Lisa’s Divorce Movie Countdown

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Sometimes we just need to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea or glass bottle of wine and watch a good movie.  Even better if we can relate to the main character’s situation, dilemma or pain.  It’s time for our Divorce movie count down…


12. Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams-this film is phenomenal and it’s not higher on my list because it is just so damn hard to watch. Their love story is told in flashbacks while we watch these two fall out of love and end in divorce.  Blue Valentine gets top marks for its darkness but don’t watch this if you’re already suffering from depression…seriously…heed my warning

11. The War of the Roses
Michael Douglas & Kathleen Turner-A black comedy that mocks the divorce process.  You can’t help but laugh out loud at the absurd antics of the Roses.  They fight over every last tiny detail.  They stop short of hiring someone to kill the other…it’s a classic

10. Step Mom

Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon & Ed Harris-If you can accept the ‘cheese’ in this movie, it is a touching portrayal of what happens after the divorce.  Focusing on the parenting issues and the introduction of a step parent…I especially like the relationship between step mom and bio mom, the subtle insecurities of each woman and how they manage to put the children’s needs first.

9. First Wives Club

Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler & Diane Keaton-You won’t get much substance but if you just want to laugh you will enjoy this one.  The women concoct  outrageous plans to get revenge on each of their cheating ex husbands.  A feel good ending…

8. Something to Talk About

Julia Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick, Dennis Quaid -this is one of my favorites because of it’s portrayal of extended family relationships during divorce.  In particular, father/ daughter, mother/ daughter and what happens when a good girl from the South decides to leave her husband.  It is a light take on divorce with lots of humor. Bonus-if you’re into the horsey life, this one’s for you.

7.  It’s Complicated

Meryl Streep & Alec Baldwin-A light comedy about a divorced couple with adult children… and what happens when the spark isn’t quite out.  There are some great moments and Alec Baldwin doesn’t disappoint with his comedic timing.

6. Far From Heaven

Julianne Moore & Dennis Quaid- A portrayal of an empty marriage in an era of denial, the 1950’s.  It is heartbreaking to watch Julianne Moore’s character go unloved while her husband is painfully aware of his sexuality yet remains married.

5. The Good Wife

(T.V. Series)-Julianne Margulies -an upstanding lawyer Alicia Florrick is recently returned to practicing law in the midst of her divorce from her political figure husband. We watch Alicia juggle her career, her divorce including her ex’s indiscretions, and motherhood.

4. Once and Again

Sela Ward-If you can find the DVDs for this show from the late 90’s it will be well worth your while.  What I love about a series that deals with divorce is we get to see the evolution of the character(s) over time.  This show is a poignant portrayal of a woman going through divorce in her early 40’s.  Finding love again, single parenting, re-defining her relationship with her ex and starting over in the work world are all issues she faces.  Her character is someone we can look up to and still relate to.

3. Take This Waltz

Michelle Williams & Seth Rogen-A painful look at the deconstruction of a happy marriage.  No children here but temptation and final giving in to that temptation change the lives of many.  I have a feeling the younger crowd will strongly relate to this movie.

2. The Squid and The Whale

Laura Linney & Jeff Daniels-This one is near the top because it is so realistic.  It is raw but I love that the characters are very honest and flawed.  You won’t find stereotypes here.

1. Sideways

Paul Giamatti & Thomas Hayden Church-If you love wine; drinking it, the grapes, tastings, wine country and the making of it you will LOVE this divorce movie.  THis is at the top of my list because it is a completely different perspective on divorce in that it is from a man’s point of view.   Some would call it a ‘buddy’ film and they would be correct but I have yet to see a more sophisticated one.  Myles is still depressed since his wife left him and Jack is on a last fling before his wedding.  The two men go on a wine country excursion finding love, good wine and mischief.  Sensitive, funny, beautiful and kind of rude all at once.  You gotta love that!

Honorable Mention

Kramer v. Kramer

Dustin Hoffman & Meryl Streep-I had to include this one.  I had to…how could I not?  Although it is ‘old’ and perhaps a little dated it still explores the pain of custody battles in a very realistic way.  Maybe a cautionary tale for some.

Get your popcorn popper out and enjoy…with that wine.

What is your favorite divorce movie?

Leave a comment, I LOVE ’em!

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15 Replies to “Lisa’s Divorce Movie Countdown”

  1. There are some on this list that I need to see! A good story of rebirth after divorce is “Under The Tuscan Sun.” Diane Lane’s character impulsively moves to Italy after her marriage ends. Talk about starting over!

    1. Yes, Tara thanks for mentioning that one! I saw it many years ago but it should be on the countdown. I love Diane Lane, too.

  2. Some of these are still on my TBW list, but on Kramer vs. Kramer – saw it when it came out, and I was very young. What a horrible bitch the character portrayed by Meryl Streep was, I thought.

