100 Saddest Movies of All Time

22-05-2019 20:05

Source: ViktorCap / Getty Images
“Sa-a-a-d movies always make me cry,” sang Sue Thompson in her 1961 hit song of (almost) the same name. In her case, as it turned out, it wasn’t really the movie that brought tears to her eyes but the sight of her best friend and her “darlin’” making out in the dark in front of her. But movies do make people cry — and not just lovelorn teenagers, either.

What makes a movie sad? Doomed romance, dashed hopes, the demise of a beloved institution or a way of life … and death, of course — of a loved one, a self-sacrificing hero, a sad-eyed animal.

Everyone has a different idea of what’s sad and what isn’t, to be sure; like humor, it’s a matter of taste and temperament. You might be sobbing through a film’s finale, while somebody next to you is nodding off from boredom. You might be laughing at the absurdity of a cinematic twist of fate, while everybody else in the theatre is sniffling and dabbing at their tear ducts.

By researching published lists of sad movies on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and weighing in ourselves, based on our own film-going experiences and definitions of “sad,” 24/7 Tempo was able to come up with a list of, what we think could fairly be considered, the saddest movies ever made.

The list includes everything from exceptional movies based on true events to melancholy animated films. You may disagree with some of our choices, wondering where your favorite poignant epic is, or how we could be saddened by this or that silly flick, but trust us: These hundred films will bring tears to almost everybody’s eyes.

In case you’re tempted to watch some of these for the first time, by the way, be forewarned, there are many spoilers ahead.

Click here for the 100 saddest movies of all time.

To determine the saddest movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo began with 646 movies found on the user-created lists of sad films found on Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Next, we narrowed down the list by choosing films that were the most popular with both amateur and professional viewers, considering the Rotten Tomatoes average critic and audience ratings and the IMDb average user ratings. We picked the films with at least 10,000 user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved “Tomatometer” critic reviews. We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating.

Once we had that list, we brought editorial discretion (and knowledge of specific films) into play, deleting movies that didn’t seem sufficiently moving and adding some that we deemed essential.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

1. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
> Directed by: Steve McQueen
> Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender

Based on an 1853 memoir by a free black man from Saratoga, New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, this film convincingly evokes the cruelty of plantation life, but it also pays tribute to the resilience of the enslaved. Though the story ends with the hero returned to his home and family, he has lost 12 years of his life and missed seeing his children grow into adults.


Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

2. 127 Hours (2010)
> Directed by: Danny Boyle
> Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara

This is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who is trapped by a fallen boulder in a remote canyon in Utah. Unable to free himself, he finds his mind wandering as he films himself saying goodbye to his family and even carves his own headstone before taking an unimaginable step in order to survive.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

3. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
> Directed by: Lewis Milestone
> Starring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray

Hailed as one of the best war movies ever made, this World War I epic follows young German schoolboys who enlist in the army and witness the horrors of battle, coming to realize that there’s nothing glorious or romantic about war. The main character, Paul, who at one point tries to save the life of a French soldier he has stabbed, is himself killed at the end as he reaches for a butterfly.

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

4. American Beauty (1999)
> Directed by: Sam Mendes
> Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch

Blackmail, infidelity, genetically modified marijuana, a 42-year-old man’s obsession with a teenage girl, a teenage boy’s obsession with his camcorder, a homophobic Marine Corps officer who kisses the 42-year-old man, his straight son who pretends to be gay, a sudden murder… It all adds up to a suburban tragedy.

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

5. American History X (1998)
> Directed by: Tony Kaye
> Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D’Angelo

A high school student is assigned to write a paper about his older brother, a former neo-Nazi leader, and becomes involved with white supremacists himself. Both eventually repent, but after he turns in his paper, the younger brother is killed by a black student, leaving his older sibling to mourn.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

6. Amour (2012)
> Directed by: Michael Haneke
> Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert

This French tear-jerker is about two former musicians and piano teachers, husband and wife, both in their 80s. One morning, the woman has a stroke and ends up partially paralyzed. When she gets out of the hospital, her husband promises she will never go back, and when he can no longer care for her, he tells her a story, then smothers her. He covers her body with flowers and seals the room she’s in, then imagines her washing dishes in the kitchen.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

7. Atonement (2007)
> Directed by: Joe Wright
> Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn

On the eve of World War II, a country house romance between a young woman from a wealthy family and the housekeeper’s son is interrupted when he is unjustly accused by the woman’s jealous sister of raping a young relative. He goes to prison and then into the army. Before he ships out, he apparently has one last meeting with his love, who has remained true to him and believes in his innocence. At the end, we learn that the meeting was invented as part of a novel written by the now elderly sister, as an act of atonement for her lie. The young man died of blood poisoning at the Battle of Dunkirk, and his love was drowned in a London subway tunnel that flooded after a German bomb attack.


Source: Courtesy of Cinema Ventures

8. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
> Directed by: Robert Bresson
> Starring: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, François Lafarge

A young girl gets a baby donkey named Balthazar as a summertime pet in this film by the famously austere French filmmaker Robert Bresson. The donkey subsequently goes through a number of owners, who work him hard at best and are outright cruel to him at worst. The girl, meanwhile, grows up and falls in love with a motorbike-riding bad boy. At the end, old and dying, the donkey is reunited with his first owner, and later walks into a herd of sheep, lies down, and dies.

