I often find a fascinating piece of media with at least one Asian or Hispanic/Latin American entertainer prominently involved, but don’t end up blogging about it.  Sometimes, I feel too far from the target demographic to properly discuss it.  Other times, my admiration doesn’t feel as deep as it does for the likes of Everything Everywhere All at Once.  Yet other times, the subject seems too intricate for me to blog about, especially if I check it out beyond its time of relevance.  Still, some of this media felt entertaining and/or noteworthy enough for at least lip service.  For brevity’s sake, I’ll limit my recommendations to works released this year.  Each section lists them by order of release date.

Most of these works have more Asian, Hispanic, and/or Latin American cast and crew members than listed.

Honorable Mentions

  • Various Disney Channel cartoons: The Owl House (episodes #30-41 aired this year) and The Ghost and Molly McGee (#11-20) deliver charm and emotional appeal, best appreciated when watching the respective shows in whole. The Owl House probably would’ve risen into the Recommended TV Shows section if Disney didn’t force everyone involved to rush the story.
  • Easter Sunday: Reportedly the first major motion picture with a predominantly Filipino-American cast, this comedy draws laughs from satirizing FilAm family quirks and celebrity worship culture. Unfortunately, while the characters’ exaggerated demonstrations of admiration for Manny Pacquiao formed the plot line that I enjoyed the most, they wouldn’t amuse viewers who never belonged to his fanbase – as I once did – and/or wish that the movie gave his role to someone non-homophobic.
  • Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon pitches: The long-awaited unearthing of a cheesy, unfaithful, and failed attempt to adapt Naoko Takeuchi’s beloved manga for American children deserves acknowledgement in this year-end retrospective, as well as at least one viewing from American Sailor Moon fans.

Recommended Movies

  • Turning Red: The nostalgic feature-length directorial debut of a future Pixar vice president of creative proved objectively nice enough to become one of my top 10 favorite movies from the studio.  It also became the first Pixar picture from this decade that I would purchase on Blu-ray and digital.
    • Starring Rosalie Chiang as Mei Lee and Sandra Oh as Ming Lee
    • Co-Starring several other Asian actors, including Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya Manga, Hyein Park as Abby Park, and Wai Ching Ho as Wu
    • Directed by Domee Shi
    • Written by Domee Shi and Julia Cho
  • The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: Delightfully expert comic timing and a wide emotional range help develop passionate cinephile Javi Gutierrez beyond a wish-fulfilling self-insert.
    • Starring Pedro Pascal as Javi Gutierrez
  • Father of the Bride: Among all the movie adaptations released so far of Edward Streeter’s novel, the humor and drama of this one feel the most up my alley, though I felt I needed at least one more viewing to fully grasp the worth of the added divorce-related storylines.
    • Starring Andy Garcia as Billy Herrera, Gloria Estefan as Ingrid Herrera, and Adria Arjona as Sofia Herrera
    • Co-Starring Isabela Merced as Cora Herrera, Diego Bonita as Adan Castillo, and Pedro Damián as Hernan Castillo
    • Directed by Gary Alazraki
    • Written by Matt Lopez

Bonus Features

  • Embrace the Panda: Making Turning Red: As with Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, Turning Red‘s most insightful extra feature remains exclusive to Disney+.
  • Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Everything Everywhere All at Once: The Everything Everywhere All at Once Blu-ray and DVD contain the most comprehensive extras platter I’ve found in quite a while for a brand-new movie, especially since this 41-minute documentary runs longer than every other documentary I’ve seen on an A24 Blu-ray.  One of the other bonus features even reached the big screen, when EEAaO‘s critical and financial successes convinced A24 to theatrically distribute a version of the film with the gag reel tacked onto the end.

Recommended TV Shows

  • Our Flag Means Death Season One: While not the main character, incognito assassin Jim Jimenez and their vengeful plight form some of this charming show’s most intriguing subplots.
    • Co-Starring Vico Oritz as Jim Jimenez and Guz Khan as Ivan
    • Guest-Starring Fred Armisen as Geraldo
    • Directed by Fernando Frías (#5: “The Best Revenge is Dressing Well”; #6: “The Art of Fuckery”; #7: “This is Happening”)
    • Written by Eliza Jiménez Cossio (#4: “Discomfort in a Married State”), John Mahone (#5: “The Best Revenge is Dressing Well”), and Zaye Ferrer (#7: “This is Happening”)
  • Amphibia episodes #50-58: The most widely-appealing Disney Channel cartoon I’ve seen with a female lead of color aired its last nine episodes this year, and managed to stick the landing in the finale.
    • Created by Matt Braly
    • Starring Brenda Song as Anne Boonchuy
    • Co-Starring Anna Akana as Sasha Waybright, Haley Tju as Marcy Wu, On Braly as Mrs. Boonchuy, and Brian Sounalath as Mr. Boonchuy
    • Co-written by Jenava Mie (#52a “Sasha’s Angels”; #54a “The Root of Evil”; #57 “All In”) and Gloria Shen (#50 “Return to Amphibia”; #52b “Olm Town Road”; #55a “Newts in Tights”; #57 “All In”)
  • What We Do in the Shadows Season Four: This offshoot of my favorite Taika Waititi movie deftly pulls off a literally monstrous premise with strong comedy and pathos.  Season Four’s changes to the status quo resulted in some worthwhile revelations and storylines, even if not all of those changes will carry over into Season Five.
    • Starring Kayvan Novak as Nandor the Relentless and Harvey Gullién as Guillermo de la Cruz
    • Co-starring Anoop Desai as the Djinn and Parisa Fakhri as Marwa
    • Directed by Tig Fong (#36: “The Wedding”)
    • Written by Marika Sawyer (co-wrote #36: “The Wedding”; wrote “#38: “Go Flip Yourself” alone)
  • Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World: This miniseries delivers some fascinating insight into various types of South American wildlife, and their relationships with the environment and humans.
    • Narrated by Pedro Pascal
    • Starring various South American scientists as themselves
  • Andor Season One: Due to my preference for Star Wars chronicles that instill a sense of accomplishment and/or hope, episodes in which the Empire inflicts realistic despair only appeal to me if I can bunch them with ones in which Cassian and his peers achieve rousing and immensely satisfying, yet either small or incomplete, victories.  While this condition and the relatively low view counts could call into question Disney+’s decision to release Chapters 4-12 at a rate of one per week, the season’s grounded insight into the Rebellion, captivating performances, and high-quality production values still turn this into one of the most exemplary Star Wars TV shows.
    • Starring and Executive Produced by Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
    • Co-Starring Adria Arjona as Bix Caleen and Varada Sethu as Cinta Kaz
    • Guest-Starring Antonio Viña as Kassa

Whether you agree or disagree with me on any of these works, or if you have any other relevant recommendations, feel free to politely let me know either in the comments section, or wherever you found the link to this page.

Plugs

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