40 Saddest Movies To Make You Shed Tears

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Movies are listed according to their IMDb points. 

Movie infos: rotten tomatoes.

Have fun crying.

40. Pay It Forward (2000)

IMDb: 7.1
A young boy stumbles upon a simple way to change the world in this drama. Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) is a bright 11-year-old boy who comes from a troubled home; his mother Arlene (Helen Hunt) is an alcoholic trying to hold down two jobs to support her son, while Trevor's father Jon Bon Jovi) left his family behind some time ago. At school, Trevor's class is introduced to their new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey), a guarded man with severe facial scars. Simonet gives his class an unusual assignment -- think up a practical way to make the world a better place, and put it into action. Trevor comes up with the notion of "Pay It Forward" -- do a needed favor for three different people without being asked, and then ask them to do the same for three others. Trevor starts by letting Jerry (James Caviezal), a junkie living on the streets, stay in his home. Next, he tries to fix Arlene up with Mr. Simonet, since both seem to be lonely and the clean and sober teacher might help Arlene stay away from alcohol. Finally, he tries to rescue one of his schoolmates, who is constantly tormented by bullies. Meanwhile, journalist Chris Chandler (Jay Mohr) finds himself stuck on the road without a car late one night when a man stops and give him the keys to a new car, asking him only to pay the favor forward to someone else; astonished, Chris wants to find out where this philosophy came from. Based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hide, Pay It Forward also stars Angie Dickinson and Liev Schreiber. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0223897/

39. Lorenzo's Oil (1992)

IMDb: 7.2
Director George Miller's fact-based drama stars Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon as Augusto and Michaela Odone, the parents of a boy (Zack O'Malley Greenburg) diagnosed with ALD (adrenolenkodystrophy), a rare degenerative disease with fatal results. Refusing to accept the death sentence the doctors have handed young Lorenzo, the Odones devote every ounce of their being to finding a breakthrough to battle the disease. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104756/

38. Murder in the First (1995)

IMDb: 7.3
This shocking prison drama was inspired by a true story. In 1938, Henri Young (Kevin Bacon), sentenced to Alcatraz for stealing $5, attempted to escape from prison with three other prisoners. One of the escapees was captured, and to curry favor with Warden Glenn (Gary Oldman), he informed on the others. Young was soon brought back to custody, and was to be punished by spending 19 days in solitary confinement. Nineteen days stretched into three years, in which Young was kept in a pit with no light, no toilet, no furniture, and nothing to read. Young emerged from solitary a vengeful madman, and he quickly murdered the convict who turned him in. Young was put on trial for the killing, and assigned a first-time public defender, James Stamphill (Christian Slater). Stamphill was horrified by Young's tales of the conditions at Alcatraz, and he used them as the basis of his defense for his client, believing that anyone would be driven to madness and murder if they had been treated the same way as Young. Murder in the First also features Embeth Davidtz, William H. Macy, Brad Dourif, and R. Lee Ermey.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113870/

37. The Way Back (2010)

IMDb: 7.3
Directed by six-time Academy Award nominee Peter Weir, THE WAY BACK is an epic story of survival, solidarity and indomitable human will. Shot in Bulgaria, Morocco and India, the film stars Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Other Boleyn Girl), Ed Harris (Appaloosa) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges) as prisoners of a Soviet Union labor camp, who, along with four others, flee their Siberian Gulag and begin a treacherous journey across thousands of miles of hostile terrain. Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) and Mark Strong (Body of Lies, RocknRolla) co-star. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1023114/

36. The Kite Runner (2007)

IMDb: 7.6
Spanning from the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy to the atrocities of the Taliban reign, an epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, an unlikely friendship develops between Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, and Hassan, a servant to Amir and his father. During a kite-flying tournament, an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever. As an adult haunted by the childhood betrayal, Amir seeks redemption by returning to his war-torn native land to make peace with himself and reconcile his cowardice.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419887/

