Heartbreaking Films You Should Never Watch Alone

We are not robots. We feel things. We can't survive on comedic bromances and CGI-ed action sequences alone. We like our joy, but we need our sadness, too. So bring a box of tissues or dried out makeup wipes and settle in for some melancholic film-watching. It's not about wallowing in misery, it's about getting lost in a story that captures the full human experience, with all of its highs and lows.

A good drama hits you right where it hurts, whether it's Call Me By Your Name's starcrossed romance or Fruitvale Station's sense of injustice. If these cinematic tear-jerkers don't have you crying, keening, and curling up into a little ball, we don't know what will.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Hushpuppy, played by a 6-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, lives in a community cut off from the mainland US, both figuratively and literally. Bathtub is an independent settlement in a Louisiana bayou. She and her father, along with their neighbours, fend for themselves entirely. With a major storm coming, the community's finds itself in immediate danger. And Hushpuppy realises that her father, who takes care of her, might not always be around.
Mudbound (2017)

After WWII, two soldiers come home to their families in the Mississippi Delta. Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) goes home to his family's small house, where they live as sharecroppers on Jamie McAllan's (Garrett Hedlund) family farm. Both bring home scars from the war that only the other can understand. Their relationship sets forth a devastating domino effect.
What Maisie Knew (2012)

A little girl learns about the foibles of the human condition early on, when she's treated like a pawn in her parents' custody battle.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)

This riveting drama, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, is based on Andre Aciman's acclaimed 2007 novel and explores lust and sensuality in a way which will rip your heart open wide (in the best way possible).
Dead Man Walking (1995)

As his day of execution inches closer, Matthew Poncelot (Sean Penn), a young man in prison, calls on Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) to help him appeal his sentence. Sister Helen finds herself forming a bond with both the killer and his victims' families.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Further proof that cartoons aren't always funny. This Studio Ghibli movie is set in Japan during WWII. A boy and his younger sister fight for their lives at the war's end.
Lion (2016)

Technically, Lion can be considered "uplifting." In the film, which is based off a true story, a 5-year-old boy is separated from his older brother on a trip to the city from their rural village in India. The boy, Saroo, is adopted by a couple in Australia, and grows up with the gnawing memory of his past family. Using Google Earth, he's able to reconnect with his family.

The sequence of Saroo lost in Kolkata is utterly devastating.
Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a deeply empathetic, kind Mexican immigrant who's had quite a hard week — her neighbor killed her pet goat! When her car breaks down at her wealthy employers' house, she's reluctantly invited to join their dinner. At the dinner, celebrating Beatriz goes head-to-head with a callous billionaire, and feels steamrolled by forces of capitalism. It's a quiet, disturbing movie that'll make you weep for the underdog.
Wind River (2017)

At the start of Wind River, an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) makes the drive from Las Vegas to the desolate Wyoming Native American reservation of Wind River to investigate the murder of a local girl. Completely adrift, she teams up with local tracker (Jeremy Renner) to solve the crime, and ends up unearthing a gruesome precedent of violence against women in the process. Based on a true story, Wind River is a maelstrom of devastating elements: Murder, sexual assault, the bleak Wyoming countryside in winter, forces of economic repression. You'll cry on multiple occasions.
Finding Neverland (2004)

The movie about J.M. Barrie and the creation of Peter Pan hits you where it hurts: The fleeting nature of childhood, the tragedy of losing a loved one, the realization that we all must leave Neverland.
The Wrestler (2008)

After a stellar career as a wrestler, Randy Robinson (Mickey Rourke) thinks he can make it back into the professional wrestling circuit, but is confronted with the realities of ageing. What's a wrestler to do when he can't wrestle anymore? The Wrestler is a bleak portrait of getting old.
Image: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
Philomena (2013)

While this award-winning drama starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan has its moments of levity, it's hard to shake the awfulness of the real-life Philomena Lee's search for a son she was forced to give up for adoption.
Photo: Weinstein Company, The/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
The Reader (2008)

Both this and the Bernhard Schlink novel on which it's based are likely to plunge you into quiet contemplation about love, privilege, and moral complicity. No surprise that Kate Winslet won an Oscar (after several nominations) for her role as a German woman with a cruel past.
Photo: Jeanne Louise Bulliard/Lions Gate/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
Monster's Ball (2001)

