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The 25 Best Drug Movies of All Time
The 25 best movies about drugs of all time. (in my opinion) This list includes anything from drug abuse to drug dealing to drug trafficking. This list does not include alcohol or marijuana abuse unless there are also harder drugs in the movie.
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1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
R | 102 min | Drama
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Ellen Burstyn , Jared Leto , Jennifer Connelly , Marlon Wayans
Votes: 854,007 | Gross: $3.64M
Heroin & Other Substances
2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 154 min | Crime, Drama
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta , Uma Thurman , Samuel L. Jackson , Bruce Willis
Votes: 2,086,122 | Gross: $107.93M
Cocaine & Other Substances
3. Boogie Nights (1997)
R | 155 min | Drama
Back when sex was safe, pleasure was a business and business was booming, an idealistic porn producer aspires to elevate his craft to an art when he discovers a hot young talent.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Mark Wahlberg , Julianne Moore , Burt Reynolds , Luis Guzmán
Votes: 270,587 | Gross: $26.40M
Cocaine & Weed
4. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
R | 180 min | Biography, Comedy, Crime
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort , from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Jonah Hill , Margot Robbie , Matthew McConaughey
Votes: 1,441,779 | Gross: $116.90M
5. Easy Rider (1969)
R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama
Two bikers head from L.A. to New Orleans through the open country and desert lands, and along the way they meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap of which they had been unaware.
Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Peter Fonda , Dennis Hopper , Jack Nicholson , Antonio Mendoza
Votes: 112,398 | Gross: $41.73M
LSD & Weed
6. Trainspotting (1996)
R | 93 min | Drama
Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.
Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Ewan McGregor , Ewen Bremner , Jonny Lee Miller , Kevin McKidd
Votes: 695,793 | Gross: $16.50M
7. Magnolia (1999)
R | 188 min | Drama
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Tom Cruise , Jason Robards , Julianne Moore , Philip Seymour Hoffman
Votes: 317,338 | Gross: $22.46M
8. 21 Grams (2003)
R | 124 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Sean Penn , Benicio Del Toro , Naomi Watts , Danny Huston
Votes: 240,222 | Gross: $16.29M
9. Eastern Promises (2007)
R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A teenager who dies during childbirth leaves clues in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family.
Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Naomi Watts , Viggo Mortensen , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Josef Altin
Votes: 248,384 | Gross: $17.11M
10. 25th Hour (2002)
R | 135 min | Drama
Cornered by the DEA, convicted New York drug dealer Montgomery Brogan reevaluates his life in the 24 remaining hours before facing a seven-year jail term.
Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Edward Norton , Barry Pepper , Philip Seymour Hoffman , Rosario Dawson
Votes: 180,967 | Gross: $13.06M
11. Pain and Glory (2019)
R | 113 min | Drama
A film director reflects on the choices he's made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.
Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Stars: Antonio Banderas , Asier Etxeandia , Leonardo Sbaraglia , Nora Navas
12. Scarface (1983)
R | 170 min | Crime, Drama
In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.
Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Al Pacino , Michelle Pfeiffer , Steven Bauer , Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Votes: 855,613 | Gross: $45.60M
13. City of God (2002)
R | 130 min | Crime, Drama
In the slums of Rio, two kids' paths diverge as one struggles to become a photographer and the other a kingpin.
Directors: Fernando Meirelles , Kátia Lund | Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues , Leandro Firmino , Matheus Nachtergaele , Phellipe Haagensen
Votes: 764,850 | Gross: $7.56M
14. Moonlight (I) (2016)
R | 111 min | Drama
A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.
Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: Mahershala Ali , Naomie Harris , Trevante Rhodes , Alex R. Hibbert
Votes: 314,910 | Gross: $27.85M
15. Beautiful Boy (I) (2018)
R | 120 min | Biography, Drama
Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
Director: Felix van Groeningen | Stars: Steve Carell , Maura Tierney , Jack Dylan Grazer , Oakley Bull
Votes: 83,678 | Gross: $7.65M
Ecstasy & Amphetamines
16. Christiane F. (1981)
R | 138 min | Biography, Drama
A teen girl in 1970s Berlin becomes addicted to heroin. Everything in her life slowly begins to distort and disappear as she befriends a small crew of junkies and falls in love with a drug-abusing male prostitute.
Director: Uli Edel | Stars: Natja Brunckhorst , Eberhard Auriga , Peggy Bussieck , Lothar Chamski
17. Traffic (2000)
R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.
Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Michael Douglas , Benicio Del Toro , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Jacob Vargas
Votes: 210,745 | Gross: $124.12M
Crack Cocaine & Other Substances
18. American Gangster (2007)
R | 157 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.
Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington , Russell Crowe , Chiwetel Ejiofor , Josh Brolin
Votes: 433,011 | Gross: $130.16M
19. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
R | 130 min | Biography, Drama
The story of controversial pornography publisher Larry Flynt, and how he became a defender of free speech.
Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Woody Harrelson , Courtney Love , Edward Norton , Brett Harrelson
Votes: 97,135 | Gross: $20.19M
Prescription Drugs & Other Substances
20. Dope (2015)
R | 103 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime
Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa | Stars: Shameik Moore , Tony Revolori , Kiersey Clemons , Kimberly Elise
Votes: 87,005 | Gross: $17.51M
Ecstacy & Other Substances
21. Blow (2001)
R | 124 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of how George Jung , along with the Medellín Cartel headed by Pablo Escobar , established the American cocaine market in the 1970s in the United States.
Director: Ted Demme | Stars: Johnny Depp , Penélope Cruz , Franka Potente , Rachel Griffiths
Votes: 265,021 | Gross: $52.99M
22. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
R | 102 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
A teenager finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star threatened after he free falls into the harrowing world of drug addiction.
Director: Scott Kalvert | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Lorraine Bracco , Marilyn Sokol , James Madio
Votes: 114,554 | Gross: $2.42M
23. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
R | 118 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama
An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.
Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Johnny Depp , Benicio Del Toro , Tobey Maguire , Michael Lee Gogin
Votes: 288,948 | Gross: $10.68M
LSD & Other Substances
24. The French Connection (1971)
R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A pair of NYPD detectives in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a heroin smuggling ring based in Marseilles, but stopping them and capturing their leaders proves an elusive goal.
Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Gene Hackman , Roy Scheider , Fernando Rey , Tony Lo Bianco
Votes: 126,216 | Gross: $15.63M
25. Half Nelson (2006)
R | 106 min | Drama
An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.
Director: Ryan Fleck | Stars: Ryan Gosling , Anthony Mackie , Shareeka Epps , Jeff Lima
Votes: 88,692 | Gross: $2.69M
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20 best movies about drugs
The only way is up.
Movies about drugs feature highs, lows, hallucinations and more. What should be a regular road trip suddenly becomes a pumped up thrill ride. What should be a boring high school is secretly full of the wildest twists and turns. What should be... Well, you see where we're going with this.
Many a movie has been made about the harsh realities of drug taking, but there are also a few light-hearted films, which see the protagonist ride off into the sunset on their joint smoking journey. Drug-fuelled films can be fun or frightening, scary or silly. Either way, add some pills, marijuana or narcotics and you have the recipe for some seriously addictive viewing. Here's 20 of the best drug-related movies to give you a legal high.
20. Blow (2001)
Blow is the dramatic true depiction of American cocaine smuggler George Jung, played by Hollywood A-lister Johnny Depp. Jung's marijuana dealings landed him in prison but soon after his release, he started trafficking cocaine from Colombia into the United States. Depp's Jung is a suave son of a bitch who gets the goods and the girls, but eventually meets his incarcerated fate. Its hard not to like his villain of the piece.
19. Candy (2006)
The late Heath Ledger and fellow Aussie Abbie Cornish star in this intoxicating tale of addiction and love. Split into three acts, the film documents the couples affair, as they experience the ecstasy of drugs and the agony that follows, including a tragic miscarriage. Writer and director Neil Armfield suggests that loving someone under the influence is a concoction for disaster, so if you're a fan of doomed romances give this one a whirl.
18. Pusher (1996)
Drives Nicolas Winding Refn directs this Danish thriller about a desperate drug dealers disastrous attempts to drum up the cash he owes his bosses. Hannibals Mads Mikkelsen plays second fiddle to Kim Bodnia as his sidekick in the drug deal gone wrong. Winding Refn's ruthless style of film-making is a suitable fit with the subject matter, which is engrossing from start to finish.
17. Human Traffic (1999)
Stocked with familiar UK talent, including now soap star and former B-movie maestro Danny Dyer, Human Traffic is a raucous ride on the wild side. Narrated by John Simms, the audience is invited into the small world of five ravers who embark on a pill popping bender in Cardiff for the weekend. This cuss-filled comedy is part of a series of in-your-face films by the likes of Guy Ritchie and Danny Boyle, which have become a genre in their own right.
16. The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
This is the sobering story of a young woman who falls in love with a deadbeat drug dealer, who is living New York's infamous 'Needle Park'. In his second outing, Al Pacino shows early signs of brilliance in a hard-hitting role that would ready him for his iconic part in The Godfather . Director Jerry Schatzberg's documentary style of filming gives audiences a sense of gritty realism which, combined with its stellar performances, make this movie a must-see.
15. Maria Full of Grace (2004)
When a 17-year-old Colombian pregnant girl finds herself penniless, she signs up as a mule to smuggle drugs into the United States. Maria lvarez swallows a large packet of pills in exchange for money knowing that the merchandise could burst inside her at any second. With both her and the baby's lives on the line the stakes are extremely high and the situation is intense. If you can handle the pressure then this nailbiter is the one for you.
14. Enter the Void (2009)
Enter the Void is a voyeuristic spectacle in which an American drug dealer observes a series of events after his death. After being shot by police in Tokyo, Oscar has an out of body experience, hovering on the edge of reality, spinning uncontrollably into several settings; one of which includes a psychedelic vagina. Gaspar Nos visually seductive story is enthralling to watch and just when you think things couldn't get any stranger, they take an even weirder turn.
