11 Movies Like Encanto (2021) On Hulu

Staff & contributors

Summer of Soul would already be remarkable if it was just a collection of some of the greatest live performances ever put to film. Boasting a roster that includes Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, and Sly and the Family Stone, the nearly-forgotten 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival featured in the documentary was an all-star catalog of some of the biggest names in popular music, all at pivotal moments in their careers. Seeing them at the height of their powers, in front of a Black audience that meant so much to them, makes for an unexpectedly emotional experience.

But Summer of Soul also expands beyond the actual concert, using the Harlem Cultural Festival to represent a turning point in Black culture and history, especially after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Through the film's pristine, electric editing and gorgeous archival restoration, music becomes a communal act of mourning, a rallying cry to face the uncertain future, and a celebration of a people and a heritage continuing to fight against erasure and persecution.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, History, Music

Actor: Abbey Lincoln, B. B. King, Chris Rock, David Ruffin, Fidel Castro, Herbie Mann, Hugh Masekela, Jesse Jackson, John F. Kennedy, John V. Lindsay, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mahalia Jackson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Mavis Staples, Max Roach, Moms Mabley, Nina Simone, Questlove, Redd Foxx, Richard Nixon, Robert F. Kennedy, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Tony Lawrence, Walter Cronkite

Director: Questlove

It's heartbreaking to realize that Happening, a film set in 1960s France tracking a young woman's journey to dangerously and desperately terminating her pregnancy, is still very much relevant and relatable to this day. Around the world, abortion is still inaccessible, if not completely illegal, and women still struggle to lay full claim to their bodies. A lot of girls grow up with pregnancy statistics meant to instill fear, but Happening brings all that to brilliant life in intimate and unrestrained detail. The fears and wants of our protagonist Anne (played precisely by Anamaria Vartolomei) are palpable throughout. Nothing is held back in this film, and if you find yourself sick in parts, then it has achieved its goal of realistically conveying what it's like to stay alive in a society that fails to recognize your needs. 

 

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alice de Lencquesaing, Anamaria Vartolomei, Anna Mouglalis, Cyril Metzger, Édouard Sulpice, Fabrizio Rongione, Francois Loriquet, Isabelle Mazin, Julien Frison, Kacey Mottet Klein, Leïla Muse, Leonor Oberson, Louise Chevillotte, Louise Orry-Diquéro, Luàna Bajrami, Madeleine Baudot, Pio Marmaï, Sandrine Bonnaire

Director: Audrey Diwan

Rating: R

, 2021

In the first few minutes of Mass, hushed tones, solemn movements, and awkwardly averted eyes hint at an unspoken tragedy that haunts everyone in the film. The four main characters discuss it during a sit-down, but even then it remains unspeakable; such is the dedication of first-time full-length director Fran Kranz in depicting the reality of tragic events. Not much is done in the way of plot twists and shocks, but in place of those, Mass makes clever use of close-up shots and unmoving settings to portray the privacy and paralysis of grief. For this reason, Mass often feels like a masterful play brought to life, but also more than that, a brilliant portrait of healing—or at the very least, coping with the everlasting aftermath of loss. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ann Dowd, Breeda Wool, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Michelle N. Carter, Reed Birney

Director: Fran Kranz

, 2021

When Amin sits down for a tell-all interview about his troubling past, his memories come to life in vivid animation. Sometimes they are sweet and intimate, like when he recounts his time as a playful boy in a much freer Afghanistan. But often, they’re marred by the unbelievable horrors of refugee life. Now a successful academic and soon-to-be husband, Amin discovers the inescapability of his status and identity, the reality of which continues to threaten his safety to this day.

Relevant and vital, Flee sheds some much-needed light on an often-overlooked phenomenon. More than just displaying factoids and numbers, it relays the specific unease and constant vigilance that comes with fleeing one’s home. But as Amin’s story, it is also richly detailed and wonderfully personal; for all its harsh exposés, the film leaves enough room for Amin’s stirring realizations about love, identity, and sexuality.