Halle Berry made history as the first Black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar thanks to her gripping portrayal of a widow and mother who must endure one devastating loss after another. And if you make it through this film — between suicide, the death of a child, racism, crime, and poverty, no anguishing stone is left unturned — without dissolving into tears, you deserve an award of your own.
Vera Drake (2004)

If Call the Midwife leaves you choking back sobs, you may not be able to handle Mike Leigh's bleak but important depiction of a mild-mannered cleaner who performs illegal abortions in the East End circa 1950. Imelda Staunton won a BAFTA and earned an Oscar nod for playing the title character.
The Way We Were (1973)

Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) love each other! So much! But not even love is enough to surmount their diametrically opposed value systems. Katie's a very liberal Jewish activist. Hubbel's a complacent WASP. When Katie's political beliefs start to impact Hubbel's career as a screenwriter in 1950s Red Scare-era Hollywood, not even love can save them.
Photo: Anne Marie Fox/Voltage/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto bought took home Oscars thanks to this bleak but inspiring drama about one Texan's efforts to treat AIDS patients like himself.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Miss You Already (2015)

No spoilers, but what initially begins as a lighthearted romp about two longtime pals (played by Drew Barrymore and Toni Colette) eventually digs deep into mortality and the expectations of friendship.
Photo: Apaches Entertainment/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
A Monster Calls (2016)

You know you're a goner when even the trailer leaves you in pieces. Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall star in this children's fantasy tale about a boy who turns to a strange creature to cope with his mother's terminal illness.
Photo: 20th Century Fox/Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
Titanic (1997)

We'll never let go of this big-budget love story, even if we all know Rose (Kate Winslet) totally could have made room for Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) on that door.
Photo: Jose Haro/Survival Pictures/REX/Shutterstock.
The Promise (2017)

A film about the Armenian genocide is bound to trigger outrage and sorrow, so it's no surprise that this period drama starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale had us sniffling into our sleeves. Still, it's an important chapter of history that bears reminding.
Legends of the Fall (1994)

There's more to this decades-spanning drama than just pretty Brad Pitt and his long, long hair. Death, war, and lost love make this story about three brothers smitten with the same woman a total heartbreaker.
13th (2016)

Ava DuVernay's devastating Oscar-nominated documentary about race and the prison system in America will blast you with feelings - anger, shame, pity. But you'll mainly just be left heartbroken. A must-watch.
Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) just can't catch a break when a heart attack puts him out of work. Named Best British Film at the 2017 BAFTAs, this Ken Loach drama is an indictment on the welfare system and bureaucratic red tape that'll leave you outraged and heartbroken.
Photo: Phil Bray/Tiger Moth/Miramax/REX/Shutterstock.
The English Patient (1996)

We're such slaves to tragic romances set during wartime, aren't we? This Anthony Minghella-directed epic starring Ralph Fiennes and Queen of Fucking Everything Kristin Scott Thomas reduced romantics to tears and has a pile of Oscars to show for it.
Photo: Canal+/REX/Shutterstock.
White Material (2009)

If you're on a Isabelle Huppert kick thanks to Elle, consider this incredibly intense French drama set in an unnamed African country on the brink of civil war. Huppert plays a coffee plantation owner determined to stay afloat at all costs. To say things get bleak is an understatement.
Photo: Barbarian Films/REX/Shutterstock.
The Greatest (2009)

A family's struggle to come to terms with the death of their son grows more complicated when it's revealed that his girlfriend is pregnant with his child.
Photo: Mark Johnson Productions/REX/Shutterstock.
My Sister's Keeper (2009)

Based on Jodi Picoult's novel, this tear-jerker focuses on a family with two daughters: one diagnosed with leukaemia and the other conceived via IVF as a "saviour sister," meaning she's a medical match who can theoretically donate organs. Drama ensues when the younger sister (Abigail Breslin) sues for medical emancipation.
Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
Toy Story 3 (2010)

We're not crying during a kid's movie. You're crying during a kid's movie.
Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock.
Beginners (2010)

Directed by Mike Mills of 20th Century Women fame, this heartfelt drama about a man recovering from the loss of his father earned Christopher Plummer an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Photo: Universal/Gordon/REX/Shutterstock.
Field of Dreams (1989)

