Special Report

100 Saddest Movies of All Time

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.