Genre: Animation, Documentary

Actor: Behrouz Bigdeli, Belal Faiz, Bo Asdal Andersen, Daniel Karimyar, Elaha Faiz, Fardin Mijdzadeh, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, Mikhail Belinson, Milad Eskandari, Rashid Aitouganov, Tormod Ringnes

Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Rating: PG-13

Imagine a fanboy makes a film about his hero—you’d expect something mawkish and fawning, a tribute that praises the icon but sidesteps the flaws. Maybe in less expert hands, that could be the case. But despite being a longtime admirer of writer Kurt Vonnegut, Robert B. Weide’s documentary isn’t any of those things. Sure, it’s lovingly made, but it’s balanced and objective as it sketches a profile of Vonnegut not a lot of us have seen before. It’s also more than just a chronological account of his life; it’s simultaneously a film about this film, which has been in the making for 40 years, ever since Weide first met Vonnegut in 1988 and followed him through his death in 2007. At some point, their lives become tightly intertwined, and it’s impressive to see not just that friendship blossom but to watch it seamlessly fuse into the documentary. When Weide pitches the documentary to Vonnegut, he optimistically promises that it’ll be the definitive guide to his life. He’s right, it’s all that and a bit more.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Edie Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Morley Safer, Robert B. Weide, Sam Waterston

Director: Don Argott, Robert B. Weide

The Last Duel propped high expectations as the Closing Film at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, but its theatrical release later that year proved to be a flop. Ridley Scott blamed it on millennials, but both critics and streaming audiences have been much more favorable than moviegoers. As a film, it's a rather monumental project: quite a dark period piece set in Medieval France, dealing with harsh and offensive themes. Or better said, it deals with ethics and morality through these harsh and offensive themes. There are many ways where this could have gotten wrong—and it's evident from the labels that have been circulating from the very beginning, that Scott has made his "MeToo" movie—but the truth is much more nuanced. From Eric Jager's 2004 book to a script co-written by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and (most importantly) the astute Nicole Holofcener, The Last Duel is really the best of both worlds: action-packed and devoted to the right side of history.

Genre: Action, Drama, History

Actor: Adam Driver, Adam Nagaitis, Alex Lawther, Ben Affleck, Bosco Hogan, Brian F. Mulvey, Brontis Jodorowsky, Bryony Hannah, Caoimhe O'Malley, Chloe Harris, Christian Erickson, Clare Dunne, Clive Russell, Harriet Walter, Ian Pirie, Jodie Comer, John Kavanagh, Julian Firth, Marton Csokas, Matt Damon, Michael McElhatton, Nathaniel Parker, Oliver Cotton, Paul Bandey, Peter Hudson, Sam Hazeldine, Serena Kennedy, Shane Lynch, Simone Collins, Stephen Brennan, Tallulah Haddon, Thomas Silberstein, Tyrone Kearns, William Houston, Zeljko Ivanek, Zoé Bruneau

Director: Ridley Scott

Rating: R

, 2022

Directed by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda, the Korean film Broker is a simple but tender story about chosen family. It follows Moon So-young (IU), a young mother who decides to drop her baby off at a church, seemingly for good. But when So-young decides to return for the child, she discovers that he’s been stolen by two brokers who’ve put the baby up for adoption on the black market. She joins them in the hopes of meeting her child’s prospective new parents (and staking a claim at the payment) but the more they spend time with each other, acting like a real family on the road as they do, the more it becomes real for her, and the more she feels conflicted about the decision she’s about to make.

As with any Hirokazu Koreeda film, Broker is an affecting, empathetic story that succeeds at humanizing its misunderstood cast of characters. Admittedly, it’s not the best Koreeda movie out there, even when the category is narrowed down to stories about found families (the best in that regard would be his 2018 film Shoplifters). And Koreeda fans will find Broker somewhat scrubbed and Disney-fied for a larger crowd, lacking the edge that his previous Japanese films had. But it is undeniably heartwarming and beautiful. The road trip setup allows the characters to build their rapport naturally, and the warm crisp tones capture the seabreeze ease of the film. Regardless of your view on Koreeda, Broker is well worth a watch.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Actor: Bae Doona, Baek Hyun-jin, Bek Hyun-jin, Choi Hee-jin, Choi Hui-jin, Gang Dong-won, IU, Jeong Jong-yeol, Jong Ho, Jung Ji-woo, Kang Gil-woo, Kim Do-yeon, Kim Keum-soon, Kim Sae-byuk, Kim Soo-hyeon, Kim Sun-young, Kim Yae-eun, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Doo-seok, Lee Ga-kyung, Lee Joo-young, Lee Moo-saeng, Lee Mu-saeng, Lim Seung-soo, Oh Hee-joon, Oh Hee-jun, Park Hae-jun, Park Kang-seop, Park Kang-sup, Ryu Kyung-soo, Seong Yu-bin, Song Kang-ho, Song Sae-byuk, Yun Seul

