Top 10 Films about Alcoholism

Listverse.com posted an interesting Top 10 list of the very best movies looking at alcoholics and alcoholism. The list was created by Listverse.com user Kazorek who says, “Alcoholism has always fascinated me more than any other drug addiction. It is separated in its legality and social acceptability, so thus there exists a legion of alcoholics far greater in number than junkies of any other sort. An entire subculture, one that’s often miserable, exists within almost every human civilization – the culture of the alcoholic.”

Expecting Billy Wilder’s brilliant “The Lost Weekend” to be number 1, I sat aghast at its total lack of inclusion. Top10Films.co.uk’s top tip when it comes to films about alcoholics is to search out Wilder’s classic movie. However, despite “The Lost Weekend” not appearing on the list, the top 10 does feature some fantastic movies across a mix of genres and time periods.

Kazorek’s list is actually more appealing than one might think at first. Having had to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings himself, he has first hand experience of the damaging result of alcoholism. He says, “Though often glorified or embellished, some films offer a revealing peek into the lives of alcoholics.” Alcoholism, in western culture, is often seen as an “acceptable nuisance” – the sort of weekend binge-drinking routine of so many not being considered a major problem. He goes on to say, “Whether you realize it or not, it’s more than likely that you’ve known or know an alcoholic.

To read Kazorek’s individual appraisal of each film, please visit Listverse.com HERE.

1. Barfly (1987) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film: Barfly [DVD] [1987] [US Import]

2. House of Sand and Fog (2003) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film: Region 1 DVD House of Sand and Fog [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] | Region 2 DVD House Of Sand And Fog [DVD] [2004]

3. Factotum (2005) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film: Region 1 DVD Factotum [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] | Region 2 DVD Factotum [DVD] [2006]

4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? [DVD] [1966]

5. Under The Volcano (1984) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film Under The Volcano by John Huston [DVD] [1984]

6. Leaving Las Vegas (1995) | MORE INFO |
Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1995]

7. Arthur (1981) | MORE INFO |

8. Days Of Wine and Roses (1962) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film Days Of Wine And Roses [DVD] [1962]

9. The Adventures of Bob and Doug: Strange Brew (1983) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film Strange Brew [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

10. Bad Santa (2003) | MORE INFO |
Watch the film Bad Santa on DVD | Bad Santa on Blu-Ray


Discover More:

Most movies that feature teen alcohol abuse do not really give that much attention to alcohol rehabs and how they work, but they are just as telling.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. M. Carter @ the Movies Reply

    “Trees Lounge” deserves a top spot on this list because it is one of the best — if not the best — movie about alcoholism that I’ve ever seen. It’s not flashy or showy or even particularly eventful, but it’s wonderfully honest and features a great performance by actor/director Steve Buscemi.

  2. Top10Films Reply

    I’m definitely a fan of Trees Lounge. A real underrated gem and testament to the talents of Steve Buscemi.

  3. gza19 Reply

    a british film called nil by mouth with ray whinstone powerfull drama bout domestic violence, also has a record for most uses of the f word

  4. John Reply

    Good list, but it could definitely use Tree’s Lounge, The Lost Weekend, and The Fire Within. I think it’s neat/funny that two of the first three are about Charles Bukowski.

  5. Andy Reply

    Ken Loach’s My Name Is Joe is worth a look

  6. Raghav Modi Reply

    How about one that covers drug use, in the sense that it is primary to the story. Something like Basketball Diaries. Nice post though. Something different.

  7. Joel Burman Reply

    Nice list of films but where’s a man loves a woman with Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia. Its so awesome and underrated especially from the alcoholism POV.

  8. The Prof Reply

    Although I’ve never seen Trees Lounge, I feel this list must include The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland. It is the quintessential film about alcoholism produced in(1945) the Golden age of Hollywood. Way before Days of Wine and Roses which is a must see as well.

  9. mark Reply

    Unfortunately I haven’t seen The Lost Weekend. However, my inclusions would be:

    (1) Once Were Warriors – the NZ film where the patriach drinks beer out of king browns, beats his wife and is oblivious to the fact that one of his best mates has raped his soon-to-kill-herself teenage daughter.

    (2) Tales of Ordinary Madness – another story loosely based on the life of Buchowski. The funniest moment is when the writer (the late Ben Gazzarra)is sitting with his publishers and declines an offer for some breakfast, saying something like “I can’t keep anything down at this time of the day” while drinking from a big glass of red. The attempted sex scene with the fat woman is also pretty funny.

    (3) Withnail and I … I seem to recall the boys are pretty much pissed throughout this film; Richard Grant’s drunken request for “the finest wines known to humanity” and the scene where he tries to beat the breathalyser by using baby urine are highlights.

    (4) Wake in Fright – arguably one of the best Australian films ever produced, although it was directed by a Canadian. Indeed I think it was Ted Kotcheff’s observations of alcohol’s role in Australian culture that gives the movie its kick. It is a hard film to watch – aside from the drunken night time kangaroo slaughter in the middle, the film pretty much oozes with alcohol-fuelled tension, culminating in the protagonist being sodomised by the boozey town doctor.

    (5) A Woman Under the Influence … couldn’t sit through it when I tried watching it on TV some 30 years ago, but from what I remember the performances of Rowlands and Falk are pretty devastating.

    (6) Out of the Blue – Dennis Hopper starts the film as a drunken trucker who wipes out a school bus full of kiddies and ends it as a child molester. Pretty bleak …

    Single performances would include:

    John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when he turns to the bottle after realising the girl has fallen for Jimmie Stewart.

    Dennis Hopper as the father in Rumble Fish.

    Clark Gable in The Misfits when he climbs up on the roof of the car.

    Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, when his first drink in however many years sees him eventually re-emerge as one of the meanest bastards on Earth.

    Tony Hopkins in Stone’s Nixon – when he drunkedly wipes out the 18 and half minutes; knocking back late nite whiskies with Bob Halderman while describing the depths of US foreign policy and reflecting on his brother’s death.

    John Heard in Cutter’s Way (who says something like drinking is for the routine grind, “tragedy I take straight” after his wife is murdered).

    The drunk scene in Man Bites Dog, where the serial killer and the film crew get plastered in bar and end up breaking into a couple’s apartment, gang raping the woman (before disembowling her) and shooting her partner.

    I think the only film I’ve seen where I’ve walked out of the cinema and said “I need a stiff drink” is the orginal cut of Betty Blue.

  10. mark Reply

    Whoops – another error …. Woman Under the Influence isn’t about booze – I just thought they were hammered when I watched a bit of it on TV all those years ago. I can’t remember, but maybe I was the drunk one ….

    If anything, this exposes a hole in my education – the films of John Casevettes. Haven’t seen Shadows or Opening Night; did, however, get The Killing of a Chinese Bookie out the other month – interesting film. Also watched Gloria a few times over the years (I preferred it to Leon, despite Oldman’s presence in the latter).

  11. Neal Damiano Reply

    I really like this list! Some excellent films on here.
    “Leaving Las Vegas” would be a nice addition.

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