You don't have to be a dude with daddy issues, or even a baseball fan, to be moved by this tale about second chances.
Photo: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studio.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Catching one of the year's most critically acclaimed films comes with a price: buckets of tears. Grief is at the heart of this story about a man tapped to raise his late brother's teen son.
Photo: Bob Askester/Milestones Productions Inc./Sony/REX/Shutterstock.
My Life Without Me (2003)

Sarah Polley plays a young woman who keeps her terminal ovarian cancer a secret from her husband and children, choosing instead to embark on new experiences.
Photo: MGM/REX/Shutterstock.
Of Mice and Men (1992)

Sad book, sad film. This adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel sees Gary Sinise and John Malkovich as ranch-hands George and Lennie, two men with big dreams and no shortage of hardships.
Photo: Everett/REX/Shutterstock
Candy (2006)

When we meet Dan and Candy (played by Heath Ledger and Abby Cornish) they are a beautiful loved-up couple living in Sydney. But heroin slowly takes its hold over them, and their descent into addiction threatens their relationship. Divided into three parts – Heaven, Earth and Hell – Candy boasts breathtaking performances from its two leads.
Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

This is as bleak as they come. Lilya is a poor teenage girl abandoned by her mother in a small town in the former Soviet Union. Her downward spiral takes her to Sweden and involves human trafficking and sexual slavery. Lukas Moodysson’s film is as powerful as it is devastating.
Photo: Everett/REX/Shutterstock
Amy (2015)

We all know how this one ends but the heady mix of a heartbreaking story, relayed respectfully, soundtracked by Amy Winehouse's soulful voice and world-weary lyrics is almost too much to bear. Amy left us too soon and this film reminds us exactly how much we lost.
Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Based on the novel by Australian author ML Stedman, and directed by Blue Valentine’s Derek Cianfrance, this is a new film about love and sacrifice that isn’t afraid to get seriously sentimental. When a rowing boat washes up on their private shore, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander discover a dead man and a screaming baby inside. What they do next will change four people’s lives forever.
Photo:New Line Cin/REX/Shutterstock
Me Before You (2016)

You’ve cried at the book, now you can cry at the film. Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin star in this tearjerker about a woman and the severely disabled man she ends up caring – and falling – for.
Photo: Columbia/REX/Shutterstock.
Stand By Me (1986)

Starring only River Phoenix – joke. Starring River Phoenix as the bad boy of the group Chris Chambers, Will Wheaton as the imaginative Gordie Lachance grieving the loss of his older brother, Corey Feldman as the really wild one Teddy Duchamp whose father burned his ear on a stove and Jerry O’Connell as Vern Tessio, who buries his pennies and brings a comb, Stand By Me is a beautiful film before it’s a sad one. The four boys journey to find a dead body and along the way realise the value of friendship and the fragility of life. For the most part it’s funny and sad in equal measure, but you’ll remember the tragedy of the last line forever.
Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock.
Control (2007)

Sam Riley gives the performance of a lifetime as the troubled frontman of the cult band Joy Division, Ian Curtis. Directed in stark black and white by Anton Corbijn, the film is set in the late ‘70s in Macclesfield and Manchester where the band started out. Struggling to cope with the accelerated fame and accompanying pressure, Curtis is also diagnosed with epilepsy. Supported by the incredible Samantha Morton who plays Ian’s young wife Deborah Curtis, the story explores poetry, music and the complication of loving someone, and then falling in love again. If you’re a fan of Joy Division, you’ll know why this film is in a top sad movies list. If you’re not, you’ll be playing “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on repeat for about 18 months after.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
The Constant Gardener (2005)

Beyond the intrigue, this political thriller digs deep into heartbreak, questions of fidelity, and devotion.
Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Frozen River (2008)

Melissa Leo and the late Misty Upham star in this bleak drama about two women (one a down-and-out single mom, the other a Mohawk bingo parlour employee separated from her son) going to great lengths to make ends meet.
Photo: Redwave Films/Embargo Films.
Still Life (2013)

Eddie Marsan stars as a government employee tasked with sorting out funerals for deceased citizens who have no loved ones. One final case prompts him to investigate the death of a man who died in squalor. Trust us when we tell you that the ending will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

