More movies have been made about terminal disease than there are actual terminal illnesses. If two terminally ill cancer patients, both of whom are also incredibly likable, spend time together and have dinner dates before they fall in love, what are the odds? I’d say it’s a little sparse. I’d give Hollywood’s filmmakers the lion’s share of the credit for their ingenuity and scriptwriting.
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Aside from being based on books or scripts, most stories about people facing the end of their lives wind up being sad love stories. In addition, because the film is about a fatal illness, the patient (a loving son, husband, father, or mother, for example) dies regardless of the prayers, sermons, and practices the family puts in place. Are they capable of bringing us to tears? Because they are over-dramatized or exaggerated medical facts (in other words, a medicine that doesn’t exist at all), most of them do not work. It’s true that some of them do bring us to our knees and cause us to identify with their protagonists. However, a handful of them remain with us for a long time, sometimes for many years. From the good to the best, here is a ranking of the best films on terminal illness that always leaves us feeling sad and moved. All the time. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have excellent selections of these kind of films.
17. Love Story (1970)
‘Love Story,’ which is based on one of the most beloved romance books of all time, doesn’t need an introduction. My eyes welled up with emotions when I heard the story of Oliver and Jenny in the olden days. Love Story has a lot of distinctive elements, like the strained connection between Oliver and Jenny’s parents, the anger that engulfs them, and the poetic conundrums that surround them. This is a worthwhile movie, even if it does make you cry.
16. My Life Without Me (2003)
You can’t miss Sarah Polley in this one. Even though her life has been cut short by ovarian cancer, young mother Ann has gone out of her way to hide her illness and is making the most of the time she has left. As she seeks her well-deserved but short-lived happiness, Ann tries and explores herself physically, psychologically, and materialistically. Recorded cassettes are made for her spouse and boyfriend, the latter of whom had fallen in love with her while she was experimenting with her sexuality. This will be a mystery until you see the movie.
15. Bright Star (2009)
‘Bright Star,’ a film in the same vein as others about passionate love, tells the story of famous poet John Keats, who is stricken with tuberculosis in the early 1800s and undergoes experimental treatment (well, AIDS and cancer were rarely known back then). When Mr. Keats begins teaching poetry lessons to a shy girl named Fanny, the latter becomes enamored with the former. Because it’s based on an actual story, “Bright Star” awakens your senses, as well as your sense of time and place. We have a plethora of films with comparable plots thanks to the many that followed. In addition, Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw’s chemistry is intoxicating.
14. Now Is Good (2012)
Movies on the list of things to see before you die. Finally, “Now Is Good” (which is based on the book by Jenny Downham, “Before I Die”) is an adolescent drama. Leukemia sufferer Tessa Scott strives to complete her bucket list with the support of her friend Zoey, while falling in love with Adam (Jeremy Irvine), who is also caring for his sick mother. ‘Now Is Good,’ despite its shaky depictions and obnoxious references, appears to be an entertaining and worthwhile film. If for no other reason, I’d tune in to see Dakota Fanning.
13. Keith (2008)
‘Keith’ is largely a narrative of unfulfilled love and unhappy endings, despite the fact that it doesn’t say everything right away. In certain ways, ‘Keith’ reminds me of David Fincher films, albeit in a less convoluted and dramatic manner. They meet at one of their classes, when Natalie falls for Keith even though she has some doubts about the mystery that hides in his heart.’ Natalie’s desire to discover Keith’s secret continues the plot, as does Keith’s unconvincingly deceitful attitude towards revealing Natalie about his disease (or rather medication), followed by his falling in love with her. ‘Keith’ isn’t obviously a film about a terminal illness, but it packs a powerful blow and keeps us guessing.
12. Life As A House (2001)
‘Life As A House’ adds a little something extra to the mix (as in trying to be more tear-jerking by causing empathy). An out-of-wedlock kid named Sam is refusing to labor for money from his father, who has taken him home as a sanctuary. Both Sam and George’s estranged wife Robin start displaying their similarity to George, but all in vain, as George tries to hide his terminal illness. In the movie, Sam’s journey from a drug dealer to a builder of his father’s dream home is the focus. After Sam’s father’s death, he donates the house he built to one of his grandparents’ homeless victims of oppression.
11. A Monster Calls (2016)
In ‘A Monster Calls,’ the lone fantasy film on the list, a little boy named Conor struggles with the idea of saying goodbye to his ailing mother, who has been battling cancer for some time. A Yew tree confronts him every day at 12:07 AM with three stories of truth, the fourth of which is Conor’s. When Conor is faced with the choice of letting go of his mother to lessen her suffering, he must also deal with the grief of knowing that she will be gone forever. It’s hard not to shed a tear for Conor in this heart-wrenching fantasy drama.
10. Sweet November (2001)
One of Keanu Reeves best romantic roles as Nelson, Sara is self-inflicted love and pain in Sweet November (Charlize Theron). Following his job loss, Nelson is referred to as Sara’s “November.” He meets Sara and quickly falls in love with her. Sara urges Nelson to depart on a good note, rather than witnessing her tragic demise, because she knows what will happen to her. While Nelson is waiting for Sara to return to her family’s house, he records each day of November on a calendar. When it comes to sex and romance, “Sweet November” isn’t much different from your typical romantic comedies, but it’s a lot hotter and more delightful than your typical romantic comedies.
9. My Sister’s Keeper (2009)
Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin), a test-tube baby based on the genetic composition of her older leukaemia-affected sister Kate, is the focus of ‘My Sister’s Keeper,’ which stars Cameron Diaz in a relatively serious role. It’s cruel enough that Anna was born into this world solely to be used as a mule for her sister Kate’s organ and bone marrow donation. In the wake of Kate’s renal collapse, Anna realizes the ruse. ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ is Anna’s journey through courtroom hearings and icy relationships as she sacrifices her own goals to save her sick sister. Aside from her role in Little Miss Sunshine, the work of Abigail Breslin is one of her best to date.
