Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Worthy Films That Feature Mental Illness

Just in time for the 2011 Oscars is my top ten list of movies that feature mental illness. Many of these movies have won Oscars, while others should have, but didn't. As we roll out the red carpet and honor this year's best films, keep in mind that there's no shame in having a mental illness.

1. Ordinary People (Depression, PTSD, Suicide)
My absolute favorite movie of all time because it portrays the human experience of loss so well and it also features psychotherapy in a realistic way. Robert Redford's directorial debut. Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton wow in their performances.

2. A Beautiful Mind (Schizophrenia)
The true story of Nobel Prize Winner John Nash is told in this award winning film. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly star. Directed by Ron Howard.

3. The Soloist (Schizophrenia)
This is the true story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former Julliard Student, who falls into the depths of schizophrenia. When reporter, Steve Lopez, befriends him, both of their worlds change. The ethical issues of treatment of mental illness are realistically portrayed. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx offer great performances.

4. Canvas (Schizophrenia)
A young boy moves through the his mother's psychotic episode with the help of his father and friends. Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Harden and Devon Gearhart are inspiring to watch.

5. Bird (Substance Abuse/Eating Disorder)
The true story of Charlie "Bird" Parker, Jazz legend, and his struggles with mental illness. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Forest Whitaker. Fantastic soundtrack.

6. Rain Man (Autism)
Dustin Hoffman delivers an award winning performance as a man with Autism and Tom Cruise as the brother who doesn't understand him.

7. Fearless (PTSD)
Jeff Bridges is unforgettable in his performance as a survivor of a plane crash as is Rosie Perez in this emotional tale of trauma, loss and recovery.

8. Lars And The Real Girl (Social Anxiety Disorder)
This film knocked me out with its poignant storytelling of a young man living in a rural Minnesota community. Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer star.

9. A Lion In Winter (Personality Disorders)
Various personality disorders as well as maladaptive defense mechanisms often seen in family dysfunction are presented in vivid language and breathtaking performances. Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn and a young Anthony Hopkins dazzle in this award winning film. It's an oldie, but a goodie - and based on the life of King Henry II.

10. The Night Listener (Factitious Disorder)
Robin Williams and Toni Collette tell this true-based story from the experiences of author Armistead Maupin, and his connection to a mysterious young boy.

Do you have a favorite movie?


Flannery said...

Sybil (1976) with Sally Field and Joanne Woodward

Neezes said...

Great list - will keep a note of these to watch with my students. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

Wanda's Wings said...

I great list of movies. Awareness is so important. Maybe someday there will no longer be a stigma carried with any mental illness.

Sarebear said...

I've got one on the tip of my brain but it won't come! Lol.

e said...

Dr. Deb,

Check out Frances, a film about the actress Frances Farmer, starring Jessica Lange.

Sarebear said...

To Kill A Mockingbird.

Everyone's afraid of Boo Radley, but people have lots of misconceptions about that which they don't understand, and those who are different.

SeaSpray said...

Thanks Dr Deb.

I'm thinking of getting Netflix and now I have a good list to choose from.

I also never saw To Kill a Mockingbird.

What was Frances about? That sounds familiar.

STAG said...

Maladaptive defence mechanisms.


Nice phrase..

Signe said...

THANK YOU for the great list!
It is encouraging to see it as I am working on an animated film that, to my knowledge, is going to be the first animated feature film fully dedicated to depression and mental illness. Here's a couple of little snippets from it:
It should be done by 2012. I'll be holding my breath to see it on your list! : )

Sarebear said...

To Kill A Mockingbird is somewhat about Boo Radley, it's alot about another storyline of differences too. But Boo plays a very important part, and it is shown by the end that what people thought about him was wrong.

Sarebear said...

What I mean is Boo plays an important part that is off-screen for alot of it but his interaction IS present in the movie; IF I say any more it'll spoil it, if I already havent't.

Chrisa said...

I like Benny and Joon - schizophrenia and cognitive disability.

TK Kerouac said...

Virgina Woolf, though she does drown herself in the end

What do you think of Charlie Sheens meltdown
bipolar perhaps?

Deb said...

The Soloist was incredible. That was some movie...

I remember watching "Girl Interrupted", and thinking how unique each mental illness is. That was one of my favorite movies.

Dr Vegas said...

Nice list - thanks.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest gets my vote too.

Raine said...

I like Mr. Jones. While I am not real fond of the idea of the psychiatrists involvement with patient as portrayed here. I think Richard Gere does a great job portraying bi-polar mania and depression

Dr. Deb said...

Hey All,

All of your suggestions are movies I've seen. It's so hard to make a list of ten for me.

Thanks for sharing your comments, as always!

AdmGln said...

Great list. I have not seen a lot of those. I'll have to have a mental illness movie night, I guess.

HP said...

I was going to add Lars and the Real Girl and you'd listed it. I loved that movie.