There are books and films that move me to tears, and characters whose situations and journeys really inspire me. Making a note to myself as I continue to express the chaotic thoughts dancing in my mind.
- Taran Wanderer (1967 book from the Chronicles of Prydain) — Taran goes on a journey to understand his heritage; meeting, learning from, and building a community around him
- Shall We Dansu (1996) — Shohei Sugiyama is an earnest working husband and father who finds a simple delight in dance, despite the shame in his culture
- American Beauty (1999) — Lester Burnham is a burnt-out husband and father who finds delight in an attraction that returns him to appreciation for the life and family he has had
- Harry Potter (1997–2007 books, 2001–2011 films) — a cast of wonderful characters, especially Severus Snape
- Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2008) — Aang struggles with how to restore balance to the world, while also sticking to his value of nonviolence
- Ratatouille (2007) — Remy, the underdog genius rat chef, caught between the lifestyles or humans and rats, struggles with how to express his talents and be recognized as a success
- Hairspray (2007) — Tracy Turnblad has such a bright, colorful, stylish, contagious, dance-filled, musical vision of a world with simply civic justice and joy for all
- Black Mirror (2011–2019) — beautiful explorations of technology, culture, and the human condition
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012, 2018) — Ralph and Vanellope face the prejudices of being the “bad guy” and the “misfit” when they just want recognition and connection like everyone else
- Orange is the New Black (2013–2019) — everyone’s just trying to survive, and their backstories are heartwrenching situations of being at the wrong place at the wrong time; S3E13 and S5E07 are examples bring moments of peace
- Steven Universe (2013–2020) — Steven’s innocence, coming-of-age, and simple compassion for others is beautiful
- The Book of Life (2014) — Manolo struggles with how to make his family proud as a matador, while also sticking to his value of not killing the bull.
- La La Land (2016) — Mia and Sebastian take a journey experiencing the conflict between the demands of shared love and our individual dreams
- The Good Place (2016–2020) — beautiful team and re-imagination of what the afterlife is all about
- Song Lang (2018) — Dũng and Linh Phụng share a bromance, in a world where everyone is dealing with their debts, conflicts, and loneliness
- Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) — Lars–despite the shame of being a poor artist and middle-aged and living at home–strives to be a success for his family, his community, his love, and for the love of his music craft
- Soul (2020) — Joe Gardner gets a second chance to live in the moment
- The Queen’s Gambit (2020) — Elizabeth Harmon at the intersection of genius, madness, community, and success
That’s my short list for now; I’ll write more about them later.