Movies That *Get* Grief

Hollywood doesn't always get grief; from overacted performances to unrealistic storylines, the subtleties, private sorrows, and unexpected humor of loss if often overlooked in film. However, if you're looking for thoughtful writing, sensitive acting, and moments that capture the heart-wrenching beauty of death, I've handpicked movies that offer a touching escape into the ways families and individuals cope with grief. No matter where you are in your journey of grief I highly recommend these as a reminder that you aren't alone. Keep your tissues close.

 

OTHER PEOPLE

This understated drama poignantly touches on the sorrow, comedy, and reality of grief as a son deals with the before, during, and after of his mother's death to cancer. I laughed, I cried, I related wholeheartedly.

 

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

Beautiful and dark and heartfelt, we follow young Kubo through his journey to defeat an evil spirit. On the surface it is a story of action and adventure, but underneath it's a look into loss and memories and the complexities of family. It's one of the most unique, visually stunning films I've seen in quite a while.

 

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

A truly charming film about youth, death, and loss, this story follows a high schooler coming to terms with a classmate's cancer diagnosis. It's a funny, quirky, and heartbreaking look at coming of age and how we face our own mortality. 

 

UP

This darling animated story follows a heartbroken widower through the friends and adventures he begrudgingly has along the way. Sweet, sad, and appropriate for both children and adults, it offers the right amount of laughs and tears.

 

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

A love story about two teens with cancer, this young adult film is a sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic look at the brevity and unpredictability of life. It's a nice movie for not-so-young-adults too, or so I tell myself.

 

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Quirky, warm, and beautifully shot, this is a story of an eclectic family coming to terms with loss. Seeing grief through the eyes of a wide range of ages from young children to grandparents, it's an understated and touching look at how death affects everyone differently.

 

CLOUD ATLAS

A sweeping, multi-century, multi-character story about human nature, hope, loss, redemption, and reincarnation, I know this film had terrible reviews but I adore it (and have watched it many many times). It's at times violent, dark, and often tragic, but also beautiful, poignant, and inspiring. 

THE DESCENDANTS 

This Academy Award winning film is an understated look at impending loss and the struggles of reconnection. It follows a a dad and his daughters as they face a possible death in the family, and I found it touching, subtle, and relatable. 

Which are your favorite films? I'll be updating this list with new options.