10 Films To Watch If You Liked Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump still excites and thrills, it is one of those films that always makes me cry. Chances are high that if you loved Forrest Gump, you must check out these films!
“My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Tom Hanks, an actor par excellence, is perhaps best known as the face of that innocent young man who sits by a lonely park bench, all by himself. As Forrest Gump, Hanks created a character so beguilingly believable and heartbreakingly honest, that we could not get enough of it. He entered our hearts once and for all. Forrest Gump achieved massive commercial success and critical acclaim, earning 13 Academy Award nominations, winning Best Picture, along with Hanks winning Best Actor.
At its heart, it was a tale about American history and culture, where the personal experiences of Gump are set against the backdrop of important historical events. Under the simplistic narrative fabric, the Robert Zemeckis directorial dealt with the loss of innocence, the personal vs the political, and the ever-changing environment. Here are 10 films that you should check out if you loved Forrest Gump.
1. The Terminal (2004)
A beautiful, heart-tugger of a film created in the same terrain as Forrest Gump, The Terminal is inspired by the true story of the 18-year stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in Terminal 1 of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, from 1988 to 2006. Here he is Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) whose visa is worthless since his nation, Krakozia, has fallen in a coup. He is forbidden to step outside the airport.
The individual is at odds here with bureaucracy, in this rich character Kafkaesque character study by Steven Spielberg. Hanks gets the man right- never making him a caricatures invention but a deeply responsible and abiding person who mystifies the officials. He has no ulterior motives, no other plans. He is what he says so. He isn’t going anywhere. Navorski reminds you invariably of Forrest Gump, another character whose actions do not contradict his values. You stick with him no matter what.
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2. Vagabond (1985)
Agnès Varda, the beloved French cinema icon, made films and documentaries that frequently challenged and in turn, reinvented the terms of narratives. In her Golden Lion-winning feature, released in 1985, Varda follows a hybrid documentary style recounting of a death foretold. Her movie opens with a woman named Mona Bergeron (Sandra Bonnaire) found dead in a countryside ditch. Varda then follows her life in a series of flashbacks, where everyone she meets either wants her to get a job or gives a reason to exist. Uncharacteristically taciturn, she rebuffs them all and forces her way as a wanderer making her way in a capitalistic society.
Vagabond feels almost like an antithesis of Forrest Gump. The only similarity that both these films share is a fierce protagonist, who wanders and doesn’t pause at any given moment. Other than that, Vagabond is poles apart in terms of treatment of the subject matter. Mona doesn’t give any answers- she is known as much as the people around her to be. The question is not on why, but on what and sometimes how. They move on from people to people, places to places, and there is a force of life in both these films. Vagabond is more political and steely than Gump, one that doesn’t calm down with tempered moments, but nevertheless, both are portraits of the strong human spirit.
3. Amélie (2001)
There’s something so beguiling about this french romantic comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, that once you witness the magic unfold, nothing else can match in comparison. Like Forrest Gump, it has an eccentric protagonist who constantly redefines kindness, desire, and justice. Yet, it is so fundamentally different in style and treatment- infusing magic realism and surrealism, presented in a lush color palette that makes for an unforgettable sensory experience.
At the center of it all is Audrey Tautou, playing the painfully shy Parisian waitress who discovers her gift for fixing other people’s lives. This ensures a journey through people and places, where everyone is innately connected in some way or the other even when they are existing apart. Not everything works out perfectly for Amelie, who dreams so much about the reality of others that she forgets to dream her own. She remains alone, until the arrival of Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) who presents herself with the dilemma of putting herself before others. Like Forrest Gump, this one has aged like fine wine.
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4. The Green Mile (1999)
A Stephen King adaptation is not an easy task. The Green Mile, written for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont takes the task seriously, investing three hours of runtime in careful world-building and character development. It also features a raw and beautifully controlled performance by Michael Clarke Duncan as a physically imposing but soft-mannered jail inmate John Coffey who is sentenced to death for the rape and murder of two girls.
Tom Hanks stars here as Pauk Edgecomb, a death-row prison guard, in a much more reaction-heavy performance than Forrest Gump. As Coffey discovers that he possesses a supernatural gift, Edgecomb begins to unlock whether the big man really did commit those crimes. Immensely moving, The Green Mile is filled with touching moments of bonding and loss, second chances, and revelations. If you loved Forrest Gump, another Tom Hanks movie, particularly this fine, you will love The Green Mile.
