Review: Movies to Lift You Up and Warm Your Heart

Some days, you might just want to relax at the end of the day with a movie. These four films all capture a heart-warming feel, whether it’s through multiverse travels, found family, music, or nostalgia.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Everything Everywhere All At Once

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is one of the most emotional, weirdest and best movies I’ve seen. The movie follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant who is struggling with a failing marriage to her husband (Ke Huy Quan), a struggling business and a strained relationship with her daughter (Stephanie Hsu). While in a meeting with an IRS agent (Jamie Lee Curtis), she discovers that she is essential to saving the multiverse from a mysterious being known as Jobu Tupaki.

The movie is deeply weird, with strange imagery befitting an infinite multiverse. There are fight scenes where objects like dogs, paper trimmers, fanny packs and strangely shaped awards are all used as weapons. One of the most emotional scenes is a conversation between Evelyn and her daughter Joy where both are rocks, and the dialogue is shown through words appearing on the screen like a PowerPoint.

Each actor is at the top of their game here and delivers some of the best performances of their respective careers. Quan is a highlight, as this was his return to acting after over 20 years. Hsu delivers a breakout performance as Joy as we see her relationship with her mother in different universes. And Yeoh shows us an authentic portrayal as the center of the film, grounding it through the winding plotlines and surreal humor.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump

“Forrest Gump” is a beautiful and touching movie that takes viewers through a series of events throughout American history, all viewed through the eyes of the titular Gump (Tom Hanks). Despite his low IQ of 75, Forrest is kind, honest and never strays from his love for Jenny (Robin Wright), his childhood friend.

The film perfectly balances the nostalgic happiness and the sadness of the America that existed back then. We get to see the two opposing perspectives through the eyes of Forrest, who sees an idealized perspective of the world, and the harsher reality through Jenny, who leads a self-destructive life. The soundtrack is a great tour of American music of the times.

Both Hanks and Wright turn in incredible performances, but the work of the supporting actors shouldn’t go unmentioned. As a member of his platoon, Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) becomes Forrest’s best friend until he dies in Vietnam. And finally, Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan, Forrest’s platoon leader from his tour of Vietnam, gives a memorable performance as a veteran haunted by his memories of the war and the loss of his legs.

The film manages to be both sentimental and grounded, humorous and sad, a delicate line that I’m not sure any other film has come close to.


“CODA” is, at first glance, a formulaic coming-of-age movie. The story follows Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing person in her family and the titular Child Of Deaf Adults, who discovers a passion for singing while trying to help her family’s struggling fishing business.

While the plot is familiar and predictable, the other aspects of the film more than make up for it. The deaf characters are all played by deaf actors, which helps the film be more authentic and respectful to the deaf community. That respectfulness is a high point of diversity and representation, with the deaf characters being portrayed as adults who are self-sufficient people in their community.

Emilia Jones does great with Ruby’s story, navigating a new passion for singing, her work as an interpreter for her family and her new crush Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). The movie does a masterful job of portraying the dynamics of her family, played by the group of Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant. This is a family that acts like a regular family, living through the ups and downs of working-class life, and their Deafness is never treated like the butt of the joke.   

Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting

“Good Will Hunting” is a beautiful movie following Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a janitor at MIT who is intelligent and entirely self-taught. After getting in trouble with the law, a math professor (Stellan Skarsgård) bails him out by striking a deal with the judge: he goes free in exchange for working with him on math and getting therapy from Sean McGuire (Robin Williams).

The movie is filled with heart and great acting work, especially from the late Williams. The scene where he sits on a park bench with Will, his story about missing Game 6 of the World Series because, as he says to his friends “I gotta go see about a girl,” and many other scenes make this one of his best performances.

Damon and Ben Affleck, who plays Will’s best friend Chuckie, play off each other throughout their many scenes together, and they bring a believably youthful energy to the film that contrasts with the more mature duo of Williams and Skarsgård as old college friends. In addition, Minnie Driver as Will’s love interest Skylar offers another interesting dynamic, with her wealthy upbringing playing off his lower-class background. The soundtrack of the movie fits perfectly with the tone, with Elliot Smith’s music playing over many key moments.

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