35. The imposible (2012)

IMDb: 7.6
Maria, Henry and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649419/

34. Sophie's Choice (1982)

IMDb: 7.7
In this film, set in 1947, aspiring author Stingo heads to New York. There he strikes up a friendship with research chemist Nathan Landau and Polish refugee Sophie Zawistowska. There is something unsettling about the relationship; Nathan has violent mood swings, while Sophie seems to be harboring a horrible secret.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084707/

33. Awakenings (1990)

IMDb: 7.7
In this film, Dr. Malcolm Sayer takes a job at a Bronx psychiatric hospital and is put in charge of several seemingly catatonic patients. Under Sayer's painstaking guidance, they begin responding to certain stimuli. Sayer is then given permission to test a new drug on one of his patients.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099077/

32. Remember the Titans (2000)

IMDb: 7.7
Based on actual events that took place in 1971, a white southern high school is integrated with black students from a nearby school. Both schools are recognized for their football programs which are now unified. The black coach is chosen to be the head coach of the integrated team, leaving the previous white head coach with feelings of animosity at having to be an assistant under a black man.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210945/

31. Cast Away (2000)

IMDb: 7.7
An exploration of human survival and the ability of fate to alter even the tidiest of lives with one major event, Cast Away tells the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a Federal Express engineer who devotes most of his life to his troubleshooting job. His girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) is often neglected by his dedication to work, and his compulsive personality suggests a conflicted man. But on Christmas Eve, Chuck proposes marriage to Kelly right before embarking on a large assignment. On the assignment, a plane crash strands Chuck on a remote island, and his fast-paced life is slowed to a crawl, as he is miles removed from any human contact. Finding solace only in a volleyball that he befriends, Chuck must now learn to endure the emotional and physical stress of his new life, unsure of when he may return to the civilization he knew before. Cast Away reunites star Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis, their first film together since 1994's Oscar-winning Forrest Gump. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0162222/

30. Titanic (1997)

IMDb: 7.7
Inspired by the 1985 discovery of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, the contemporary storyline involves American treasure-seeker Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) retrieving artifacts from the submerged ship. Lovett looks for diamonds but finds a drawing of a young woman, nude except for a necklace. When 102-year-old Rose (Gloria Stuart) reveals she's the person in the portrait, she is summoned to the wreckage site to tell her story of the 56-carat diamond necklace and her experiences of 84 years earlier. The scene then shifts to 1912 Southampton where passengers boarding the Titanic include penniless Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and society girl Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), returning to Philadelphia with her wealthy fiance Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). After the April 10th launch, Rose develops a passionate interest in Jack, and Cal's reaction is vengeful. At midpoint in the film, the Titanic slides against the iceberg and water rushes into the front compartments. Even engulfed, Cal continues to pursue Jack and Rose as the massive liner begins its descent.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120338/

29. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

IMDb: 7.8
Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, and Asa Butterfield star in Little Voice writer/director Mark Herman's adaptation of John Boyne's novel concerning the forbidden friendship that between an eight-year-old German boy and a Jewish concentration camp prisoner in World War II-era Germany. The innocent son of a high-ranking Nazi commandant, Bruno has been largely shielded from the harsh realities of the war. When Bruno discovers that his father has been promoted and that their family will be moving from Berlin into the countryside, he doesn't take the news well. Increasingly bored in his sprawling yet dreary country abode and forbidden by his mother from exploring the backyard, young Bruno searches for something to do while his older sister plays with dolls and vies for the attention of handsome Lieutenant Kotler (Rupert Friend). One day, bored and gazing out his bedroom window, Bruno spies what first appears to be a nearby farm; his parents refuse to discuss it, and all of the inhabitants there are curiously clad in striped pajamas. But while Bruno's mother naïvely believes the "farm" to be an internment camp, her husband has sworn under oath never to reveal that it is in fact an extermination camp specifically designed to help the Nazis achieve their horrific "Final Solution." Eventually defying his mother's rules and venturing out beyond the backyard, Bruno arrives at a barbed wire fence to find a young boy just his age emptying rubble from a wheel barrel. Like Pavel, the kitchen worker who cooks all of Bruno's meals, the young boy is wearing striped pajamas. His name is Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), and before long the two young boys become fast friends. But the closer these two boys grow, the more Bruno becomes awakened to the horrors unfolding all around them. His mother is catching on quickly as well, a fact that causes great tension in her marriage to Bruno's father. Later, after Bruno swipes a piece of cake for Shmuel, Lt. Kotler accuses the Jewish boy of stealing and delivers a swift punishment. When Bruno's father announces that the young boy and his mother will be going to live with their aunt in Heidelberg, Bruno grabs a shovel and makes his way to the camp, setting into motion a tragic and devastating sequence of events.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0914798/