Source: Courtesy of New World Pictures

9. Autumn Sonata (1978)
> Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
> Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullmann, Lena Nyman

An aging world-famous pianist travels to a small village to visit the daughter she hasn’t seen for years. To her dismay, her second daughter, who is mentally disabled, is present in the house. Despite the tragedies all have endured, the mother and the first daughter reveal long pent-up feelings to each other opening the road to reconciliation.

Source: Courtesy of Wild Bunch

10. Beyond the Hills (2012)
> Directed by: Cristian Mungiu
> Starring: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriutã

Two young women, friends since their orphanage days and one-time lovers, reunite at a rural convent where one of them is about to take her vows. The other tries to lure her friend away, but when she challenges the priest, she’s subjected to an exorcism that ends badly.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

11. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
> Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
> Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard

A young transgender man falls in love with a woman who is unconcerned with his sexual identity. The woman’s unenlightened male friends beat and rape the man. Later, they get drunk and decide to kill him, which they do despite his lover’s pleas.


Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

12. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
> Directed by: John Singleton
> Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir

Three young black men take different paths out of South Central Los Angeles in this gritty evocation of West Coast ghetto life. When one of them, about to go to USC on an athletic scholarship, is killed by Crips gang members, the other two and another friend set out to avenge his death. One bows out of the mission, but the other two follow through. One is killed two weeks later, raising the question of whether there is a way out of South Central’s cycle of violence.

Source: Courtesy of October Films

13. Breaking the Waves (1996)
> Directed by: Lars von Trier
> Starring: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge

The life of a couple in a rural Scottish village in the 1970s is shattered when the husband is paralyzed in an oil rig accident. Unable to perform sexually, he asks his wife to take lovers and tell him about her experiences. At first she refuses, but then becomes convinced that her actions will somehow cure her mate. As her indiscretions become known in the village, she is ostracized and eventually killed. Her husband miraculously recovers, and when she is refused a Christian burial, he steals the body and buries her at sea.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

14. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
> Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore
> Starring: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili

Told mostly in flashback, this is the story of a young boy in a Sicilian village who loves movies and spends hours watching them from the projection booth of the local theatre with the kindly projectionist. When a fire leaves the man blind, the boy takes over his duties. The boy grows up and falls in love with a local girl, but after the girl’s father intervenes on the budding relationship, the boy joins the army and leaves town for good. Years later, having become a famous director himself, he returns for his mentor’s funeral.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

15. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
> Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
> Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a biographical film based on the life of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient who smuggled unapproved experimental drugs into Texas during the 1980s. While Woodroof’s actions begin primarily as a means of making money, his compassion for other patients grows even as his own health deteriorates.

Source: Courtesy of Fine Line Features

16. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
> Directed by: Lars von Trier
> Starring: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse

This heart-tugging tale, set in Washington state in 1964, stars the Icelandic pop star Björk as a musical-loving Czech immigrant who is slowly going blind from a genetic condition. As she desperately tries to save money for an operation that will prevent her young son from suffering the same fate, she periodically breaks into song and dance. Her cop neighbor, himself in need of funds, steals from her, leading to a deadly confrontation.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

17. Days of Heaven (1978)
> Directed by: Terrence Malick
> Starring: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard

Set in the Texas Panhandle before World War I, this beautifully photographed movie is about a fugitive man, his girlfriend, and his kid sister who find work on a farm and hatch a plot of inherit the wealthy farmer’s money. The farmer and the fugitive die at the end and the sisters go their separate ways.


Source: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

18. Dead Man Walking (1995)
> Directed by: Tim Robbins
> Starring: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky

A nun befriends a convicted murderer on Death Row shortly before his execution, even as she empathizes with the families of the victims. Attempts to win the killer a stay of execution fail, but she helps him accept responsibility for his crimes, and rests her hand on his shoulder as he walks his last mile.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

19. Dead Poets Society (1989)
> Directed by: Peter Weir
> Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

Social and educational dynamics at a private boys’ school in New England in the 1950s provide the setting for this elegiac and inspiring Robin Williams vehicle. An unorthodox teacher (Williams), a resurrected secret society, a martinet father, and a school play lead up to a tragic suicide and the teacher’s dismissal.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

20. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
> Directed by: Michel Gondry
> Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” stands out from other films thanks to its relentless creativity, driven by the film’s director Michel Gondry and co-writer Charlie Kaufman. The clever direction and original screenwriting help highlight a story of heartbreak, in which two former lovers attempt to remove all memories of their failed relationship.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

21. Fail-Safe (1964)
> Directed by: Sidney Lumet
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver

New Yorkers will find this one particularly heart-rending: When a technical glitch sends nuclear bombs to Moscow and one pilot, defying orders, releases his payload over the Russian capital, the U.S. president — seeking to avoid mutual total destruction — sends America’s own A-bomb-equipped planes to destroy New York City.


Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

22. Forrest Gump (1994)
> Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise

Clocking in at nearly two and a half hours, “Forrest Gump” has everything from comedy to romance. Yet the film leaves viewers on a rather low note, related to protagonist Forrest losing the love of his life. The ending didn’t dissuade audiences from flocking to the movie, which grossed over $675 million worldwide.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

23. Gallipoli (1981)
> Directed by: Peter Weir
> Starring: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr

In 1915, a young Australian rancher and a sometime railway worker, both of whom are talented sprinters, enlist in the army and are sent to do battle against the Ottoman army on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula. Both put their running speed to use in the field before incompetent officers send scores of Aussie soldiers, including the rancher, to their deaths.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

24. Gone Girl (2014)
> Directed by: David Fincher
> Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

In this convoluted thriller based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel, a woman vanishes on her fifth wedding anniversary, leaving a shattered glass table behind. Her husband becomes a suspect in her disappearance, and evidence seems to point to him as the culprit. In fact, his cold-blooded wife has staged the whole thing, and, after murdering an ex-boyfriend of hers to cover her tracks, she reappears and forces her husband to take her back.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

25. Gone with the Wind (1939)
> Directed by: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
> Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell

Director Victor Fleming’s 1939 Civil War-era epic tells the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern belle whose life is riddled with unfortunate events. From the deterioration of her family plantation, “Tara,” to the deaths of multiple close family members, O’Hara’s suffering reflects the decline of the old South.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

26. Good Will Hunting (1997)
> Directed by: Gus Van Sant
> Starring: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

“Good Will Hunting” rocketed the film’s writers and lead actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Hollywood superstardom. The movie follows Will Hunting, an underachieving genius played by Damon, as he attends therapy sessions, tries to put his intellectual gifts to good use, and navigates life with the woman he’s falling in love with. The movie’s emotional climax, during which Hunting’s therapist helps him with an emotional breakthrough, rarely leaves a dry eye in the house.

Source: Courtesy of Gkids

27. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
> Directed by: Isao Takahata
> Starring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi

Animated films are infrequently amongst the saddest, especially when they involve children. “Grave of the Fireflies” is the major exception. The harrowing anime follows the lives of a young brother and sister in Japan during the final days of World War II. Film critic Ernest Rister has called it “the most profoundly human animated film [he’s] ever seen.”


Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

28. Harold and Maude (1971)
> Directed by: Hal Ashby
> Starring: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles

This is an unconventional (to put it mildly) love story about an affair between a death-obsessed 19-year-old boy and a sensual septuagenarian woman. In the course of their time together, she encourages him to live for the moment, but when he throws her a surprise 80th birthday party, she tells him that 80 is the right age to die, and that she has taken poison. He rushes her to the hospital, but it’s too late.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

29. Her (2013)
> Directed by: Spike Jonze
> Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

In the near future, a lonely introvert going through a divorce buys an operating system with artificial intelligence, gives her a female identity, and falls in love with her. She apparently reciprocates. All goes well until she tells him that she interacts with thousands of other people, too, and is in love with 641 of them. She then tells him that she and other similar operating systems have evolved beyond humanity, and leaves for another plane of being.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

30. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
> Directed by: Terry George
> Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix

In the African Republic of Rwanda in 1994, civil war rages between the two principal ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. The manager of Belgian-owned Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, the country’s capital, turns the high-class hotel into a refuge for persecuted Tutsi until he and his family, along with the refugees, are able to flee to safety.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

31. Il Postino (1994)
> Directed by: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi
> Starring: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta

The young postman in a tiny Italian island fishing village delivers mail daily to a single customer: the celebrated Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who is living in exile from his native country because of his communist views. Neruda teaches the postman the basics of poetry, which he is able to use to woo a beautiful woman. They marry, and Neruda is permitted to return to Chile. Years later, the poet returns to the island and finds the woman and her son, but learns that the postman was killed by police at a political demonstration in Naples.


Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

32. Incendies (2010)
> Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
> Starring: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette

Twins, a brother and sister, journey to their late mother’s birthplace in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The woman’s story is told in flashback. She becomes pregnant by a lover, whom her family kills. She loses her son to adoption, survives a militia attack, joins a radical group and assassinates a Christian leader, and spends 15 years in prison, where she is tortured and raped and impregnated again. She gives birth to the twins. Now (post-flashback) they have been charged with finding their lost half-brother. It turns out that the son was given up for adoption and grew up to unknowingly become his own mother’s torturer and rapist.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

33. Inception (2010)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

This bewilderingly complex science fiction thriller, full of dreams and dreams within dreams, focuses on an industrial spy who can steal secrets from people’s subconscious while they’re asleep. He is also a fugitive, as some of his victims have realized what he’s done to them, but is offered a chance to wipe the slate clean. All he has to do is implant thoughts into someone’s sleeping brain instead of stealing thoughts from them. He succeeds and is finally able to go home — but to what?

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

34. Interstellar (2014)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

In the mid-21st century, America is plagued by dust storms and crop blight, and has regressed to an agrarian society without technical innovation. A former NASA test pilot now lives on a farm with his daughter, son, and father-in-law. The ex-pilot happens onto a bunker, where he finds his old NASA boss, who sends him on a mission through a wormhole in space in search of new inhabitable planets to enable the human race to survive. Decades later, after disappointments and deaths, he returns from the wormhole and he and his daughter, now an elderly woman, reunite on a space station before he goes off again into space.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

35. Into the Wild (2007)
> Directed by: Sean Penn
> Starring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener

Based on the book by prolific author Jon Krakauer, this is the story of a real-life adventurer, an Emory University graduate who destroys his credit cards and IDs, donates his savings to Oxfam, and sets out to experience the wilderness. He kayaks down the Colorado River to Mexico, hitchhikes and rides freight trains through California, and ends up in a remote corner of Alaska, where he lives for months in an abandoned bus. Deciding to return to civilization, he discovers that he is trapped by a stream that has become to deep and fast to cross. Back in his bus, he eats the wrong plant and becomes deathly ill. He writes a farewell note to his family and dies.