This might just be sadder than all of those other films. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl won the very very prestigious Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. It tells the story of three school friends (played by Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler and Thomas Mann), one of whom is battling cancer. Finding themselves, losing themselves, and realising that life isn’t as rosy as a Sundance film, this modern masterpiece will surprise and devastate you for at least seven days, and then in small moments for the rest of your life. It’s also a comedy.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
Philadelphia (1993)

We still can't listen to Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen without welling up, and it's all due to this tearjerker. Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for playing an AIDS-stricken lawyer suing his old firm for discrimination, with Denzel Washington as the "ambulance chaser" leading the charge.
Photo: Snap Stills/REX Shutterstock.
Fruitvale Station (2013)

If you sobbed when Wallace got shot on The Wire, this other Michael B. Jordan vehicle will no doubt have you in the fetal position for days. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that the events in the Ryan Coogler-directed drama actually happened.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
All Is Lost (2013)

What this Robert Redford drama lacks in dialogue, it compensates with edge-of-your-seat drama and an overwhelming sense of weariness and frustration. Will Redford save his broken boat? Maybe. Will you ever go sailing again? Probably not.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
About Time (2013)

On its face, this is a rom-com with a time-traveling twist. Perhaps that's why the built-in life lessons and a plot about terminal illness hit us like a ton of bricks.
Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
Still Alice (2014)

Julianne Moore earned her Best Actress Oscar for playing an active and intelligent 50-year-old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her struggle is heartbreaking, from having to tell her grown children that the disease is genetic, to making a list of questions she must answer every day to keep her memory sharp.
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
My Girl (1991)

Although the 1991 coming-of-age film is billed as a comedy-drama, director Howard Zieff certainly pulled out all the stops when young Vada Sultenfuss (played by newcomer Anna Chlumsky) had to deal with the tragic loss of her friend (Macaulay Culkin) while growing up in her father's funeral home in the '70s.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
The Elephant Man (1980)

David Lynch's 1980 biopic of Victorian freak-show exhibit John Merrick, a man suffering from severe elephantiasis, is a stark indictment of the inhumanity and moral exclusion people routinely inflict on others.
Photo: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
Blue Valentine (2010)

Michelle Williams certainly earned her Oscar nomination in this 2010 film documenting the gut-wrenching dissolution of her character's marriage to a violent alcoholic played by Ryan Gosling.
Photo: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures.
Steel Magnolias (1989)

Few movies portray the bonds of female friendship quite like this 1989 ensemble dramedy, adapted from the eponymous Robert Harling play. The film — which features a magnificent cast, including Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and Dolly Parton — tells the story of how a tight-knit group of Southern women support each other through the various peaks and valleys of their lives. Some of the saddest moments are watching Sally Fields' grief as her daughter, a pre-Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, dies of complications from diabetes. Talk about an emotional gut punch.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
P.S. I Love You (2007)

This movie is explicitly designed to turn on the waterworks. It's the story of a young widow (Hilary Swank) who receives posthumous letters of encouragement from her late husband (Gerard Butler) after he dies of a brain tumour.
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
My Life (1993)

This under-appreciated 1993 gem features Michael Keaton as a high-powered PR executive and expectant father who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fearing that he will not live long enough to see the birth of his son, Keaton records a video documentary of himself so that his child can get to know him.
Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema.
Magnolia (1999)

Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 drama features an interconnected group of characters in L.A, who are forced to grapple with forgiveness, desperation, and the search for happiness when their lives intersect around the death of a terminally ill quiz-show producer played by Jason Robards. The scene where Tom Cruise's pick-up artist character breaks down by the death bed of his estranged father is one of the great emotionally affecting scenes (and Cruise won his third Golden Globe for the role).
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Atonement (2007)

The iconic Vanessa Redgrave delivers a somber and arresting performance as a novelist who used fiction to atone for the young lovers whose lives she ruined when she mistakenly accused a man (James McAvoy) of a sex crime at the onset of World War II. Adapted from the 2001 Ian McEwan novel, the film deals with decades' worth of grief as a result of a youthful flight of fancy that contributed to the premature death of her sister (Keira Knightley) and the false imprisonment of her sister's lover.
Photo: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures.
Beaches (1988)

