Transformational Movies

by kermit-8-671970 | created - 18 May 2013 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

Great movies with transformational, thought-provoking themes of love, belonging, fulfillment and the nature of being human. (In order, by my preference.)

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1. The Fountain (2006)

PG-13 | 96 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

51 Metascore

As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ellen Burstyn

Votes: 217,522 | Gross: $10.14M

The Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine meet in 3 parallel time zones: past, present and future. What is more important, doing or being? What happens when the power to create overshadows the power of presence, belonging and surrender? Is death a disease? Aronofsky at his best.

2. As It Is in Heaven (2004)

Not Rated | 133 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

A successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his career and returns alone to his childhood village in Norrland, in the far north of Sweden. It doesn't take long before he is ... See full summary »

Director: Kay Pollak | Stars: Michael Nyqvist, Frida Hallgren, Helen Sjöholm, Lennart Jähkel

Votes: 15,363 | Gross: $0.01M

Finding your voice as part of the whole. The whole honoring each voice. How harmony (aka "Deep Democracy") works. (in Swedish, with English subtitles.)

3. Departures (2008)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Music

68 Metascore

A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals.

Director: Yôjirô Takita | Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Ryôko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki

Votes: 45,216 | Gross: $1.50M

Creating beauty of our lives is a choice.

4. Mary and Max (2009)

Not Rated | 92 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York.

Director: Adam Elliot | Stars: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries

Votes: 152,362

A poignant, and sometimes hard-hitting, exploration of the unlikely love between two pen pals -- an 8 yr. old Australian Girl and a middle-aged New York Jew with Asperger's Syndrome. Told in charming claymation.

5. Ruby Sparks (2012)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

67 Metascore

A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris | Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas

Votes: 91,478 | Gross: $2.54M

The power and limitation of our ability to create through imagination.

6. The Hedgehog (2009)

Unrated | 100 min | Drama

64 Metascore

Paloma is a serious and highly articulate but deeply bored 11-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday. Fascinated by art and philosophy, she questions and documents ... See full summary »

Director: Mona Achache | Stars: Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic, Togo Igawa, Anne Brochet

Votes: 7,977

The Feminine Wound. Can we learn to let life in, even when it seems pointless?

7. Her (2013)

R | 126 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara

Votes: 473,889 | Gross: $25.57M

What capacities enable (romantic) intimacy? Can we learn them? Why do human beings have such a hard time maintaining intimate relationships? Could computers do a better job, with a few, simple rules, such as: stay positive, always show you care, be vulnerable, pay attention to how as well as what your partner is saying, ...?

8. After the Wedding (2006)

R | 120 min | Drama

78 Metascore

A manager of an orphanage in India is sent to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he discovers a life-altering family secret.

Director: Susanne Bier | Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rolf Lassgård, Neeral Mulchandani

Votes: 29,687 | Gross: $0.41M

A stunning exploration of priorities in love and work.

9. Ink (I) (2009)

Not Rated | 107 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

A mysterious creature, known as Ink, steals a child's soul in hopes of using it as a bargaining chip to join the Incubi - the group of supernatural beings responsible for creating nightmares.

Director: Jamin Winans | Stars: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jennifer Batter

Votes: 20,415

"They're all reactions! One thing begets the next. ... Something's gotta stop the flow." The battle for a man's soul. Not for the faint of heart.

10. Phoebe in Wonderland (2008)

PG-13 | 96 min | Drama

56 Metascore

Confounded by her clashes with the seemingly rule-obsessed world, a troubled young girl seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher.

Director: Daniel Barnz | Stars: Elle Fanning, Patricia Clarkson, Felicity Huffman, Bill Pullman

Votes: 7,257 | Gross: $0.07M

An unusual girl gets help from her shamanic drama teacher empowering that unique inner voice we are all born with, amidst all the forces of fear and conditioning which try to stamp it out.

