Political correctness is the backlash. Blaming political correctness for President Trump is like blaming the civil rights movement for Jim Crow, or feminism for rape culture, or Stonewall for anti-gay hate crimes. It’s every battered wife who has been murdered by her husband when she tries to leave. It’s “I wouldn’t have to hurt you if you’d just behave.” It’s a disingenuous rationalisation peddled by people who know they did nothing to help when Trump’s Voltron of hate was gathering steam and are suddenly terrified because the stock market is crashing. Oh, now you’re afraid? Now you’re angry? Welcome. You’re late. You spent eight years obsessing over college students’ opinions on standup comedy and now a racist clown is president. Trump is a man who believes in registering Muslims, restraining black protesters with violence, building a wall on the Mexican border and non-consensually grabbing women by the genitals – and you don’t think he has a vested interest in tamping down the dissent of Muslims, black people, immigrants and women? He is institutional silencing personified. Are you sure political correctness went too far? Are you sure we were overreacting?
I was asked to make this post a while back, I’m sorry it took so long. A couple of things before we start:
By clicking on each movie’s title, you’ll be redirected to the trailer (with English subtitles when I could find them).
I checked, and all movies featured on this list have their own Wikipediapage if you’re looking for further information.
Hit me up if you want some help in finding places where you can watch these online.
I had to leave out many nice films, and I’ve surely forgotten some: feel free to add more!
I cento passi (2000) – the true story of Sicilian political activist Peppino Impastato, killed by the mafia in 1978 for his overt opposition to the latter. Drama, biopic.
Io non ho paura (2003) – ten-year-old Michele, living in southern Italy in the 1970′s, discovers a hole in the ground where a boy is kept prisoner. Based on a famous novel by Niccolò Ammaniti. Drama, thriller.
Notte prima degli esami (2006) – Technically speaking not the best movie on this list, but still a must-see if you want to understand what the dreaded high school finals (a.k.a. la maturità) mean for Italian students. Comedy.
La ragazza del lago (2007) – the peace of a little town in northern Italy is disrupted when the body of a young woman is found dead on the lakeshore. Thriller, drama.
Il divo (2008) – the story of Giulio Andreotti, 7-times prime minister of Italy and a controversial figure. Drama, biopic. Great to get a glimpse of the complex world of Italian politics.
Gomorra (2008) – five stories dealing with the Camorra (a criminal organization mostly based in the Naples area) and its relations with the population. Thriller, noir. Probably not the best one to watch if you want to practise Italian, as most lines are delivered in Neapolitan (and are thus incomprehensible to many Italian speakers as well).
Baarìa (2009) – an autobiographic epic in three generations of the Sicilian village where film director Tornatore was born. There are two existing versions, one in Italian and the other in Sicilian. Drama, comedy. I love family sagas, and sobbed uncontrollably I can’t remember exactly at which point in the movie.
La prima cosa bella (2010) – after years of estrangement, Bruno finally goes back to his hometown to visit his dying mother, Anna. Alternating present-day narration and flashbacks, the movie follows the life of a mother and her two children and their strong, albeit problematic, bond. Comedic drama, you might be crying bittersweet tears by the end.
Benvenuti al sud (2010) – stereotypes from both northern and southern Italy meet in the delightful remake of the French movie Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis when Alberto, the manager of a postal service in northern Italy, is banished to Castellabate, obviously located in the South. Comedy.
Basilicata coast to coast (2010) – a music group and a journalist cross the region of Basilicata by foot to attend a music festival. Comedy, adventure.
Habemus papam (2011) – a cardinal is elected pope against his wishes, and needs the help of a therapist to overcome his terror. Half comedy, half drama.
Il capitale umano (2013) – on Christmas Eve, a waiter cycling home from working at a prestigious private school’s gala is hit by a car, whose driver flees, leaving the man close to death. Connected to the accident are two very different families. Drama, thriller.
La grande bellezza (2013) – aging socialite Jep Gambardella tries to find some meaning beyond the lavish display of empty riches plaguing his Roman nights spent between parties. Drama, comedy, won an Oscar when it came out. Chances are you’ll either love it or sleep through it (personally, I liked it quite a lot).
Smetto quando voglio (2014) – driven to despair by their precarious conditions, a group of underpaid (if paid at all) university researchers team up to produce a smart drug still not illegal in Italy to make a fast buck. The unlikely gang is surprisingly successful… Comedy, among the funniest I’ve seen recently.
Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot (2015) – an unlikely (anti)hero rises in the slums of Rome when thief Enzo Ceccotti acquires superpowers by falling into the river Tiber. Sci-fi, action, drama. Superhero movies meet Italian cinema, and it works better than anyone was expecting. Language might be an issue, since everyone is purposefully Very Much from Rome.
Non essere cattivo (2015) – a story of crime, drugs and attempted redemption in the outskirts of Rome. Action, drama. Luca Marinelli is one hell of an actor. Again, the language is more Roman than Italian.
La pazza gioia (2016) – professed countess (and notorious motor-mouth) Beatrice and frail, quiet Donatella (who was “born sad”) flee the psychiatric institution that hosts them. The odd pair will embark on a journey together, looking for fun, love, and – you guessed it – some happiness. Comedy-drama, manages to be hilarious and deeply moving at the same time.
Fuocoammare (2016) – a documentary capturing life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis.
Perfetti sconosciuti (2016) – seven friends know each other like the back of their hand… or do they? What would happen if, as a playful game around the dinner table, they decided to share with the others every text, call and e-mail they get on their phone? Could they turn out to be total strangers? Witty and thought-provoking comedy with a number of twists.
Fai bei sogni (2016) – a boy struggles to come to terms with his mother’s death. Scenes from the protagonist’s childhood are intertwined with Others depicting his adult life. Drama. Ultimately, Valerio Mastandrea always manages to play someone with mommy issues somehow (he was also Bruno in La prima cosa bella). Drama.