    And then, saw it years later, and my perspective had totally shifted. I could “get” why a mother might temporarily abandon a child she loved very much, if her own sanity was on the line, and I could understand how a dead relationship where you’re neither seen nor heard as a person could totally drain that. And the sexism “How many lovers have you had? More than three? More than thirty-three?” Must watch some of these. 🙂

    1. Yes. I saw it way back when it came out and I thought the same thing about her. If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn’t have judged her so harshly…and yes, the idea that she must be a horrible person if she has had lovers. We can’t be mothers and lovers? Like I say, it is dated but the custody battle scars are not. Thanks for sharing, Beverly!

  3. okay, seriously, and you’ll think I’m weird,
    but I’ve watched Stepmom about a million times.
    LOoooooooVE the end where Susan S calls Julia over to take the family photo w/ them.
    Fabulous stuff.


    1. I know! That was very touching. It’s a comforting movie that gives us hope that we can all somehow make things work. The sad part though, is the mom’s cancer…One movie I forgot to put on the countdown “Celeste and Jess Forever”

  4. hi..most of the movies you have mentioned here has this female perspective to it 🙂
    from guys point of view i really liked ” In persuit of happiness”. even though it wasnt an divorce movie per had Will Smiths character struggling with his kid after his wife leaves him.

  5. I might be a bit crazy too but Step Mom is a favorite! In a way you can see divorce is not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about people too and how they feel about things.
    Kramer v. Kramer moves to the core of life and being. Kind of like The War of the Roses, funny, crazy. Did not know it could go so far in some cases, with some couples…till I got to know people living the same.
    Need to watch the other ones, with a chocolate fudge cake and tea!!
    Take care Lisa.

    1. Hey Marie, I really like Step Mom too. It’s a perennial favorite. The War of The Roses is hilarious and disturbing because there is some truth to the brutal humor. Ooooh, chocolate fudge and tea is just the thing!

  6. are there any movies about divorce that can help me with motivation/inspiration? my husband filed for divorce 2 weeks after one of our children was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and 2 months after i was diagnosed with MS. I am happy he filed- i wouldve kept on wondering if and hoping things would get better so I am glad I will no longer have to live with that feeling of plodding thru until its better- but I need to get back to who I was BEFORE all that crap. I used to be so grateful for every second I have on this earth, no matter how bad things were I knew it could be worse and I could find the joy in ANYTHING- now I feel lke I alternate between 3 attitudes/emotions. the 1st is along the lines of “he has got some nerve! he should be begging me for forgiveness and kissing my butt after what he’s done- it doesnt matter if I think he’s turned into a turd of a human being, right is right wrong is wrong and he is SO wrong he basically redefined wrong- he should have been sitting around crying in shame with his fingers crossed that i dont file instead of filing himself!”which isnt a good way to feel, I can get over that quickly because I move onto the next emotion which is “whatever.” thats it- just whatever. My only other emotion is the happiness I feel when I am around my/our kids. They really are great, I love parenting them- but I dont want to end up being that woman who can ONLY be happy thru her children. I worry that if I don’t find a way out of this diffident feeling that I will end up banking all future joy I may feel on them and I don’t think thats fair. Every time they go with thier dad (2 days a week), when they leave I have this long list of things to do to just keep my moving and to pull myself out of this funk. The list can have anything on it from “get milk” to “restore steps” to “attend a zumba class” but then they leave and I practically sit by the window waiting for them to come back! I dont really like the movie Waiting To Exhale- but I seem to find myself watching that one scene where she gets all her husbands things throws them into his car and lights it on fire a little too much. And I am smiling with this you go girl felling. I dont like the way i am behaving- worry if its normal for now- but every single time i try to take one step forward- literally one step, like one step away from my sofa, I instantly and deeply go into that “whatever” emotion. Anyone have any suggestions for a movie- since thats all I seem capable of accomplishing right now, watching movies- that will inspire me to GET UP? to move on? Its not that I havent moved on emotionally from my soon-to-be ex- I accepted his emotional absence years ago- once I realized how much he changed and there was nothing I can do about him. But its like I am no longer interested in anything at all. I feel like I am looking for just the right thing to kick start my own new journey- but am too exhausted from the last ten years to look too hard. So if anyone knows of a GREAT movie that can inspire me to take that first step please tell me! All the movies on this list are awesome (I didnt watch blue valentine tho- i worry that one will KEEP me on the sofa by the window so I heeded the warning) but they all seem to be about AFTER some transition the women had. I hope that makes sense!

    1. Hi Trish, first, I think your feelings are all totally normal. This is a transitional time and getting used to the children’s absence etc. can be really tough. As for inspirational divorce movies…Eat, Pray, Love, Under The Tuscan Sun, The Women. I hope you find some inspiration in those, Trish 🙂 Plus, don’t forget to check out the best divorce shows as there are some great suggestions there and some are on Netflix.

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