I'm Staying Home 

It Could Be Worse

Congratulations! You survived the holidays--a time of year when suicide rates spike due to made-for-TV movies and the force-fed myth that everyone wants to spend time with their family. While festive images just make us feel worse about our mundane, imperfect lives, these films, which are often mislabeled as "depressing," will actually help you realize how not-so-bad your life really is.

- Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)--It's hard not to laugh at the pathetic existence of pre-teen Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo), if only to ease the discomfort caused by viewing the cruel world she inhabits. Hey, at least you're not a thick-spectacled seventh grade loser (anymore).

- Breaking the Waves (1996)--Bitch about Portland all you want, at least you don't live on a staunchly religious island off the coast of Scotland like the fragile Bess McNeill (Emily Watson), who rebels by marrying a Danish oil rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard), and engages in extended conversations with God. When the men in Bess's life instruct her to whore herself out, and her mental illness becomes undeniable, Breaking the Waves becomes one of the most sadistic and beautiful films ever made.

- Morvern Callar (2002)--All Morvern (Samantha Morton) owns is what her dead boyfriend left her: a bomber jacket, a mix tape, a manuscript of his unpublished novel, and cash for a funeral. The mix tape-inspired soundtrack is more prominent than the film's dialogue, and coupled with Morton's quietly stunning performance, it creates a dramatic funereal dirge of depression and grief.

- Love Liza (2002)--Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman) does what any man would do when his wife kills herself--he starts huffing gas and flying remote-controlled airplanes. Buoyed only by some jet-black comedy, it's a film for anyone who has ever woken up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, clutching a toxic rag and wondering what year it is.

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