20 inspiring films about terminally ill people

These people have no distant future, and the present resembles a dramatic quest, where the main prize is your own life. However, difficult patients with leukemia and other deadly ailments find the strength to fight, know how to love and appreciate every moment of a new day. In our selection you will find films about terminally ill people who can become an example for healthy people.

Life in a Year (2020)

17-year-old Darin is in love with the extravagant Isabelle, but the happiness of the young couple is destroyed by a terrible diagnosis. Doctors discovered the girl had a fatal disease. Although Isabelle is left to spend only this last year next to her dear person, Deryn does not despair and decides to give her beloved a lot of vivid impressions. Together with her boyfriend, Isabelle manages to realize the most cherished dreams – those that healthy people endlessly put off for the future.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Life in a Year

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Jaden Smith, Cara Delevingne, Cuba Gooding ml….

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
12+


Heaven Can Wait (2020)

A foreign film about a deadly disease is a series of exciting adventures and amazing discoveries for young Steffi. The 16-year-old girl recently graduated from high school and is preparing for a trip to France. The graduate dreams of working in the police, but another medical examination crosses out her bold plans. Doctors detect cancer in the girl at the last stage, the disease progresses, and yesterday’s schoolgirl has a few months left to live. Parents want their daughter to be under the supervision of doctors, but Steffi breaks off on a trip in his old car.

Original title:
Gott, du kannst ein Arsch sein

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, comedy

Actors:
Signe Irslinger, Max Hubacher, Til Schweiger …

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 5.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Friends Forever (2019)

Journalist Matt finds himself in trouble when his wife is diagnosed with cancer. Nicole’s incurable illness overturns her usual way of life, and the head of the family has to re-win the love and respect of her daughters. For a shocked Matt, all days merge into a solid black streak – and during this gloomy period, his old friend extends a helping hand. Dane is considered a failure due to a failed stand-up career, but the comedian shows real miracles of silent dedication.

Original title:
Our Friend

Genre:
Drama, romance

Actors:
Jason Segel, Isabella Kai Rice, Violet McGraw, Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
18+


Breaking Bad (2018)

An American film about a professor with cancer is a comedy drama that can move viewers to tears. Richard teaches literature at a prestigious college and maintains a reputation as an exemplary family man. Until he receives bad news from doctors about his fatal illness. The teacher decides not to postpone the fulfillment of his secret desires until better times, so he goes into all serious trouble, hiding the illness from his family.

Original title:
The Professor

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Johnny Depp, Rosemary DeWitt, Odessa Young…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
18+


Already miss you (2015)

Jess and Millie have been best friends since childhood, and nothing can keep the girls apart. Years later, the grown-up friends were able to maintain a warm relationship, but two pieces of news become fatal for them. Jess learns about the long-awaited pregnancy and hurries to share the good news with her friend. However, Millie is not able to share the happiness because of the terrible diagnosis that started the countdown of the last days of a woman.

Original title:
Miss You Already

Genre:
Drama, romance, comedy

Actors:
Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Paddy Considine, Dominic Cooper …

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
16+


Still Alice (2014)

The list of the best films about incurable diseases continues with a touching drama about a professor of linguistics. Alice is 50 years old, she teaches at the university and is happy with her husband. A married couple has three adult children, and nothing portends trouble until the woman begins to notice oddities in herself. The teacher forgets elementary words and definitions, which is unacceptable in her profession. Alice suspects multiple sclerosis, but hears a hopeless diagnosis. The teacher is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Alice struggles to keep the memory bits.

Original title:
Still Alice

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth …

Country:
USA, UK, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


The Fault in the Stars (2014)

Hazel has been living with cancer for several years, the cancer is in remission, but the young girl is no longer happy with anything. For the sake of her parents, the patient attends a support group, where she meets Augustus. The guy had a leg amputated, affected by cancer cells, and the disease temporarily receded. The teenagers begin to socialize and plan to travel together to Amsterdam to meet their favorite writer Hazel, unaware of how the trip will turn out.

Original title:
The Fault in Our Stars

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.7

Age restrictions:
12+


Last tour (2014)

The German drama will not only tell about an incurable disease, but will also raise the difficult topic of voluntary death. Hannes and his wife and friends go on a biking tour every year, and only one participant has the right to choose the end point. The travel itinerary never repeats. This time, Hannes gets the right to choose: he invites his friends to ride around Belgium, and only on the way he confesses his true intentions. He was diagnosed with a fatal disease, and only in this European country is euthanasia allowed.

Original title:
Hin und weg

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Florian David Fitz, Julia Kosic, Jurgen Vogel …

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 7.2


You are not you (2014)

Talented pianist Kate is in a wheelchair due to an incurable disease of the nervous system, and her husband is urgently looking for a nurse. A young music college student, Beck, who dreams of becoming a rock star , agrees to take care of the woman . The nurse and the ward are complete opposites in character and life priorities, but it is this difference that becomes the unifying foundation in a difficult period.

Original title:
You’re Not You

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.3

Age Limits :
16+


Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

A feature film about terminally ill people is based on real events, when one person decided to fight both the disease and the healthcare system. Ron Woodroof loves rodeos and open relationships, but the diagnosis of AIDS comes as a shock to the life-loving cowboy . In the 80s, HIV was considered the lot of homosexuals, so it is difficult for a man to come to terms with the news. Doctors give Ron only a month, traditional medicines do not help, and Woodroof resorts to experimental drugs.

