Movies don’t always have the best reputations for accurately and respectfully portraying stories and situations involving mental illness (think Observe and Report, or nearly every movie included on Bob Tremblay’s “Crazy About Movie Psychopaths” article), but there are times when – if we move past the creative and artistic licenses – they can offer us new perspective and maybe even teach us a thing or two.

(Note: I would have liked to have included Brothers and Precious in this list, but given that the two only recently hit theaters and it’ll probably be a while before they make it to DVD, I don’t think they’d really help with a holiday shopping list – unless, of course, you buy the theater tickets…which really isn’t a bad idea…)


The Soloist: The Soloist – the film adaptation of the life-altering encounter between Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and homeless, schizophrenic, and ridiculously talented Nathaniel Ayers that stars Jamie Foxx (as Ayers) and Robert Downey, Jr. (as Lopez) – received mixed reviews throughout the mental health community, but I don’t think anyone can confidently say its release wasn’t one of the movie events of the year. Learn more at the movie’s official website.


Canvas: It might not have been a major movie event, but it has received excellent reviews and, like The Soloist, Canvas (which was released in late December 2008) stars Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden) deals with living with schizophrenia; only, in this movie, we see how the mental illness affects and entire family. Learn more about Canvas and how you can order it at the movies official site.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: If you’re new to Celebrity Psychings, you might be surprised to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on this list – in which case, I’ll point you to the posts within my “Half-Blood Prince Life Lessons” series that highlight life lessons the story teaches us about laughter, relationships, dreams, judgment, face value, friendships, and the importance of moving forward. Nuff said.


Honorable Mention: A Beautiful Mind: Sure, it’s nearly a decade old, but come on – you had to have known I was going to include it. A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, tells the story (loosely, to my understanding) of math prodigy, Nobel Prize winner, schizophrenia patient, and overall genius extraordinaire John Forbes Nash, Jr. Despite winning four of the eight Academy Awards for which it was nominated, there was some controversy surrounding the film. Learn more about A Beautiful Mind at the movie’s official website, and check out Nash, Jr.’s brief autobiography at


(This post is part of the “Holiday Shopping With Celebrity Psychings” series. Learn more about what it’s all about, check out the previously posted gift ideas related to music and books, and come back tomorrow for charity-related gift ideas!)



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    Last reviewed: 26 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2009). Holiday Shopping With Celebrity Psychings: Movie Guide. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from



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