Millicent Simmonds is a deaf actor who has starred in such movies as Wonderstruck and A Quiet Place. Her forthcoming film, A Quiet Place Part II, debuts in April 2021. Millicent will also participate in the Academy’s virtual series of conversations about the struggles and successes of the disabled community in Hollywood. Take a look at the full lineup here.
These are some of my favorite films that I feel celebrate our diversity and our culture. Not all of them have happy endings, but I believe that the best films portray real life and real stories from all over the world.
Crazy Rich Asians
I absolutely loved this film. I’ve always been fascinated with Asian culture, food, and history. This film was so beautiful. The colors were so vivid and the cinematography was amazing. I loved the relationship between Rachel and her mother. The scene towards the end where Rachel plays Eleanor in mahjong, gives up the winning tile, and walks away knowing she really had Nick’s love was so brilliant to me. When her mother stood and nodded at Eleanor was also a moving moment. On top of the story, I loved seeing all of the food they were eating at the market, the dumpling lesson from Nick’s grandmother, and the beautiful buildings and architecture in Singapore. It made me want to visit the minute the movie was over.
Queen of Katwe
I just watched this movie recently and really enjoyed it. I loved that it was shot on location in Uganda. It felt more authentic, raw, and real to me, especially the poverty there. I loved seeing the beautiful landscape, traditions, and culture, but I really loved the story and the message. I played chess growing up, so I knew how to feel at certain intense points, which made me enjoy it that much more. I love stories about someone succeeding when all the odds are against them, especially when it’s a smart, strong, minority female character that I think gets overlooked a lot. I’ve loved Lupita [Nyong’o] in everything I’ve seen her in, but this might be my favorite performance of hers. Even better, it’s a true story!
I can’t say enough about this film. My mom and I just watched this together and I love everything about it. Audrey [Tautou]’s performance in this is simply stunning. She really resonated with me because, obviously, there was very little dialogue. Her expressions and her face just drew me in like very few actors have. I loved that she tried to make people’s lives better by just doing the simple things. She helps a lonely neighbor just by visiting him, she helps her father by making him believe his gnome is on a trip around the world, and she helps a stranger by just returning something that belonged to him. I loved the message that you can help people by doing little things. It doesn’t always have to be grand gestures or giving a ton of money—you can help if you just look for the opportunities. Paris is the perfect backdrop for this film. I’ve never been and this film makes you fall in love with everything about it.
My Neighbor Totoro
I love every movie by Ghibli, but this is definitely one of my favorites. The story is really simple, but the animation is stunning. I feel the story is more about the imagination of children and the special bond that sisters have. Instead of having a plot and a villain, it feels more like a situation in real life. The girls have to face their mother’s illness. My favorite scene is when the girls are waiting for the bus, it starts to rain, and Totoro appears next to them. He then becomes totally fascinated by the raindrops. It’s a beautiful story that I loved when I was 6 and still love at 17.
This film has really stayed with me. I saw this about a year ago and it is easily still one of my favorites. The acting was incredible. The story follows a young boy named Toto from a small village in Italy who loses his father in World War II. He lives with his sister and his mother, but becomes very close to an older man that runs the projector at the boy’s local movie theater. Toto’s life becomes about his love for the movies. It shows Italy’s beautiful landscape, which I loved, but ultimately, I thought this was a tragic love story that at the end was so moving, beautiful, and gives you hope!