Original title:
Dallas Buyers Club

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.0

Age restrictions:
18+


Don’t Give Up (2011)

After clinical death and the death of his parents, young Enok finds solace in attending someone else’s funeral. At the next burial ceremony, the guy meets a strange girl, Annie. Teenagers get closer, and the young man learns that his new girlfriend is suffering from an incurable disease. Annie is only a few months away, and Enok is ready to give his beloved a lot of unforgettable experiences, filling every day with bright colors.

Original title:
Restless

Genre:
Drama, Romance

Actors:
Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 6.7

Age limit:
16+


Life is beautiful (2011)

An interesting film about a cancer patient in the  comedy melodrama genre  will tell an amazing story of the struggle with a hopeless diagnosis. Promising journalist Adam’s world is shattered when doctors tell him the truth about his health. Timely therapy can give results, but success is only half guaranteed. A cancer patient decides not to despair – and with the support of an old friend, he goes through all the stages of accepting a fatal illness.

Original title:
50/50

Genre:
Drama, romance, comedy

Actors:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Third Star (2010)

James has been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, and the doctors’ prognosis does not leave a chance to fight the fatal disease. The guy gathers old friends and goes to the picturesque bay to spend the last days in a great company. Along the way, the guys have to find out the naked truth about themselves, but none of the friends have a clue what really drives James on an impromptu journey.

Original title:
Third Star

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Burke, JJ Field…

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.4

Age Limits :
16+


Beautyful (2009)

A highly rated philosophical drama is not just another movie about a serious illness. This is a metaphorical movie, where every frame is saturated with meaning. For many years, Uksbal helped illegal migrants get jobs, for which he was known as a kind guardian angel. The authorities have their own vision of the situation, but the man manages to remain in the background, avoiding responsibility. Having learned about the terrible diagnosis, Uksbal rethinks life and prepares to accept death with dignity.

Original title:
Biutiful

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanna Bouchaib…

Country:
Mexico, Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
18+


One week (2008)

English teacher Ben Tyler visits a hospital where he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The chances of recovery are negligible, so the man does not want to spend the last months of his life on a senseless struggle with the disease. Ben buys a motorcycle to spend a couple of days on the road. However, the road opens up many prospects for Tyler, and the man decides to continue the journey.

Original title:
One Week

Genre:
Drama, adventure

Actors:
Joshua Jackson, Lian Balaban, Campbell Scott…

Country:
Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Until I played in the box (2007)

A touching film about dying patients will make the audience cry and admire the enterprise of the elderly. An ordinary pensioner Carter finds himself in the same room with an eccentric businessman Edward. Men were diagnosed with cancer, but patients reacted differently to the news. Calm Carter wants to spend the rest of his days with his family, and Edward is determined to fulfill a long list of desires – and draws a new friend into an adventurous adventure.

Original title:
The Bucket List

Genre:
Drama, comedy, adventure

Actors:
Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.1, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
12+


Griffin & Phoenix: On the Edge of Happyness (2006)

A sad melodrama will show how human destiny is capable of splitting into “before” and “after” in an instant. Henry Griffin is diagnosed with an inoperable tumor, and the man decides to write an autobiographical book. The patient attends psychology courses , where he meets the attractive Sarah Phoenix. The woman also suffers from an incurable disease, so the couple does not want to waste time and plunges into the world of exciting entertainment.

Original title:
Griffin & Phoenix

Genre:
Drama, romance, comedy

Actors:
Dermot Mulroney, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.0

Age restrictions:
16+


My life without me (2002)

A film with a tragic script about seriously ill people is an ode to strength of mind in difficult conditions. Ann is only 23, but a terrible diagnosis rushes into her measured existence like a whirlwind. An inoperable tumor puts an end to the future of a young woman, and she hurries to fulfill her cherished desires in the time allotted by fate. Ann is ready for bold experiments, driving away gloomy thoughts and creeping depression.

Original title:
My Life Without Me

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo…

Country:
Spain, Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Sweet November (2001)

Nelson works in advertising and devotes most of his time to his career in the hope of a promising promotion. The meeting with Sarah radically changes the fate of the guy, because the girl opens up amazing facets of the world around her. Nelson learns to enjoy the little things and falls in love with a new acquaintance, but happiness is impossible because of her fatal illness. Sarah is ready to give the guy a few weeks, after which he must leave her – and the careerist faces a difficult choice.

Original title:
Sweet November

Genre:
Drama, romance

Actors:
Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
12+


Knockin’ on Heaven (1997)

The top inspiring films are completed by the extraordinary story of two patients, which received a strong response from the Russian audience. Martin and Rudy end up in the same room. For both patients, the doctor voices a disappointing prognosis. Men have too little time left, because medicine is powerless in the face of an inoperable form of cancer. The rebel Martin learns that Rudy has never seen the sea – and is determined to fulfill the dream of a new friend. Friends steal a car belonging to a local gangster and get into a maelstrom of enchanting adventures.

Original title:
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Genre:
Drama, Comedy, Crime

Actors:
Til Schweiger, Jan Josef Liefers, Thierry Van Werweke, Moritz Bleibtreu…

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.6, IMDb – 7.9

Age Limits :
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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