Saddest Movies Ever Made - Part 1

Posted on 1 Aug 00:00

Some films are about difficult situations, and one can't help but to sympathize with the characters and become saddened. This article discusses seven saddest movies ever made and are well worth watching.

1.  12 Years a Slave (2013)

Plot: This film's plot depicts a free black man named Solomon Northup, whose life suddenly takes a different turn in 1841 when he is kidnapped and put into slavery for twelve years. As a slave, Solomon’s name changes to Patt. Life is quite hard for Patt, and he has to put up with the mistreatment and persecutions in the slave life. However, he perseveres, keeps his wits, and, with help, leaves enslavement after twelve years.

Director: '12 Years a Slave' was directed by Steven McQueen.

Main Cast:  Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Solomon Northup / Platt), Michael Fassbender (as Edwin Epps), Lupita Nyong'o (as Patsey), and Sarah Paulson (as Mary Epps), Brad Pitt (as Bass).

Commercial Performance: '12 Years a Slave' was a box office hit. The film’s budget was $20-$22 million. The movie grossed $187.7million, making it one of the most successful biographic films.

Awards and Nominations: This film was a commercial hit garnering positive reviews and numerous accolades in the form of awards and nominations. It won three Oscar awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. NAACP Image Awards nominated the film for five awards. Out of the five nominations, '12 Years a Slave' won three awards for Outstanding Motion Picture, Directing in a Motion Picture (Steve McQueen), and Writing in a Motion Picture (John Ridley). The New York Film Critics Online awarded the movie for Top Films, Best Picture, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Best Supporting Actress  (Lupita Nyong'o). The Screen Actors Guild Award awarded Lupita Nyongo for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role while Saturn Awards gave '12 Years a Slave' the Best Independent Spirit Film Award.

2.  127 Hours (2010)

Plot: This film is based on a true story.  Aron Ralston, a mountain climber, suffers terribly when he accidently falls through a slot in a canyon and his arm is pinned by a boulder in southeastern Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon. Ralston considers what options he has. It's either he dies or frees himself and escapes to live. Unfortunately, the only way to free himself is to amputate his trapped arm. The film is based on Ralston’s book 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'.

Director: Danny Boyle wrote the script, produced and directed.

Main Cast: James Franco (as Aron Ralston), Kate Mara (as Kristi Moore), Amber Tamblyn (as Megan McBride), and Clémence Poésy (as Rana, Aron’s lover).

Commercial Performance: Commercially, '127Hours' was a modest success. Working with a budget of $18 million, the film grossed $60 million.

Awards and Nominations: '127 Hours' was a successl and received many awards. The Golden Globes Awards nominated the movie for three awards, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, and the Best Actor. The British Academy Film Awards also saw the movie’s worth and gave it nine nominations, including Best Cinematography, Outstanding British Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Film Music. At the 83rd Academy Awards, '127 Hours' received six nominations for Best Original Song, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

3.  All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Plot: This film's plot features a young disillusioned soldier who relates how dreadful World War I was, and its impact on everyone. Now grown, the soldier narrates how their idealistic gung-ho teacher coaxed them into accepting an enlistment. The recruit represents the voice of the majority in the film.

Director: Lewis Milestone.

Main Cast: Lew Ayres (as Paul Bäumer), Louis Wolheim (as Stanislaus Katczinsky), John Wray (as Himmelstoss), and Arnold Lucy (as Professor Kantorek).

Commercial Performance: This film was a modest commercial success. Working with a budget of $1.2 million, the movie grossed $3 million worldwide. This success led to the production of the 1936 'Road Back' sequel, which depicts the second company’s members as they return home.

Awards and Nominations: This film received four Academy nominations for Outstanding Production Universal (Carl Laemmle Jr.), Best Director (Lewis Milestone), Best Writing  (George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson, and Del Andrew), and Best Cinematography (Arthur Edeson). Carl and Lewis won the awards. The American Film Institute recognized the movie for its great performance and included it in the following lists; 100 Years...100 Movies (ranked 54th), 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition), AFI's 10 Top 10 (ranked as the 7th epic film), AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes for ‘And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death’ for which it received a nomination.

