20 Mentally Disturbed Movie Characters Oscar Loved

14. David (Geoffrey Rush) Shine (1996) Best actor WINNER!

Geoffrey Rush Shine

Synopsis snippet: One of a few true stories on this list, Shine is about a brilliant pianist, David Helfgott. A journey told in flashback, it starts with early abuse, leads to a breakdown seemingly caused by his Everest, Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto, and then a commitment to an asylum. When he is released, he has to find a way to readjust to life on the outside, find a little music, and a little love.

How disturbed was he? Geoffrey Rush loves being in institutions, huh? Just a teeny tiny nervous breakdown and acting a bit like a maniac causes people to just lock you up and plug you into an electrical socket. The nerve!

Character Quote: “Am I mad enough, professor? Am I?”

Opponents: Woody Harrelson in The People vs Larry Flint (Hustler founder becomes paralyzed goes crazy), Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient (Burned Count nurse has demons intertwined), Tom Cruise in Jerry Macguire (Show me money you complete me), & Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (Asylum released befriends mother and son).


13. Pat (Bradley Cooper) Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Best Actor Nominee


Synopsis snippet: Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental hospital for his bipolar disorder and wants to get his life and his wife back. He has to move in with mommy and daddy til he gets back on his feet. Literally-on his feet. Jennifer Lawrence says she’ll help him with these goals if he enters a dance contest with her. So they practice and practice and she is USPS between Pat and the wife. But who do you think is growing closer amidst all this? Plus, apparently their dancing helps the Eagles (the football team-not the band or the bird) win.

How disturbed was he? Well…..he is bipolar. And he beat the crap out of the guy he found in the shower with his wife. But that is understandable. Also, Bradley Cooper always looks a little crazy to me in his roles-like “Hey look at me! I’m a jerk and unpredictable!”

Character Quote: “Mom, can we stop at the library? I want to read Nikki’s entire high school syllabus.”

Opponents: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln (16th president struggles to free slaves), Joaquin Phoenix in The Master (Vet with PTSD joins religious cult), Denzel Washington in Flight (Addict pilot crashes saves passengers investigated), Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables (Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean…………..And so Javert you see it’s true…this man bears no more guilt than you…..Oh sorry! Got carried away singing Les Mis lyrics again).


12. Eve (Joanne Woodward) The Three Faces of Eve (1957) Best Actress WINNER!

Joanne Woodward

Synopsis snippet: Based on a true story, Eve has Multiple Personality Disorder (Oh, so that’s why it’s called The Three Faces of….ok, I get it). She’s normally a nice little housewife until she blacks out and becomes sexy wild attempted murderous (her own daughter) Eve Black who steps out on her husband and likes to go out and dance. Poor hubby gets her help but then moves away ASAP. Her psychiatrist leads her to the 3rd personality Jane and eventual understanding of the brain split so Humpty can be put back together again.

How disturbed was she? Didja read the part about her being three different people? Well Eve Black tried to kill her daughter. slept with other men, and drank-completely opposite of her other two personalities.

Character Quote: As Eve Black: “Honey, there are a lot of things you’ve never seen me do before. That’s no sign I don’t do ’em.”

Opponents: Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County (Southern belle steals man goes mad), Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (Stranded nun and soldier save Americans), Lana Turner in Peyton Place (moral hypocrite housewife has secret past), & Anna Magnani in Wild is the Wind (Widow married sister-in-law, slept with nephew?-Technically 6 words).


11. Parry (Robin Williams) The Fisher King (1991) Best Actor Nominee


Synopsis snippet: So Jack (Jeff Bridges) tries to kill himself after being a radio host that spurs someone to kill a bunch of people, but gets beat up because they think he’s a homeless person, meets Parry, an actual insane homeless person that is living the Fisher King legend in his head. (HolyGrailguardedbyFisherKingsinofpridesorryfortherunonsentence). Parry keeps seeing visions of The Red King, despite Jack’s attempts to help him, thus helping himself. Love as usual, “is all you need”.


Character Quote: “No… but I *do* believe in fairies.”