8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ followed TFIOS in popularizing terminal disease romance flicks. Three friends – Greg, Earl, and Rachel (who has been diagnosed with cancer), are at the center of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” a moving film about youthful infatuation and the suffering that results from it. Although Rachel’s leukemia is progressing rapidly, Greg and Earl are working together to develop short films while Greg is also attending high school. When Greg (and later Earl) get concerned about their forced connection with Rachel, they decide to make a short film about her while she is dying. While Greg realizes Rachel cared for him all the while and the movie is about Greg’s time spent with Earl and Rachel from a first-person perspective, the movie is entirely about Greg’s time spent with Earl and Rachel.
7. Me Before You (2016)
It was a surprise success for ‘Me Before You,’ a novel about a terminally ill person, in many regions of the world. The British accent and Emilia Clarke are a match made in heaven in this one. Will Traynor, a paraplegic scion and former banker, has his mother hire Louisa Clark to be his carer. As you can see, the majority of the cast is drawn from ‘Game of Thrones,’ and as a result, their performances defy the stereotypes we’ve built up over time. In the course of Louisa and Will’s relationship, Will has no doubt about his future and urges her to realize her full potential and pursue her aspirations. Will and Louisa’s romance is the star of the show, even if the movie closes on a bleak note. Emilia Clarke, congrats on your success!
6. A Walk To Remember (2002)
An iconic film that brought millions of people to tears and inspired awe has a hard time being forgotten. We all knew what would happen when a stubborn and boisterous Landon falls for a shy and reserved Jamie – right? This is how it went down: Towards the end of the novel, Landon comes to learn about Jamie’s leukaemia and embarks on a journey of vengeance. Several of Jamie’s dreams come true, relationships are repaired, and trusts are restored as she sets out on her final adventure. One of the greatest movies ever made, “A Walk to Remember” paved the way for a slew of subsequent ground-breaking films. Jamie and Landon’s tender moments are worth the price of admission, because you may never see them again.
5. P.S. I Love You (2007)
‘P.S. I Love You,’ a film based on Cecilia Ahern’s book of the same name, has slowly garnered a cult following against the disapproval of many. It is a highly thought-provoking piece on the need of optimism, even after death, and the fact that every moment, no matter how terrible, has a lot to offer. In spite of minor differences, Holly and Gerry, who are married, are in love with each other. Holly receives a letter from Gerry as a symbol of inspiration, finishing with “I Love You” after Gerry’s unexpected death due to an abrain tumor.
Moving on, Holly is the recipient of a slew of letters like this, which Gerry had planned to be sent to her before he died. Holly realizes at the end that it was her mother, not Gerry, who had this agreement in the end. Love and hope are rare in their truest form, and ‘P.S. I Love You’ is a rare example of that.
4. Philadelphia (1993)
‘Philadelphia,’ in which Tom Hanks starred as an AIDS victim named Andrew Beckett, received the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his representation of the subject matter. In light of Beckett’s expulsion from his law firm, he feels he was evicted because of his physical condition, which he has been concealing from his colleagues. While Beckett is hospitalized after collapsing during his own trial, he wins and receives punitive damages. Beckett transforms the homophobic and pathophobic people around him by the end of the play, and this was the intended triumph of his portrayal. Definitely one of Tom Hanks’ best performances, and we couldn’t help but shed a few tears every time he was on screen.
3. The Bucket List (2007)
Even though I’m not a huge admirer of Jack Nicholson, this one caught my eye. ‘The Bucket List’ stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as terminally ill cancer patients Edward and Carter. Carter has a long list of things he wants to accomplish before he dies. A billionaire himself, Edward offers all the financial support Carter needs to complete her Bucket List, which quickly turns into a bucket list for both of them. For the next three months, they travel across the world, checking off items on their bucket list like climbing Mount Everest, seeing the Taj Mahal, and skydiving. Carter dies first, but Edward is able to reunite with his daughter and live to a ripe old age after the film concludes. “The Bucket List” sticks to a single goal the entire time, rather than veering off in any direction, and that’s what makes it so exceptional.
2. The Fountain (2006)
‘The Fountain,’ directed by Darren Aronofsky, is another cult classic. It takes place in three different eras: the 16th-century quest of a conquistador named Tomas to find a tree of life for his dying queen and love Isabella, the present quest of a doctor named Tom to find a cure for his wife Izzi, and the future quest of a lone space traveler named Tommy to find a way to save his dying wife Izzi Before the cure is found in all three realities, Tomas/Tom/Tommy loses his love. That said, the film does an excellent job of depicting the unfairness of life, and the fact that you can’t merely live for the sake of your loved ones. Darren Aronofsky’s filmmaking is evident in every shot of ‘The Fountain,’ which features a plethora of subtle references and non-chronological timeframes.
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1. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
All of us were blown away by TFIOS’s economic success and adapted screenplay, making it the pinnacle of all terminal illness films. We empathized with the plight of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, two youngsters with terminal cancer (albeit of different types) who met, fell in love, and were ultimately torn apart by death. Hazel’s grief at Gus’s death is so raw that even the most jaded individual can’t help but shed a few tears. That’s a rare thing to see in a film adaptation, and it’s owing to multiple performers like Ed Sheeran and Charlie XCX that TFIOS was able to pull off this feat. If you haven’t shed a tear in a while, this might be the catalyst you need.