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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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