Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal won two Oscars this week, for Best Sound and for Best Editing. The Amazon Original film is the story of heavy metal drummer Ruben, who begins to lose his hearing. Ruben’s music is his lifeblood, so his struggle against his hearing impairment is a struggle for life.
The film was nominated for an additional four Oscars, for its screenplay, for Riz Ahmed’s leading performance as Ruben, for Paul Raci’s supporting performance as Ruben’s sign language coach and guide, and for best picture.
Sound of Metal was praised for its depiction of the Deaf community and for its evocative portrayal of coping with disability. If you enjoyed it, here are five films you may also like, all available on Amazon Prime Video.
In 1958, twenty-eight-year-old Robin Cavendish was diagnosed with polio, paralysed from the neck down and given three months to live. He died thirty-six years later, aged 64, in 1994. In between, Cavendish was a vocal activist for disability rights, raising awareness and helping to bring about changes to make the lives of people like him easier. The 2017 film Breathe tells his story. Andrew Garfield stars as Cavendish, with Claire Foy as his wife Diana. Directed by Andy Serkis, it was produced by Cavendish’s son Jonathan (who also produced the Bridget Jones films and Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age).
This Freddie Mercury biopic follows in the tradition of most tortured-musician films, but boasts of a showstopping performance by Rami Malek as Mercury. Malek won a slew of awards, including an Oscar, for his spirited embodiment of the rough, unpredictable, musically blessed and proudly queer lead singer of Queen. His performance was called “more than a skilful impersonation … an imaginative interpretation” by Richard Brody of the Newyorker. The film charts his tumultuous (and tragic) life and features some of Queen’s most beloved music, including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘I Want to Break Free’, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘We Will Rock You’.
Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, adapted from Brian Selznick’s novel of the same name, tells the story of two children, separated by time but united by disability and a love of the arts (especially films). Rose, in 1927, and Ben, in 1977, the former born deaf, the latter recently rendered deaf, run away from home in search of a missing parent. Their stories crisscross and eventually come together. Ben is played by Oakes Fegley and Rose is played by Millicent Simmons, the actress from A Quiet Place (who is herself deaf and saw her casting as a ‘corrective’ for the years that deaf actors have been largely absent from the screen). The film had deaf consultants on set, and also cast a few deaf actors in non-speaking hearing roles: one of the film’s consultants reported that these actors were instructed to look at others ‘less intently’ so that they appeared to be hearing!
Before Damien Chazelle made La La Land, he made the widely acclaimed Whiplash. The film tells the story of a jazz drummer named Andrew (Miles Teller) and his instructor Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons’s performance won an Oscar), who is a perfectionist to the point of abuse. Inspired by Chazelle’s own experiences as a jazz drummer in high school, Whiplash was praised for its performances, editing and evident love for jazz music. New York Times critic AO Scott wrote, “By going deeper into the details of musicianship than most such movies … this one breaks free of the constraints of realism and takes wing toward the sublime.”
The Theory of Everything
This 2014 film told the story of Stephen Hawking, the mathematical genius who just happened to be a medical marvel as well: diagnosed with ALS at age 21 and given two years to live, Hawking lived for another fifty-five years, and died three years ago. Eddie Redmayne gave Hawking’s story a sensitivity and physical truth that won him an Oscar; Felicity Jones starred as Hawking’s first wife Jane, who fell in love with him before his diagnosis and stuck by him after. This is the story of one of the greatest minds of our times and his great love story.
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video