Source: Courtesy of Shore International

36. Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
> Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky, Eduard Abalov
> Starring: Nikolay Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov, Evgeniy Zharikov

During World War II, a 12-year-old Russian boy named Ivan, whose family has been killed by the Nazis, works as a spy, crossing German lines to bring information back to the Soviets. Three Russian officers discover him and watch over him as he continues to spy, his activities interspersed with vivid dreams of his pre-war life. After the war ends, one of the officers discovers that Ivan has been captured and executed. The film ends with Ivan’s last dream, of playing with other children on the beach.

Source: Courtesy of Janus Films

37. Jules and Jim (1962)
> Directed by: François Truffaut
> Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre

Two men, an introverted Austrian writer and an ebullient French bohemian, fall in love with the same free-spirited French woman. She marries one and has a daughter with him, then leaves him for the other. For a time both men live happily together with her and the child, but the story ends in tragedy as she drives herself and the Frenchman into the river.


Source: Courtesy of United Artists

38. Kes (1969)
> Directed by: Ken Loach
> Starring: David Bradley, Brian Glover, Freddie Fletcher

A different kind of poignant animal movie: An abused and bullied teenage petty criminal takes a fledgling kestrel falcon from its nest and trains it as his pet, christening it Kes. The bird brings meaning to his life. Then the boy’s stepbrother gives him money to bet on a horse race. He uses it instead to buy food for Kes, and when the stepbrother’s favored horse wins, he’s furious that the boy didn’t place the bet and gets his revenge by killing the kestrel.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

39. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
> Directed by: Robert Benton
> Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander

A wife walks out on her husband and young son. When she returns 15 months later, a brutal custody battle ensues. The court rules in the woman’s favor, but on the day she is to pick up the boy, she has a change of heart and tells her ex that their son belongs with him.

Source: Courtesy of Times Film Corporation

40. L’Eclisse (1962)
> Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
> Starring: Monica Vitti, Alain Delon, Francisco Rabal

A literary translator breaks up with her fiancé, then falls for a materialistic stockbroker. They slowly warm to each other, but they can never quite fully connect. At the end of the film, they make plans to meet, but the camera watches in vain as both fail to appear.

Source: Courtesy of Trans Lux

41. La Strada (1954)
> Directed by: Federico Fellini
> Starring: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart

In this 1950s Fellini classic, a naive young girl living in poverty is sold by her mother into servitude to a sideshow strongman. The Fool, a circus fiddler and high-wire acrobat, convinces the girl to stay with the strongman, despite his cruelty to her. But the Fool also pokes fun at the brute, and he responds by beating the man to death. He then abandons the girl, leaving her to die in the snow.


Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

42. Legends of the Fall (1994)
> Directed by: Edward Zwick
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn

Based on one of the best-known of author Jim Harrison’s works — and considered the film that made Brad Pitt a star — this is the tale of an army colonel raising three sons in rural Montana in the early 1900s. As time goes by, one son goes east to Harvard and returns with a beautiful fiancée. All three brothers go off to fight in World War I and the Harvard graduate is killed. One of his brothers proposes to the woman in his place but is rebuffed, and she and the remaining brother become lovers. He marries another woman, however, driving the abandoned woman to suicide.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

43. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
> Directed by: Roberto Benigni
> Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini

When an Italian Jewish poet and his young son are arrested by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp, the man tells his son that they’re on vacation and tries to turn the whole experience into a game. The youngster survives; his father does not. A critic for Entertainment Weekly called it “the first feel-good Holocaust weepie.”

Source: Courtesy of Newmarket Films

44. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)
> Directed by: Lukas Moodysson
> Starring: Oksana Akinshina, Artyom Bogucharskiy, Pavel Ponomaryov

Abandoned by her mother, a teenage girl in a former Soviet republic turns to prostitution in her hometown. She befriends a young man whose father abuses him, and she buys him a basketball with her earnings. Another man, who becomes her boyfriend, offers her a job in Sweden. There, she is imprisoned by a pimp and raped by him and his customers. Back home, her friend kills himself. Beaten by her pimp and saddened by her friend’s death, she commits suicide too. The film ends with her and her friend as angels, playing basketball on a rooftop.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

45. Love Story (1970)
> Directed by: Arthur Hiller
> Starring: Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley

Wealthy Harvard student meets working-class Radcliffe girl. Rich kid’s father disinherits him when he takes up with her and they get married. Couple struggles along while Harvard guy finishes law school. He gets a good job in New York and the two try to have a baby. He learns that his wife is fatally ill with cancer (or maybe leukemia). She doesn’t know, but she eventually finds out. She dies. Rich guy’s dad apologizes to him. Rich guy replies with one of the most saccharine slogans of the seventies: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Source: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

46. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
> Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
> Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

Actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski were among the producers of this family drama, and came up with the original idea for the story. A troubled Boston apartment handyman learns that his brother has died suddenly in the nearby seaside town where both men grew up, and that he is now the guardian of his brother’s 16-year-old son. The handyman struggles to connect with the boy, and with his own ex-wife.

Source: Courtesy of IFC Films

47. Mary and Max (2009)
> Directed by: Adam Elliot
> Starring: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana

“Mary and Max” is an Australian stop motion animation film that may be equal parts funny and sad. Detailing the relationship between two pen pals – young Australian girl Mary and older American Max – the film illustrates the powers of friendship and forgiveness in such a way that is uncommon to many animated films.


