Special Report

100 Saddest Movies of All Time

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.

 

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.

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