The Movie Waffler 7 Movies to Watch To Learn About Self-Love and Appreciation | The Movie Waffler

7 Movies to Watch To Learn About Self-Love and Appreciation

Film is a means of escape, allowing you to leave your troubles behind and lose yourself in a fictional world.

It can also be transformative, drastically changing your mood and outlook. In fact, the right film can give you a whole new lease of life. 

Naturally, there are a number of films you can watch to vicariously obtain a greater sense of self-belief and inspiration on how to truly love yourself. So, in the name of promoting self-love and appreciation through cinema, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best movies to boost your self-esteem, lift your spirits and instil a healthy dose of self-love.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady fame), Herself is an earnest and gripping movie about self-love that takes a sensitive approach to its social-realist subject matter. This intimate portrait of plight centres Sandra (Clare Dunne), a cleaner escaping her abusive ex-husband and seeking a better life for herself and her daughters by building a new home.

The story could easily be bleak. And, in places, it is. However, the darkness is illuminated by hope, optimism and even humour. Watching Sandra get knocked back but persevere again and again is enough to provoke a deep sense of empowerment in the viewer – and will likely inspire some much merited self-love.

Women Make Film is Mark Cousins’ 14-hour ode to female filmmakers. What makes it so captivating is not just its sheer extensivity – expect to discover many unknown figures from across the decades – but how it showcases the works of these women creatives incidentally. Indeed, there is little to no focus on industry sexism: it is simply a deep dive into the genius of women directors over the years.

The project is an educational and eye-opening retrospective on the art of cinema, perfect for lovers of the medium or anyone with an open mind and an appetite for discovery. While 14 hours of viewing is a commitment even for the most dedicated cinephile, viewers can, fortunately, watch it in shorter, more digestible chunks. In Part One, you’ll be invited to consider the work of two seminal Ukrainian directors, Larisa Shepitko and Kira Muratova, among others. 

the peanut butter falcon

One of our favourite movies about self-love and acceptance, The Peanut Butter Falcon rivals The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with its spirited evocation of the American southwest. Set in the North Carolina Outer Banks, it follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), an aspiring wrestler with Down’s syndrome who decides to flee his care home to pursue his dream to attend the Salt Water Redneck wrestling school.

On his travels, he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a pensive fisherman battling to reclaim the fishing patch he lost after his brother’s death. The two companions – as both characters and actors – bring out the best in each other. However, with care worker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) on their tail, the pair will have to persuade her to come around to their notions of free living.

What makes the film so uplifting is the tender and playful performances of the two leads. The role of Zak was specifically written for newcomer Gottsagen, who impressed the film’s writer-directors immeasurably with his talent at a camp for actors with disabilities. 

In Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come, Isabelle Huppert brings her most powerful acting tool to the table: restraint. She plays a philosophy teacher who seeks solace in intellectual pursuits as she is faced with difficulties in her domestic life when her husband abandons her for another woman. (‘I thought you’d love me forever…what an idiot,’ she says, dismayed.) Despite this infidelity, she ends up liberated and hopeful for, as the title says, things to come.

A fascinating documentary looking at the life of Belmaya Nepali, a filmmaker facing challenges in pursuing her craft and maintaining her safety in a patriarchal Nepalese village.

After taking a photography workshop as a child, she falls in love with capturing the world through imagery. However, her camera is cruelly prised from her when she is orphaned and placed in a girls’ home. Later married with children, she returns to her love of filmmaking and continues to practise it despite protests from her husband and relatives. Uplifted and inspired, we see her in action, realising her calling.

While the film also delves into the hardships of Dalit girls living in Nepal, it revolves around the barrier-breaking Belmaya and her achievements. Indeed, through her lasting self-belief and ultimate triumph, viewers will surely find love for themselves and the inspiration to seize life.

let the sunshine in

In Claire Denis’ elegant dramedy, which is loosely inspired by Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, viewers are taken for a ride through what love can be in the 21st century.

Juliette Binoche stars as Isabelle, a divorced bohemian living in Paris, debating whether seeking true love is an unsatisfying distraction from life or its only worthwhile pursuit. But the film is more than just casual flings and existential ruminations, it’s also a pure situational comedy with strokes of experimental genius. Watch out for a cameo from Gérard Depardieu playing a new-age therapist who advises Isabelle – and by extension, us – to remain emotionally open.


Director Hong Khaou returned from his six-year hiatus with the emotionally charged Monsoon. The hard-hitting film tells the tale of British-Vietnamese Kit (Henry Golding) returning to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years to scatter his parents’ ashes.

We follow him as he tackles a painful mix of loss, disillusion and disorientation in his homeland. Spiritually disconnected from his birth country and unable to speak the language, Kit finds a way to rebuild his family story and find his feet in his foreign home with the aid of his cousin.

With an assured and optimistic outcome, the film allows for a renewed sense of love for who you are and where you came from.

About the author:

Established in 1934, Curzon is a beloved UK cinema chain with 15 luxurious screens that showcase the very best of independent film, international gems and blockbuster entertainment. Its distribution arm, Curzon Film (formerly Artificial Eye), releases several high-profile independent films every year, including the 2019 Oscar Best Picture winner Parasite. Viewers across the country can access their films anytime via its streaming service Curzon Home Cinema.