Life is not easy. Everyone knows it, but nobody wants to accept it. Sometimes life presents us with such difficult situations that all we want to do is crumble in our bed and cry. Though crying in itself is not a bad thing at all it is healing. What is bad is the will to not fight. Cry all you want, but then get up and be ready to fight. That’s how you can carve your way in this tough world. While we all agree that life is intrinsically unfair, cinema also recreates an identical frame of reference. Thus sad movies somehow pluck the right psychological strings and make us contemplate about our own lives, possibly tragic in their own unique ways. And every once in a while, we develop cravings for sad movies for our own reasons — but mostly because we want to cry.
11. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Featuring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly, ‘Requiem for a Dream’ starts the depressing journey for us. This film is a nice piece of work by Darren Aronofsky and the cast gives really commendable performances. The plot of the film deals with addiction and how it plunges people’s lives into darkness. The film starts with Sara Goldfarb played by Ellen. She is a retired widow and feels lonely. her only recluse is a self-help TV show. Sara dreams about being a guest on the show. Harry played by Leto is Sara’s son who is a drug addict. He has big dreams of becoming a successful drug dealer but that dream is far from being achieved. Another character is Marion played by Connelly. She could be a successful fashion designer or artist but she is pulled into Harry’s drug-fueled life. In the meantime, Sara gets crazy about losing weight and starts taking pills. Slowly, she gets addicted to them. The film is really depressing.
10. Tangerine (2015)
‘Tangerine’, directed by Sean Baker is a unique film in many aspects. Firstly, despite being a comedy, there is a constant air of pathos and helplessness that runs through the core of the film. Secondly, no proper camera was used to shoot the film, and the purpose was served by three iPhone 5S phones. The story of ‘Tangerine’ centres around the life of a transgender sex-worker called Sin-Dee Rella whom we meet for the first time when she is coming out of prison having served a short sentence. Once she gets out, Alexandra, one of her friends, informs Sin-Dee that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. We follow the lives of Sin-Dee and Alexandra along with this driver in question as they try to find some respite in the society where they are constantly being marginalized and judged because of their sexuality. These people belong to the absolute fringes of society, and a film poignantly made about their desires and aspirations is something that needs to be cherished.
9. Wonder (2017)
This sweet film stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and child actor Jacob Tremblay who first came into the public eye after his stunning performance alongside Brie Larsson in the film ‘Room’. Tremblay here plays the role of a boy called Augie who suffers from a rare physical deformity. He has always been schooled at home under the care of his mother, but from his fifth grade, Augie’s parents decide to send him to a school. There, he is ostracized at first but soon makes friends with a boy called Jack. However, Augie is disheartened completely on Halloween when Jack does not recognize him in a mask and jokes about his facial appearance. The plight of a little boy who is suffering from a physical deformity and is still trying to come into certain normalcy in life is shown here with great care and honesty.
8. Columbus (2017)
Everyone has a lot of aspirations in life and when those are not fulfilled, we tend to find ourselves in a position where we are constantly living with a grudge. We find a great reflection of this attitude in the film ‘Columbus’. The story of this film begins with a man called Jin who lives in South Korea for his work but has to return to the United States because his father has fallen ill. At the hospital, he comes across a girl called Casey and the two of them strike up a conversation. Jin reveals that he has always resented his father because he felt his dad was so involved in his work all the time that he never got to care for his children and the family that much. Both these characters manage to bring up situations all of us have been through in life. They are extremely relatable and this is what makes one quite emotional after the film is over.
7. The Hero (2017)
When you have once seen the highs of life with everyone focusing on you as the person they aspire to be, it is rather difficult to stay grounded and still think that you are a vulnerable being like the rest of mankind. This is exactly the challenge the protagonist of this film faces. Lee Hayden, the central character of this film, was a Western hero who was pretty well-known for his deep, baritone voice. Now he is an ageing individual with life slowly catching up to him. Hayden now spends his days smoking weed and reminiscing about the past. However, his life is thrown in complete disarray when it is revealed that he has been suffering from cancer for quite some time now. As a last-minute mending up of things in life, we find Hayden trying to patch up with his estranged daughter and looking for one final character to play with which people will remember him. Sam Elliott plays the character with such poise and grace that you cannot help but fall in love with him. Though the story might be cliched in certain areas, it is his authenticity which will allow us to glance over those moments and be more interested in what happens to the person.
