Mood Movie List

The Best Modern Melancholy Mood Movies

This is a list of WHAT? Melancholy movies? Seriously? Yeah, I love a good mood movie. You know, those movies that go great with the rain? The movies that you flip on when you don’t necessarily want to laugh and you’d prefer to not necessarily cry either? Quirky is sometimes how they are described. You know the kind of movies I’m talking about, right?

This list of the best modern melancholy mood movies will not be popular.  It’ll be more unpopular than my best books of 2013, mind you (which was atrocious)… But relatively speaking it will bite it ratings wise.  And yet here I am. But that’s because sometime you have to pay homage to movies than just won’t receive much fanfare.  But dang it if I don’t love the occasional downer mood movie.  And after watching Her (which was sheer brilliance), I was jonesing for more movies like it.  So I culled my memory, and set about writing out a list of the best modern melancholy mood movies of modern times.

But what the heck is a “mood movie” or a melancholy mood movie? That is difficult to really define.  But maybe its a quirky or strange movie that generally doesn’t get wide recognition or following because of its strangeness. But more than just being quirky – there are plenty of upbeat quirky movies – it maybe that the topic is downbeat, or low key.  Maybe its the dialogue or possibly the soundtrack, basically its a movie that has a low-key or a more contemplative mood. THAT’S IT… contemplative. You know, those movies that make you really ponder and think about the topic at hand, or better yet, life the universe and everything.  (Thank you Douglas Adams).

I have not listed these in any sort of order or priority.  I just listed them as they came to mind.  So if you are in the mood for a sort of low key, quirky, intense movie – anyone of these movies would be a guaranteed hit.


Her – This movie is the movie that spawned this list. Her is a fantastically beautiful and brooding movie. A fascinating topic that is emotionally very relevant and extremely moving at the same time.


The Big Blue – I’m sure you don’t know this movie. So by my math, you owe me big. I love Luc Besson, The Professional, Nikita, The Fifth Element, etc etc. and I loved his initial cut so much. It’s about free divers that compete for the deepest free dive record. A girl is involved. Bravado is involved. Someone may even die. Its awesome. Love this movie.


Juno – Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

Ellen Page is the perfect example of an actress who can strike a tone that is quirky strange and moody. I thought her brilliant but I didn’t think she would be able to pull off her role in Inception as Ariadne.  But I was wrong, she killed it.  She definitely can hit from both sides of that particular batter’s box.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Spotless Mind made it to one of the top mindjob movies as well – which you can see here.  But please understand the difference between a “mood movie” and a “mindjob movie”.  Very very different.  Spotless mind though, happens to be both simultaneously.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.

I’ve talked about this movie more than once here, here & here. I guess we’ve been more than a little fixated on this particular movie over the past year or so. I’ll leave it at that.

The Chocolate War – based on the controversial book, The Chocolate War deals with a Private School and the world of dogmatic social structures through the guise of of simple School Chocolate Sale. One of my own personal favorite movies of all time. Gorgeous soundtrack by Yaz, and brilliant acting throughout.  I’ll be completely honest with you, in High school, this was my favorite mood movie of all time. Just a wonderfully rich and colorful movie all the way around.

Once – Once is my go to movie soundtrack when its raining. Which never happens in Colorado, but IN THE RARE occassion it isn’t sunny, or snowing I spin this movie which is basically one big long brilliant soundtrack in the ploy of a movie. Nothing not to like here. Just a couple of lonely people singing the whole movie through. Gorgeous. Even won best original song Oscar back in 2007… which was definitely deserved.


Lost in Translation – So, Lost in Translation might very well be the long lost sibling of Her.  Her might even be the answer or response to Lost in Translation as indicated by this awesome Huffington Post blog. Or coupled in this blog on fandor – wherein the proclaimed Jones and Coppola the first couple of indie films… who recently broke up.  These two movies are basically homages to their exes.  Its a scintillating meta-conversation that could uncover relationship details at an unnerving level.  Lost in Translation is brilliant – and it is the emotional grandparent of Her.


Black Swan – Black Swan is by far the darkest movie on this list. Darkness wasn’t necessarily what I was going for with this list, because I would have lead off with the Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Flies, and the like instead. But sometimes mood movies go dark, right? And that is what happens here as we watch this dancer basically go through a psychic split. I think Natalie was fantastic here. But also so very disturbing as well. Which is exactly what the goal was for this movie.


Silver Linings Playbook – Where Black Swan is the darkest movie on this list. Silver Linings Playbook is possibly the lightest movie on this list. I loved how they presented crazy in such a different and shifting light. Two broken souls that just trying to figure this thing called life out. Fantastic. And the book was great in this space as well. Fantastic book. But I’ve covered that ground here fully.


Ruby sparks – Ruby Sparks is another movie in this list that has a very very similar feel to the movie Her. A writer creates a work of fiction about a girl named Ruby… and then said girl accidentally comes to life. And the movie is all about this relationship between an author and his creation and the conflicts and chaos inherent in that relationship.

There are more movies that I could include. As I was just staring at this list I came up with 3 more without any real effort. But it has to stop somewhere. What movies do you know that fit into this niche? I’d love to check them out!

Related Posts

5 Responses

  1. Shirwa

    Thanks for this useful blog. My girlfriend and me really like mood movies. The other day we watched Her and we were really touched by it. The actors play so well and the music really fits the emotions.
    Lost in translation is also a great movie. Possibly a bit lighter than Her, but nice to watch.

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Have seen six of these and agree 100%, so will endeavour to watch the others. Great list!

    Reply
  3. Taylor Holmes

    Shirwa and Sarah,
    Thanks for the comments! Shirwa, I agree. The music is a huge part of what makes a mood movie good. Totally sets the tone.

    Sarah, wow, 6 for 6?! Dang. Then you have to watch the rest? Can ask which six you’ve already seen? Hopefully the rest will not let you down! Haha.

    Reply
  4. Saajidah

    Thank you ever so much for this list, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Ruby Sparks is a particular favourite of mine. Betty Blue, Blue Valentine, Those People, Kill your Darlings, and perhaps even The Dreamers fit into the same genre.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.