28. Atonement (2007)

IMDb: 7.8
In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony's vivid imagination. Robbie Turner, the educated son of the family's housekeeper, carries a torch for Briony's headstrong older sister Cecilia. Cecilia, he hopes, has comparable feelings; all it will take is one spark for this relationship to combust. When it does, Briony--who has a crush on Robbie--is compelled to interfere, going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but he is arrested--and with Briony bearing false witness, the course of three lives is changed forever. Briony continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed. Through a terrible and courageous act of imagination, she finds the path to her uncertain atonement and to an understanding of the power of enduring love.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783233/

27. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

IMDb: 7.8
David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's story, re-teams the director with Brad Pitt, who takes on the title role. What makes Button such a curious case is that when he is born in New Orleans just after World War I, he is already in his eighties, and proceeds to live his life aging in reverse. This sweeping film follows the character's unusual life into the 21st century as he experiences joy and sadness, loves lost and found, and the meaning of timelessness. Cate Blanchett co-stars along with Tilda Swinton, Elias Koteas, and Julia Ormond.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421715/

26. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)

IMDb: 7.9
Chris Gardner is a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454921/

25. The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008)

IMDb: 8.0
Director Cyrus Nowrasteh teams with screenwriter Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh to illuminate the dangers of religious fundamentalism, gender apartheid, and mob rule with this fictionalized adaptation of Freidoune Sahebjam's best-selling novel centering on a true-life tragedy. The story takes place in 1986, just as Khomeini is coming into power in Iran. Undercover French journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel) is traveling though a small southwestern village when his car breaks down. Surrounded by strife but left with little choice other to wait until his car is repaired, the anxious Freidoune is soon approached by persistent local Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who convinces him to follow her into the courtyard behind her home. There, she reveals to him that she has just borne witness to a most heinous crime. Just the previous day, Zahra had watched the men or her town stone an innocent woman to death. That woman was Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), long-suffering wife of abusive tyrant Ali. Soraya wed Ali in an arranged marriage, never realizing the horrors that she and her children would endure under her husband's heavy hand. When Ali requested a divorce so that he would be free to marry a 14-year-old girl, Soraya boldly refused, knowing that she and the children would most certainly starve to death without a husband to support them. Ali was too poor to return Soraya's dowry as custom dictates in a divorce, but he found another way out of the marriage. Under Shariah law, adultery is a crime punishable by death if the accused is unable to prove her innocence. Scheming with the newly installed, counterfeit mullah, Ali accused his wife of adultery. In order to ensure that she had no chance of defending herself, he blackmailed several male villagers to testify on his behalf. A tribunal was quickly called, and Soraya's fate forever sealed.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1277737/

