifying, stories for grown-ups while respecting their intelligence. And it's still gorgeously put together, with seamless movements from the character puppets and evocative lighting and cinematography that puts the film firmly in the uncanny valley. It's a tougher watch than it looks, but the depth of feeling it captures is nothing short of totally human.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan

Director: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson

Rating: R

A film written by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, about screenwriter Charlie Kaufman as he struggles to adapt a book about poaching a rare plant into a successful movie. Through Kaufman's clever writing and Spike Jones' unique style of directing, the film unfolds using "mise en abîme" as the viewer sees the lessons the writer in film comes across to improve his script more or less subtly influence the events he encounters as the narrative advances. Nicolas Cage's performance is also particularly good as a highly intelligent and self-obsessed screen writer with low self-esteem.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Actor: Bob Stephenson, Bob Yerkes, Brian Cox, Cara Seymour, Caron Colvett, Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, Curt Clendenin, Curtis Hanson, David O. Russell, Donald Dowd, Doug Jones, Gary Farmer, Gregory Itzin, Jay Tavare, Jim Beaver, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Judy Greer, Larry Krask, Lisa Love, Litefoot, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Nancy Lenehan, Nicolas Cage, Peter Jason, Roger E. Fanter, Roger Willie, Ron Livingston, Sandra Lee Gimpel, Stephen Tobolowsky, Tilda Swinton

Director: Spike Jonze

Rating: R

, 2009

An award-winning American independent Fantasy, Ink has become a sleeper hit worldwide. The film portrays a struggle between the forces of good and evil over the soul of a man and a little girl caught in between. The film's deliriously realized dream sequences make clear that no matter what life throws at you, in the end the path you take is yours to choose, leaving the viewer with the simple message that, yes, there is hope.

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Actor: Christopher Soren Kelly, Eme Ikwuakor, Heath C. Heine, Jason Coviello, Jennifer Batter, Jeremy Make, Jessica Duffy, Marty Lindsey, Quinn Hunchar, Shelby Malone

Director: Jamin Winans

Rating: Unrated

, 2014

A really weird and also heartwarming movie about Frank, the leader and singer/songwriter of a crazy band. He really grows on you with his big head. If you like movies with that funky edge (like Scott Pilgrim) this is especially something for you! Either way and regardless of your preferences, you'll find Frank to be a sweet, sincere, likable and clever comedy.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery

Actor: Abe Martell, Alex Knight, Bruce McIntosh, Carla Azar, Chris McHallem, Domhnall Gleeson, François Civil, François Civil, Hayley Derryberry, Jordyn Aurora Aquino, Katie Anne Mitchell, Kevin Wiggins, Lauren Poole, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mark Huberman, Matthew Page, Michael Fassbender, Michael James Ford, Moira Brooker, Morse Bicknell, Paul Butterworth, Phil Kingston, Scoot McNairy, Tess Harper, Travis Hammer

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Rating: R

Ever wondered how much your life will change when faced with the reality that death is about to come? That’s normal, and not nearly as life-altering as being told you only have a few more moments to live. Because of a terminal illness, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is driven to this situation and tries to right his wrongs in the wake of modern Barcelona. This melodrama is supercharged by Bardem’s unearthly performance as the story’s only hero, demonstrating the selfless love of a destroyed and dying father to his children – paired with cinematography unlike any other, this film is exceptionally beautiful. Directed by González Iñárritu' (Babel, Birdman, The Revenant).

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adelfa Calvo, Ailie Ye, Alain Hernández, Ana Wagener, Annabel Totusaus, Cheikh Ndiaye, Cheng Taishen, Diaryatou Daff, Dunia Montenegro, Eduard Fernandez, Félix Cubero, George Chibuikwem Chukwuma, Guillermo Estrella, Hanaa Bouchaib, Isaac Alcayde, Javier Bardem, Jin Luo, Karra Elejalde, Luo Jin, Manolo Solo, Maricel Álvarez, Nasser Saleh, Rubén Ochandiano, Sophie Evans, Taisheng Chen, Tomás del Estal, Violeta Pérez

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Alejandro González Iñárritu

Rating: R

Best friends Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) have had enough of living; desperate and depressed, they make an agreement to kill each other. On the last day of their lives, they set out on an unlikely journey tying up loose ends and meeting up with the people who've impacted them the most. 

Depicting suicide onscreen is already a scary gamble in itself, but to try to add some good-willed humor to it is an impossible task. Still, director and star Jerrod Carmichael pulls it off, thanks in large part to his empathetic know-how of the subject matter. Carmichael explores the nuances of his topic with impressive deft, touching on oft-overlooked factors such as mental health, class, and abuse in plain and realistic terms. What he captures most effectively is the anger that comes with this strong and sometimes irrepressible urge. Abbot is explosive and Carmichael is subtle; both turn in rich performances and, together, concoct a delicate two-hander oozing with chemistry, empathy, and thrill. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Allison Busner, Christopher Abbott, Clyde Whitham, Craig Arnold, Gryffin Hanvelt, Henry Winkler, J.B. Smoove, Jared Abrahamson, Jerrod Carmichael, Jordan Blais, Lavell Crawford, Ryan McDonald, Sydney Van Delft, Tiffany Haddish

Director: Jerrod Carmichael

Rating: R

Nostalgia for the Light is a documentary about Atacama desert and the two activities that go on there: astronomers in ALMA space observatory examine the sky, and the relatives of murdered people dig the ground hoping to find their loved ones. The way the director compares these seemingly totally different topics (searching the sky and searching the sand) is pure poetry. It's a serious, but not depressing nor boring movie. All the interviewed people are amazingly relevant and have great insight. They made me feel like I want to get to know them personally. If you're looking for a detailed "for dummies" introduction about Chile, ALMA observatory or Pinochet's concentration camps, this movie is not for you. It's for viewers who want to learn to appreciate the beauty of life and history, and the surprising parallels they sometimes offer us.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Gaspar Galaz, Lautaro Núñez, Luís Henríquez

Director: Patricio Guzmán

City Island is a lighthearted comedy/drama about the Rizzo family, residents of the titular fishing community in The Bronx, New York. Andy Garcia plays the patriarch of the family who works as a corrections officer, and who decides one day to bring home a young ex-con named Tony under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Tony soon becomes entwined in the dysfunctional household as he develops varying relationships with each family member, even as each of them lives their own secret life apart from the rest. This secrecy drives much of the plot, as their personal mysteries play out in an unexpected and often amusing ways. It’s a lively slice-of-life full of boisterous characters, comedic misunderstandings and ultimately a warm embrace of family unity.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alan Arkin, Andy Garcia, Bettina Bresnan, Carrie Baker Reynolds, Chad Hessler, Chazz Menendez, Curtiss Cook, Damian Achilles, Daniel Maldonado, Dominik Garcia, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Emily Mortimer, Ezra Miller, Hallie Cooper-Novack, Hope Glendon-Ross, Ivy Jones, Jee Young Han, Julianna Margulies, Louis Mustillo, Louise Stratten, Lynn Collins, Marianne Ebert, Marshall Efron, Matthew Arkin, Mike Burke, Paul Diomede, Paul Marini, Paul Romero, Rick Aiello, Sarah Saltzberg, Sharon Angela, Steven Strait, Vernon Campbell, Yevgeniy Dekhtyar

Director: Raymond De Felitta

Rating: PG-13