cinematic self-esteem

Standing in front of the mirror reciting affirmations is a fine way to buttress your confidence. But everyone knows the best way to feel better about yourself is by laughing at people more unfortunate than you. In that spirit, here are three films featuring characters designed to make you feel like a rockstar in comparison--no matter how shitty your little life is.

• Happiness (1998)--This film by Todd Solondz is called Happiness, but it's about very, very sad people. Irony, boys and girls. The story centers around three sisters (Lara Flynn Boyle, Jane Adams, and Cynthia Stevenson) and explores their miserable working lives, miserable love lives, and miserable family lives for an exhausting 134 minutes. But if you only have a few to spare and want to feel as good about yourself as possible in the shortest amount of time, just fast forward to any scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman. That should do the trick.

• Crumb (1994)--In this documentary about Robert Crumb--the cartoonist responsible for inking some of the most offensive cartoons in history--every single one of the characters (who are, sadly, also real people) is slightly off. Like in the way three-month-old rancid milk is "slightly off." Crumb's world is one of sexual obsession, misogyny, and reclusiveness that is deliciously painful to behold. Sure he's a celebrated artist and a minor celebrity, but that doesn't make him any less of a pitiful wonk.

• Buffalo '66 (1998)--Vincent Gallo plays an ex-con so pathetic that he has to kidnap a girl (Christina Ricci) just to have someone to take home to his parents. Parents who, as it turns out, wouldn't have noticed if he had kidnapped a blow up doll. And if you look past the hipster hair and the red fuck-me boots, Gallo's character will make you fancy yourself the suavest, most affable lady killer that ever was. J.B. RABIN