24. Cinderella Man (2005)

IMDb: 8.0
The true story of an athlete who achieved his greatest success against the most daunting odds of his life is brought to the screen in this historical drama. In the 1920s, James Braddock (Russell Crowe) from Bergen, NJ, was a promising contender in professional boxing; he had strength, spirit, and tenacity, but the combination of a serious hand injury and a 1929 defeat in a bout with light heavyweight champ Tommy Loughran sent his career into a serious tailspin. As Braddock's career in the ring dried up, the Great Depression put a stake through the heart of America's economy, and Braddock found himself working at the New York docks for pitiful wages as he tried to support his wife, Mae (Renée Zellweger), and three children. Desperate for money, Braddock turned to his former trainer and manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), who was unexpectedly able to scare up a bout for him, battling John Griffin at Madison Square Garden. While conventional wisdom had it that Braddock was too old, out of shape, and out of practice to have any chance of winning, he defeated Griffin, and continued beating his opponents with a powerful left hook that had been intensified by years of punishing dock work. In a nation desperate for good news, Braddock's surprising comeback became a tonic to struggling workers and unemployed people, and all eyes were on Braddock when in 1935 he took on powerful heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko) in what was both literally and figuratively the fight of his life
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0352248/

23. Blood Diamond (2006)

IMDb: 8.0
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, "Blood Diamond" is the story of Danny Archer--a South African mercenary--and Solomon Vandy--a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon--who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields--has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen, an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450259/

22. The Notebook (2004)

IMDb: 8.0
Directed by Nick Cassavetes, this adaptation of author Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel revolves around Noah Calhoun's (James Garner) regular visits to a female patron (Gena Rowlands) of an area nursing home. Rather than bore her with the inanities of everyday life, Calhoun reads from an old, faded notebook containing the sweeping account of a young couple (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) whose love affair was tragically put to a halt after their separation in the midst of World War II. Seven years later, the couple was reunited, and, despite having taken radically different paths, they found themselves unable to resist the call of a second chance. The Notebook also features Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, and Kevin Connolly. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332280/

21. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

IMDb: 8.1
Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran boxing trainer who has devoted his life to the ring and has precious little to show for it; his daughter never answers his letters, and a fighter he's groomed into contender status has paid him back by signing with another manager, leaving Frankie high and dry. His best friend and faithful employee Eddie Dupris is a former fighter who Frankie trained. In his last fight, Eddie suffered a severe injury, a fact that brings Frankie great guilt. One day, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) enters Frankie's life, as well as his gym, and announces she needs a trainer. Frankie regards her as a dubious prospect, and isn't afraid to tell her why: he doesn't think much of women boxing, she's too old at 31, she lacks experience, and has no technique. However, Maggie sees boxing as the one part of her life that gives her meaning and won't give up easily. Finally won over by her determination, Frankie takes on Maggie, and as she slowly grows into a viable fighter, an emotional bond develops between them. When a tragedy befalls one of the three characters, each comes to a decision that shows how the relationships in the film have changed them. Adapted from a short story by F.X. Toole, a former corner man with years of experience in the fight game, Million Dollar Baby also stars Morgan Freeman, Anthony Mackie, and Mike Colter.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405159/

20. Black (2005)

IMDb: 8.2
A deaf, mute and blind girl is assisted by her teacher, who helps her with her life. Rani Mukherjee.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375611/

19. Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (2004)

IMDb: 8.2
Korea's leading filmmaker, Kang Je-gyu, directed this epic-scale drama focusing on two brothers caught up in the madness of the war that tore their nation apart in the early '50s. Jin-seok Lee (Weon Bin) is a bright and well-educated young man whose older and more physically imposing brother Jin-tae Lee (Jang Dong-gun) believes he represents the best hope for his family's future. When both Jin-seok and Jin-tae are called up to fight in the South Korean army following the advance of Communist forces, a wary Jin-tae cuts a deal with his commanding officer -- if he racks up an impressive enough record on the battlefield, the army will give Jin-seok an early release. Jin-tae proves to be a fearless soldier, and is soon recognized as a war hero, but as the conflict wears on, he develops an unhealthy enthusiasm for the violence of the battlefield, and Jin-seok finds himself questioning his big brother's actions, both as a soldier and as a member of his family. The title Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War refers to the Korean name for the South Korean flag, originally designed in 1876 but outlawed during Japanese rule of the nation, and restored to use in 1948. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386064/

18. Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)

IMDb: 8.2
The astonishing true-life story of Jean-Dominic Bauby -- a man who held the world in his palm, lost everything to sudden paralysis at 43 years old, and somehow found the strength to rebound -- first touched the world in Bauby's best-selling autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (aka La Scaphandre et la Papillon), then in Jean-Jacques Beineix's half-hour 1997 documentary of Bauby at work, released under the same title, and, ten years after that, in this Cannes-selected docudrama, helmed by Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) and adapted from the memoir by Ronald Harwood (Cromwell). The Schnabel/Harwood picture follows Bauby's story to the letter -- his instantaneous descent from a wealthy and congenial playboy and the editor of French Elle, to a bed-bound, hospitalized stroke victim with an inactive brain stem that made it impossible for him to speak or move a muscle of his body. This prison, as it were, became a kind of "diving bell" for Bauby -- one with no means of escape. With the editor's mind unaffected, his only solace lay in the "butterfly" of his seemingly depthless fantasies and memories. Because of Bauby's physical restriction, he only possessed one channel for communication with the outside world: ocular activity. By moving his eyes and blinking, he not only began to interact again with the world around him, but -- astonishingly -- authored the said memoir via a code used to signify specific letters of the alphabet. In Schnabel's picture, Mathieu Amalric tackles the difficult role of Bauby; the film co-stars Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, and Patrick Chesnais.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401383/

17. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

IMDb: 8.2
Ten years ago some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda--and in an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees, by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0395169/

16. Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

IMDb: 8.2
Based on the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari, as well as on a true story, Hachi: A Dog's Tale stars Richard Gere as a college professor who finds an abandoned dog and takes the poor lost animal in. The film follows the two as the man and animal soon form a strong and unexplainable bond. Joan Allen co-stars in the Inferno Entertainment production.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1028532/

15. Braveheart (1995)

IMDb: 8.4
Mel Gibson, long-time heartthrob of the silver screen, came into his own as a director with Braveheart, an account of the life and times of medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace and, to a lesser degree, Robert the Bruce's struggle to unify his nation against its English oppressors. The story begins with young Wallace, whose father and brother have been killed fighting the English, being taken into the custody of his uncle, a nationalist and pre-Renaissance renaissance man. He returns twenty years later, a man educated both in the classics and in the art of war. There he finds his childhood sweetheart Murron (Catherine McCormack), and the two quickly fall in love. There are murmurs of revolt against the English throughout the village, but Wallace remains aloof, wishing simply to tend to his crops and live in peace. However, when his love is killed by English soldiers the day after their secret marriage (held secretly so as to prevent the local English lord from exercising the repulsive right of prima noctae, the privilege of sleeping with the bride on the first night of the marriage), he springs into action and single-handedly slays an entire platoon of foot soldiers. The other villagers join him in destroying the English garrison, and thus begins the revolt against the English in what will eventually become full-fledged war. Wallace eventually leads his fellow Scots in a series of bloody battles that prove a serious threat to English domination and, along the way, has a hushed affair with the Princess of Wales (the breathtaking Sophie Marceau) before his imminent demise. For his efforts, Gibson won the honor of Best Director from the Academy; the movie also took home statuettes for Best Picture, Cinematography, Makeup, and Sound Effects.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112573/

14. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

IMDb: 8.4
Based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr., this gritty drama concerns four people trapped by their addictions. Harry (Jared Leto), and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are impoverished heroin addicts living in Coney Island, NY, while Harry's girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is a fellow addict trying to distance herself from her wealthy father. Harry dreams of scoring a pound of smack, from which he could make enough money to open a clothing boutique with Marion, but so far he and his friends can barely scrape by supporting their own habits. Meanwhile, Harry's mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn), who spends her days watching television, is told she has the opportunity to appear on her favorite game show; wanting to lose enough weight to fit into her favorite red dress, she visits a sleazy doctor who gives her a prescription for amphetamines. Soon Sara has a drug habit of her own that is spiraling out of control. Requiem for a Dream was directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Selby; it was Aronofsky's second feature, following his acclaimed independent film Pi.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180093/