11. Adam (I) (2009)

PG-13 | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

56 Metascore

Adam, a lonely man with Asperger's Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth.

Director: Max Mayer | Stars: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving

Votes: 32,642 | Gross: $2.28M

What are the limits of love? How important is the ability to empathize? When do we adapt to accommodate our partner, and how do we make that difficult decision of whether to stay or go? Asperger's Syndrome used as a beautiful foil for emotional literacy.

12. V for Vendetta (2005)

R | 132 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

62 Metascore

In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of "V", plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.

Director: James McTeigue | Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves, Stephen Rea

Votes: 960,380 | Gross: $70.51M

The corrupting power of dominance. The healing power of vulnerability.

13. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

70 Metascore

A delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.

Director: Craig Gillespie | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, R.D. Reid

Votes: 132,078 | Gross: $5.97M

The healing power of imagination, acceptance, love and community.

14. The Matrix (1999)

R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 1,528,986 | Gross: $171.48M

To take the blue pill or the red ... no one can choose for us.

15. Finding Neverland (2004)

PG | 106 min | Biography, Drama, Family

67 Metascore

The story of Sir J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

Director: Marc Forster | Stars: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell

Votes: 191,641 | Gross: $51.68M

How does creation empower relationship, and relationship empower creation?

16. The Fall (2006)

R | 117 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

64 Metascore

In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastic story of five mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality blurs as the tale advances.

Director: Tarsem Singh | Stars: Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell, Kim Uylenbroek

Votes: 102,276 | Gross: $2.28M

The power of storytelling. The world of imagination, seen through the eyes of a little girl. There is a part of you that always chooses life. Where is she?

17. Equus (1977)

R | 137 min | Drama, Mystery

A psychiatrist attempts to uncover a troubled stable boy's disturbing obsession with horses.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Richard Burton, Peter Firth, Colin Blakely, Joan Plowright

Votes: 6,983

Who is the crazy one ... and why? Who is more alive? Is there a way out of the traps that individuals, and cultures, set for ourselves? Is the concept of "sanity" just an excuse for indoctrination into sometimes-impotent societal norms? Who heals the healer?

18. I Am (III) (2010)

Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary

38 Metascore

Director Tom Shadyac speaks with intellectual and spiritual leaders about what's wrong with our world and how we can improve both it and the way we live in it.

Director: Tom Shadyac | Stars: Tom Shadyac, Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Ray Anderson

Votes: 3,318 | Gross: $1.57M

We are all connected -- seriously! "We are far grander than we've been told."

19. The Intouchables (2011)

R | 112 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

57 Metascore

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver.

Directors: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano | Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot

Votes: 686,434 | Gross: $13.18M

Two men find wholeness -- each providing the piece the other was missing. (French, with English subtitles)

20. The Fisher King (1991)

R | 137 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

61 Metascore

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Adam Bryant, Paul Lombardi

Votes: 74,150 | Gross: $41.90M

The Masculine Wound. Narcissism on a collision course with itself. Finding the holy grail of life.

21. The Horse Boy (2009)

Unrated | 93 min | Documentary

64 Metascore

A writer documents the journey his family takes to Mongolia to consult with nomadic shamans on the healing of their autistic son.

Director: Michel Orion Scott | Stars: Rupert Isaacson, Kristin Neff, Rowan Isaacson, Kendal Stewart

Votes: 647 | Gross: $0.16M

Love, faith, healing.

22. The Descendants (2011)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

84 Metascore

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause

Votes: 224,481 | Gross: $82.58M

Turning back to love, at all the right places. Life brings us to the brink, our hearts bring us back.

23. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 546,579 | Gross: $70.91M

The universe will patiently serve up the same lessons over and over, as long as it takes -- until we get it.

24. A Monster Calls (2016)

PG-13 | 108 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

76 Metascore

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's terminal illness.

