General Question

rockfan's avatar

Do you enjoy watching sad movies?

Asked by rockfan (12780points) 2 weeks ago from iPhone

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who finds a lot of the heavy subject matter in sad movies to be too depressing.

But I’m the complete opposite. If the story and characters are treated with humanity, and the film isn’t manipulative or cynical, sad movies can actually make me happy, especially if I deeply empathize with characters. And I rarely walk out depressed if the film’s emotional themes resonate with me.

Bill Maher recently make a joke about this years Oscar nominees and said that they’re all “debbie downers” but I couldn’t disagree more.

Films such as Nomadland, Minari, Sound of Metal, One Night in Miami, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 all certainly deal with heavy topics, but I don’t think they’re done in a depressing way that punishes the audience, like a film like 2001’s Monster’s Ball does.

What do you think?

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26 Answers

Zaku's avatar

I mainly like well-done movies with some level of intelligence and respect for the audience, and at-least-somewhat-believable characters, situations and events that I can care about.

Whether some (or most) of the film is “sad” in some way isn’t generally an obstacle to my enjoying the film. What it might affect is whether or when I choose to watch the film, based on the current emotional and energetic state of myself or the people I’m watching things with.

janbb's avatar

I’m with both of you. I loved all the movies you cited that I’ve seen so far. Like @Zaku, there may be times I will only want to watch a “happy” film but the sadness quotient will not deter me from watching a good movie with humane values. The main movies I avoid are those which have graphic gory violence or torture scenes – those I cannot watch.

I saw Nomadland in an empty theater yesterday and thought it was excellent. Planning to watch Minari at home today.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Most of my favorite movies are sad movies. I don’t necessarily feel happy watching them, but I enjoy a deep story and compelling characters.

That said, I don’t like movies that try to be smarter and more profound than it actually is. I’ve seen a lot of movies that try to be deep or hard to understand, and they always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

mazingerz88's avatar

I agree with Bill Maher. Seems to me he’s making a point about the general direction of where nominated films for Oscar Best Picture is going.

I personally think the Oscars have lost its way, in their attempt to stay relevant and marketable. Increasing the number of nominees, adding films to the list that to some fans like myself were not worthy of being included.

I appreciate sad to depressing serious films. Just so happens I still watch a lot of films and had seen hundreds of different kinds of films since the 1970s and followed the Oscars since the 1980s. I’m probably one of those movie fans who prefer to see Best Picture nominees to be of varying movie genres.

Film appreciation and patronage is quite subjective. Sometimes some movie fans can only take so much of a certain type of movie at a certain point in time.

chyna's avatar

I feel like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was one of those sad but moving movies. I saw it years ago and it still sits with me.

JLeslie's avatar

If the entire movie is sad and stressful, no I do not enjoy it. If it is overall happy with some sad twists then I find that interesting, and more true to life, and I enjoy it. This is why I have trouble watching Holocaust movies and other war time movies. The whole backdrop is such a sad and horrible one. Sometimes they are made well enough that I can get through them and appreciate the talent of the writer and actors, and I become very interested in the story, but It can be very difficult for me. If the movie starts with tragedy or horror I likely will turn the channel. I don’t like to be startled or horrified in the first 2 minutes.

ragingloli's avatar

Well, John Wick starts out sad, with a dead wife and a dead dog.
I am counting that, so I can say ‘yes’.

Jaxk's avatar

Back when VCRs first came out I borrowed a VCR from work because my wife wanted to see ‘Frances’. It was a well made movie, well acted but depressing. I was depressed for weeks after watching it. With that in mind, I’d have to say no, I don’t like depressing movies. I like movies that make you feel good. Movies where the good guy wins and the bad guy loses and there no confusion which is which.

rockfan's avatar


That’s an interesting perspective. It’s interesting how wildly different people feel towards certain movies. Because personally, those kind of movies leave me feeling a bit empty inside. Especially when the happy ending feels unearned.

