Good movies entertain, but great ones do more than just that – they make you think; they wrench your heart; they move your soul.
Cinema, when it amplifies perfection and misery, could be the most beautiful fraud in the world (Jean-Luc Godard,) but at the same time, all of life’s riddles could also be answered in the movies (Steven Martin.)
These are the 5 masterpieces that pulled my heartstrings. Behind each of these emotional roller coasters, there’s a message that we ought to remember: the moment you realize just how fragile life can be and how precious life is, everything else will fades into oblivion.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, the story revolves around the life of an orphaned brother and sister, Seita and Setsuko in Japan during the time of WWII. Although it is an animation, it is a touching war film in disguise. It’s the best, most meaningful and heart-wrenching animation I’ve watched so far. (I shed a few tears.)
An elderly woman named Mi-ja was diagnosed with symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s. As a way to stave off her language loss, Mi-ja takes up a poetry class, which she’s required to submit a self-composed poem by the end of the course. At the same time, Mi-ja has to deal with a crime committed by her 16-year-old grandson, whom she’s been living with after her son divorced the mother. Mi-ja’s forgetfulness further complicates the situation.
This calm yet heartbreaking film has earned the Best Screenplay Award at 2010 Cannes.
Young Daigo lost his steady job as a cellist in the city, and decided to return to his small hometown with his wife to start a new life. With his cello sold, Daigo has no other way to make a living but to find a new job. Through employment ad, he lands a job at what seems to be a travel agency. As it turned out, the company is running an undertaking business, and Daigo ended up becoming a mortician.
Departures is a film that captures both laughter and tears while exploring the serious subject of “death” in the context of Japanese culture. The film received the Best Foreign Language Film award at 81st Academy Award in 2009.
16-year-old obese and illiterate girl, Precious, is pregnant with her second child. She gets kicked out of school because of the pregnancy and she is forced to go to an alternative school. During one of her counselling sessions, Precious reveals to social worker, Ms Weiss, that the child’s father is actually her own father. Weiss confronts Mary, Precious’ abusive and dysfunctional mother, to discover that his husband has been sexually abusing Precious for years since she was 3.
Precious is a heartbreaking film about finding hope in despair, and a tale about how love moves people forward, even the children from the most dysfunctional families. The film received 6 Academy Award nominations, won People’s Choice Award at 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and other numerous awards.
Forest Gump (1994)
Forrest is an intellectually handicapped young man with a pure intention and a kind heart. His athletic prowess compensates for his mental weakness, and together with his kind nature, it has led Forrest into doing amazing things. From a football star, a Ping-Ping champion to a marathon legend, the very naïve Forrest has achieved more than what most people could achieve in a lifetime.