Source: Courtesy of Palm Pictures

48. Memories of Murder (2003)
> Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
> Starring: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim

This dark crime drama is based on the true story of serial murders in South Korea, committed in the countryside in the 1980s. The main character, a police detective sent from Seoul to help solve the case, is a troubled man, held in check by a less experienced local cop. The murders are never solved, but the local man remains haunted by them.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

49. Milk (2008)
> Directed by: Gus Van Sant
> Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch

“Milk” is the second film on our list directed by Gus Van Sant, after “Good Will Hunting.” Unlike the latter film, “Milk” is a true story, based on the life of gay rights activist and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk. While the majority of the film covers Milk’s political rise and accomplishments, the tragic conclusion leaves a dark cloud over all that came before.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

50. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
> Directed by: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman

An impoverished, cantankerous 31-year-old waitress is determined to become a boxer, and she finds a boxing gym owner to take her on and train her. The two develop a surrogate father-daughter relationship as she hones her pugilistic skills. She’s finally ready for a championship fight against the middleweight women’s champion. Her opponent fights dirty, and finally blindsides her, knocking her into a corner stool and leaving her permanently paralyzed. Bedridden and with a leg amputated for gangrenous bed sores, she simply wants to end her life. Her trainer grants her wish.

Source: Courtesy of A24

51. Moonlight (2016)
> Directed by: Barry Jenkins
> Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes

“Moonlight” follows the life of a young African-American named Chiron as he struggles to reconcile himself with his sexual identity, beginning in childhood and leading up through his adult years. Chiron is relentlessly bullied, helped by a Puerto Rican drug dealer who watches out for him, he comes to terms with who he is, and reconciles with his drug addict mother and the school friend who had once beaten him up.


Source: Courtesy of Cinema Ventures

52. Mouchette (1967)
> Directed by: Robert Bresson
> Starring: Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal

“Mouchette” is the second of two films directed by acclaimed French director Robert Bresson to make this list. The film tells the story of a young girl named Mouchette who is mistreated by nearly everyone she encounters, and gets talked into providing an alibi for a man who may have killed a man. In the end, Mouchette wraps herself in a shroud and rolls into a lake. Popular distribution company The Criterion Collection refers to the movie as “one of the most searing portraits of human desperation ever put on film.”

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

53. Network (1976)
> Directed by: Sidney Lumet
> Starring: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch

This prescient drama about sensationalistic news coverage, media morality, and televised violence follows the saga of an angry, over-the-hill TV anchorman whose nightly ravings (including his exhortation to viewers to stick their heads out their windows and yell “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) prove to be ratings gold. He goes too far, though, and he is murdered on the air.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Film Distribution Company

54. Old Yeller (1957)
> Directed by: Robert Stevenson
> Starring: Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk

There’s rarely a dry eye in the house at the conclusion of this boys-and-their-dog story set on a Texas ranch in the 1860s. The dog is a rambunctious yellow mutt; the boys are two brothers. The younger brother adopts the animal and names him Yeller. Eventually, his older brother, initially resistant, comes to love the dog, too. Yeller fights a bear and a wolf, chases racoons away from the cornfield, calms down a panicked cow, and more. But then Yeller contracts rabies and the older boy has to put him down.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

55. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
> Directed by: Milos Forman
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman

One of Jack Nicholson’s most acclaimed roles is also among his most emotionally moving. Dealing with themes such as power, control, and conformity, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” follows Randle McMurphy – played by Nicholson – as he is sent to a state mental hospital. There he attempts to bring joy and recklessness to the other patients, much to the dismay of the authoritarian Nurse Ratched.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

56. Ordinary People (1980)
> Directed by: Robert Redford
> Starring: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch

The first film directed by Robert Redford, this is the story of a dysfunctional Chicago area family trying to deal with the accidental death of one son and the attempted suicide of another. A friend of the surviving son successfully kills herself, and the mother of the family leaves them.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

57. Othello (1951)
> Directed by: Orson Welles
> Starring: Orson Welles, Micheál MacLiammóir, Robert Coote

One of the many filmed versions of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, this one features the legendary Orson Welles (who also directed), in blackface, playing the title character. Tricked by the villainous Iago into believing that his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him, Othello smothers her to death. When he learns the truth, he kills himself.


Source: Courtesy of Picturehouse

58. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
> Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
> Starring: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López

This fantasy, set in a rural village in Spain in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, is the story of a young girl who discovers an underground stone labyrinth, where she meets a faun — half-man, half-goat — who tells her that she might really be a princess of the underground realm. While her real-life stepfather, a sadistic army officer, pursues rebels in the countryside, the girl tries to prove her regal identity through a series of three increasingly difficult tasks. She succeeds, but is shot and killed by her stepfather before reappearing in the underground realm as its beloved ruler.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

59. Patch Adams (1998)
> Directed by: Tom Shadyac
> Starring: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter

Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, is a real-life doctor who believes in the healing power of humor, dressing as a clown to visit to hospital patients. Despite the film’s frequently cheery demeanor, the humor comes to a halt when Adams’ girlfriend and colleague, Carin Fisher, is murdered. Adams, played by Robin Williams, moves forward with his work but the impact of Fisher’s fate lingers for the remainder of the movie.

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

60. Philadelphia (1993)
> Directed by: Jonathan Demme
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell

Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia” was the first major Hollywood movie to tackle the topic of AIDS. The film tells the story of lawyer Andrew Beckett, who believes he has been fired from his law firm because he has been diagnosed with the disease and takes his case to court. He ultimately wins a judgment, but dies soon afterwards. Exceptional performances by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington help to make “Philadelphia” one of the most moving films of the early 1990’s.

