Whether it’s subtle like the casual racism of Get Out or the in-your-face obscenities of The Wolf of Wall Street, the halls of movie history are heavily peppered with toxic masculinity. As many classic films display unhealthy behavior that we’re now more aware of today, many modern films are going out of their way to address the phenomenon in a very open and honest way.
Within the last few years alone, these movies contribute to the bucking of the toxic trend, as a majority of them have been awarded for not only capturing the essence of modern manhood but doing so in a way that addresses its history and its absurdity while definitely offering a wide glimmer of hope that men have at changing its trajectory.
An honest take on the flip side of marital bliss, Adam Driver gave one of his best performances as a man who is at first deep in love and before long deep in anxiety and bitterness. The film offers a genuine dialogue for the tumultuousness of marriage, as opposed to the usual love stories we get in cinema.
Brad Pitt goes a long way — all the way to Neptune actually — to make things right with his long-lost father. The simplicity of a story about a man who was abandoned by his father and now has commitment issues of his own is something far more common than we realize, and yet the movie strikes a chord of originality.
Our most classic actors — Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci — gather one last time under classic director Martin Scorsese in an ode to old school Irish mobsters in yet another classic crime drama, dropping De Niro’s fictional character into the toxic history of Jimmy Hoffa and his Pennsylvania crime family, the epitome of toxic masculinity.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Men have long been persuaded by the allure of fame and fortune, and there is no better story than Leo’s Jordan Belfort, a mild-mannered hard worker who goes from entry-level broker to a money-hungry monster. Another Scorsese epic, the film shows the bottomless appetite that greed gives a man, and in the end when the jig is up, Belfort’s stubborn refusal to give up his empire is the end of him.
Todd Phillips gave comic book fans a different take on one of its most beloved villains. Separating itself from the origins we’re used to, Joaquin Phoenix showed us what treating someone poorly can do to a man’s fragile ego, the results of which can breed toxicity in ways we never imagined possible.
Although bizarre and disturbing, the very original overseas adventure takes us to the backwoods of Sweden for the fabled midsummer festival, but as the characters grow more tempted individually, the story grows more violent and strange. At the center is a young girl, whose boyfriend can’t help himself, a story as old as time.
The most elite of high school dramas, this 20-year-old teen classic breathes modern into caste systems we sometimes choose to ignore. Ryan Phillippe plays Sebastian, the manipulative womanizer who wagers on the virginity of an innocent with his somewhat incestuous stepsister. The movie offers glimpses into what real love may be, only to squash it with toxic judgment for showing feelings.
Boy meets girl, girl likes boy and boy meets girl’s quietly racist family. Essentially Father of the Bride with a few twists, Jordan Peele creates a horror experience for white men that Black men likely deal with routinely. A stark insight into what it’s like to have empathy for a race that has been historically treated as less than, the film is amazing at delivering horror in a casually subtle manner.
The Social Network
Before there were social media platforms running our lives, there were the bitter young men busy creating it. Jesse Eisenberg plays a young Mark Zuckerberg who shows off his charming sociopathic tendencies by creating a monster and cutting everyone out around him who helped. As far as entrepreneurial billionaires with no sense of decency for equality or privacy, well, let’s just say there’s plenty of room for a sequel.
Cover: Warner Bros.
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