It is absolutely impossible not to cry during this 1988 drama where the deeply complicated 30-year-friendship between a brash actress (Bette Midler) and a privileged lawyer (Barbara Hershey) is brought to an abrupt end when the latter is diagnosed with a rare heart disease. The opening bars of Midler's performance of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" are usually all it takes to open the floodgates.
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Hilary Swank is a bit of a staple in the tearjerker genre. This time around she's a scrappy boxer who eventually develops a bond with her hard-nosed boxing coach, played by Clint Eastwood (who also directed the film). The movie has all the makings of your typical sports drama with a triumphant underdog — until it delivers an emotional sucker punch at the end.
Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Up (2009)

We have to hand it to this 2009 Pixar offering for completely reinventing the formula we've come to know and expect from sad movies. While most tearjerkers save the most gut-wrenching developments for the third act, this beloved animated feature has both kids and adults reaching for the Kleenex within the first 10 minutes.
Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

As this 2014 romantic dramedy proves, the only thing more tragic than a fresh-faced teenager with terminal cancer is a fresh-faced teenager with terminal cancer in love. This film though? Doubles down: It features two terminally ill teens in love, played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
Photo: Courtesy of Miramax Films.
Life Is Beautiful (1997)

The Italian film's director and star Roberto Benigni took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance of a father trying to distract his son from the horrors of life in a Nazi concentration camp.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Boys Don't Cry (1999)

Hilary Swank makes yet another appearance on the list in this indie biopic of Brandon Teena, a trans man whose blossoming romance with a karaoke singer (Chloë Sevigny) was cut short after he was brutally murdered in small-town Nebraska. The movie is not only heartbreaking because of it's ill-fated love story, but also because it illustrates the bigotry and threats that many trans* people have historically endured and continue to face.
Photo: Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father (2008)

Dear Zachary is a unique entry on this list because it's a documentary. The 2008 film starts off as a video diary to the infant Zachary from friends and family giving testimonials about the murdered father he'll never meet. Events take an unexpected, true-crime turn however, and tragedy further compounds itself by the film's end.
Photo: Courtesy of Fine Line Features.
Dancer In The Dark (2000)

Leave it to Lars von Trier to make arguably the most depressing musical ever filmed. Things start out pretty bleak, with Björk starring as an impoverished factory worker who is pinching pennies to pay for an operation that will save her son from the same genetic, degenerative eye disease that is causing her to go blind. If that doesn't sound upsetting enough, things only go downhill from there.
Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Sophie's Choice (1982)

Thanks to this critically lauded 1982 drama, the term "Sophie's Choice" has entered the lexicon to stand for any scenario where one must make an impossible decision. In this case, Meryl Streep's Sophie was forced to choose which of her two young children would be sent to the gas chamber when the family was imprisoned in Auschwitz. Streep brought home an Oscar for her performance, and the film as a whole pretty much set the gold standard for tearjerkers.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
12 Years A Slave (2014)

One could argue that the saddest movies on the list are the ones depict the inhumanity of people or institutions in power. Steve McQueen's 2014 Best Picture winner is not only heartbreaking because it depicts the plight of one man sold into slavery, but because it depicts the cruelty that was once an accepted as status quo.
Photo: Courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment.
The Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Vittorio De Sica's 1948 Italian neorealist film is widely lauded as one of the best movies ever made. A young father is desperate to feed his impoverished family, so he scrapes together the money to buy the bicycle necessary for his new job hanging advertisements around the city. As luck would have it, his bike gets stolen on his first day on the job. With his young son in tow, the man sets out on a near impossible mission to get it back.
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Amour (2012)

Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke isn't known for making particularly uplifting films, and 2012's Amour is no exception. This Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film takes a profoundly sad and somber look at how an elderly Parisian couple fares when one half slips into dementia after a series of strokes.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Terms Of Endearment (1983)

No list of sad movies is complete without this 1983 dramedy. Shirley MacLaine's performance, particularly the part where she's dealing with the loss of her daughter, is the barometer against which all other sad-movie performances must be measured.
Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (2008)

If Sophie's Choice and Life Is Beautiful taught us anything, the surefire formula for a devastating tearjerker combines the Holocaust with child mortality, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has both. Nine-year-old Bruno's family relocates near a concentration camp when his father, an SS officer, is given a promotion. Little Bruno sneaks off and befriends a prisoner his age near the edge of the camp, where they play checkers through the barbed wire. Although the two boys become great friends, little Bruno learns some hard truths about what his father does for a living, and why his new friend wears what he mistakenly assumes are pyjamas.
Photo: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
The Road (2009)

