Human beings are susceptible to just about anything, and movies like Closer and Forgetting Sarah Marshall show that they’re more vulnerable to nothing more than heartbreak.
Love and loss are two staples of cinema, and they typically move hand in hand. However, not every one of the vast number of heartbreak-themed movies comes close to the mark, and only a select few read as poignant to everyone. Regardless, there are still those pieces that are universally appealing to the entire audience’s heartstrings, and it takes tight pacing and believable performances to make them what they are.
10 Closer (2004) – 65
Mike Nichols’ next to last film, Closer, was one of the auteur’s best. The film stars Natalie Portman as Alice, a now-London-based exotic dancer who is struck by a taxi while taking notice of writer Dan Woolf (Jude Law). The two begin a romance that ultimately leads to infidelity, specifically between Dan and Anna (Julia Roberts), a successful photographer.
Closer did well with critics, earning a generally favorable Metascore of 65. However, its user score was far higher at 8.6.
9 Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) – 67
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is as light-hearted and rewatchable in the 2020s as it was in the 2008. Released during the height of the R-rated comedy renaissance started by The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall makes great use of its perfectly-cast talent: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand.
The Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall received excellent reviews across the board, but the general audience was more favorable than the critics. On the latter side, the movie holds a Metascore of 67, while it holds a user score of 7.5.
8 Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – 68
Ryan Gosling has never made a sequel, but Crazy, Stupid, Love proves that he and Steve Carell (or Russell Crowe) should reteam on something, as long as the script is tight and the chemistry is on point.
Far more than the standard summer rom-com, Crazy, Stupid, Love did well with both critics and audiences. On the former side, the movie holds a Metascore of 68, which indicates favorable reviews. It received a comparable response from audiences, who were positive but gave it an even higher rating of 7.4.
7 (500) Days Of Summer (2009) – 76
Before Marc Webb rebooted the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield, he spun a beautiful web of love with (500) Days of Summer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as greeting-card writer Tom, a romantic whose heart is broken when Summer (Zooey Deschanel) ends their relationship.
Webb’s film did comparably well with both critics and users, but with an edge to the latter. It holds a Metascore of 76, which indicates a level of favorability from critics. However, among users, it garnered an even higher score of 8.1.
6 High Fidelity (2000) – 79
While it’s perhaps considered a toxic John Cusack role today, there is an enormous amount to love about High Fidelity and his performance within. The music-loving, emotion-crushing movie makes the viewer feel like they’re not watching another’s turmoil, but rather feeling it deeply themselves. Toss in a star-making performance from Jack Black and the film is not just one of Cusack’s best, but one of the best from the 1990s as a whole.
While High Fidelity‘s Metascore of 79 is admirable, its user score of 8.5 indicates that it is universally beloved, which sounds about correct for a cult favorite.
5 The War Of The Roses (1989) – 79
The War of the Roses is a pitch-black comedy starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a married couple whose bitter divorce ends up being more bitter than usual. The two take it upon themselves to try to murder one another, proving once and for all that what is hard-won is also often lost just the same.
The Danny DeVito film holds a favorable Metascore of 79 with critics, while its user score is a bit higher at 8.5.
4 Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – 81
Featuring one of Bradley Cooper’s best characters, David O. Russell’s dance drama Silver Linings Playbook Covers infidelity, the struggles of divorce, and the regret of things left undone and unsaid. Cooper plays Pat Solatano, a 30-something man who was recently admitted to a mental health clinic for self-harm idea. Jennifer Lawrence portrays Tiffany, the volatile young woman Pat meets after being released to the world. Together, they decide to enter a dance competition, each for their own motive, and neither one of them is fully realistic.
The dance and drama-fueled breakup piece holds a Metacritic Must-See Badge with a score of 81, but its user score is even higher at 8.5, which signifies universal acclaim.
3 Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) – 89
Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the best, most unique films from the aughts. The story follows Jim Carrey’s Joel, a man who undergoes a procedure to eliminate the memories of a particularly poignant relationship.
Eternal Sunshine holds a badge of honor. Namely, a Metacritic Must-See Badge courtesy of universal critical acclaim and a Metascore of 89. It even did just about as well with users, earning a great audience reaction but a slightly lower rating of 8.8.
2 Marriage Story (2019) – 94
An in-depth look at crumbling intimacy, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is his best, and most personal, film to date. Marriage Story is riddled with Oscar-worthy performances, from Laura Dern to Scarlett Johansson to Adam Driver, nothing about the narrative feels anything outside of realistic.
Baumbach’s film did well with general audiences at 8.1, which indicates favorable reviews, but that was nothing compared to its 94 Metascore and critical acclaim from critics.
1 La La Land (2016) – 94
La La Land It is a tribute to jazz, love, Hollywood, drive, talent, struggle, exhaustion, heartbreak, loneliness, devastation, and much more. It’s a story for those with a surplus of ambition or a heart that can’t be tamed, a simple narrative about different personalities merging for their mutual benefit even if the benefit isn’t long-lasting.
Damien Chazelle’s remarkable and poignant film, almost certainly the best of its universal acclaim from both critics and general audiences. While the film’s user score of 8.4 is impressive, the Metascore is even higher at 94, which earned it a Metacritic Must-See Badge.
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