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse, finds an idiosyncratic protagonist just like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump. As a baby, he looks like an eighty-year-old with sagging skin, when he is deposited at an old age home run by an African-American woman named Queenie (Taraji P. Henson). Benjamin grows up as a man-child and encounters several experiences that define his conception of identity, respect, and love.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does not share the situational humor of Forrest Gump, but given the character’s journey through various points in their lives, it has similar thematic concerns. It is more about the ways in which we choose to live and spend our lives, knowing the inevitability of death. It does not matter if we age before or age after, in the end, we all lead to the grave. If one finds purpose in life, and it varies from person to person, then that is a life well lived.
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6. Rainman (1988)
Dustin Hoffman won an Academy Award for playing Raymond Babbitt, who is autistic yet highly intelligent with numbers and razor-sharp memory. When his brother, the selfish and egotistical Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that Raymond is going to inherit the legacy of 3 million dollars after their father’s death, he hatches a plan to get his due share. Things do not go according to plan.
Like Forrest Gump, Rainman (directed by Barry Levinson), shares the same generosity of spirit that fuels the motives of the characters to achieve surprising revelations. Charlie kidnaps his brother but along the way, he steadily begins to perceive Raymond’s autism and his special qualities, which eventually make him love and care for his brother. Bolstered by incredible performances, Rainman has since achieved cult status. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Rainman is an important film that opened the floodgates for acceptance and awareness of autism at its time and has continued to be a landmark in discourses surrounding disability.
7. Places in the Heart (1984)
Directed by Robert Benton, Places in the Heart tells the story set in a small town in Texas, where a woman named Edna Spalding (Sally Field, who also played Forrest’s mother in Forrest Gump) has to stand up to daunting difficulties in her way because of a tragedy. A mother of two, she is not an overtly moralized character, getting her hands into things that leave behind consequences. She might as well have told herself that life isn’t a box full of chocolates.
Places in the Heart follows a woman’s journey in a society where she has to constantly defend her actions and choices, where she is twice as subjugated. Yet behind the choices and prejudices, Brenton digs up the individual with clear-eyed realism. Edna does not become a prototype of oppressed moralism, thanks mostly to a confident and layered portrayal by Field that ultimately her an Academy Award. Like Forrest Gump, Places in the Heart understands that people take on different roles in order to survive. It is an inevitability, not a choice.
8. Big (1988)
At a fortune-telling “Zoltar Speaks” vending machine a boy drops in a coin. His wish? “I wish I were big.” Another Tom Hanks-led film that also shares a lot of thematic tropes with Forrest Gump. Big, directed by Penny Marshall, has Hanks playing Josh Baskin, a young lad who wishes to be ‘big’ and, to his utter surprise, his wish is granted overnight. Yet, Josh cannot let go of his childhood sensibilities and innocence, making him stand out everywhere. It all ends up in an adventure of delights. Big feels like a spiritual predecessor to Forrest Gump in more ways than one.
Even when Josh lands himself in compromising situations that often give Big unique humor, the fantasy is also laced with the truth about the loss of innocence, and navigating a world that does not favor inexperience. Hanks gives the film an incredible amount of energy and charm and makes the purposeful ambiguity work. If you loved Forrest Gump, there’s no way you would want to miss Big!
9. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Forrest Gump holds up a particular aspect of the American lifestyle, the south, and its cultural common that plays a big part in the overall journey of Gump. Fried Green Tomatoes, directed by Jon Avnet holds the same Southern charm and great storytelling. It is by far, the ultimate Southern movie in my opinion. Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Cicely Tyson line up the starry cast of this story about female friendship.
Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is a trapped housewife, whose only escape is her Wednesday nursing home visits, where she encounters Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy), a colorful old woman who changes Evelyn’s outlook on life by sharing stories about people she has met over time. Fried Green Tomatoes is a heartwarming story told with compassion and wide-eyed charm. Tandy and Bates, predictably, turn in radiant performances, complementing each other beautifully.
10. Big Fish (2003)
“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” Trust Tim Burton to infuse this story of reconciliation between a dying father and his son with his trademark aesthetic style. Based on Daniel Wallace’s book, Big Fish the film tells the story of Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) a gifted young man who becomes an extraordinary old man (Albert Finney). His most ardent routine is to recount some of the most unbelievable as well as extraordinary stories about his past escapades. His son Will (Billy Crudup) is perhaps the only odd one out, who is not taken into these stories. This enables his father, who is now dying, to get through to these stories and one who seems immune to his charm, and as his father reaches the end of his days, he becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind the stories.
Big Fish is a fantastical journey, digging into the past, present, and future with characteristic Burton sensibilities to make this one a joy to behold. Watch Big Fish if you are yearning to get hold of a film that beautifully deals with parenthood and imagination. “Is this a tall tale?” “Well, it’s not a short one…”