In some of Hitchcock’s most gripping thrillers, as well as in a number of Hollywood comedies, you’ll find a tinge of anxiety. This is hardly surprising, as cinematography is based on reality, which is a constant source of fear for the average human being.
For those who suffer from generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia (SP), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are several outstanding films about anxiety that can help us better grasp how the anxious mind operates.
1. Safe (1995)
Julianne Moore stars in Todd Haynes’ drama about a housewife who appears to have few worries until she begins to believe that she is under attack from imperceptible contaminants. The tale takes an unexpected turn at this point.
Understanding how persons with generalized anxiety disorder interpret seemingly innocuous data in a negative light will help us better understand how this condition affects them. According to research, anxiety sufferers who learn to view things in a positive light have an easier time coping with their condition.
2. The headless woman (2008)
Among anxiety-themed films, Lucrecia Martel’s co-production could be considered a classic. Veronica, the heroine, experiences a turning moment in her life that causes her to spiral into anxiety. It all begins when she hits something with her car on the road, but she doesn’t slow down or even swerve. Emotional disintegration sets in when she gradually starts to believe that she’s responsible for the death of an innocent child.
Brilliantly, the film shows how tension may drive individuals to see things that don’t exist. The main character loses her wits. However, we notice that she is beginning to discover a way out of this situation, which reminds us that anxiety does not have an end in itself but that we must learn to manage it day after day..
3. Amélie (2011)
Even as a child, Amélie Poulain preferred to entertain herself by drawing faces with her hand and pretending to be puppets. People who suffer from social anxiety will be able to identify with Amélie’s protagonist, who has a strong aversion to forming relationships with others.
Solitary and introverted, she is defined by Jean-Pierre Jeunet as an observer of the lives of the people around her, and she works to improve them in a covert way.
4. Opening night (1977)
On and off the stage, the film stars Gena Rowlands and is directed by John Cassavetes. When Myrtle Gordon’s teenage fan dies in an accident, the experienced Broadway actress loses her confidence. Anxiety over performance and aging are both on display in this film, a topic that many may sympathize with in today’s world of social media and image-consciousness.
Similar to what happens to persons with anxiety, the protagonist in this film begins to lose track of the script while he or she is performing.
5. Solaris (1972)
In Andrei Tarkovsky’s adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel, a psychologist named Kris Kelvin is dispatched to a remote space station to assist three astronauts who appear to be going insane. Initially, the plot may not resonate with the audience, but as the anxiety disorder develops and the characters try to avoid the situations that triggered it, a typical approach for nervous people, it becomes apparent.
As a result of this movie, you’ll feel even more anxious. Anxiety that arises from being away from home, in a new situation, and without a support system is also addressed in this book.
6. As good as it gets (1997)
Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt star in this romantic comedy directed by James L. Brooks. Melvin Udall, a New York-based author of love novels, suffers from OCD, obsessive-compulsive illness, which makes him an intractable person for the rest of society, even though he is proud of it.
Throughout the film, the absence of affection is a persistent theme. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him from living a regular life, he also has a large repertory of repeated, impulsive and non-controllable actions, such as washing his hands with boiling water, donning gloves so that others don’t touch him, and turning the lights on and off multiple times. The final message is intriguing because it appears that Jack’s “treatment” is unconditional acceptance.
7. Fearless (1993)
In this Peter Weir-directed film, you can see how people react emotionally to the same event in a variety of ways. Masterfully played by Jeff Bridges is Max Klein, a plane accident survivor whose friend was killed.
For some reason, Max begins to feel that God cannot kill him no matter how much he wishes, therefore he refuses to succumb to the inevitable death sentence.
8. Jacknife (1989)
Anxiety is a major theme in this film, and it deals with post-traumatic stress disorder in particular. As a result of Robert De Niro’s performance as Joseph “Jacknife” Megessey, a war veteran with an unpredictable character who tries to forget the terrible experiences he endured during the Vietnam War, but everything is brought back to life when Megessey meets a former friend, whom he also blames for the death of a third person.
Director David Hugh Jones’s film depicts a strong desire to go on but a strong sense of being tied to one’s own past.
9. Sophie’s choice (1983)
The film version of the novel by Alan J. Pakula is a must-see for everyone who suffers from anxiety. Meryl Streep portrays a Polish survivor of Nazi concentration camps in Sofia, the film’s central character.
Because of her horrific experiences and the decisions she had to make, which have resulted in a love/hate relationship with a similarly unstable “biologist,” the protagonist can’t get rid of the feelings she has for him. Even though she’s aware of some of her issues, the most apparent symptom is avoidance: she tries to bury all of her bad memories from the past in order to avoid feeling guilty. In order to dull her mental pain, she forms a masochistic and physically dependent connection with her lover.
10. What about Bob? (1991)
As one of the funniest films of all time, this Frank Oz production also depicts the symptoms of OCD. Bob Wiley, a mentally ill man played by Bill Murray, has a phobia of public surfaces since only God knows how nasty they can be. Finally, Bob decides to seek professional aid and goes to the psychologist Leo Marvin for assistance. When the protagonist’s phobias and manias combine with the doctor’s professionalism and coldness, it can be seen in the subsequent time period.
When the doctor chooses to take a break from Murray and go on vacation, the movie achieves its height. OCD sufferer Leo follows his compulsion, and the two share a comical, emotional journey together.