In this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, this film's grim, post-apocalyptic vision makes the dystopia of The Hunger Games look downright desirable. The unnamed father and son duo do their best to keep hope alive in a bleak world where roving bands have turned to cannibalism in the bleak hellscape left over from an unspecified disaster.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
The Day Of The Locust (1975)

John Schlesinger's 1975 adaptation of the Nathanael West novel of the same name is a grim look at Hollywood in the '30s, particularly at a group of broken has-beens and never-were who failed to make their show business dreams come true.
Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema.
The Notebook (2004)

Sure, we all like to think of 2004's The Notebook as an enduring love story first and foremost, especially given the fantastic circumstances leading up to Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling's sexy, rain-soaked kiss. However, we have to hand it to James Garner and Gena Rowlands for effectively reducing us all to tears at the end.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This 1950 Billy Wilder masterpiece is a noirish, cautionary tale of life after fame. Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond is believed to be a composite of many of the silent film era starlets who descended into reclusivity and madness after fading into obscurity.
Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)

This heartbreaking love story of the 20-year affair between two ranch hands, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, was easily the most talked-about movie of 2005. Ledger and Gyllenhaal began an affair on a job site on the movie's titular mountain, before being fired by the summer's end. The pair continue with a shaky and sporadic relationship, despite their attempts to marry women and live lifestyles that society deemed more acceptable in the '60s to the '80s.
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Stepmom (1998)

Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts play the respective ex-wife and fiancée to Ed Harris. The tension between the two is heightened when Sarandon passive aggressively uses her children as pawns in her quiet war with her ex. However, the women are forced to make peace when Sarandon is diagnosed with terminal cancer and they realise the family dynamics really will change forever.
Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate.
Precious (2009)

This is easily one of the hardest movies on the list to watch. The 2009 Lee Daniels film tells the story of Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), an illiterate, pregnant 16-year-old who regularly escapes into her own fantasy world when faced with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her family. Despite being in the eighth grade at 16, Precious is tasked with getting her GED and ultimately changing her life's direction so that she can escape her abusive home and provide for her children.
Photo: Courtesy of United Artists.
The Champ (1979)

Franco Zeffirelli's 1979 remake of the 1931 film of the same name features a young Ricky Schroder in his film debut. The movie details the dysfunctional relationship between young T.J (Schroder) and his dad (Jon Voight), a former boxer turned alcoholic horse trainer with a gambling problem. However, things get more complicated as T.J.'s estranged mother (Faye Dunaway) comes back into the picture. Despite being just 9 years old, Schroder gives an incredibly impressive onscreen cry. In turn, it will definitely get your waterworks going.
Requiem For A Dream (2000)

Directed by Rachel Weisz's ex-partner Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, this psychological thriller about a group of drug addicts all suffering under the thumb of different narcotics is brilliant, maddening and desperately sad.
Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Hailee Steinfeld's new drama is more emotionally piercing than you might expect from a film aimed at teens. You'll leave feeling grateful that your high school days are behind you.

Pictured: Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson
The Green Mile (1999)

Stephen King doesn't just pen terrifying stories like It and The Shining; he writes devastating ones, too. In The Green Mile, a group of Death Row prison guards are forever changed by a convict who's unlike the rest of the bunch. Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) had never met anyone like John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), thrown in the pen for the supposed murder of two little girls. Along with his gentle and naive spirit, John is also graced with something that's decidedly, well – divine. Could he really be a murderer?
The Pianist (2002)

Based on a true story, The Pianist is about a man who spends the entirety of WWII hiding and in extreme isolation. Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a Polish Jewish pianist who lives in Warsaw, and sees his neighborhood shift at the start of the war. He moves into the Jewish Ghetto with his family, but they're later separated. Wladyslaw drifts around the ruins of Warsaw in this quiet, devastating film.
Melancholia (2011)

Lars von Trier would stage a wedding at the end of the world. As Earth heads toward a fatal collision with the planet Melancholia, two sisters handle it differently: Claire (Kirsten Dunst) focuses on her extravagant wedding, and Justine (Charlotte Gainsbourg) buckles under the fear of disaster.
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