The 10 Most Miserable Movies Ever Made

Depressed? You soon will be...


This Friday sees the release of My Sister's Keeper, a laugh-a-second film about leukemia that's sure to be as synonymous with laughter as an evening with Jim Davidson.

To celebrate the grand achievement that is making a film so depressing you'll wish you'd gone for the Popcorn/Drink/Handgun combo at the concession stand, we count down the most miserable movies ever made...


Sophie's Choice (1982)

The Film: It’s 1947, and young writer Stingo (Peter MacNicol) arrives in Brooklyn and shares an apartment and a love triangle with Polish immigrant Sophie (Meryl Streep) and her American lover Nathan (Kevin Kline).
Why So Serious? Well that’s not the whole story… see Sophie was imprisoned at Auschwitz during WW2. Throughout the film, she remembers more of her time there.

The choice she had to make? It isn’t between Stingo and Nathan, no, when she arrived at Auschwitz, a Nazi officer made her choose which of her two children lived or died.

“Don’t make me choose!” Sophie begs, making anyone who’s ever stalled in line at Subway feel properly melodramatic… but the Nazi officer insists.

She told them to save the boy, condemning her daughter to death. She never saw her son again.

The film ends with both Sophie and the mentally unstable Nathan committing suicide by way of cyanide, dying in each others arms.

Finding the bodies, Stingo reads Emily Dickinson’s poem “Ample Makes This Bed” – cos that’s sure to cheer folk up – then leaves and buggers off back to the South.
Will It Make You Cry? When we finally get to see the scene where Sophie chose between her kids… you’ll be blubbing like a toddler on an aeroplane.

Will It Uplift You? Er… no.
Cynicism Score:
10 - As if the key scene wasn't emotional enough, the soaring strings are cynical attempts to jerk as many tears from your ducts as possible.


Next: Love Story



Love Story(1971)

The Film: Rich Harvard Law student Oliver Barrett (Ryan O’Neal) meets working class music student Jennifer Cavelleri (Ali McGraw) and they fall in lurve.
Why So Serious? Yes it doesn’t quite end happily ever after for the star-crossed pair.

Oliver’s dad disowns him and disinherits him, cutting him off and forcing the pair to slum it. That’s not so bad though, they still have each other.

Then they try to start a family, but whoops! Jennifer can’t have children, and the doctors find out she’s sick.

Oliver begs his dad for a loan to cover her medical expenses, not telling him what it’s for. He works it out and rushes to the hospital to apologise to his son and offer help.

Too little too late. Jennifer dies in Oliver’s arms, before pops can get there.

Mr Barrett apologises to his son, who retorts “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, which Jennifer told him earlier in the film, and which also makes no real sense.
Will It Make You Cry? Are you made of stone? The woman he loves just died in his arms at 25!
Will It Uplift You? Not so much, unless you go to Cornell University. The film features a hockey match between Cornell and Harvard, which Cornell win.

Before the real-life fixture, the team and fans all watch the hockey scene at the beginning of the film, whooping and cheering, then skip right to the end to Jennifer’s death, and take similar pleasure in that.

Whoever said American’s weren’t sportsman-like?
Cynicism Score: 9 – All it took to repair a father-son relationship was a little helping of death.


Next: Beaches



Beaches (1988)

The Film: A chronicle of the life-long friendship of well-to-do lawyer Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and singer CC (Bette Midler).
Why So Serious? Following the pair from teenagers to adults, there are love triangles, affairs, divorces, fallings-out, reconciliations, professional successes and failures.

Hillary has a kid, who she raises alone. Alas, fate is on hand to ensure she is diagnosed with a failing heart. She’ll need a heart transplant to live, problem is a tissue match will be near impossible to find.

She takes the kid to a beach house near San Francisco to spend the summer with CC.

Hillary collapses and is rushed to hospital, but CC breaks her out and takes her back to the beach house to spend her last moments with her daughter. 