11. King’s speech (2010)
A genuine depiction of the anxiety of speaking in public, starring Colin Firth as George VI of England and Geoffrey Rush as the psychotherapist, was directed by Tom Hooper. Because it is grounded in reality, it has an even greater emotional impact. An intimate look at George VI of England, the king who doubts himself and fears he can’t handle the pressures of his position, is revealed in this book. Stuttering just exacerbates the anxiety he feels about speaking in front of others.
Then Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, enters the picture, establishing a close relationship with the monarch using unconventional methods. To overcome the thoughts of inadequacy, two people set out on a journey to frustration.
12. Zelig (1983)
Social phobia is the focus of this film on anxiety. Unbelievably non-existent is the way Zelig lives his life. Lacking in personality and human qualities, he suffers from loneliness, believing he is worthless and that no one cares.
Woody Allen, the film’s director and protagonist, introduces us to a character who, lacking affection, ends up remaking himself in this film. In order to be accepted by others, it has a unique ability to adapt to the environment in which it grows. Doctor Fletcher, on the other hand, finds Zelig to be an acute instance of anxiety.
13. The aviator (2004)
Howard Hughes, a Hollywood film producer and aviation pioneer, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film. We see early indicators of an obsessive-compulsive condition in this film, which is directed by Martin Scorsese.
OCD worsens, he repeats sentences often, especially when he is scared, and he has a terrible fear of dust and germs. While developing paranoid characteristics, he also experiences an event with the FBI that causes him to acquire a psychological trauma that ultimately causes him to become depressed for over three months.
14. A fantastic fear of everything (2012)
This film on worry and terror is a great introduction to British humor in the English language. Chris Hopewell and Crispian Mills, the film’s directors, recount the story of a “children’s story writer” whose marriage crumbles when he becomes obsessed with his first unpublished novel. While writing another book about Victorian serial killers, the author becomes enamored with it. For dread of the hostile world outside, the fixation quickly turns into paranoia and he ends up staying at home.
In spite of the negative reviews from cinematographic critics, the film is a comedy about anxiety that makes people laugh, but those that sharpen their wits will be able to understand how the mechanism of worry works that ends up enslaving people like the protagonist, Simon Pegg.
15. Frank (2014)
In this film, the most recognizable feature is the enormous paper mask that is always carried by the protagonist. To put it another way, we might think of that object as a social mask that we wear every day, often to cover our true feelings and emotions. Soronprfbs, a band the main character is a member of, is a weird example of perfectionism and eccentricity that tests the other members.
This Lenny Abrahamson film is bizarre, but it’s worth a watch. There are various psychological elements throughout the episodes, like how people react when we wear a mask, which can be authentic, as the one used by the character, or more manufactured but still establish a psychological distance.
16. Adaptation (2002)
Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman collaborated to create a unique film that floats between two different realms of fiction. Nicolas Cage portrays a screenwriter who is afflicted with a severe case of writer’s block as he struggles to overcome his fears and complexes. Based on Kaufman’s own personal experiences, this film about anxiety shows us how our thoughts may be filled with contradictory feelings. Low voice, stuttering and avoidance of eye contact are all symptoms of social anxiety that the protagonist displays. In spite of this, the film teaches us that we must adapt to our circumstances and take advantage of them in the best way possible.
17. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance-2014)
Michael Keaton is superb in this Alejandro G. Iárritu-directed film about the life of a decadent Hollywood actor. It is the voice of the superhero Birdman that haunts the actor, most known for his performance as the superhero. It conveys the agony, the dread of failure, and the longing to reclaim the glory of the past, that urge to find something to fight for. We are gradually drawn into the actor’s reality, which is at times strange and at other times echoes our own, with some crazy points thrown in for good measure. The film’s three Oscars, including Best Film, are no coincidence.
18. Room (2015)
Brie Larson is the lead of this British, American, Canadian, and Irish co-production, which was directed by Lenny Abrahamson and co-produced by the four countries. It’s a beautiful piece of art, even if it didn’t resonate as much as it should have. The actors, who play the characters confined in a shed, do a fantastic job of conveying all the emotions they feel. They go away and establish a new life together after Larson defends his son Jack from his kidnapper. Larson begins a new battle at that point, as she has to adapt to a society that has altered and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and even attempts suicide. His performance as Jack by Jacob Tremblay is also sad and difficult to forget.
19. Elling (2001)
It is the subject of this Norwegian film by Petter Naess that deals with the integration of people with mental problems into society. Through the protagonists, we get a sense of what it’s like to leave the facility where they were imprisoned. As a result, we are able to understand Elling’s maladaptive behavior and the kindness he generates, while also gaining insight into the worries and problems he encounters on a daily basis. Vertigo and anxiety accompany him wherever he goes, and he must overcome them both.
20. Lars And The Real Girl (2007)
Craig Gillespie’s small American film received a warm welcome. Although he’s a kind and unusual young man, Ryan Gosling has a lot of personal issues to deal with. He is unable to speak or be spoken to, to touch or be touched… Because of this, one day he develops feelings for a bikini-clad doll named Bianca. At first glance, it appears to be a deluded performance, but the results are funny and full of great conversation. Their problems and feelings are being expressed through the dolls as a tool to connect, recognize, integrate, and express themselves. We are not defined by our labels in this video about social anxiety.