Source: Courtesy of Orion Classics

61. Ran (1985)
> Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
> Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu

This powerful film by acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa is a reinterpretation of “King Lear,” set in medieval Japan, with three sons in place of the three daughters in Shakespeare’s original. An aging warlord decides to retire, and splits his fiefdom between his three sons. His expectation that they’ll be satisfied is naive, however, and with one brother banished, the other two conspire against their father, with predictably tragic results.


Source: Courtesy of Artisan Entertainment

62. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
> Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
> Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

“Requiem for a Dream” is more than sad — it’s horrifying. The film details the descent of its main characters into drug dependence, highlighting the disturbing paths addiction leads each one down. Through this grimness, director Darren Aronofsky creates a uniquely disturbing and heart-breaking film.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

63. Schindler’s List (1993)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” has amassed great critical and audience acclaim since its release. It’s been included on countless lists of “best movies” and is currently the highest rated film on IMDb. This admiration doesn’t make this Holocaust drama, centered around a heroic factory owner who saves countless Jews, any less harrowing. As movie critic Roger Ebert noted upon its release, Spielberg “depicts the evil of the Holocaust…without the tricks of his trade,” directing the film with “restraint and passion.”

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

64. Serpico (1973)
> Directed by: Sidney Lumet
> Starring: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe

An honest cop facing down corruption in the New York City Police Department in the 1960s and early ’70s, Frank Serpico is harassed by his fellow officers and gets shot in the face during a drug raid when his colleagues won’t come to his aid. Though he is eventually decorated and promoted by the department, he is disillusioned, and quits the NYPD to move to Switzerland.

Source: Courtesy of Cinedigm Entertainment Group

65. Short Term 12 (2013)
> Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
> Starring: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr.

Indie film “Short Term 12” was released in 2013 to critical acclaim nearly across the board and currently holds a 99% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film centers on workers and residents at a home for at-risk teens, and their emotional vulnerability takes its toll on the audience.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

66. Son of Saul (2015)
> Directed by: László Nemes
> Starring: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn

A drama set in the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944, this film is the story of a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner forced to work in the gas chambers. One of his jobs is to bury the remains of the victims, and one day he encounters the body of a boy he believes to be his illegitimate son. Against all odds, he is determined to find a rabbi to give the boy a proper Jewish burial. In the end, everyone dies.

Source: Courtesy of Associated Film Distribution

67. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
> Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
> Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol

In this film based on William Styron’s novel of the same name, Sophie, a Polish immigrant living in Brooklyn just after World War II, recounts to a young writer the horrible circumstances of her “choice.” Arrested and sent to Auschwitz with her two children, she is forced to decide which one will be killed and which will survive. She gives up her daughter to be killed, and never sees her son again. At the end of the film, Sophie and her violent, Holocaust-obsessed lover kill themselves.


Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

68. Stand by Me (1986)
> Directed by: Rob Reiner
> Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman

This bittersweet tale, based on a Stephen King short story, is told in the form of a nostalgic flashback recounting the adventures of four preteen boys looking for the body of another boy who was apparently hit by a train. In the course of their quest, they realize much about themselves and come to learn the meaning of true friendship.

Source: Courtesy of Hallmark Productions

69. Summer with Monika (1953)
> Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
> Starring: Harriet Andersson, Lars Ekborg, Dagmar Ebbesen

A young working-class man and woman meet and fall in love in this classic by Sweden’s most famous director. They abandon their families, marry, have a baby, and settle down. She isn’t ready to give up her single life, though, and sleeps with another man before leaving her husband and infant.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

70. Terms of Endearment (1983)
> Directed by: James L. Brooks
> Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson

Tracing the loving but ill-fated relationship between a mother and daughter over the years, this classic tear-jerker moves from Houston to Des Moines to New York City. Along the way there are family conflicts, infidelities, and love stories that culminate in the daughter’s death from cancer.

Source: Courtesy of Zenith International Films

71. The 400 Blows (1959)
> Directed by: François Truffaut
> Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier

Considered one of the greatest films of the French New Wave, François Truffaut’s famous film follows rebellious Parisian youth Antoine Doinel as he navigates through troubles at home, school, and eventually a juvenile detention center. A 1959 New York Times review of the film noted its “overwhelming insight into the [protagonist’s] emotional confusion” and its “truly heartbreaking awareness of his unspoken agonies.”


Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

72. The Blue Angel (1930)
> Directed by: Josef von Sternberg
> Starring: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron

Set in Weimar Germany, “The Blue Angel” from 1930 follows a schoolmaster named Immanuel Rath as he falls in love with a sexy cabaret entertainer, played by Marlene Dietrich. Rath leaves his position at his school, marries her, and becomes a clown in the her act. Further humiliations are heaped upon the man until he finally loses everything he has..

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

73. The Bucket List (2007)
> Directed by: Rob Reiner
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes

This film popularized the term “bucket list” — meaning a catalogue of things one wants to do before one “kicks the bucket.” It’s the story of two terminally ill cancer patients, a billionaire and a blue-collar mechanic, with nothing in common but their disease, who escape from the hospital and set off to do things they’ve always dreamed of doing. For three months, they roam the world, courting danger and collecting new experiences. Ultimately, the billionaire (played by Jack Nicholson) has a seizure and dies, while the mechanic (Morgan Freeman) lives to the age of 81. Both of their ashes are placed atop a Himalayan mountain peak.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

74. The Conformist (1970)
> Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
> Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin

A cowardly fascist in Mussolini’s Italy, who wants only to conform to society’s expectations of him, marries a beautiful but boring woman he deems acceptable to society. Heading to Paris on his honeymoon, he is assigned by party bosses to assassinate an old professor of his, now an anti-fascist. Others actually do the deed, killing the man and his wife, while the coward watches impassively.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