Hillary makes the non-maternal CC promise to take care of her daughter… then dies. Sniff.
Will It Make You Cry? Let’s face it; Guys you’ll likely be asleep by this point, or not invited to watch the movie at all. Girls, you’ll cry so hard it’ll make “Grey’s Anatomy” seem like a light-hearted comedy romp.
Will It Uplift You? You know the song “Wind Beneath My Wings”? Well if you find that uplifting, then there will be at least two minutes here for you.

The rest of you will be eating ice cream in your pyjamas for the next month.
Cynicism Score:10 – This flick is so cynically designed to make you blub is should come with a health warning. Cute kids, death and Wind Beneath My Wings? COME ON!


Next: Terms Of Endearment



Terms Of Endearment (1983)

The Film: An independent minded young mother, Emma (Debra Winger), clashes with her own, overbearing and controlling mother, Aurora (Shirly Maclaine).

Why So Serious? The film deals with issues of parenting and how Emma’s upbringing by her interfering Mother affects how she raises her own two sons.

There are many scenes that tug the heartstrings, as Emma and Aurora clash heads and reconcile, as Emma’s husband commits adultery and the young family struggles to pay the bills.

A scene in a supermarket shows Emma unable to pay the total, and deciding what to put back, her young son offering his chocolate bar back to the checkout girl, stating “I don’t need it”. Bless.

As it goes in this type of film, Emma goes and gets cancer, and as she begins to fade in her hospital bed, she and Aurora talk through their relationship.

Aurora helps Emma do her make-up so she can say goodbye to her sons, and in a standout scene, runs round the hospital screaming at the nurses to give her daughter some painkillers to ease her suffering.

Emma passes away while her mother and husband sleep alongside her. Aurora has two new charges to raise, and a new outlook on motherhood.
Will It Make You Cry?
As Emma says a tearful goodbye to her two young sons, you’ll be going through the Kleenex faster than a teenage boy with an internet connection.
Will It Uplift You? Apart from a few laughs courtesy of Jack Nicholson’s retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove, this is no Slumdog Millionaire.
Cynicism Score: 8 – Debra Winger died in order to make Shirley Maclaine a better mother? Wouldn’t a chat with Dr. Phil accomplish the same?


Next: Steel Magnolias



Steel Magnolias(1989)

The Film: A group of women in small town Louisiana, deal with life, love, family while strengthening the bonds between them.
Why So Serious?
Truvy (Dolly Parton) owns a Beauty Parlour, the centre of the relationship between the women. Shelby (Julia Roberts) is a diabetic who is getting married, M’Lynn (Sally Field) her disapproving mother.

Annelle (Daryl Hannah) is new in town, and may have just been illegally married. Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) is recently widowed, and finds distraction in her friendship with spiteful gossip Ouiser (Shirley Maclaine).

But the central story is that of Shelby, whose diabetic condition threatens her life when she decides to become pregnant, much to her Mother’s dismay.

Shelby’s pregnancy results in her being comatose. The baby is healthy, but Shelby’s kidneys are shot, and her mother offers one of hers.

It's all in vein however, as Shelby dies. In an effort to make everything better, Annelle decides to call her first born Shelby, cos that will heal all wounds…
Will It Make You Cry? Julia Roberts dies, that’s like losing a family member.
Will It Uplift You? Are you a sadist?
Cynicism Score: 6
– Most of the women end up enriched or better off, but all the men remain useless dicks.


Next: P.S. I Love You



P.S. I Love You (2007)

The Film: Recovering from the death of her husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler), Holly (Hillary Swank) receives ten letters he wrote before he died, designed to help her move on with her life.
Why So Serious? Holly and Gerry are a happily married couple… until Gerry get a brain tumour and dies.
She collapses and withdraws from friends and family, until her 30th birthday, when she receives her first message from her dead husband.

The messages, which all end with ‘PS I Love You”, send Holly on different adventures, telling her to celebrate herself and not to be consumed with sadness.

Her friends and family worry that the messages are causing her to hang on to the past, but with each message, she grows stronger and discovers more about herself, and how to carry on living without him.
Will It Make You Cry? You’ll cry when he dies, you’ll cry every time she gets a message from him, you’ll cry when it end happily for her.