4.  American Beauty (1999)

Plot: This movie satirizes the American common notions relating to personal satisfaction and beauty. It features a middle-aged man who faces a middle-life crisis that leads him to feel a romantic attachment with his teenage daughter’s best friend. To the public, he seems a respectable man with a good job, but depression is slowly eating him deep inside. His wife and daughter also undergo changes that will forever change their family life.

Director: Sam Mendes directed the film using a screenplay by Allan Ball.

Main Cast:  Kevin Spacey (as Lester Burnham), Annette Benning (as Carolyn Burnham), Thora Birch (as Jane Burnham), and Wes Bentley (as Ricky Fitts).

Commercial Performance: This movie was both a critical and commercial success. It had a budget of $15 million and grossed $356.3 million.

Awards and Nominations: This movie garnered a total of 89 awards and 160nominations. At the Academy Awards, the film was nominated for eight awards, and it won five for Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall), Best Picture (Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks), Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Director (Sam Mendes), and Best Original Screenplay (Alan Ball).

5.  American History X (1998)

Plot: This sad film features two brothers, Derek and Danny Vinyard, who are members and victims of the Neo-Nazi and supremacist movements. Derek is older than Danny. In their course of the neo-Nazi movements, Derek is arrested and jailed for three years. During the imprisonment, he is rehabilitated and reformed. When he finishes the three years in jail, Derek tries to enlighten his younger brother Furlong, advising him against further indoctrination. Sadly, it is too late.

Director: Tony Kaye.

Main Cast: Edward Norton (as Derek Vinyard), Edward Furlong (as Danny Vinyard), Beverly D'Angelo (as Doris Vinyard), and Jennifer Lien (as Davina Vinyard).

Commercial Performance: 'American History X' was a modest commercial success, grossing $23.9 million on a $20 million budget.

Awards and Nominations: Edward Norton received seven nominations for Best Actor from Academy Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Golden Reel Awards, Saturn Awards, Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards, and Taormina International Film Festival. He won two awards for Best Actor by Taormina International Film Festival and the Golden Satellite Awards.

6.  Amour (2012)

Plot: This film explores the theme of love and commitment in marriage. Anne and George are retired music teachers who are old now with their daughter living abroad. George struggles with the old age infirmities, but things worsen when Anne faces a debilitating stroke that paralyzes her right side of the body. George stays true to his promise to take care of Anne despite these hardships and ensures she never goes back to the hospital.

Director: Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.

Main Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant (as Georges Laurent), Emmanuelle Riva (as Anne Laurent), Isabelle Huppert (as Eva Laurent), and Alexandre Tharaud (as Alexandre).

Commercial Performance: This film was a commercial success. Produced on a budget of $8.9 million, the film grossed $29.9 million.

Awards and Nominations: 'Amour' received many accolades. The Academy Awards nominated the film for five awards; Best Picture (Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz), Best Director (Michael Haneke), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Original Screenplay (Michael Haneke), and the Best Foreign Language Film Award which Michael Haneke won.

7.  Atonement (2007)

Plot: This film features a crime and the effects it has for more than 60 years, which begin in the 1930s. Cecilia and Robbie are completely in love and devoted to each other. The couple is suddenly torn apart when Cecilia’s brother, Briony, tells a lie about Robbie, resulting in Robbie’s imprisonment.

Director: Joe Wright.

Main Cast: James McAvoy (as Robbie Turner), Keira Knightley (as Cecilia Tallis), Saoirse Ronan (as Briony Tallis), and Romola Garai (as Briony).

Commercial Performance: 'Atonement' was commercially successful, grossing $131 million on a budget of $30 million.

Awards and Nominations: This movie earned a handful of accolades. 'Atonement' won an Academy Award for Best Original Score during the 80th Academy Awards. It was nominated for six other awards at the same event, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress (for Roman).  During the 61st British Academy Film Awards, 'Atonement' received fourteen nominations. Out of the fourteen, it won the Best Film and Production Design Awards. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.


Movies are very powerful aspects of entertainment that influence our emotions ranging from happy to sad with a multitude of emotions in between. Often times, one chooses to watch a sad film knowing it will result in tears, a 'good cry'. This article has featured seven of the many saddest films the movie industry has ever produced.

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