75. The Deer Hunter (1978)
> Directed by: Michael Cimino
> Starring: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale

“The Deer Hunter” is among the most haunting films to deal with the effects of the Vietnam War on U.S. soldiers. With relentless realism, the movie follows a group of friends from a working class town in Pennsylvania before, during, and after their tours of duty. The film won five Academy Awards in 1979, including Best Picture.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

76. The Elephant Man (1980)
> Directed by: David Lynch
> Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft

After completing his notorious midnight movie “Eraserhead,” David Lynch turned his visionary sights to developing a film about the severely deformed historical figure Joseph Merrick. The result – 1980’s “The Elephant Man” – is a compassionate and heart-wrenching look at what it means to be human.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

77. The English Patient (1996)
> Directed by: Anthony Minghella
> Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe

A French-Canadian nurse at the end of World War II in Italy tends a badly burned, semi-amnesiac patient. Flashbacks reveal details of his affair with a married woman and her lonely death, and the fact that he was forced into collaborating with the Germans before enduring the plane crash that left him badly injured. The nurse, whose fiancé has died in the war, finds love with a British-Indian officer, and the burned man — who is revealed to be Hungarian, not English — succumbs.


Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

78. The Green Mile (1999)
> Directed by: Frank Darabont
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse

Based on a Stephen King novel, this fantasy-tinged prison movie centers on a long-retired prison guard’s memories of a mentally challenged convicted child murderer, John Coffey, who turned out to have mysterious healing powers. A pet mouse, a botched execution, and a vision proving that Coffey is innocent are all part of the tale. Coffey is electrocuted anyway, and the guard, “infected with life” by the convict, is fated to live in sorrow into his 100s, watching his friends and family die before him.

Source: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

79. The Hunt (2012)
> Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
> Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp

A Danish kindergarten teacher is falsely accused of child abuse. He is ostracized by his small community, and arrested. After evidence suggests that he is innocent, he is released despite lingering suspicions of his guilt by the locals. His dog is killed and he is attacked at the grocery store. His supposed victim later recants, however, and life returns more or less to normal — until somebody shoots him a year later on a hunting trip.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

80. The Ice Storm (1997)
> Directed by: Ang Lee
> Starring: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver

Alcohol, sexual experimentation, infidelity, drugs, and suburban ennui animate this depressing story of life in the 1970s in affluent New Canaan, Connecticut. Two dysfunctional families interact as the worst ice storm of the century hits the town.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

81. The Killing Fields (1984)
> Directed by: Roland Joffé
> Starring: Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, John Malkovich

Dith Pran was a real-life Cambodian journalist, photographer, and translator who worked with New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg during the civil war in Cambodia in the 1970s. When the communist Khmer Rouge rebels occupy the country’s capital, Pran, left behind and working as a forced laborer, discovers the “killing fields” scattered with the bones of millions of Cambodians murdered by the communists. Back in the U.S., Schanberg, who had remained in Cambodia as long as possible, wins awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, for his coverage of the events. In 1979, Pran escapes and is reunited with the reporter.


Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

82. The Lives of Others (2006)
> Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
> Starring: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch

The lives of others was precisely what the notoriously paranoid Stasi, the East German secret police during the Cold War, were concerned with. A Stasi officer is told to spy on a prominent communist playwright — not for political reasons, it turns out, but because the officer’s superior covets the playwright’s girlfriend. The officer ends up protecting the playwright instead, and both survive the communist regime.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

83. The Lost Weekend (1945)
> Directed by: Billy Wilder
> Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry

This classic film, a depressing portrait of an unsuccessful alcoholic writer, was called “[t]he stark and terrifying study of a dipsomaniac” by the New York Times. After being on the wagon briefly, the writer eludes his well-meaning girlfriend and brother and goes on an epic bender, debasing himself and reduced to stealing to keep the liquor flowing. He is about to shoot himself when his girlfriend intervenes and as the film ends, it seems that he might finally be able to conquer his addiction.

Source: Courtesy of HBO

84. The Normal Heart (2014)
> Directed by: Ryan Murphy
> Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, Frank De Julio

Few areas of the country were impacted by the AIDS crisis of the 1980s as much as New York City. The HBO-produced film “The Normal Heart” uses this time and place as a backdrop to tell the story of gay activists and medical professionals working together to raise awareness of the disease. While the film has an angry edge, it also possesses “poetry and vitality,” as New York Magazine noted, working to have audiences “connect with it emotionally and intellectually.”

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

85. The Perfect Storm (2000)
> Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
> Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly

The idiom “a perfect storm,” meaning a rare concurrence of circumstances that engenders a particularly bad effect, derives from the 1997 Sebastian Junger book of the same name, a real-life account of maritime tragedy in the North Atlantic. The film follows the book closely, as a swordfishing boat called the Andrea Gail, finds itself trapped by weather fronts and a hurricane trying to return to home port. An Air National Guard helicopter sent to rescue the crew crashes into the ocean, and the Andrea Gail is capsized by a 40-foot rogue wave, drowning all on board.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

86. The Pianist (2002)
> Directed by: Roman Polanski
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay

Based on the life of Polish-Jewish pianist and Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman, this saga follows the man’s experiences during the Nazi occupation of his native country. After his family is shipped off to the death camp, he helps smuggle arms to Resistance fighters, witnesses the unsuccessful Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, is taken in by a sympathetic Nazi officer, and survives the war.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

87. The Remains of the Day (1993)
> Directed by: James Ivory
> Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, John Haycraft

In the late 1950s, a grand Oxfordshire manor, whose disgraced owner has died, is sold to a retired American congressman. Anticipating his arrival, the manor’s longtime butler thinks back on his decades in service there, and on his relationship — or lack of one, with the housekeeper, who was in love with him.