13. Big Fish (2003)

IMDb: 8.4
The story of a braggart and exaggerator, Edward Bloom, and his son, William, who--after a long estrangement--returns home only to learn his father is dying of cancer. Desperate to know the complicated man before it's too late, William sets out, trying to unravel fact from fiction.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319061/

12. Bacheha-Ye aseman (1997)

IMDb: 8.5
The Children of Heaven follows the relationship between an impoverished brother and sister, Ali and Zahra, who are thrust into a difficult circumstance. They choose to solve their problem themselves, without telling their parents, in their own unique way. What follows is a tender, moving tale of compassion, determination and deep family love.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118849/

11. Hotaru no haka (1988)

IMDb: 8.5
Grave of the Fireflies opens on an evening in 1945, after Japan's surrender at the end of World War II; and in a train station, the young Seita dies alone. The rest of the movie tells us, in flashback, how things have come to this. Seita and Setsuko are two young Japanese children growing up in the waning days of World War II. Much to Seita's pride, their father is in the Japanese navy, and they live fairly content lives in Kobe despite rationing and the other privations of war. When their mother dies from burns suffered during an American fire-bombing raid, a distant aunt takes them in -- and conflict eventually forces the children to try to survive on their own. At first, Seita and his little sister enjoy their idyllic lives in the country, but harsh reality eventually settles in as Seita begins to understand the difficulties of taking care of a young child when both food and compassion are scarce. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095327/

10. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)

IMDb: 8.5
Cinema Paradiso offers a nostalgic look at films and the effect they have on a young boy who grows up in and around the title village movie theater in this Italian comedy drama that is based on the life and times of screenwriter/director Giuseppe Tornatore. The story begins in the present as a Sicilian mother pines for her estranged son, Salvatore, who left many years ago and has since become a prominent Roman film director who has taken the advice of his mentor too literally. He finally returns to his home village to attend the funeral of the town's former film projectionist, Alfredo, and, in so doing, embarks upon a journey into his boyhood just after WWII when he became the man's official son. In the dark confines of the Cinema Paradiso, the boy and the other townsfolk try to escape from the grim realities of post-war Italy. The town censor is also there to insure nothing untoward appears onscreen, invariably demanding that all kissing scenes be edited out. One day, Salvatore saves Alfredo's life after a fire, and then becomes the new projectionist. A few years later, Salvatore falls in love with a beautiful girl who breaks his heart after he is inducted into the military. Thirty years later, Salvatore has come to say goodbye to his life-long friend, who has left him a little gift in a film can. In 2002, over a decade after the film's original release, Tornatore brought the original 170-minute director's cut to American screens for the first time.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095765/

9. The Pianist (2002)

IMDb: 8.5
An adaptation based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who detailed his survival during World War II, and narrowly escaped a roundup that sent his family to a death camp. A composer and pianist, Szpilman played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. There, in Poland, Szpilman struggled to stay alive--even when cast away from those he loved. He spent the duration of the war hiding in the ruins of Warsaw and scavenging for food and shelter. Szpilman eventually reclaimed his artistic gifts, and confronted his fears--with aid from the unlikeliest of sources.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0253474/

