“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » Culture and Criticism

Cinemarch Madness: Haneke Division Poll

Submitted by on March 17, 2013 – 10:59 AM17 Comments

grunge film background

At last, a no-brainer. Granted, having seen a few others in the division might have made the choice more difficult, but as it is, I can eliminate both the Bette Davis flicks; I like them, and I can see an argument for Now, Voyager, but compared to the devastating Amour, and to Happiness, which had audience members literally fleeing the theater in discomfort, and me crying in the ladies’ afterwards? Not even close.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is really upsetting to me to this day, and The Piccolo of Indomitable Spirit at the end there makes it worse, not better; in a different division, I might have voted for it, or for Europa Europa, containing as it does a chillingly bitchy performance from Julie Delpy.

But it’s Stevie instead, and it’s not close. Stevie is like Dear Zachary, at a lower level of intensity: not many people have seen it, but those who have take it with us. Hoop Dreams is a fantastic film that got jobbed by the Academy, and I’ve loved all of Steve James’s work, but in Stevie, it’s personal; James goes looking for the “Little Brother” of his college days, and what he finds is almost entirely discouraging about the cycle of abuse, among other things. It’s not entirely hopeless, but the idea that some people just never had a chance, ever, is investigated thoroughly…and unfortunately, that idea holds up. I highly recommend it (and watching The Interrupters directly afterwards).

I don’t think it climbs over Happiness or A Very Long Engagement, though, and that’s okay. Let me and your fellow readers know whether Ran should run away with it in the comments.

Haneke Division: Vote for the THREE (3) harshest films.

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (24%, 115 Votes)
  • Happiness (20%, 97 Votes)
  • Amour (17%, 82 Votes)
  • The Last Unicorn (8%, 38 Votes)
  • Stevie (7%, 33 Votes)
  • A Very Long Engagement (6%, 27 Votes)
  • Europa Europa (4%, 17 Votes)
  • Ran (3%, 16 Votes)
  • Make Way for Tomorrow (2%, 10 Votes)
  • Silent Running (2%, 10 Votes)
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2%, 10 Votes)
  • The Day of the Locust (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Now, Voyager (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Jezebel (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Underground (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 201

Loading ... Loading ...

Not sure what’s going on? You’ll fit right in around here (heh) but in the meantime, the Cinemarch Madness FAQ is here, and a poll overview is here.




  • Deanna says:

    No joke, it’s been ten years since I saw Happiness and I still get a nasty little pit in my stomach if/when I think of it–and I try NEVER to think of it, except EVERY “Hey, it’s that guy!” is in that movie and whenever I see them in something else my first thought is back to their performance in Happiness.

    It is not a movie I ever need to see again, but 10 years later and it still gives me a cold chill of discomfort? That’s a movie that needs to go into the finals.

  • Pamela says:

    Back in the day, when there were still video stores, my local outlet had “Happiness” filed in the “Comedy” section.

    WTF, Blockbuster?

  • attica says:

    I wonder if people still come up to Dylan Baker and harangue him for Happiness. For all the things I’ve seen him in, that’s the role I think of whenever I see him. And that’s not a good thing.

  • anna says:

    “Back in the day, when there were still video stores, my local outlet had “Happiness” filed in the “Comedy” section.”

    I’ve seen “Cuckoo’s Nest” filed in the “Comedy” section.I guess there are some comedic scenes, but really now.

    Have not seen “Happiness.” Putting aside the apparent soul-crushing despair, is it a good film – well acted, written, etc?

  • Deanna says:

    @Anna From a technical standpoint, Happiness is an amazing film. Dylan Baker is phenomenally unsettling. The writing is very good; the sets and the scene framing are spot-on. But you really cannot, cannot, cannot underestimate the retch-worthy despair.


  • katesonnet says:

    Wait, The Last Unicorn as in the 1980s’ animated movie with Mia Farrow, Christopher Lee, and Jeff Bridges? Or is there another Last Unicorn that’s horribly depressing?
    (Because the first Last Unicorn is my favorite movie).

  • Leah in SoCal says:

    Make Way for Tomorrow had me sobbing big old snotty tears during a film class. When the professor raised the lights he informed the class “Those of you who aren’t crying right now are heartless. Heartless.” I especially appreciated the nice woman in front of me who shared her box of tissues.

  • Barb says:

    In my bookstore, many years ago, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filed as CHILDREN’S HUMOR. I told the manager how inappropriate this was, but it was never moved. I guess he never read the book.

  • ferretrick says:

    Have to say, I love Bette Davis films, and I love Now, Voyager and Jezebel, but I don’t understand them for this either. I find the ending of Now Voyager in a way uplifting, and the end of Jezebel is sad, but…eh. Too melodramatic for me to consider it devestating. If the contest needs a Bette Davis picture, Dark Victory seems to me the obvious choice (“Well I think I’ll have a large order of Prognosis Negative!”) Or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I could even see arguments for All About Eve or Little Foxes before either of the ones on the list.

  • Meg says:

    I classify myself as a movie buff. I go to the theater at least 30 times a year, and see countless more movies on Netflix and TV, etc. I feel confident in saying I have never, ever been more unnerved and devastated by a movie as I was by Amour. I had to compose myself in my car before I could drive myself home, and even then I still only made it a few minutes before the hysterical, hitching sobbing where you’re just snotty and a complete mess started up again, and lasted for a long time. I practically had to take a sleeping pill to get to bed that night.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Gahhhh, Happiness. Dylan Baker was so good I actually feared for a moment that he’d sold his soul.

  • MinglesMommy says:

    @Attica – “I wonder if people still come up to Dylan Baker and harangue him for Happiness. For all the things I’ve seen him in, that’s the role I think of whenever I see him. And that’s not a good thing.”

    I never even saw the movie, and that’s what I think of when I see him.

    In general: I love Bette Davis films too, and her films (in sadness and depression terms) just do not match up to anything on these lists. She always came out the strong heroine in the end. These are all just insanely dark. And sometimes shuddermaking.

    Also, no “Bambi”? No “Seconds”? “Seconds” probably left me as queasy as any film ever will!

  • Amalthea says:

    Katesonnet, The Last Unicorn is my favourite, too (see my username). I suppose the ending could be seen as depressing, but even as a kid I loved bittersweet endings.

  • Lisa says:

    I grew up a scant 20 miles from where Stevie was filmed, and yeaaaaaah. Those well-meaning liberal Chicago kids tend to have their hearts shattered by the reality of poor, white Southern Illinois.

  • Emma says:

    @Amalthea, much agreed. ‘Save one…and I thank you for that part too’ sums it up.

  • Cat_slave says:

    Happiness, oh my. I felt physichally ill for a long, long time after that and still feel the impact to this day, some ten years later. I can’t really understand how One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest can be seen as worse. Yes, it’s tragic and awful, but there are some moments in it that are quite uplifting and it certainly doesn’t make me feel like I’d rather be anything than a human being…

    Exellent review, Sars. Now I sort of want to see Welcome To The Dollhouse, except that I don’t – i think it would be far to triggering.

    To add to the stories of inappropriate shelving etc., a friends parents went to see Happiness, because they wanted to see something nice and fluffy and thought that it would fit the bill…

  • […] movie was in strong contention over at Tomato Nation’s recent bracket tournament for the bleakest and most depressing movies ever. It is a movie that many moviegoers—even those […]

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>