You’ll also cry when you hear Gerry’s awful Oirish accent. 
Will It Uplift You?
Unless you’re suffering from the death of a spouse, probably not.
Cynicism Score: 5
– The feminists might have an issue with the fact that without her husband’s guidance, she’s a complete mess.


Next: Autumn In New York



Autumn In New York (1999)

The Film: An ageing lothario (Richard Gere) falls for a younger woman (Winona Ryder)…
Why So Serious? …oh, and she’s terminally ill. Just in case you thought you were gonna get through an entry without some sort of death occurring. Not on this list.

Will is a successful New York restaurant owner, a playboy who graces the cover of magazines, a bachelor with a commitment phobia.  Charlotte is a free-spirited 22 year-old artist who lives with her grandmother.

The pair have a one night stand, and after Will tells her not to expect much from him, she tells him about her tumour.

Will is struck by her unpredictable nature, and begins to have feelings of love toward her. But after a bit of a casual dalliance with another women, Charlotte rejects Will, causing him to question his nature, and hw his behaviour affects others.

While trying to convince her to take him back, Will is visited by a young woman, claiming to be his daughter. She has a child of her own. Reeling from the news, Will promises to change and Charlotte takes him back.

He helps her cope with her illness, and she helps him become more responsible, and build a relationship with his daughter.

Then guess what? Yeah, she dies. Will moves in with his daughter and her son, a changed man.
Will It Make You Cry? For every moment of fleeting happiness, there is always the looming hand of fate there to remind you that Charlotte isn’t gonna make it to the end credits. When she goes, so will your tear ducts.
Will It Uplift You? How do we put this..? In a word; no.
Cynicism Score: 9
– Beautiful young woman has to die for aging playboy to learn his lesson. Right, cos that’s fair.


Next: Dying Young



Dying Young (1991)

The Film: Pretty but cautious Hillary (Julia Roberts) becomes caretaker for rich, well educated and handsome leukemia patient Victor (Campbell Scott).
Why So Serious? Both Hillary and victor have had little luck in love, and both yearn for intimacy, through their relationship as nurse and patient, they grow close.

When Victor gets better he professes his love for her, and they become lovers. As his health starts to decline again, he hides it from her, fearing she will leave him.

Hillary, who has been at the receiving end of too many painful betrayals and lies in the past, doesn’t handle to deception well.

The relationship begins to break down into tantrums and brick walls, until a final heart-to-heart puts their fears on the table and they can finally achieve the intimacy they yearn for.

He dies, having experienced true love. She has become a much stronger person, realising she deserves to be loved, and goes on to live a full life. The End.
Will It Make You Cry? Campbell Scott is a bit annoying to be fair, but as soon as Julia turns on the waterworks, you’re bound to shed a few tears yourself.
Will It Uplift You? If you want uplifting, watch Rocky.
Cynicism Score: 4
– Both parties learn that the power of love goes along way. Can’t stop death though, can it?


Next: Jude



Jude (1996)

The Film: Jude (Christopher Eccleston) is a hardworking mason who falls in love with similar-minded soul-mate Sue (Kate Winslet).
Why So Serious? Well for starters, Jude and Sue are cousins. Not the end of the world you say? How red is your neck exactly?

Jude is already married to another woman, who has deserted him. He is a lowly working class man, but dreams of becoming a scholar, and thinking himself free to do so, makes for the city.

Once there his hopes are constantly dashed by his status, and station in life.

Sue is unhappily married to a schoolteacher. The pair begin a relationship, which is frowned on out of wedlock.

They have children, and this further incites the disapproval of society around them. Jude loses job after job, and the pair are kicked out of their homes when landlords discover the nature of their relationship.

Jude and Sue are visited by a child from Jude’s first marriage, who he didn’t know existed. They welcome him into the home.

When he sees the trouble he and his siblings are causing their parents, he strangles Sue’s children with a box cord before committing suicide.

Sue suffers a crisis of guilt, and despite not loving her first husband, returns to him. Jude is tricked into re-marrying his first wife when drunk.

