2017-2018 Top Picks!

Here they are: this year’s Top Picks for shows, movies, books and websites that portray mental health issues with compassion and accuracy.  The following are endorsed by Julie Ridge, LCSW-R, President and Founder. (last updated: April, 2017)

TOP BROADWAY SHOWS of 2016-2017!

  • The BEST!!  “Dear Evan Hansen,” stars Ben Platt (WINNER 2016-2017 Tony Award for best actor in a musical). A teenager wrought with social anxiety becomes an unwitting high school hero after the suicide of a classmate. This intimate musical touches on the delicacy of parenting, the all-consuming creature known as the internet, and our desperate need for connection.  Few Broadway shows, least of all musicals, are as psychologically accurate or strike as powerful an emotional chord as “Dear Evan Hansen.”  WINNER of 6 Tony Awards including best musical of the year!
  • While you’re in NYC, see “Bandstand,” a moving post-WWII swing musical about our vets after the war.  The first stage show applauded by “Got Your 6,” a campaign that supports accuracy in military-themed works of art, “Bandstand” offers very real renditions of posttraumatic-stress disorder, alcoholism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Set to a beautiful score, with toe-tapping swing choreography, and the stunning voices of Laura Osnes and Corey Cott – who could ask for anything more?  “Bandstand”  was applauded by Mrs. and Mr. Joe Biden at the 2016-2017 Tony Awards for accuracy in depiction of PTSD. WINNER of the 2016-2017 Tony Award for Best Choreography.
  • Last, but absolutely not least on our recommended Broadway show list, the completely original new musical “Come From Away.”  When US air space was shut down in the days immediately following 9/11, one tiny town, Gander, Newfoundland, population 9,000, opened their arms to 7,000 stranded travelers. This musical tells the tale of heart-melting generosity and the kindness of strangers – sheer resilience in the face of tragedy and trauma. “Come From Away” is playing at the Schoenfeld Theater.

BEST MOVIES of 2016!

  • Lion,” starring the always endearing Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire“), Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara, tells the story of 5 year old Saroo lost on the streets of Calcutta thousands of miles from his home and his harrowing challenges before being adopted by a loving Australian family.  25 years later Saroo sets out to find his lost family in India.  “Lion” is adapted from the book “A Long Way Home,” by Saroo Brierley.  This film demonstrates resilience in the face of extreme adversity and shows positive attachment techniques for adoptive parents. Based on the true story. An Academy Award nominee for best picture and best supporting Actor (Patel).
  • Moonlight,” starring Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp and Duan Sanderson, directed by Barry Jenkins.  This movie is a timeless story of human connection and self-discovery. Three actors play a single character, Chiron, at various stages in his life – from his vulnerable youth on the rough streets of Miami, to crucial life decisions made as an adolescent, to his adulthood as a street-toughened drug dealer.  The film demonstrates the intricate interplay of environment, opportunity and role models in the development of attachment and conduct disorders. Fiction.  “Moonlight” won this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Ali)!!
  • Life Animated” based on the bestselling book by David Suskind, tells the story of Owen who at the age of 3 slips silently into the non-verbal world of autism.  Touchingly, lovingly and intimately told by the Suskind family, Owen finds his way to connect with the world through Disney animation.  We see honest depictions of autism and its impact on families. Documentary.  An Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary.  [note: this movie is featured in our CONNECTING DOTS TOO seminar series this year.]

Best Television in 2016/2017:

  • Speechless,” starring Minnie Driver and Micah Fowler. This story about the life of a family touched by disability is frank and brutally funny. As matriarch Maya DiMeo, Driver steamrolls anyone standing in her son’s way. Young actor Fowler (who has cerebral palsy in real life) deserves high marks for wringing charm and wit out of each moment, without a single word! (ABC network)
  • Flesh and Bone,” with a powerful cast headed by Saray Hay, Ben Daniels and Emily Tyra, is a one-season mini-series.  This sometimes chilling, often gritty, story of a brilliant ballet newcomer depicts the inner world of professional dance with profound accuracy. The series includes accurate depictions of cutting, incest and anorexia.
  • Elementary” now in it’s 4th season, is an intelligent and entertaining Sherlock Holmes detective show.  In this fresh-take hit series, the eccentric, genius Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) is a recovering narcotics addict who frequents NA meetings.  His brilliant Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) begins as a sober companion, then evolves to fellow detective and supportive friend.  The 4th season began with a hard look at relapse and recovery, with  compassionate portrayal of the ongoing challenges of sobriety. Whether you care about addiction or just love a great detective series, watch “Elementary.”  (CBS network)
  • Mom” now in it’s 4th season, starring the always brilliant Allison Janney and adorable Anna Faris is a comedy about true family dysfunction.  It features mom (Janney) and daughter (Faris) in their struggle to manage work, family, friends and sobriety.  2016 continues their sensitive portrayal of individuals struggling with addictions and adds the role of Alanon when coping with addiction in our children.  (CBS network)

Best books:

  • I Am Malala. the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban,” by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb.  When the Taliban took control of Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. In October 2012, when she was 15, Malala was shot in the head while riding the bus home from school. Few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s heroic recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from her remote village to the UN, to a meeting with President Obama. In 2014 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. A national best seller and must read for today’s times.  A documentary film has been made based on her story. c. 2015.

Ongoing best website: The Treatment Advocacy Center, founded by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, one of the world’s foremost research psychiatrists, specializing in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. His web site provides a plethora of global information and resources on all mental health conditions.