14. The Descendants (2011)
From Alexander Payne, the director of Sideways and About Schmidt, we have The Descendants, a family drama centered in Matt King’s (George Clooney) most dramatic times. A Hawaiian lawyer and landowner, a nonchalant man and an apathetic father, Matt is forced to take action in order to face a family tragedy.
Matt has to handle his seriously-injured wife who’s lying in a coma and may never wake up. He has to help his two daughters through the crisis, while trying to reconnect with the older one. Apart from that, he has to make an important decision about selling a land that his family have owned since the 1860s.
13. Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)
Audrey Burke’s (Halle Berry) husband died in his attempt to stop a stranger from beating his wife. Audrey lives in solitude and sadness afterwards with her two children in an beautiful suburban house. Although she has never sympathized with her husband’s childhood friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), a former lawyer and heroin user, Audrey invites him to move into the room adjacent to their garage in order to help him to overcome his drug problems after her husband’s funeral.
An honest portrayal of grief and intimate relations with flawed characters working together in order to get back on their feet, the movie proves to be powerful and sincere.
12. Babel (2006)
This outstanding drama from filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu focuses on four interwoven stories. Susan (Cate Blanchett) and Richard Jones (Brad Pitt), a married couple mourning their baby’s death, decide to travel to Morocco in hope of getting closer again. In Japan, a teenage deaf mute girl lives in torment due to her mother’s suicide and her inability to connect with her father.
These are two examples of the four families, four stories and four different cultures that guide us through an intense and emotional journey between the characters’ fragility.
11. Ordinary People (1980)
This Robert Redford family drama sets his debut as a film director. It revolves around the three members of this typical American family. The father (Donald Sutherland) is a caring and friendly person who is trying hard to get closer to his depressed son. Conrad (Timothy Hutton), the younger son of the couple, is a troubled teenager tormented by the guilt of his older brother’s death. The mother (Mary Tyler Moore) is a cold-hearted woman who, after her favored son’s tragic departure (probably the only person she ever really loved in her life), shuts herself behind the farce of a perfect family.
With the death of its older son in a boating accident and the surviving son (who tried to commit suicide) in danger of psychological collapse, this family has to face the ugly truth beneath the ‘perfect upper-middle-class family in suburban’ hypocrisy and deal with the way they really feel about each other.
10. Still Walking (2008)
This masterpiece from director Hirokazu Koreeda (known for such films as Nobody Knows, After Life and Like Father Like Son) happens on a summer day, as the Yokoyama family gather to honor the death of the elderly couple’s older son (a custom in many Japanese families).
Junpei drowned fifteen years ago while rescuing another boy and his death was dramatically felt in the family, not only because he was the eldest son (and the family heir) but also because he was admired by his little brother Ryota who, since that time, has lost the capability to connect with his family.
The course of the events gradually unfolds over one day and night. Unlike most families that are painfully haunted by their relatives’ death in other movies, the family gathers to eat and celebrate the special day. The family issues stay beneath the surface. The viewer slowly starts to notice the true feelings of each family member, despite their attempt to hide them during the family reunion.
9. The Big Chill (1983)
After Alex commits suicide, the seven members of a former childhood group reunite to mourn the death of their friend after years without contact.
The funeral and reception lead to a weekend at a country house where two of the members start to discuss their lives, relationships and motivations while trying to deal with the tragic death of Alex.
This reunion drama from the 80’s counts with the participation of some well-known names such as Glenn Close, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum and Tom Berenger and it has an amazing soundtrack.
8. Ponette (1996)
When Ponette’s (Victoire Thivisol) mother dies in a car accident, the four-year-old has to face the painful feeling of loss, an emotion that she is not yet prepared for or has the maturity to understand.
Having troubles to accept the fact of never being able to see her precious mother again, Ponette shuts herself out from the real world and starts a search to get to see and talk to her mother again.
This French film directed by Jacques Doillon is characterized by scenes and dialogues made only between little children and it shows a child’s point of view about losing a loved one.