Loneliness can manifest in many ways, whether it’s someone longing for a romantic relationship or someone experiencing complete isolation. While painful, loneliness can also be transformative. Below are 24 phenomenal movies about lonely men that can move you to tears or have you chuckling on the couch.
1. Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert De Niro portrays a lonely taxi cab driver in this moving and emotional film. It’s one of Scorsese’s best films and one of Jodie Foster’s first, making it an iconic movie everyone should see. De Niro’s character, Travis Blicke, offers a raw and intense look at male vulnerability and loneliness paired with mental instability and trauma.
2. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Lars and the Real Girl is a quirky movie about a lonely man, played by Ryan Gosling, who orders a life-sized doll online to be his girlfriend. The movie features lots of awkward moments and offbeat humor, but at the core of the film is a bold and complex message concerning the importance of companionship.
3. The Batman (2022)
You can find themes of male loneliness in most of the Batman movies, but the most recent one, The Batman, has particularly powerful moments about vulnerability. As a vigilante superhero, Batman has never been able to form or maintain close relationships, and we see the toll this takes on him in this film.
4. Her (2013)
Her is another offbeat movie that has a lot of heart and some unsettling themes. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who longs for companionship. He falls in love with his new phone operating system that operates like AI. The movie shows a lonely and soulful man desperate for a partner in life after losing his wife.
5. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
While many of the films on this list show lonely males seeking romantic love, this film is about friendship and its power. One day, a man decides to cut off one of his best and oldest friends, leaving the friend at a loss for what has gone wrong between them. The movie is funny but also emotionally complex and powerful.
6. Swiss Army Man (2016)
This film is about loneliness in the sense of complete isolation. The movie follows a man stranded on an empty island, and he slowly begins to lose his mind from being alone. He happens upon a dead, bloated body, a body that soon becomes his only friend. It’s a grim but playful movie that shows what can happen when loneliness takes over.
7. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Matt Damon and Jude Law are brilliant in the movie about a young man who tries to scam his way into affluent social circles. Damon’s character is quite a lonely soul despite what he makes the people around him believe. It shows that one can be lonely even when surrounded by others and seemingly happy.
8. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Adam Sandler stars in Punch-Drunk Love as a generally quiet man who is prone to violent and aggressive outbursts. He is constantly verbally abused by his many sisters and leads a very timid and socially isolated life until he meets a woman who changes everything.
9. Joker (2019)
This movie takes a look at Batman’s infamous nemesis, the Joker, before he was one of the world’s worst villains. The film depicts the Joker as a lonely and broken man who is constantly beaten down by the world. Many movies on my list have happy endings, but this one ends with him turning toward darkness and becoming the Joker we all know and hate today.
10. Cast Away (2000)
Similar to Swiss Army Man, this film is about what can happen to a man when he is truly and completely alone. Tom Hanks plays a man lost on an island in the middle of nowhere, and his only friend is a volleyball with a face drawn on it. When you have nothing, something as simple as a volleyball can become everything; make sure you have tissues ready.
11. The Lobster (2015)
The Lobster is another Joaquin Phoenix movie where he plays a painfully lonely man. I’m warning you now: this movie is brutal. I watched it once and will never see it again. It takes place in a strange society where people who do not find their life partners are turned into animals, and it only gets weirder from there.
12. Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is about a lonely man and woman who find one another. The two characters are lonely in varying ways and at different points in their life, showing how you can be lonely no matter what you do, where you live, or how old you are. It’s a subtle but moving movie that is perfect for anyone going through a lonely time.
13. The Whale (2022)
The Whale is a painful story about a morbidly obese man who is hurdling toward death. The man lives alone in an apartment he never leaves, and as he realizes the end of his life is near, he tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, but it doesn’t go well. The movie is depressing and uplifting at the same time, and also a little gross during certain scenes.
14. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Leaving Las Vegas is a movie about an intense drug and drinking binge. The main character, Ben, played by Nicolas Cage, goes on a crazy bender and meets a woman who also has a tough life. The movie shows how two lonely people can offer one another a strange sense of support.
15. Logan (2017)
Like The Batman, Logan shows how superheroes can be super lonely. The film is about Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, taking care of Professor X as he ages and comes close to dying. While Logan does his best to block out the rest of the world, the loneliness creeps in and makes him vulnerable.
16. John Wick (2014)
John Wick is not technically a superhero, but this movie has the same vibe. In John Wick, a retired assassin gets a new puppy to be his little companion, but people go out of their way to hurt him and his dog. He sets on a bloody journey of revenge to make these people pay.
17. The Lighthouse (2019)
The Lighthouse is a film that shows how loneliness and isolation can make men go mad. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson star in this strange and unsettling film together as two lighthouse keepers living in a lighthouse together as they lose their grip on reality. The mysterious setting and deranged characters take the theme of loneliness to a new level.
18. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a subtle and artsy movie about a man contemplating taking his own life. I don’t want to spoil the whole movie, but it follows a man as he visits his parents with his girlfriend, but nothing seems quite right. In the end, his loneliness consumes him despite the delusions he’s conjured.
19. Beau is Afraid (2023)
Another film with Joaquin Phoenix, Beau Is Afraid, is a surrealist horror movie with some humor. Clearly, Phoenix is adept at playing strange, lonely men, and this offbeat movie is all about facing our anxieties, fears, and failures. Prepare to be uncomfortable for most of the movie.
20. Sideways (2004)
Sideways is a fun but emotional movie about two guy friends who go on one final trip before one of them gets married. However, things go awry when the engaged man has an affair. The main character, played by Paul Giamatti, struggles with mid-life loneliness, even when there is plenty to live for and many people to love.
21. I Am Legend (2007)
I Am Legend offers one of the saddest and scariest portrayals of loneliness I’ve seen. In an apocalyptic world where humans have turned into ravenous mutant creatures, one man was left behind when in NYC. He longs to see his family again, if they’re even alive, and works toward a cure for the mutants.
22. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
This one is interesting because it follows three brothers on a journey together, but they are all lonely and longing in different ways. It shows how people can be lonely even when in the company of others, even those you’re closest to. Sometimes, families as a whole can be lonely.
23. Barbie (2023)
Believe it or not, male loneliness is a theme in Barbie. I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s still in theaters, but the feminist themes in the film also tackle how it can be hard to be a man in the modern world. Ken’s story in the film is surprisingly thoughtful and raw but still playful and funny.
24. The Terminal (2004)
The Terminal takes an interesting look at loneliness, following the story of a man trapped in an airport terminal. A war breaks out in a tourist country while he is at JFK airport, and he becomes unable to leave the US or enter it. It’s a tragic movie in many ways but has beautiful, uplifting moments.