6. Stronger (2017)
We all remember the horrors America went through with the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon. This film sees acclaimed actor Jake Gyllenhaal playing the role of Jeff Bauman, one of the survivors of the attack on whose book this film is based. Bauman was one of the participants in the marathon, but when the bombings happened, he sadly ends up losing both of his legs to the same. In such a situation, there is nothing else to do but fight for your own survival no matter how hard it is. We look at Bauman’s life as he tries to gather up all the courage he can to continue living his life. His path to recovery is slow, but he never loses courage along the way. Though Bauman’s story is a rather heartbreaking one, it does have a lot to teach us. No matter how difficult the situations are in life, we always have to fight the odds with all the arsenal we have in our oeuvre.
5. I, Tonya (2017)
While it is true that Margot Robbie first came to attention with her role in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street‘, it cannot be denied that it is the 2017 film ‘I, Tonya‘ which sealed her status as one of the finest actresses of her generation. Robbie here portrays the life of American figure skater Tonya Harding who has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during her career. The film begins by showing us how her looks and her background became a hindrance on her way to achieving the desired success in the field. However, she does manage to get over all such notions and achieves the status of national champion, world champion, and so on. When a film about Harding is made, it definitely cannot be complete without the incident of her competitor Nancy Kerrigan bashing her legs and Harding being accused of the same. We look at the iconic sporting personality’s life from the very beginning to the end, taking in all the suffering she had to go through along the way.
4. Shoplifters (2018)
The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, ‘Shoplifters’ is a magnificent film which talks about the poverty-stricken people of Tokyo. Whenever we are shown Tokyo in mainstream films, we get to see the glitz, glamour, and high-rise buildings of the city. We are never exposed to the lives and problems of people living in the city who are rather poor and constantly looking for ways to make their lives better. This film focuses on what at first appears to be a family which sustains itself by shoplifting alone. They come across a little girl who is out on her own and bring her in. However, as the story progresses we realize the complexities of their lives and their own realities. When the girl’s parents inform the police about her disappearance, they come looking for her. Now, who will face the consequences of the same? Writer-director-editor Hirokazu Kore-eda has come out with a film which is extremely poignant, heartfelt, and true to the spirit of how life goes by for the less fortunate in society.
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3. Boyz N The Hood (1991)
This John Singleton film is one of the greatest works of art to come out of the “hood culture” which developed in Los Angeles and other parts of the United States during the late 80s and early 90s which developed into massive gang culture and ended up taking the lives of numerous young men. The story follows the lives of three friends who are growing up in LA. Half-brothers Doughboy and Ricky Baker and their friend Ricky. All three of them show us the different facets of growing up of black teenagers in an area which is infested by gang culture as a result of poverty. There is violence around them, and this violence to which they are subject to at times ends up pushing them towards the edge. This film is also Ice Cube‘s first foray into acting. Singleton’s brilliant writing and direction earned him Academy Award nominations and he became the youngest ever director, at 24, to be nominated in the Best Director category.
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2. Nobody Knows (2004)
This 2004 Japanese film is bound to remind you of ‘Shoplifters’. That is because this film is also the work of the same director, Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film centres around four siblings, all of whom are pretty young, who have been abandoned by their mother. The eldest brother, Akira Fukushima is now in charge of her three little siblings. They have their apartment to themselves, but are running low on money and food and do not know what to do in such a situation. We follow these four youngsters as they face the challenges of surviving in a city as big as Tokyo without any adult to guide them. It so happens that Akira soon cannot take care of the kids and he gets busy with his friends. Maybe she had her own pressures to deal with. But the constant pressures of sustaining oneself in a city where everything is getting more out of hands by the day can make people commit rather drastic acts.
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1. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
A psychological thriller film which also acts like a tragedy, ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ centres around the story of a teenager called Kevin Khatchadourian who has extremely violent tendencies. When we meet him for the first time, he is already in a juvenile prison for killing multiple people at his school. His mother, Eva (played by Tilda Swinton), is naturally extremely worried about her son and quits her job as a travel writer in order to care for him. But the most shocking aspect of Kevin’s behaviour is that he is at his worst whenever his mother is around. Even as a baby, he used to cry continuously whenever his mother attempted to bond with him. But with his father, Kevin was completely normal. Naturally, Eva and her husband Franklin don’t see eye to eye when it comes to Kevin and his behaviour, and this causes them to drift apart as well. It is Swinton’s performance which is the heart and soul of the film. She is so poignant and yet so powerful that it is bound to leave you enthralled.
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