Attempting a last reconciliation with Sue, he seeks her out in the rain, which causes him to become seriously ill.  He dies within a year.
Will It Make You Cry? Might not make you actually cry, but boy it’s depressing.
Will It Uplift You? The upper classes might sustain some glee at the suffering of a ‘lesser’ man.
Cynicism Score: 8
– All your dreams will be destroyed by an uncaring world, unless you do what you are told and never question the status quo.


Next: Requiem For A Dream



Requiem For A Dream (2000)

The Film: A film that explores the parallel lives of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son, Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and best friend, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans)
Why So Serious? They’re all junkies.

Harry, Tyrone and Marion are three kids in Brooklyn’s run down Brighton Beach neighbourhood. Hooked on heroin, they constantly look for a score, and a way to escape.

Sara Goldfarb spends her days trying to fend off her son, who’d sell anything that isn’t strapped down for a fix. Finding out she is to appear on her favourite game show, she becomes hooked on diet pills in order to fit into her favourite red dress.

The trio of junkies plan to sell heroin to escape their dead-end lives, but after making money, they begin to lose it, and their lives start to spiral out of control.

Looking for ways to make money, Harry convinces Marion to sleep with her rich psychiatrist (her parents pay for his services), which she does.  He tells her that if she wants to make some real money, he has contacts.

Tipped off about a shipment, they arrive only for the deal to go bad, and the supply truck to drive away, leaving them and several other junkies high and dry.

Meanwhile, Sara’s diet pill addiction is having serious ramifications for her mental health and she begins hallucinating, all while popping pills like candy.

Harry and Marion fight after he returns without a fix, during which she notices a black spot on his arm where he injects.

Desperate, he and Tyrone decide to drive to Florida to score, fixing their problems. When they leave, Marion calls the psychiatrist in order to make some money.

Marion ends up at a sex club, performing gratuitous and degrading sex acts in front of the rich clientele.

On the road, Harry’s black spot has grown to an alarming size and is extremely painful. Tyron takes him to the nearest hospital, where the pair are arrested for being junkies.

In prison, Tyrone must go cold turkey, while doing hard labour and dealing with racist southern prison guards.

At the prison hospital, the doctors are left with no choice but to amputate Harry’s arm, which had become infected and started to rot due to his drug taking.

Back in Brooklyn, Sara, dishevelled and disturbed, flees her apartment after the fridge tries to eat her. She wanders the streets, insane, ending up at the TV station, where she is arrested.

She ends up in a psychiatric hospital, where after refusing treatment, she is subjected to electroshock therapy. Her friends visit, but she is a drooling shadow of her former self.
Will It Make You Cry?
By the end you’ll probably be so depressed you’ll have forgotten how to cry.
Will It Uplift You? If it does, please, call a doctor.
Cynicism Score: 10
– Life is futile. Thanks for the pep talk.

Agree with our choices? What's your most depressing movie? Leave us a comment

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    • TheTingler

      Jun 24th 2009, 10:31

      I think Jude wins the prize for sheer "life-is-s***-and-people-are-worse"-ness. Requiem For A Dream at least has the get-out clause of "drugs are bad" to fall back on. Most of the rest are just normal soap operas. Some excellent metaphors in there by the way TF!

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    • ChroniC2805

      Jun 24th 2009, 10:50

      What about bridge to terabithia or marley and me both of those films had me crying like a baby

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    • ashley.russell

      Jun 24th 2009, 11:24

      Changeling should definitely be in there, its nothing but police corruption, dead children, missing children, scary fraudulent children, a mental hospital and a serial killer

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    • durden

      Jun 24th 2009, 11:26

      well,i wouldn't call them miserable but the only films that made me cry were dead poets society and october sky...don't think any of the above have done that...

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    • fluffulike

      Jun 24th 2009, 11:41

      I never really got over bambi's mum dying! Only movie I ever really cried in.