Source: Courtesy of Fine Line Features

88. The Sea Inside (2004)
> Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
> Starring: Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Lola Dueñas

In this film, Javier Bardem portrays Ramón Sampedro, a real-life onetime ship’s mechanic who became a quadriplegic following a diving accident and spent almost 30 years fighting the Spanish government and the Catholic Church for the right to die. He finally succeeds in taking his own life.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

89. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
> Directed by: Juan José Campanella
> Starring: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago

An Argentinean crime drama, told in non-linear fashion, “The Secret in Their Eyes” is about a brutal rape and murder and the obsessions it inspires. The culprit is eventually caught and jailed, but is then released for political reasons. He is ultimately punished, though, by the widower of the woman he killed.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

90. The Swimmer (1968)
> Directed by: Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack
> Starring: Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard, Janice Rule

Based on a classic John Cheever short story originally published in The New Yorker, “The Swimmer” is a surrealistic accounting of a disaffected suburbanite’s attempt to swim home from a party through a “river” of pools in neighboring yards. Along the way, he has strange experiences and encounters hostile strangers. When he finally arrives at his house, he finds it locked and deserted.

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

91. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
> Directed by: Martin McDonagh
> Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

Frustrated by the inability of local authorities to solve the rape and murder of her daughter, a Missouri mother puts up three billboards asking the police chief — who happens to be dying of cancer — why he has made no arrests. Violence, arson, and suicide ensue.


Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

92. Titanic (1997)
> Directed by: James Cameron
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane

James Cameron’s “Titanic” was a cultural landmark, winning 11 Academy Awards and becoming the second-highest grossing movie of all time, worldwide — second only to the same director’s “Avatar.” The film was also highly successful at evoking tears from the audience’s eyes, with both the tragic demise of the Titanic itself and the doomed romance between the film’s main characters, Jack and Rose.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

93. Tuck Everlasting (2002)
> Directed by: Jay Russell
> Starring: Alexis Bledel, Jonathan Jackson, Sissy Spacek

In 1914, a wealthy, well-bred young girl meets and falls in love with a boy from a family of immortals living in the woods near her mansion. A mysterious man in a yellow suit seeks to interrupt the idyll and is killed. The girl has a chance to join her swain in eternal life, but chooses not to, and goes on to lead a normal life, dying at the age of 100.

Source: Courtesy of Janus Films

94. Umberto D. (1952)
> Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
> Starring: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari

In this film, one of the classics of post-War War II Italian neorealism, an impoverished retired civil servant, whose only friends are his dog and a kitchen maid in his rooming house, is evicted after he falls ill and is unable to raise the money to pay his back rent. Finally, despondent, he takes his dog in his arms and stands in front of an oncoming train.

Source: Courtesy of New Yorker Films

95. Underground (1995)
> Directed by: Emir Kusturica
> Starring: Predrag ‘Miki’ Manojlovic, Lazar Ristovski, Mirjana Jokovic

From the early days of World War II through the Cold War and into the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, two Serbian friends carouse, spy, fight, murder, fall in love, disappear, and reappear. In the surrealistic conclusion, all the characters, living and dead, are reunited for a wedding feast.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

96. United 93 (2006)
> Directed by: Paul Greengrass
> Starring: David Alan Basche, Olivia Thirlby, Liza Colón-Zayas

This is a fact-based reimagining of the events aboard one of the airliners hijacked by terrorists on 9/11. In this case, heroic passengers attempt to overpower the hijackers, who plan to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and nearly succeed — but the plane goes down anyway in a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

97. Up (2009)
> Directed by: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
> Starring: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger

Pixar – the Disney-owned animation studio behind “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” and “Finding Nemo” – is better known for its family-friendly feel-good movies than for anything sad. Nonetheless, with “Up” they produced one of the most moving animated movies of all time, as we watch protagonist Carl Fredricksen falling in love, living life, and finally losing his wife, Ellie. Keeping his promise to her, he turns his house into an airship, hooks up with an eccentric explorer, and ends up where the couple had always dreamed of being.


Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

98. Waltz with Bashir (2008)
> Directed by: Ari Folman
> Starring: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag

In this animated documentary, an Israeli film director, realizing that he remembers nothing about his role in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, sets out to interview old friends and colleagues about that period in his life. He comes to realize that he played a role, albeit a peripheral one, in the massacre of Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Source: Courtesy of Janus Films

99. Wild Strawberries (1957)
> Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
> Starring: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin

Nostalgia, regret, and guilt are among the strongest emotions known to man. All three are approached without restraint in Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film “Wild Strawberries.” The movie tells the story of a man nearing the end of his time on earth, looking back on his life in contemplation. According to a review in The Guardian, “what makes the film great is its nearness to each of us.”

Source: Courtesy of Adopt Films

100. Winter Sleep (2014)
> Directed by: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
> Starring: Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sözen, Demet Akbag

Being based on works by Anton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoevsky, it’s perhaps not surprising that this Turkish drama wades deep into emotional misery. The film centers around a hotel owner, Aydin, and his relationships with his wife, sister, and others. Slow-paced but engrossing, the film does an excellent job of exploring the emotional core of the human condition.