For whatever reason you feel drawn towards this serious genre, you are about to experience some of the most moving movies ever made. We have included several true stories – because real life is often the greatest inspiration when it comes to hard-hitting topics like this one.
But we have also selected several of the best fictionalized dramas and even a fantasy-infused movie to add a different flavor. You can check that one out at number 4!
1. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
This movie is based on the harrowing true story of Jim Carroll, a New York teenager who loves basketball. Although he is passionate about the sport and has a good mother, Jim is burdened by the tough culture of street life and the death of a friend, both playing a big role when he eventually turns to heroin to deal with his despair.
As their drug use escalates, Jim and two of his friends turn to crime and prostitution to feed a habit that destroys their education and their dream of becoming basketball stars. Throughout it all, however, Jim clings to his love of writing and documents his journey as an addict.
2. A Star Is Born (2018)
Ally is a talented singer-songwriter struggling to get noticed. But one night she meets Jack Maine, a famous country-rock singer. He is so impressed by her talent that he invites her to perform with him on stage. Soon after that, her career takes off and they fall in love.
But as Ally wins awards, Jack’s alcoholism is ruining his career and their relationship. Fearing that Jack’s public spectacles will destroy his new star, Ally’s record producer confronts Jack with tragic results.
3. The Mule (2018)
Earl’s interest in horticulture causes him to miss his daughter’s wedding, leading to them becoming estranged and his marriage also falls apart. Years later, Earl is alone and facing foreclosure, so when a cartel offers him a lucrative job as a drug mule he accepts.
Earl becomes the best mule they ever had and he uses the money to save his house and he also puts his granddaughter through college. But when the cartel gets a bloodthirsty new leader and the authorities close in, Earl risks execution and prison to reconcile with his family.
4. Limitless (2011)
When Vernon finds Eddie, the latter is a mess. Eddie struggles with everything including completing his book, keeping a relationship or even grooming himself. Vernon offers him a pill that can fix any problem.
Called NZT-48, the drug gives Eddie such immense focus and attention to detail that he soon gets a job that makes him rich, he completes his book in record time and lands plenty of hot dates. But Eddie soon realizes that NZT-48 users eventually die and he starts his desperate fight to minimize the frightening side-effects and the mysterious figures who now follow his every move.
5. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
This is the role that won Nicolas Cage both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He plays Ben Sanderson (based on the real-life story of John O’Brien), a man who loses everything and decides to go to Las Vegas and drink himself to death.
Upon arrival, he meets Sera, a hardened prostitute but they click and they move in together. They agree that Sera will never complain about his drinking and that Sanderson doesn’t criticize her occupation. At first, everything goes well but inevitably reality kicks in. The movie follows the violent and tragic elements of their lives, their struggle with addiction and the mistreatment that they suffer from society.
6. Gia (1998)
Gia is a beautiful woman from Philadelphia who has dreams of becoming a fashion model. She moves to New York and gets a lucky break when Wilhelmina Cooper, an influential modelling agent, takes Gia under her wing.
Gia becomes a star but a series of events leave her lonely and addicted to heroin. As she battles to overcome her demons, Gia learns that some of the consequences of her bad choices cannot be avoided.
7. Beautiful Boy (2018)
David Sheff is a writer for the New York Times with a happy life until he begins to notice the signs of drug abuse in his teenage son Nic. After two stints at a rehab facility, David is confident that his son is clean and ready to go off to college.
Although this movie takes on a more serious tone than what Steve Carell fans are used to, Steve gives a spellbinding performance as the father of a family in crisis, learning how to deal with the reality of destructive habits, lies and the desperation that comes with drug abuse.
8. Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Kym Buchman gets a temporary pass out of rehab to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. The scene is set for a lot of family drama as the Buchman family is forced to face a tragedy in their past when a drunken Kym lost control of her car, an accident that claimed the life of her brother.
The tension threatens to derail Rachel’s wedding and Kym’s chances of shaking off the black sheep role that drove her to drugs in the first place.
9. The Shining (1980)
By the time Jack Torrance takes a job as a winter caretaker of the rural Overlook Hotel, his wife and son are already on edge. Jack has a history of alcoholism and drunken violence and it doesn’t help when a staff member tells the boy, Danny, about the previous caretaker who had murdered his entire family at the hotel.
Their worst fears pale in comparison to the terror that unfolds as the hotel seems to influence Jack back into his past alcoholic rages but this time, he is hell-bent on murdering both Danny and his mother.
10. Young Adult (2011)
Mavis Gary is not in a good place. She is an alcoholic, a struggling ghostwriter and she can see 40 on the horizon. Intensely lonely and stuck in a mid-life crisis, she sees it as a sign to get back with her old high school boyfriend, Buddy, when he sends her a photo of his newborn daughter.
She returns to her hometown of Mercury in Minnesota where she runs into old friends and peers, most of whom had hated her in school. Despite warnings not to, Mavis pursues the married Buddy with heartbreaking results that also appear with a silver lining.