Director: J.A. Bayona | Stars: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell

Votes: 71,827 | Gross: $3.73M

A boy invokes a monster to help him deal with the overwhelming job of being a boy.

25. Life as a House (2001)

R | 125 min | Drama

45 Metascore

When a man is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he takes custody of his misanthropic teenage son, for whom quality time means getting high, engaging in small-time prostitution, and avoiding his father.

Director: Irwin Winkler | Stars: Hayden Christensen, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jena Malone

Votes: 41,814 | Gross: $15.65M

A touching exploration of love, family, home, and legacy

26. Bo Burnham: what. (2013 TV Special)

TV-MA | 60 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

A musical stand-up comedy show by Bo Burnham, the famous internet musician.

Directors: Bo Burnham, Christopher Storer | Star: Bo Burnham

Votes: 5,800

How not to repeat things. Powerfully meta and introspective observations of the way we, wrapped in humor and raw talent. Available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejc5zic4q2A

27. Fight Club (1999)

R | 139 min | Drama

66 Metascore

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Votes: 1,698,868 | Gross: $37.03M

Are you alive? Are you sure?

28. Shall We Dance? (1996)

PG | 136 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

68 Metascore

A successful but unhappy Japanese accountant finds the missing passion in his life when he begins to secretly take ballroom dance lessons.

Director: Masayuki Suo | Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka, Eri Watanabe

Votes: 10,057 | Gross: $9.68M

What makes life worth living? What drives us to excel? How do we allow others to help us find what we need? (Watch the original version, in Japanese, not the Hollywood remake.)

29. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

PG-13 | 112 min | Biography, Drama

92 Metascore

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.

Director: Julian Schnabel | Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny

Votes: 98,959 | Gross: $5.99M

What is possible in the realm of the mind? A sumptuous exploration of how alive one can (or can't) be without the use of the body.

30. The Ramen Girl (2008)

PG-13 | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

An American woman is stranded in Tokyo after breaking up with her boyfriend. Searching for direction in life, she trains to be a râmen chef under a tyrannical Japanese master.

Director: Robert Allan Ackerman | Stars: Brittany Murphy, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tammy Blanchard, Soji Arai

Votes: 8,533

Zen and the art of growing up.

31. The King's Speech (2010)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama, History

88 Metascore

The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

Director: Tom Hooper | Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi

Votes: 598,165 | Gross: $138.80M

Finding your voice.

32. District 9 (2009)

R | 112 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

81 Metascore

An extraterrestrial race, forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth, suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.

Director: Neill Blomkamp | Stars: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt

Votes: 608,373 | Gross: $115.65M

A potent exploration of racism.

33. Mr. Nobody (2009)

R | 141 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

63 Metascore

A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn't choose, anything is possible.

Director: Jaco Van Dormael | Stars: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham

Votes: 199,409 | Gross: $0.00M

A brilliant commentary on the role of choice and time in life. Having to choose between his mother and father when he is 9 proves to be too much for the title character, so, he resolves never to choose, shattering time in the process.

34. The Shape of Water (2017)

R | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones

Votes: 316,372 | Gross: $63.86M

A hard-hitting metaphor for our culture's lack of appreciation and respect for the otherness of the natural world.

35. Inside Out (I) (2015)

PG | 95 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

94 Metascore

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen | Stars: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling

Votes: 545,572 | Gross: $356.46M

Delightful depiction of how our emotional body functions.

36. The Science of Sleep (2006)

R | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

70 Metascore

A man entranced by his dreams and imagination is love-struck with a French woman and feels he can show her his world.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Miou-Miou, Alain Chabat

Votes: 65,924 | Gross: $4.66M

A quirky exploration, rich in metaphor, of how we defend ourselves against the love we yearn for.

