Film, as a visual medium, has allowed creators to push the limits of storytelling. With the literary foundation and the visual stylistics, films have the capability of making multifaceted commentary through multiple genres. Directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol, ‘The Truman Show’ follows the titular Truman Burbank, essayed by Jim Carrey, an insurance salesman who, to his utter horror and confusion, comes to the realization that his whole life is a reality T.V. Show. Now, Burbank must find ways to escape it. The film is powered by the performance of Jim Carrey, who is supported by the charismatic performances of Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris, and Brian Delate. The direction by Weir is taut and the screenplay by Niccol effortlessly steers through the themes of Christianity, simulated reality, existentialism, and reality television. The film is shot by British cinematographer Peter Biziou and is co-edited by Irish film editor William Anderson and Australian film editor Lee Smith.
Produced by Scott Rudin Productions and distributed by Paramount Pictures, ‘The Truman Show’ received a worldwide release on June 5, 1998, to positive reviews. Critics such as Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli immensely praised the idiosyncratic narrative and the dramatic performance by Carrey. It was also a commercial success, grossing a massive $264.1 million against a budget of $60 million. In addition, the science-fiction satirical comedy earned a number of nominations for the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards and Golden Globe Awards, winning a few for the writing, direction and Carrey’s performance. For this list, I have taken into account films which have a similar narrative structure. The selected names on this list primarily deal with multiple concepts through the perspective of idiosyncratic plot structures and themes. In addition, I have not included projects directed by Peter Weir in order to have a more diverse selection. So, without further ado, here is the list of best movies similar to ‘The Truman Show’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘The Truman Show’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. A Simple Twist of Fate (1994)
Directed by Gillies MacKinnon and written by Steve Martin, ‘A Simple Twist of Fate’ follows Martin as Michael McCann, a desperate man who is emotionally alienated from the world. He gets a new chance of bliss and happiness when an orphaned baby shows up at his doorstep. The film is charged by the comedic charm of Martin who perfectly transforms his performance in accordance with the change in the character arc. The actor is supported by a rock-solid cast, consisting of Gabriel Byrne, Laura Linney, Catherine O’Hara and Stephen Baldwin.
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9. Cold Souls (2009)
A comedy-drama, ‘Cold Souls’ stars Paul Giamatti as Paul – who is a fictionalized version of the actor himself. The film follows Paul who suffers from depression and anxiety and picks up a service of a company to deep freeze his soul. However, things get complicated when his soul gets lost in a soul trafficking scheme. Rest of the movie chronicles Paul’s misadventures to recover his lost soul. Written and directed by Sophie Barthes, ‘Cold Souls’ is designed in accordance with the thematic framework of Spike Jonze’s classic ‘Being John Malkovich.’ The thematic similarity also attracted a fair amount of criticism. However, ‘Cold Souls’ is an engaging watch for the career best performance of Giamatti injects as well as an engaging emotional arc and a multifaceted layering within the narrative.
8. Visioneers (2008)
A dark comedy, ‘Visioneers’ is written and directed by Brandon Drake. The film centers on an epoch in the human history in which people start to explode from excessive stress. In the midst of panic, George Washington Winsterhammerman, essayed by Zach Galifianakis, tries to live a usual and calm life by ignoring the pandemic. However, things spiral downwards when he suffers his first symptom. ‘Visioneers’ is powered by the incandescent comedic talent of Galifianakis. The screenplay complements his performance by providing several genuinely hilarious situations. The writing is soaked in dark comedy, which helps create an absurdist commentary on the society. Though ‘Visioneers’ didn’t meet with an enthusiastic critical response, it has seasoned into an engaging watch though the passage of time.
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7. Brazil (1985)
Directed by Terry Gilliam and co-written by Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown and Gilliam, ‘Brazil’ stars Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry, a bureaucrat who takes upon himself to reset an administrative error in retro-futuristic world. However, his efforts culminate in tagging him as enemy of the state. A dystopian science fiction film, ‘Brazil’ is built upon the narrative structure of the 1949 novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ written by George Orwell. Through the dystopian setting, Gilliam structures the narrative along the lines of strong political commentary. The movie instills absurdity from the roots of Franz Kafka’s literary stylistics. A critical success, ‘Brazil’ could not score big at the box office and ended up being a commercial flop. However, through the passage of time, it has seasoned on to be considered as one of the most innovative movies ever made.
6. Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth, ‘Forrest Gump’ is an adaptation of American novelist Winston Groom’s book of the same name, published in 1986. A comedy-drama, the film follows Tom Hanks as the titular character – Forrest Gump – a seemingly dim-witted but extremely kind-hearted man from Alabama who in some way or other influences and impact some of the biggest historical events of United States in the 20th century. The narrative is constructed from the perspective of Gump which creates a sense of wonder and nativity, which is the soul of the film. It is also teeming with political commentary and provides a perspective of the impact of the historical events of the 20th century. The screenplay and direction are complemented by the brilliant performances of Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Sally Field, which helps elevates the wonder of the film.
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5. The Lobster (2015)
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and co-written by Efthimis Filippou and Lanthimos, ‘The Lobster,’ is set in a dystopian world which is governed by weird laws such as a single people has to find a romantic partner within 45 days given by the authorities. If they fail to find a mate, they would be converted into an animal. The plot follows David, a single man who has to find someone so he can remain human. In this search, he comes across an unnamed woman, and the two form a relationship to avoid the ghastly circumstances. The film is wonderfully absurd and darkly comedic, making it an engaging watch. ‘The Lobster’ met with critical praise upon its release and also won Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
4. Dogville (2003)
Written and directed by Lars von Trier, ‘Dogville’ is a revenge tragedy which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace Margaret Mulligan, a woman who is on the run from a bunch of ruthless criminals. Eventually, she is reluctantly accepted by a small Colorado town called Dogville. Though the townspeople take her in, the shelter comes with a price. She has to work hard for the people in order to get acceptance. But tensions are on the rise when they constantly abuse her for being an helpless outsider. Like any archetypal von Trier project, ‘Dogville’ received quite polarizing reviews, with many criticizing the film for a lackey narrative. However, through the passage of time, it has grown on to become a cult classic and is considered as one of the best works from the one and only Lars von Trier.
3. Fight Club (1999)
Adapted from American novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 book of the same name, ‘Fight Club’ stars Edward Norton as the unnamed narrator, who is unhappy with his white-collar job. He is immensely disturbed by the consumerist ways of the society and starts to rot in his own misery until he meets the charismatic Tyler Durden, essayed by Brad Pitt. Rest of the movie follows the two men as they form a “fight club” to challenge the societal rules. But things go out of hand when one starts to question one’s own sanity. Directed by David Fincher and written by Jim Uhls, ‘Fight Club’ is seasoned to boasts an ending which blew the viewers’ mind. A commercial and critical failure at its time of release, the film has grown on to become a celebrated work and launched Fincher’s celebrated career in Hollywood.
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2. Being John Malkovich (1999)
A fantasy comedy-drama, ‘Being John Malkovich’ stars John Cusack as Craig Schwartz, a puppeteer who inexplicably finds himself in literally in the mind of the titular John Malkovich. Directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, ‘Being John Malkovich’ crafted with intellect and wit. Kaufman brilliantly balances multiple themes, images, symbols, and motifs, while Jonze further executes the screenwriter’s ideas with maturity. With a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the fantasy comedy was one of the most celebrated works of the year 1999. In addition, it has seasoned to have become a classic, with many citing the film to be a remarkable piece of work in world cinema.
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1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ follows Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski, an estranged couple who erase each other from their memories only to cross paths again and fall for each other again. The romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film boasts of brilliant performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. The narrative blends styles of psychological thriller and nonlinear narrative structure to create a complex piece of romance and drama hybrid, which is credited to the incredulous talents of Kaufman. With a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ has been considered as one of the best films of the 21st century by BBC. The well-knit screenplay earned Charlie Kaufman his first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay along with Pierre Bismuth and Michel Gondry.