When you lose a loved one, the grieving process lasts a lifetime. It can be hard to cope with the swirl of feelings including pain and sadness that comes along with grief. For many people, movies can provide an escape from reality and help them work through their grief journey. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 movies that deal with grief in a powerful way which went on to be nominated for Academy Awards. These movies offer a realistic portrayal of the grieving process and may help you understand what you are going through, in moments of confusion and isolation.
From as far back as I remember the magic of being in a dark theater and watching fictional characters navigate real-life situations in a way that made me feel connected and less alone. That moment in a film, where without needing to say anything at all, you take a deep breath and think someone really gets exactly how this feels. Whether it was love, mental health, grief, or the challenges of everyday life, I felt movies were a safe place to explore the big questions and emotions we all experience.
Movies have the ability to make us laugh, cry, and think about the human experience in a new way. We tend to want to fix our grief when all we can do is honour it. Sitting in the space of others doing so can be a powerful reminder. They can also help us understand and process our own emotions. If you are struggling with grief, watching movies about grief can be helpful. This is a list of 10 Oscar-Nominated Films that you can consciously consume at your own pace that deal with Grief.
It may be helpful to do some of the grounding experiments offered in First Year of Grief Club, afterward if things get too heavy. A trigger warning applies to all of these films, so again, a reminder to consciously consume them. If nothing else, these are some of the best grief quotes from movies over the years.
#1 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This film follows the life of Benjamin Button, a man who is born old and ages in reverse. As he experiences the different stages of life, he also deals with the death of loved ones. This movie explores the grief process in a unique way and will leave you thinking about life and death.
“FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE. THERE’S NO TIME LIMIT, STOP WHENEVER YOU WANT. YOU CAN CHANGE OR STAY THE SAME, THERE ARE NO RULES TO THIS THING. WE CAN MAKE THE BEST OR THE WORST OF IT. I HOPE YOU MAKE THE BEST OF IT. AND I HOPE YOU SEE THINGS THAT STARTLE YOU. I HOPE YOU FEEL THINGS YOU NEVER FELT BEFORE. I HOPE YOU MEET PEOPLE WITH A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW. I HOPE YOU LIVE A LIFE YOU’RE PROUD OF. IF YOU FIND THAT YOU’RE NOT, I HOPE YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN…”
#2 Forrest Gump
This classic movie follows the life of Forrest Gump, a man with a simple mind but a big heart. As he experiences life, he also deals with the death of loved ones. This movie is funny and heartbreaking and will leave you thinking about love and loss.
“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happenin’ at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need. I won’t be far away.”
#3 Brokeback Mountain
This heart wrenching film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love. Despite their attempts to keep their relationship a secret, they are eventually found out. This movie deals with grief in a heartbreaking way and will leave you thinking about love and loss.
“I wish I knew how to quit you.”
#4 Rabbit Hole
The emotionally intense film featuring Nicole Kidman is based on the play of the same name and tells the story of a couple who lose their son. Rabbit Hole deals with grief in a realistic way and will leave you feeling emotional.
“Nat: No, I don’t think it does. Not for me, it hasn’t, and that’s goin’ on eleven years. It changes, though.
Becca: I don’t know… the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and… carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you… you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be aweful – not all the time. It’s kinda…”
#5 Manchester By The Sea
This visceral and emotionally taxing movie follows the story of a man, played by Oscar Winner Casey Affleck, who is forced to return to his hometown after the death of his brother. Manchester By The Sea deals with grief in a powerful way and will leave you thinking about family and loss.
” I can’t beat it. I can’t beat it. I’m sorry.”
#6 A Star Is Born
Starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga , this movie tells the story of a musician who falls in love with an aspiring singer. A Star Is Born deals with grief in a heartwarming way and will leave you feeling raw and somehow hopeful.
“If you don’t dig deep into your fucking soul, you won’t have legs. … All you got is you and what you want to say to people, and they are listening right now and they’re not going to be listening forever, trust me. So you gotta grab it, and you don’t apologize, you don’t worry about why they’re listening or how long they’re going to be listening for—you just tell them what you want to say. ’Cause how you say it is the stuff of angels.”
#7 The Power of The Dog
A rancher played by Benedict Cumberbatch and his new sister-in-law, played by Kirsten Dunst grapple with the loss of what’s meaningful and the resulting grief. The Power of the Dog deals with grief in a unique way and will leave you thinking about life and death.
‘A man’s made by patience and the odds against him.’
#8 The Lost Daughter
This 2021 feature film tells the story of a woman, played by Olivia Coleman who is struggling to deal with the death of her daughter. The Lost Daughter deals with grief in an honest and realistic way.
“Nina: Is this going to pass?
Nina: [tearfully] I don’t know what to call it. I have depression or something.”
#9 The Pursuit of Happyness
This blockbuster movie tells the story of a man, played by Will Smith, who is struggling to provide for his son. The Pursuit of Happyness deals with grief in a powerful way and will leave you feeling inspired.
“I want you to remember this: You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”
#10 The Hours
This beautiful film tells the story of three women played by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore, who are struggling with grief. The Hours deals with grief in a powerful way and will leave you thinking about life and death.
“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.”
The movies on this list offer a realistic portrayal of the grieving process. If you are struggling with grief, watching these movies can be helpful. Each of these films have all been nominated for Academy Awards – many of them in the acting categories, which is a clear sign that their telling was truthful and authentic