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    • Lindz28

      Jun 24th 2009, 13:50

      In the valley of Elah is the most depressing film I've seen. Tommy Lee jones and Susan Sarandon's son dies. Then their other son goes missing. He's found not just dead, but brutally stabbed, burnt and chopped up into little bits. Its like the ending for Million Dollar baby but for the WHOLE film :(

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    • BennettsVest

      Jun 24th 2009, 15:03

      The Deer Hunter isn't exactly a shining beacon of cheer. I think my mate summed it up best when he said "That was superb, but I never want to see it again." Then he shot himself.

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    • thefilmguru

      Jun 24th 2009, 16:15

      I am sorry but youve missed a biggy with The Elephant Man - i mean that film is so depressing he gets abused nearly the whole film. Scenes with that security guard never fail to be depressing with how he is. It ends on a sort of high in that hes content, but really - it is still DEATH. The Elephant Man has to be in there.

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    • pazozo

      Jun 24th 2009, 17:04

      is Jude entirely based on Jude the Obscure? It's on my reading list for English for 'Love through the ages' but if it's anything like the film I think I'll give it a skip

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    • tachikoma83

      Jun 24th 2009, 17:55

      Where is "Grave of the Fireflies"? that film almost killed me.

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    • magicwings

      Jun 24th 2009, 18:10

      Two words: The, and Wrestler.

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    • Sonic

      Jun 24th 2009, 22:51


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    • indran

      Jun 25th 2009, 0:40

      I'm putting in my vote for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover and Martyrs as two of the most horrifyingly downbeat films ever made. Really stay with you after watching them. And of course Requiem For A Dream. You just can't feel good watching that.

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    • imaginarium

      Jun 25th 2009, 14:25

      Brokeback Mountain. Love that can never be properly fulfilled, they can never be together, they have their biggest argument, spilling all the frustration and regret, right before one of them dies, alone, for the very reason they couldn't be together.

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    • Catchphrase

      Jun 26th 2009, 13:47

      You missed Boys Don't Cry.

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    • obi500

      Jun 26th 2009, 14:40

      I know a lot of people may not have seen it but studio Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies is the only film thats made me cry.

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    • xotitanicox

      Jun 27th 2009, 18:21

      What Moulin Rouge? I cry every time I watch it.

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    • WileyWasabi

      Jun 27th 2009, 21:18

      How could you leave off My Life??? The movie starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman, couple trying to get pregnant, and when she does they find out he has terminal cancer, so he makes a bunch of videos for their unborn son, because it is expected he'll not live to see him born. Total sobfest.

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    • VictoriaRusso

      Jul 17th 2009, 22:40

      I guess the author made differences between movies that made people cry and depressing movies. So totally agree on Requiem for a dream, great art piece after which it's quite hard not to suicide. Another thing is Bamby, just because it's kinda made for kids, but awfully depressing! And of course Brasil. There's nothing worse than a happy ending that never really happened.

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    • apbgreen

      Aug 4th 2009, 16:21

      'Million Dollar Baby'. A film so relentlessly depressing that swallowing your own tongue seems somehow comforting.

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    • Apathygrrl

      Aug 6th 2009, 12:00

      Totally agree with Requiem. One of the most bleak movies I have ever seen. I'd just like to mention The Green Mile & The Mist. Both are so painfully depressing that I can't ever watch them again.

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    • MrSmith70

      Nov 17th 2009, 22:17

      yeah i agree, requiem for a dream is such an excellent film but the unconfortabiliity of watch it is extreme...... harrowing at the mind with sara's hallucination, felt like getting sick. churning of the stomach with harry's decomposing arm 'pre-op', felt like getting sick. aronofsky's best.......

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    • CatBear

      Aug 15th 2011, 17:24

      I'm pretty sure that when you wrote depressing, you meant s**t? Other than Requiem it's more like a list of the worst, soap-opera like films of all time. How about some good, but depressing films; My Life Without Me, The Laramie Project, Mean Creek...

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    • erikmartin

      Dec 13th 2012, 19:28

      "Synecdoche, New York" should be in the list. That one emptied out my soul even more than Requiem For A Dream.

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