37. Rachel Getting Married (2008)

R | 113 min | Drama, Romance

82 Metascore

A young woman who has been in and out of rehab for the past ten years, returns home for the weekend for her sister's wedding.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Debra Winger, Sebastian Stan

Votes: 45,208 | Gross: $12.80M

An uncomfortably accurate portrait of a dysfunctional family in search of love in the midst of personal pain and internecine conflict. (Not a happy film.)

38. Cloud Atlas (2012)

R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

55 Metascore

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 328,371 | Gross: $27.11M

Our lives are not our own. (We are all inextricably interconnected.)

39. The Dance of Reality (2013)

Unrated | 133 min | Biography, Drama, Fantasy

76 Metascore

In a Chilean little town, the son of an uprooted couple, formed by a rigorous communist father and a loving but weak mother, tries to pave his own path in a society that does not understand their Jewish-Ukrainian origins.

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky | Stars: Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremias Herskovits, Alejandro Jodorowsky

Votes: 6,816 | Gross: $0.19M

A sumptuous, dark, and challenging film, condemning our patriarchal inheritance

40. Bliss (1997)

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

A newly married happy couple visits a sex therapist to determine why the wife can't achieve an orgasm with her husband. This causes a horrific suppressed memory to emerge and she becomes more and more distant.

Director: Lance Young | Stars: Craig Sheffer, Terence Stamp, Sheryl Lee, Casey Siemaszko

Votes: 1,933 | Gross: $0.21M

A love story. Transformation through authentic sexuality. Beautiful depiction of societal ills, and basic conscious, energetic antidotes, in this under-exposed aspect of modern culture.

41. Instinct (1999)

R | 126 min | Drama, Thriller

43 Metascore

When noted anthropologist Dr. Ethan Powell (Sir Anthony Hopkins), who left society to live in the jungle is imprisoned for murder, it's up to young psychiatrist Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) to get through to him.

Director: Jon Turteltaub | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney

Votes: 30,378 | Gross: $34.10M

Are you free? Are you a "Taker?"

42. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

89 Metascore

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne

Votes: 833,931 | Gross: $34.40M

Just in case you didn't believe in love, or forgot what makes life worth living. Beautiful film.

43. The Truman Show (1998)

PG | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich

Votes: 848,626 | Gross: $125.62M

You think your illusions are less powerful?

44. Conversations with Other Women (2005)

R | 84 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

62 Metascore

When a man and woman flirt with each other at a wedding reception, the sexual tension seems spontaneous. As they break from the party to a hotel room, the flirtation turns into a night filled with passion and remorse.

Director: Hans Canosa | Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart, Yury Tsykun, Brian Geraghty

Votes: 11,471 | Gross: $0.37M

Explorations in intimacy. Inventive split-screen format, showing both sides of each relationship.

45. The Bear (1988)

PG | 96 min | Adventure, Family, Drama

An orphan bear cub hooks up with an adult male as they try to dodge human hunters.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud | Stars: Tchéky Karyo, Bart the Bear, Youk the Bear, Jack Wallace

Votes: 15,351 | Gross: $31.75M

Sumptuously filmed depiction of mammals living in harmony with their environment. What is the role of love, of the need to survive, deep in our nature? What have we humans forgotten about what it means to belong to our environment?

46. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

PG-13 | 86 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

79 Metascore

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock n roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul | Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey, Mike Theodore

Votes: 59,103 | Gross: $3.97M

Does our culture support and nurture excellence and artistic vision? A great mystery, and well-told, implausibly true story.

47. The Razor's Edge (1946)

Approved | 145 min | Drama, Romance

An adventuresome young man goes off to find himself and loses his socialite fiancée in the process. But when he returns 10 years later, she will stop at nothing to get him back, even though she is already married.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter

Votes: 4,916

Summerset Maugham's classic tale of the seeker and the path to salvation, going against the expectations of society.

48. Mirrormask (2005)

PG | 101 min | Adventure, Fantasy

55 Metascore

In a fantasy world of opposing kingdoms, a fifteen-year-old girl must find the fabled MirrorMask in order t