Opponents: Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (WINNER! Clarice…have the lambs stopped screaming?), Warren Beatty in Bugsy (Gangster founded Las Vegas, loved Virginia), Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides (Sister tries suicide, he loves psychiatrist), & Robert De Niro in Cape Fear (“You ready to be born again?”)


10. Nina (Natalie Portman) Black Swan (2010) Best Actress WINNER!

Black Swan

Synopsis snippet: Ballerina Nina will do anything to play the lead in Swan Lake, but the director thinks she is only perfect for ½ the role, the perfect White Swan. Convincing him otherwise that she can do it, he still wavers and often points to Lily (Mila Kunis) as the perfect Black Swan. Nina starts losing it, seeing her reflection not reflecting, and having a hallucination party about Mila Kunis (see below).

As with most movies with the word “black” in the title, it can only end badly (Black Dahlia, Creature of the Black Lagoon, Meet Joe Black, The Black Hole, Men in Black, Black Knight, Little Black Book-wait-I ruined my own theory). Forget that. It just ended badly, ok?

How disturbed was she? Ballerinas are crazy the way they hurt their feet and stay hungry for their art, but they are beautiful. But Natalie Portman played mentally disturbed as perfectly as Nina danced. She imagined having sex with Mila Kunis, she imagined the director having sex with Mila Kunis, imagined choking Mila Kunis, and imagined stabbing Mila Kunis.

Character Quote: “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.”

Opponents: Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine (See troubled marriage span several years), Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right (Lesbian couple find kids’ baby daddy), Jennifer Lawrence in WInter’s Bone (Looking for Daddy to save home), Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (Dealing with death of young son).


9. Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) Fatal Attraction (1987) Best Actress Nominee

Fatal Attraction

Synopsis snippet: Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) has a one night stand with Alex Forrest, who obviously wanted it to be a 737,462 night stand. She starts off the end of the affair by slitting her wrists (alarm bells much?), then tones it down for a bit with a few Stalker 101 moves (calling and showing up places), then escalates back up to a Ph.D. in CrazyLadyStalking. To the shock of no one…it ends badly and bloody.

How disturbed was she? Well for starters…slitting your wrists after a one night stand. Honey, no sex is THAT good. Poor boiling bunny and the scariest bathroom scene since Psycho with a screaming bloody thought-to-be-drowned Glenn Close popping up with a knife, round out the crazy.

Character Quote: “I guess you thought you’d get away with it. Well, you can’t.”

Opponents: Cher in Moonstruck (WINNER! Bookkeeper falls for the wrong man), Holly Hunter in Broadcast News (Workaholic producer loved by best friend), Sally Kirkland in Anna (Struggling for work as an actress), & Meryl Streep in Ironweed (Drinks and loves, drinker lover Francis).


8. Max Cady (Robert Deniro) Cape Fear (1991) Best Actor Nominee


Synopsis snippet: Philandering lawyer Sam Bowden moves with his family to a small town in Florida. There was a man he poorly defended 14 years ago (and by poorly defended I mean purposely withheld info…and by info I mean an actual document that could have gotten him cleared). But Max aka “poorly defended man” couldn’t read.

So what’s an illiterate rapist to do? Read and workout and read and get tattooed and read and plan and read. Menace and torture ensue. He does some crazy preliminary things (see: How disturbed was he?), kisses Sam’s underage daughter, uses the law to try and have him disbarred, and terrorizes the family on their houseboat during a storm that mirrors his rage.

How disturbed was he? So 1962 didn’t nominate Robert Mitchum for the same role (Hello?!? Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird! & also played Sam Bowden in this original), but C’mon! Robert De Niro! He poisoned a puppy, bit off a piece of someone’s cheek, and screamed in other languages while being dragged out to sea.

Character Quote: Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Opponents look familiar?: Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (WINNER! Clarice…have the lambs stopped screaming?), Warren Beatty in Bugsy (Gangster founded Las Vegas, loved Virginia), Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides (Sister tries suicide, he loves psychiatrist), & Robin Williams in The Fisher King (I see Red King Holy Grail).