Also, I think there’s a difference between depressing movies and sad movies. I feel like depressing movies outright manipulate the audience, while sad movies simply have heavy topics shown in a realistic fashion. Or maybe it’s just semantics?

smudges's avatar

No, I don’t enjoy sad movies. In fact, I consciously avoid them and don’t remember the last one I saw. I’m sure I’ve missed some very good movies over the years. But I’ve also struggled with depression (bipolar 2) my whole life, so it kind of makes sense that I wouldn’t want to watch something depressing or sad. Like @Jaxk, I can get so involved in a movie that the negative feelings can hang around for weeks or longer. Interestingly, my favorite type of movie isn’t comedies, like some might assume. It’s psychological thrillers and quality horror movies. I also really like movies from different time periods (The Gangs of New York) and ‘mob’ movies.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I used to watch them for the pathos. But then life caught up. People I know, my age, dying. Friends getting cancer, friends can’t find jobs. And so on.

There’s enough shitty things that I see and feel each day just from normal life. I get no enjoyment out of sad movies. Why watch a murder mystery when I can turn on the news and get it live and in color?

For me, mostly comedies, sci-fi, some drama, westerns, and the occasional musical. Why be down more than I have to be?

Jaxk's avatar

@rockfan – You should watch ‘Frances’ (1982). It’s a true story about Frances Farmer (an old time movie actress, the 50s I think). Heavy topics indeed.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@rockfan “depressing” and “sad” don’t make any difference to me. “Depressing” is just “sad” but with more intensive. I call the kind of movies that manipulates you “pretentious”.

rockfan's avatar

Sad movies don’t have to be depressing though, especially if they’re made well. Movies that are depressing to me are films where horrible things happen, but with no real substance or purpose.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@rockfan you are talking about pretentious movies. I watched The Fire Within, a movie about a man wanting to commit suicide and spoiler alert: it doesn’t have a happy ending, and it’s one of the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. On the other hand, I watched Breathless, which is an overall lighthearted story about a girl running away with a criminal, and it just doesn’t have any substance and I hate it.

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kruger_d's avatar

I think Bill is just tired of woke uberliberal Hollywood types. I love a sad movie if the characters are compelling and the acting and writing are good. The Straight Story, Sophie’s Choice, Hotel Rwanda come to mind.

rockfan's avatar

Most of the Oscar movies this year that I mentioned are actually very similar to the simplicity of The Straight Story.

janbb's avatar

^^ Agree.

KRD's avatar

No I don’t enjoy watching them because the make me cray sometimes.

jca2's avatar

I’ll cry so I have to be in the mood for that.

AK's avatar

Interesting thread. I absolutely avoid sad movies because the main reason I sit down to watch a movie is to relax and detach myself from the real world. I want a little bit of entertainment, maybe some laughter…maybe a fun, fantasy trip….anything that takes my mind off the real things happening around me. An escape from reality. A sad movie….will put me right back into the mind state that I was trying to escape. So, I avoid them. Many of you would be surprised but I haven’t watched Titanic and I never will either! Why would I willingly subject myself to a mental torture? I already know Titanic was a tragedy of titanic proportions….I’m never going to watch it. No matter if the actors and acting in it were masterpieces. I’ve given many famous movies a miss because they were sad ones…and no, I don’t regret it.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Same here re Titanic. Twice is enough for me. I saw it a second time to focus on the technical aspects of the film. I understand a multitude of people saw it over and over again ( like in Japan where it played for months and months ) for the romantic part I hope. Lol

But yes, I could not watch again the story of those poor people who went through that prolonged slow harrowing experience on their way to their own demise.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@mazingerz88 I @AK I have watched Titanic, and I don’t think I like it, but for a different reason. The Titanic sinking was a great tragedy, and a very good premise for a moving, thought-provoking story of the last day in the life of the people who boarded the ship. But what we have instead is a cliche love story of a modern Romeo/Juliet couple, which could work fine in literally any setting. There were other people on the ship too. Some of them have really tragic backstories that could be potentially explored for a great drama. But everyone is treated like disposable extras that somehow don’t matter more than the main couple, who have nothing to offer except for their cliche “love conquers all” mentality. The most insulting part of the movie is when the ship starts to slowly emerge into the water. We are only shown a few minutes of people falling down the ship and dying, then the focus is back to the couple. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the couple more than literally hundreds of passengers dying over there?

I find the movie very bland and disrespectful, and I don’t understand how it is considered a classic.

rockfan's avatar

I definitely think it depends on your personality. For a lot of people, watching sad movies increases their endorphins levels. Similar to how people enjoy scary movies

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Agree. And also mood at any given time.

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