Call Me By Your Name may be one of the most somber and emotional coming-of-age stories ever told. Based on the novel by André Aciman, the film takes place in 1983 Italy where the Jewish teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) resides with his parents. He spends his dull summer days lounging about his rural community until he runs across the interesting adult of Olver (Armie Hammer). They start to connect and form a bond that Elio feels may turn romantic. But Elio may not be ready for such a relationship as he feels his emotions and sexuality are being toyed with by a man who finds himself more comfortable in life. It all leads up to one of the most bitter endings about the pains of growing up and experiencing heartbreak.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Suspiria), the film was nominated for numerous Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and became a revered film for its frank and unflinching portrayal of a teenager growing up. It also dealt with homosexuality in a manner that is bittersweet for the conflicting emotions and levels of understanding within Elio’s family. It’s a mixture of both feeling isolated during a changing time in your life and trying to understand where you want to proceed in the future, whether it’s about being gay or finding happiness. If you’d like to seek other such progressive films, here are ten more that are just as contemplative as Call Me By Your Name.
Christine McPherson is a teenager in 2002 who is struggling to find herself in her last year before college. Seeking to redefine herself as Lady Bird, Christine tries desperately to find a guy but seems to run into problems. Either the men she fancies turn out to be gay or they just don’t care much for her. All the while she attempts to maintain a friendship, sign up for the New York college of her dream, and skirt around her strict and emotional mother. Written and directed Greta Gerwig (Little Women), this coming-of-age dramedy stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lois Smith, Odeya Rush, and Stephen McKinley Henderson.
Navigating high school is extra hard for the teenager Simon Spier considering he tries to secretly hide his homosexuality from his close family and abundance of friends. While remaining in the closet, Simon receives anonymous emails from someone in school who confides that he is gay as well. Though they confide in each other their email chain is soon discovered by another student who threatens to reveal them and out Simon if he doesn’t help him hook up with a girl. But how long can Simon keep such a secret when under so much pressure. Directed by Greg Berlanti (Life As We Know It) and based on the novel by Becky Albertalli, this coming-of-age romantic dramedy stars Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Garner.
Based on the novel of the same name by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain follows the forbidden love of two men in a time and place where their relationship must be kept secret. Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist are sheep herders in the 1960s south who find themselves forming a real bond while working on Brokeback mountain. It is there that their relationship takes on a sexual nature. But with so much expected of the two men in a country that looks down on such sexuality, they try to conceal their love that is kept away from the eyes of the public and their families. But their love can only be maintained for so long before someone becomes suspicious and threatens their romance. Directed by Ang Lee (The Life of Pi), this somber romantic drama that was nominated for numerous Academy Awards (such as Best Picture) stars the likes of Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, and Randy Quaid.
Blue is the Warmest Color
Based on the novel by Jul Maroh, a romance blooms between teenage girls. Adèle is an introvert and Valentin is her openly gay friend. When Valentin invites Adèle to a lesbian bar, she experiences just how assertive women can be when pursuing pleasure. It isn’t too long before their emotional connection soon takes a sexual turn as Adèle falls in love with Valentin. Although Valentin’s family is accepting of the relationship, Adèle’s family is far more conservative, leading to her concealing her relationship. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (Games of Love and Chance), the film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in the lead roles.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Moonlight tells the story of how awkward and uncomfortable it can be to grow up as a gay black man. Told in three parts of his life, the story follows Chiron as he goes from a child being taught by his father to a teenager struggling peer pressure to an adult struggling to come to terms with himself. It’s a bittersweet and tearful experience of how one person can change so much over time yet still feels as though they’re always struggling to become whole. Directed by Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), this critically acclaimed picture stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali.
A Bigger Splash
The Sicilian island of Pantelleria appears as the perfect place to vacation for the couple of rock star Marianne Lane and filmmaker Paul. But their time off may be more chaotic than they had anticipated when Marianne’s old flame of Harry Hawkes visits as well. Even worse, he has brought along his daughter who happens to shake things as well. It isn’t too long before vacationing in paradise turns into a troublesome ordeal of feuding and affairs. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), this mix of psychological drama and melodramatic romance stars Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton, and Dakota Johnson.
Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, Carol tells the two stories of two women form a bond in the 1950s. Therese Belivet is a photographer working in a department store when she takes notice of the enchanting Carol overlooking the toys. They later connect and a relationship takes root, leading further and further into romantic territory. But their lives are already such complicated ordeals that taking their relationship to the next level may not even be possible. Directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), this bittersweet romantic drama features a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, and Kyle Chandler.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
In 1770 France, Marianne is a painter who has just been tasked with painting the wedding portrait for the young lady Héloïse, having just recently left the convent. Héloïse, however, is not looking forward to being wed at all and only confides such truths in Marianne. But the more that Héloïse becomes open with Marianne, the more the artist finds herself fancying her subject, often drawing the bride without her knowledge. Soon, a love affair bubbles to the surface but it may not last long for a cruel world that won’t accept such love. Written and directed by Céline Sciamma (Girlhood), this tragic romantic drama won the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and stars Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel in the lead roles.
Nicolas Sheff appears to be a well-rounded teenager on the outside with his robust grades, artistic creativity, athletic abilities, and his editor duties of the school newspaper. But when he becomes addicted to meth, his addiction breaks the bond between him and his dad. His father tries to get him help but tries to tread cautiously for fears of pushing his son away and losing him forever. Based on the memoirs of Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff, this sad coming-of-age drama comes from director Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) and stars Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, and Amy Ryan.
Lost in Translation
In Sophia Coppola’s Academy Award nominated drama, two strangers find themselves connecting when they find themselves alone in Tokyo. Bill Murray plays washed-up actor Bob Harris finds himself wearily taking a trip to Japan to film a whiskey commercial. At the same time, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) has come to Tokyo to accompany her photographer husband on a business trip. Both of them find themselves lonely until they find each other, reserving their off hours for exploring the many wonders of the country. But where exactly will such a relationship go when it’s time to leave? This bittersweet tale of friendship abroad additionally stars the supporting talents of Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, and Fumihiro Hayashi.