The saddest movies of all time can be a difficult list to conjure since what some viewers find moving, others find sappy and sentimental. But every so often a film comes along that seems to move everyone in just the right way, earning it a place among the saddest movies of all time. The following is a list of the films we think rightly deserve to be named the saddest movies of all time.
Often referred to as the “definitive tear-jerker”, Beaches stars Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as two women brought together by fate to become lifelong friends. Directed by Gary Marshall, the characters played by the leads are a struggling singer named CC Bloom (Midler) and Hillary Essex (Hershey). The plot details how the women meet at a resort in Atlantic City as children and then are reunited many years later in New York City. Having kept in touch through letters over the years, they share an intense bond and even end up falling in love with the same man. The film also features the unforgettable love ballad Wind Beneath My Wings sung by Bette Midler herself.
Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment is a 1983 film starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson based on the novel by Larry McMurty and directed by James L. Brooks. The story centers around the relationship between a mother and daughter named Aurora and Emma (played by MacLaine and Winger) who march to two very different drummers. When Emma gets married, Aurora tries to show her how complex and difficult love can really be, something the young woman has little understanding of. In the end, mother and daughter come to realize that different individuals express love in different ways.
Brokeback Mountain is one of those watershed films that stands out not only the strength of its artistic content, but on the sheer fact that it exists at all. Billed as the “gay cowboy movie”, it recounts the love story between two male wranglers in Wyoming in the 1960s played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. The film was a smash at the box office and garnered tremendous critical acclaim, winning several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and winning Best Director. Though gay themed films are now commonplace in Hollywood, Brokeback Mountain remains one of the most poignant and thoughtfully told love stories in modern times.
Arguably the best film ever made by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is an unforgettably tragic masterpiece set in the Holocaust that remains a benchmark of artful and meaningful filmmaking to this day. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, it centers on a businessman’s desire to do something good in a time and place of absolute evil. Schindler, a greedy and vain glorious Czech businessman, turns his factory into a haven for 1100 Jews who would otherwise have been killed by the Nazis. The film won umpteen awards, including a Best Director for Spielberg, and will continue to be one of the most haunting and tragic films ever made.
Boys Don’t Cry
Winning her her first of two Best Actress Oscars, Boys Don’t Cry stars Hillary Swank as Brandon Teena, a transgendered teen who was born female but chose to live life as a male. His secret is unknown until a tragic revelation makes his best friends turn against him. Boys Don’t Cry is notable for many remarkable moments, but none more so than Swank’s beautiful and fully expressed portrayal of a young man whose only wish is to be who he believes is true identity.