7. Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
Our number 7 movie is one of the most beautiful films on this list. Not our classic obsessive archetype but nevertheless obsessed, Amélie Poulain portrays a definite benign obsession with “the right thing”. Introverted, shy and strange, Amélie lives in France, almost as a shadow lives only when a light is turned on.
Since her childhood, Amélie has been around folks with obsessive behavior; her father, a doctor, and her late mother, a teacher, both had their good share of weird fixations and obsessions. Amélie grew to be a quiet and reserved young woman. Her desires are replaced with small everyday actions that serve to her as a reasonable facsimile of pleasure, which fill her soul but not her heart.
One day, Amélie finds a photo album containing different scrapped portraits, taken at a nearby photo booth. With her imagination, she begins to make up the story of the people therein, and the person who collects them, falling in love with just the imaginary image of Nino, the album’s owner. In the film we meet several characters, and all of them have a “secret” obsession they share only to Amélie… or that she discovers, with or without permission.
6. Mommie Dearest (1981, Frank Perry)
Overreactions, opulence and a hatred of wire hangers, “Mommie Dearest” has it all. This film, based on real life events, tells the story of Joan Crawford, the Queen of all Hollywood Royalty, from the perspective of Christina, Joan’s adopted daughter. In this film we meet Miss Crawford’s multiple obsessions and fixations: she’s a warrior against dirt, an immaculate ritualist, and a vicious manipulator, and she won’t stop until everything is according to her plans.
As time passes, we see how her obsessions made her an outcast in her own house, ultimately resulting in loneliness; her only faithful companion would be Carol Anne, and that’s because she’s her maid. Losing lovers, money, and the love of her own darling Christina, until the end of her life, Joan would always have the last word, regardless the consequences.
This movie is a classic example of unlimited compulsive obsessions, in which we came to know Christina’s version of her childhood with this legendary movie star.
5. Notes on a Scandal (2006, Richard Eyre)
Now entering the top five, we have a clever, well-crafted film about the obsession of one woman. “Notes on a Scandal” tells the story of Barbara Covett, an “old prune” teacher, both feared and rejected by her co-workers and students. Her life can be defined as lonely, but perhaps that word doesn’t cover the sum of it.
A social recluse by her own will, Barbara leads a life without any excitement or joy. But then, Sheba Hart appears in her life, and her days begin to have something interesting in it. She and Sheba immediately have a connection, and cherishing it as a victory, Barbara tries anything possible to have Sheba by her side. “Gold star days” came along with Sheba, and the bliss of her companion made her heart warm again.
Their relationship takes a life-changing spin when Sheba has an affair with a 15 year-old student. Barbara then sees this as an unifying opportunity to fulfill her obsession with Sheba, transforming herself into Sheba’s confident and accomplice. The relationship of these two women then became more personal, and Barbara’s infatuation grows stronger.
4. Fatal Attraction (1987, Adrian Lyne)
No, Dan, she’s not going to be ignored! The fourth place film on this list is about the charming Alex Forrest. Perhaps the greatest example of what a fatal attraction actually is, this over-the-edge intelligent and sexual woman won’t take a “no” for an answer. After a casual fling with Dan Gallagher, Alex becomes obsessed with the idea of being Dan’s mistress.
As their time together passes, Alex becomes fixated with Dan, to the point of hurting herself when he dumps her. Things then escalate fast with Alex, as she starts calling Dan’s office, his home, and ultimately poses as a prospective buyer of the Gallagher’s house. The situations begin to scare Dan when he finds out Alex is pregnant, and realizes she won’t ever stop harassing and reappearing in his life.
3. Whatever happened to Baby Jane? (1962, Robert Aldrich)
The third place film on this list is about Baby Jane Hudson, a vaudevillian child star of the 1910s. Perhaps one of the oldest examples of what can happen to child stars once they grow up, Baby Jane never grew at all, staying forever an infantile woman with both a childish tone of voice and clothes. And as for her companion, we have Blanche Hudson, her sister, who intimately knows how mad and obsessed with stardom her sister is.
This story is about how those brief moments of fame worked in Baby Jane’s mind, to the point of never letting go the character she portrayed as a child, and the act she sweetly performed during her infancy. We meet also her sister, a civilian (not a star) who has had a firsthand taste of what Baby Jane’s madness can make her do to her.
“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” is a cinematic gem, giving us a glimpse in the life of a child actor and performer of the era, obviously with a touch of fantasy and exaggeration. Interesting and even funny, this obsessed woman sings her way out of reality, and has only one real goal in life, and that’s torturing her paralyzed sister with her presence.
2. The Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir)
Our first runner up is about Truman Burbank. Since his birth, Truman has unknowingly been observed by millions of people around the world, because he’s the main star on a reality television show about, well, his life. Truman have been always on the public eye, and then again, he doesn’t know this.
Everything he think as real is not; from the town of Seaheaven, the stars, the sun and the moon, everything and every place he goes is inside a giant dome, controlled by Christof, the creator of said show. As the movie goes on, we see how Truman begins to suspect everything is fake, and starts trying to figure out what is exactly happening to/in his world.
Married to the lovely Meryl Burbank (which “in real life” is an actress named Hannah Gill, part of the crew) Truman is obsessed with his real true and first love, Lauren (whose “true” name is Sylvia) and is constantly searching in magazines for pictures of women’s facial features to recreate Sylvia’s face.
His obsession with her is the only real thing in his world, and his world is in turn is obsessed with him and follows his every step, every shameful act, every laugh and tear. “The Truman Show” deserves the second place in this list because, contrary to the other 18 movies, in this one EVERYBODY is obsessed with the same thing: Truman.
1. Misery (1990, Rob Reiner)
With a close-call for a tie, winning by a nose we conclude this list with the Queen of Obsessions, Annie Wilkes. This film tells the story of Paul Sheldon, a romance novelist who became famous thanks to his character, Misery Chastain. As it usually happens with writers, and as a natural thing to do, Sheldon was ready to move on, and he created a new literary work… or so he thought. On his way home, a terrible blizzard caused him to have an accident.
Luckily, a trained nurse named Annie rescues him. Little did he know about what would happen next. Now bedridden, with his legs broken and a dislocated shoulder, the writer finds himself incapable of moving at all. Annie reveals to Paul she’s his number one fan.
Paul then decides to show Annie his manuscript, the final chapter of Misery’s saga, where Misery dies. Infuriated and full of madness, Annie decides that the ending was not suitable and it was nothing at all what she, as his greatest fan, expected. So, the next morning, she forces Paul to burn his manuscript and to rewrite the story, which she entitled “Misery’s Return”.
This film deserves the first spot on this list of obsessions due to the sublime acting work of Kathy Bates, and the chilling story it portrayed. It is with Annie that “obsessive” and “compulsive” gained new definitions, and even now, the movie and the character are remembered with horror and admiration.
Author Bio: ÁNGEL sees life through words. Born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, this twenty-eight years editor tries to experience art in any shape or form not being afraid of trying everything and experiment with diversity: from classical theater, photography, astronomy, to tattoos designs. Currently, Ángel works as a full-time editor and stenographer, employing his free time in his favorite types of books: films.