Known for its celebration of thought-provoking international cinema, Miami Film Festival is a place movie lovers can indulge and savor the year’s most critically acclaimed films. The Miami Film Festival has recently expanded within the last few years through its GEMS Series, a 4-day event that presents an abundant amount of fall season “jewels” and award-winning prospects. With directors in the cut like Edward Norton with his highly praised film Motherless Brooklyn or even Craig Brewer’s comedy, Dolemite Is My Name which features Eddie Murphy, Snoop Dogg, Wesley Snipes, and Mike Epps to say the least, this season was definitely one for the books. While The Two Popes featuring Anthony Hopkins took home the audience award, here were our standouts:

Marriage Story

Although break up movies are inevitable in the film industry, it’s rare to be left sensationalized by the raw deep cut of intimacy unless physically experienced. Yet, that’s exactly what Noah Baumbach did with his written and directed film Marriage Story. When a showbiz couple decides to amicably split they both are pushed over the edge during the turbulent custody battle of their son. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, Marriage Story will pummel you with emotional highs and lows. Baumbach exposes us to the poignant mark of divorce in a way that’s passionate, heartbreaking, and bracingly reflective.

Photo: Hollywood Reporter

Parasite

Characterized to be one of the most remarkable and unforgettable films of the year, Bong Joon-ho’s ferocious satire Parasite is easily one of the most well-produced dramedy one can watch. Joon-ho constructs fascinating parallelism of elitism vs. economic hardship in a tale showcasing a family of hustlers who manage to gain the likeliness of an oblivious wealthy family. The unraveling of this tale keeps you at the edge of your seat while thrilled with anticipation. There’s a reason it won the Palme D’Or at Cannes after all.

Photo: Parasite

Litus

A group of friends reunite six months after the suicide of their friend Litus. During their reunion, they each receive a goodbye letter from their late friend and begin to brood over the possibilities their own letters have to say. While each friend is confronted by their own denials and hidden feelings, Director Dani de la Orden depicts the ideal fluidity of mixed emotions each cast member endures through all the chaos. A heart-rending drama with hints of dry humor, Litus invites you to reflect on life, companionships, and our bonds to our most cherished ones.

Photo: Variety

Honey Boy

After receiving court-ordered therapy, Shia LaBeouf turned his therapy into something astounding: the screenplay for Honey Boy. Inspired by his early life as a child actor and upbringing by his alcoholic, ex-rodeo clown father (played by Shia himself); LeBeouf cuts back and forth from the potent memories of his past to his present. During the present LeBeouf exemplifies his struggles to cope with his own demons while in rehab. Deemed as “a confessional outpour on the lasting effects of childhood trauma,” Honey Boy hits different with the touching authenticity of its screenplay.

Photo: Variety

Cover photo Variety.