8. The Green Mile (1999)

IMDb: 8.5
Director Frank Darabont, who made an acclaimed feature film debut with The Shawshank Redemption (1994), based on a Stephen King novel set in a prison, returns for a second feature, based on King's 1996 serialized novel set in a prison. In 1935, inmates at the Cold Mountain Correctional Facility call Death Row "The Green Mile" because of the dark green linoleum that tiles the floor. Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is the head guard on the Green Mile when a new inmate is brought into his custody: John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), convicted of the sadistic murder of two young girls. Despite his size and the fearsome crimes for which he's serving time, Coffey seems to be a kind and well-mannered person who behaves more like an innocent child than a hardened criminal. Soon Edgecomb and two of his fellow guards, Howell (David Morse) and Stanton (Barry Pepper), notice something odd about Coffey: he's able to perform what seem to be miracles of healing among his fellow inmates, leading them to wonder just what sort of person he could be, and if he could have committed the crimes with which he was charged. The Green Mile also stars James Cromwell as the warden; Michael Jeter, Sam Rockwell, and Graham Greene as inmates awaiting dates with the electric chair; and Harry Dean Stanton as a clever trustee. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120689/

7. La vita è bella (1997)

IMDb: 8.6
In this WW II tragicomedy, famed Italian funnyman Roberto Benigni (The Monster) portrays Guido, who moves during the '30s from the country to a Tuscan town, where he is entranced by schoolteacher Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife). Dora likes Guido, but she remains faithful to her pompous fiancé, so Guido has an uphill struggle. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic attitudes lead to attacks against Guido's Jewish uncle (Giustino Durano). Leaping ahead to five years later, during WW II, Guido and Dora are married and have a son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). After they are imprisoned in a concentration camp, Guido goes to elaborate lengths to keep his son from understanding the truth of their situation. He tells the boy that they are competing with others to win an armored tank -- so everything from food shortages to tattoos is explained as necessary for participation in the contest.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118799/

6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

IMDb: 8.6
Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII's D-day invasion and the immediate aftermath. The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. This mass slaughter of American soldiers is depicted in a compelling, unforgettable 24-minute sequence. Miller's men slowly move forward to finally take a concrete pillbox. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name "Ryan" stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States. Capt. Miller gets the assignment, and he chooses a translator, Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davis), skilled in language but not in combat, to join his squad of right-hand man Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), plus privates Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), cynical Reiben (Edward Burns) from Brooklyn, Italian-American Caparzo (Vin Diesel), and religious Southerner Jackson (Barry Pepper), an ace sharpshooter who calls on the Lord while taking aim. Having previously experienced action in Italy and North Africa, the close-knit squad sets out through areas still thick with Nazis. After they lose one man in a skirmish at a bombed village, some in the group begin to question the logic of losing more lives to save a single soldier. The film's historical consultant is Stephen E. Ambrose, and the incident is based on a true occurance in Ambrose's 1994 bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120815/

5. Léon (1994)

IMDb: 8.6
As visually stylish as it is graphically violent, this thriller directed by Luc Besson concerns Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old girl living in New York City who has been exposed to the sordid side of life from an early age: her family lives in a slum and her abusive father works for drug dealers, cutting and storing dope. Mathilda doesn't much care for her parents, but she has a close bond with her four-year-old brother. One day, she returns from running an errand to discover that most of her family, including her brother, have been killed in a raid by corrupt DEA agents, led by the psychotic Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment of her secretive neighbor, Leon (Jean Reno), who takes her in with a certain reluctance. She discovers that Leon is a professional assassin, working for Tony (Danny Aiello), a mob kingpin based in Little Italy. Wanting to avenge the death of her brother, Mathilda makes a deal with Leon to become his protégée in exchange for work as a domestic servant, hoping to learn the hitman's trade and take out the men who took her brother's life. However, an affection develops between Leon and Mathilda that changes his outlook on his life and career. Besson's first American film boasted a strong performance from Jean Reno, a striking debut by Natalie Portman, and a love-it-or-hate-it, over-the-top turn by Gary Oldman. Léon was originally released in the U.S. in 1994 as The Professional, with 26 minutes cut in response to audience preview tests. Those 26 minutes were restored in the director's preferred cut, released in 1996 in France as Léon: Version Intégrale and in the U.S. on DVD as Léon: The Professional in 2000.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110413/