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Romantically pairing up AI with humans is hardly new, and I'm Your Man is aware of that. Instead of spending way too much time explaining the advanced tech that makes the perfect mate possible, the movie zeroes in on its charismatic leads Tom the robot (Dan Stevens) and Alma the indifferent academic (Maren Eggert). Tom is the curious, humanoid automaton who is designed to worship Alma, and Alma is the disillusioned human who is conflicted with the authenticity of her growing feelings for Tom. I'm Your Man is smart and empathetic enough to stay afloat amidst its swirling genres and ethical dilemmas, but it is mostly the chemistry between Tom and Alma that anchors it to the love story that it actually is. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Annika Meier, Christoph Glaubacker, Dan Stevens, Falilou Seck, Hans Löw, Henriette Richter-Röhl, Inga Busch, Jürgen Tarrach, Karolin Oesterling, Maren Eggert, Mignon Remé, Monika Oschek, Sandra Hüller, Sebastian Schwarz, Victor Pape-Thies, Wolfgang Hübsch

Director: Maria Schrader

Rating: R

Dropping on DVD and digital download in America at the end of summer 2023, Mavka: the Forest Song made its Hulu debut this November. Taking the plot of the 1912 poetic play and rewriting the tragic deaths into lighthearted, fantastical adventures, the film is precisely the sort of generic, child-friendly fairy tale that we’ve come to expect from Disney, albeit with a Ukrainian twist. The plot is predictable, and the humor is rife with cliche, but it’s still a fairly entertaining watch for young audiences.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Andrii Mostrenko, Artem Pyvovarov, Julia Sanina, Kateryna Kukhar, Mykhailo Khoma, Nataliia Denysenko, Nataliia Sumska, Nazar Zadniprovskyi, Oleh Mykhailiuta, Oleh Skrypka, Olena Kravets, Serhii Prytula

Director: Oleg Malamuzh, Oleksandra Ruban

Rating: PG

Girl in the Closet is a low-budget TV movie that gives us a peek into the lives of trafficked children, but nothing more beyond that. There is no compelling story or drama; no suspense as to how the children might possibly escape, or rousing speeches about how the system failed these kids. Instead of a real plot, the movie strings together one shocking abuse after the other and constantly jumps forward in time (one year later, five years later, nine months after) in an attempt to rush towards its predictable ending. It would’ve been thoroughly unwatchable if it weren’t for some dedicated performances, namely by Peters and Roman, who give much more than what the flimsy script and loose editing deserve. 

Genre: Drama, TV Movie

Actor: Daijah Peters, Danielle LaRoach, Remy Ma, Stevie Baggs Jr., Tami Roman, Teisha Speight

Director: Jaira Thomas

An interesting premise quickly sputters out in Fool’s Paradise, writer-star Charlie Day’s misfire of a directorial debut. Day plays a down-and-out Charlie Chaplin-esque mute who happens to be a dead ringer for a difficult method actor (also Day) who’s stalling production on a Billy the Kid remake — and so he’s brought in by the movie’s producer (Ray Liotta) to star instead. 

The rest of Fool’s Paradise follows in this vein, as things just happen to Latte Pronto (as he comes to be named). There’s wry satirical potential in this set-up: a lot can be revealed about someone (in this case, the self-serving stars, agents, and directors of Hollywood) by what they project onto a blank slate like Latte. The problem, however, is twofold: Fool’s Paradise doesn’t have anything especially sharp to say about the biz — and, in the absence of clever or indeed funny writing, the film’s weak center is exposed. Day’s wordless performance is understated to a fatal degree; presumably designed to highlight the ridiculousness of the Hollywood players he’s surrounded by, it only shows up the weakness of the material and the unfocusedness of some of the key supporting performances. Maybe the movie would’ve fared better had some of its other characters been silent instead.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Adrien Brody, Aixa Maldonado, Alanna Ubach, Allison Paige, Andre Hyland, Andrew Leeds, Andrew Santino, Artemis Pebdani, Austin Zajur, Benito Martinez, Brett Wagner, Charles Grisham, Charlie Day, Christine Horn, Common, David Hornsby, Dean Norris, Drew Droege, Edie Falco, Eliza Coleman, Eric VanArsdale, George Lopez, Glenn Howerton, Harry Yi, Helen Geller, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Chu, Jillian Bell, Jimmi Simpson, John Ales, John Malkovich, Julia Cho, June Carryl, Kate Beckinsale, Katherine McNamara, Ken Jeong, Lance Barber, Leandra Terrazzano, Leonora Pitts, Lindsay Musil, Lisa Schwartz, Luvh Rakhe, Lyndon Smith, Marilyn Giacomazzi, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Moses Storm, Peter MacKenzie, Ray Liotta, Ricky Wang, Robert Belushi, Romel de Silva, Roy Jenkins, Scott Allen Perry, Scott Pitts, Shane Paul McGhie, Steve Coulter, Steve DeCastro, Talia Tabin, Thomas Vu, Tom Beyer

Director: Charlie Day

Rating: R