Top 10 Movies with Sad Endings

Movies have the power to inspire, empathize, and even change, or outright save your life. If you're struggling with a serious, potentially life-threatening problem, such as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might need to see your own experiences laid out, before feeling inspired to make a change. Several major motion pictures have the power to help you turn the corner, and improve your situation.

The Rose

The Rose

The Rose is a famous film starring Bette Midler. Though it premiered in 1979, it takes place in the indulgent '60s, telling the story of rock singer Mary Rose Foster. The movie itself is loosely based on the life, and tragic end of Janis Joplin. Rose has addictions to both drugs and alcohol, which affect her personal life, her professional life, and the lives of everyone around her. She lived a life of over-indulgence, although she simply wanted to feel love and acceptance. Her sad end marks the film's tear-jerking climax. It also echoes the untimely death of Janis Joplin, while simultaneously emphasizing the increasing number of overdoses and deaths caused by drugs and alcohol. These are such unnecessary ends, and they take far too many people long before their time.

The Perfect Storm

the perfect storm

In October 1991, a weakening hurricane from Bermuda collided with a cold front from the Great Lakes. This movie, based on the best-selling book by Sebastian Junger, tells the story of a fishing crew that went out to sea and found itself in the middle of this perfect storm. Billy Tyne (played by George Clooney), the ship’s captain, hasn’t had any luck catching fish on his recent trips out to sea. He comes back with an empty boat, puts together a crew of old friends, and they travel back to seas in hopes of making money they all desperately need. Although they don’t have any luck at first, they finally cash in and strike gold by making the catch of a lifetime. But just as quickly as spirits run high, a fierce storm forms and threatens their lives.

Curious Case of Benjamin

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story is about a “boy” who’s born in New Orleans shortly after World War I as an 80-year-old man. Button (played by Brad Pitt) lives his life in reverse, aging from an old man to a young infant. During the film, Button experiences joy and sadness, lost and found loves, and the meaning of timelessness while living his unusual life.

Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream

In addition to being a hugely popular film, and cinematic tour de force, 2000's Requiem for a Dream details the depths to which you can fall when dealing with an addiction. Worse, it illuminates not just the way addiction affects your loved ones, but also how everyone close to you can get pulled into addiction themselves. Harry, Sara, Marion, and Tyrone are all interrelated, and their addictions often overlap. They'll do anything to satiate their urges, but they don't make it to addiction rehabilitation, which could have easily kept them from despair, degradation, and increasing dependency.

A Walk to Remember


This movie is based on the best-selling novel by sentimentalist writer Nicholas Sparks. The teen melodrama, which is set in a coastal North Carolina port, is about a popular high school student who’s involved in a hazing incident that leaves another student paralyzed. While sentenced to community service and membership in the school’s drama club, the popular student falls in love with a girl who has a secret she’s been keeping from everyone. The popular student also struggles with his fall in popularity at the school that his new friendship brings.

The Green Mile

The Green Mile

Set in 1935 at the Cold Mountain Correctional Facility, “The Green Mile” is home to death row inmates because of the dark green linoleum that tiles the floor. Paul Edgecomb (played by Tom Hanks) is the head guard at the facility when a new inmate arrives, John Coffey. The new inmate, convicted of the brutal murder of two girls, seems like a kind and well-mannered person who behaves more like a child than a criminal. Edgecomb notices something strange about Coffey; he’s able to perform miracles of healing among his fellow inmates, leading him to wonder if he really did commit the crimes he was charged for. In between finding out about the inmate’s gift and his walk to the electric chair, the movie extracts every saddened emotion you can feel while you hope for the best in the end.

The Cider House Rules

the cider house rules

You might not expect this adaptation of John Irving's equally heartbreaking novel to focus on the tragedy of addiction. On the surface, the 1999 film deals with the life, loves, and experiences of orphan Homer Wells. However, Homer's mentor and the only father-figure he's ever known, Dr. Wilbur Larch, is an ether addict. This movie, and in particular this character, are important because they illuminate the idea of the functional addict. With rare exceptions, Dr. Larch functions normally, even brilliantly, on ether, although his consumption is a daily habit. The people close to him know about his addiction, but say nothing, enabling him on the grounds that he is a functional addict, and he works so hard that he deserves to relax. This ultimately leads to his death, which, is wholly unnecessary. There are many other moving, gritty, and realistic films that deal with the pain of addiction for people who either have addictions or love others who have addictions. These movies are particularly important because they highlight the breakdown of relationships, the despairing levels of addiction, and the dangers of believing that staying functional means you don't have a problem.



This movie depicts the doomed maiden voyage of the White Star Line’s $7.5 million R.M.S Titanic and the tragic events that followed in the sea on April 15, 1912. It cost more than $200 million to make this movie, which is a tribute to the level of detail portrayed throughout the film. Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) wins a ticket in a poker game to sail on the Titanic. Aboard the ship, he falls in love with a wealthy woman, Rose. Although married, Rose falls in love with Jack and the two set out on ill-fated adventure together.  Amid the disaster, Jack and Rose end up in the Atlantic’s cold waters struggling to save one another.

Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

This saga of three brothers, their powerful father, and a beautiful woman presents a romanticized view of rugged masculinity set in the lush Montana scenery. Based on a novel by Jim Harrison, the film spans decades of three boys and their single father, who’s a military man. The boys grow up being very close with one another until one of them enlists in World War I. The movie depicts pain and love in its most powerful forms, while telling a story that truly saddens the heart and portrays history.

American Beauty

american beauty movie

American Beauty is about the dark side of an American family, who pays a price for their beauty in a culture obsessed without external appearances. Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey) is in his mid-40s when he’s going through a mid-life crisis. His wife represents herself like she’s in full control of her life, even though she’s empty on the inside, and his daughter is constantly depressed. The movie deals with fragile emotions, broken relationships, and ultimately sadness.  [smartads]

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