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

IMDb: 8.8
With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including cowed mama's boy Billy (Brad Dourif) and silent Native American Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Ratched and McMurphy recognize that each is the other's worst enemy: an authority figure who equates sanity with correct behavior, and a misfit who is charismatic enough to dismantle the system simply by living as he pleases. McMurphy proceeds to instigate group insurrections large and small, ranging from a restorative basketball game to an unfettered afternoon boat trip and a tragic after-hours party with hookers and booze. Nurse Ratched, however, has the machinery of power on her side to ensure that McMurphy will not defeat her. Still, McMurphy's message to live free or die is ultimately not lost on one inmate, revealing that escape is still possible even from the most oppressive conditions.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073486/

3. Forrest Gump (1994)

IMDb: 8.8
"Stupid is as stupid does," says Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance) as he discusses his relative level of intelligence with a stranger while waiting for a bus. Despite his sub-normal IQ, Gump leads a truly charmed life, with a ringside seat for many of the most memorable events of the second half of the 20th century. Entirely without trying, Forrest teaches Elvis Presley to dance, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, serves with honor in Vietnam, meets Lyndon Johnson, speaks at an anti-war rally at the Washington Monument, hangs out with the Yippies, defeats the Chinese national team in table tennis, meets Richard Nixon, discovers the break-in at the Watergate, opens a profitable shrimping business, becomes an original investor in Apple Computers, and decides to run back and forth across the country for several years. Meanwhile, as the remarkable parade of his life goes by, Forrest never forgets Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), the girl he loved as a boy, who makes her own journey through the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s that is far more troubled than the path Forrest happens upon. Featured alongside Tom Hanks are Sally Field as Forrest's mother; Gary Sinise as his commanding officer in Vietnam; Mykelti Williamson as his ill-fated Army buddy who is familiar with every recipe that involves shrimp; and the special effects artists whose digital magic place Forrest amidst a remarkable array of historical events and people.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109830/

2. Schindler's List (1993)

IMDb: 8.9
Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who sees an opportunity to make money from the Nazis' rise to power. He starts a company to make cookware and utensils, using flattery and bribes to win military contracts, and brings in accountant and financier Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to help run the factory. By staffing his plant with Jews who've been herded into Krakow's ghetto by Nazi troops, Schindler has a dependable unpaid labor force. For Stern, a job in a war-related plant could mean survival for himself and the other Jews working for Schindler. However, in 1942, all of Krakow's Jews are assigned to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp, overseen by Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), an embittered alcoholic who occasionally shoots prisoners from his balcony. Schindler arranges to continue using Polish Jews in his plant, but, as he sees what is happening to his employees, he begins to develop a conscience. He realizes that his factory (now refitted to manufacture ammunition) is the only thing preventing his staff from being shipped to the death camps. Soon Schindler demands more workers and starts bribing Nazi leaders to keep Jews on his employee lists and out of the camps. By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler has lost his entire fortune -- and saved 1,100 people from likely death. Schindler's List was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and a long-coveted Best Director for Spielberg, and it quickly gained praise as one of the finest American movies about the Holocaust. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108052/

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

IMDb: 9.3
In 1946, a banker named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of a double murder, even though he stubbornly proclaims his innocence. He's sentenced to a life term at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine, where another lifer, Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), picks him as the new recruit most likely to crack under the pressure. The ugly realities of prison life are quickly introduced to Andy: a corrupt warden (Bob Gunton), sadistic guards led by Capt. Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown), and inmates who are little better than animals, willing to use rape or beatings to insure their dominance. But Andy does not crack: he has the hope of the truly innocent, which (together with his smarts) allow him to prevail behind bars. He uses his banking skills to win favor with the warden and the guards, doing the books for Norton's illegal business schemes and keeping an eye on the investments of most of the prison staff. In exchange, he is able to improve the prison library and bring some dignity and respect back to many of the inmates, including Red. Based on a story by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption was the directorial debut of screenwriter Frank Darabont. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111161/

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