13. Christiane F. (1981)
This is the unravelling and unnerving true story of a German actress and musician who became hooked on heroin at a very young age. Christiane Vera Felscherinow's traumatic childhood - which consisted of abuse, drug addiction and prostitution - was documented in an autobiographical book and later in a movie starring Natja Brunckhorst. Accompanied by a David Bowie soundtrack, this low budget film leaves no needle unturned with its shocking sights.
12. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Director Terry Gilliam's psychedelic adaptation of the novel by Hunter S. Thompson is a mind-altering journey, that will leave you feeling bewildered and bemused. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro jump in a convertible and make their way across the Nevada desert to Las Vegas, picking up a stranger and some very bad habits along the way. Gilliams trademark off the wall weirdness perfectly complements Depp and Del Toros loud and unleashed performances.
11. Easy Rider (1969)
Easy Rider is a road trippin ride that follows Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as they journey across the States, with some serious cash in their back pocket from a drug smuggle across the Mexican border. The pair are later given a helping hand by Jack Nicholson who joins them on their half-baked bike ride to New Orleans. Hopper, who also directed the picture, decided to include shots of real drugs to give the film a dose of authenticity.
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The 10 Best Movies About Drug Addiction
Drug addiction destroys not only the lives of those unfortunate enough to fall on its clutches: it also makes the person’s entire world and everyone who has ever loved them fall apart, as they see them become a shadow of their former selves. As hedonistic impulses become more and more frequent, these films remind us that there’s no glamour to be found in self-destructing habits. In this list, we’ll take a look at the 10 best movies about drug addiction and its consequences.
Here are the best movies about drug addiction
10. scarface (1983).
The story of Tony Montana’s rise and fall from grace serves as a great cautionary tale about the corrupting forces of the drug economy. Although the movie glazes a bit over the effects drugs have on the addicts, the plot about Tony’s sister, Gina, exhibits the usual dangers of a life of debauchery and illegal substances.
Directed by Brian De Palma, Al Pacino plays Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who tries to live the American Dream, but only finds drug-induced nightmares in 80s Miami. Scarface is definitely one of the best crime films ever made – and maybe that’s the reason why Montana (a drug dealer and drug user) is Pacino’s favourite character of his career.
9. Sid and Nancy (1986)
In 1969, a LIFE Magazine article claimed that “sex, drugs and rock” were the three sacraments of the emerging counterculture movements. Sid and Nancy is based on the tragic real-life story of the bassist of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, and his American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.
Although the movie tries its best to represent the relationship of Vicious and Spungen, and the crippling drug addiction that destroyed their lives, just as it happened, some acquaintances (including Sex Pistols’ vocalist John Lydon) have disputed some elements of the film ass being mere fiction. That said, Sid and Nancy remains a solid portrayal of the tragedy that drug addiction can cause to people, especially those young and impressionable.
8. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
A young Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this 1995 film about an aspiring teenage basketball player who sees his life spiral out of control as he becomes addicted to drugs. The movie is based on the autobiographical novel by Jim Carroll, and how his struggles with heroin almost cost him his life.
DiCaprio had an on-set coach teach him how to talk and act like a junkie. The Basketball Diaries is a dark and sometimes depressing trip that highlights the dangers of addiction. Fortunately, both the movie and the real-life Jim Carroll got a happy ending, leaving their drug-riddled past way behind them.
7. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
A psychedelic trip directed by Terry Gilliam, the unbridled energy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas might not be to everyone’s liking, but there’s no denying that Johnny Depp’s amazing performance as Raoul Duke remains one of the most emblematic character moments of the 90s.
The film is an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name – which is, in turn, a fictionalized retelling of Thompson’s own experiences in Las Vegas. A trippy exploration of Las Vegas seen through the eyes of an addict, Fear and Loathing is one unforgettable trip the kind that only Terry Gilliam can direct.
This Oscar-winning film deserves a place on any “best movies about drug addiction” list.
6. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982)
One of the most iconic rock operas ever made chronicles the disastrous life and eventual destruction of a rock star. The main character is based on Roger Waters, the lead member of Pink Floyd, and Syd Barrett, who had a very troubled life and had left the band some years prior.
Throughout the film, we see Pink (played by Bob Geldof) as he falls into a sense of disconnection from the rest of the world thanks to a mix of trauma and substance abuse. It goes without saying, but the soundtrack is amazing, too.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
What could be considered Scorsese’s rawest film, The Wolf of Wall Street chronicles the life and excesses of Jordan Belfort. Set in the unforgiving world of 80s stockbrokers, the movie shows us the relentless nature of Wall Street brokers, and how easy fortunes are made and lost in the business.
The movie received some criticism upon release due to its graphic nature, especially when it comes to drug use. Being the 80s, most characters are shown inhaling “cocaine,” which was made using crushed vitamin B pills for the actors to snort. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an entirely safe solution, as Jonah Hill would end up getting bronchitis after the copious amounts of pills he had to inhale.
4. Flight (2012)
Loosely based on the tragic events of the real-life Alaska Airlines flight 261, Flight stars Denzel Washington as a troubled hero airline pilot that manages to save most of the passengers on a flight on a malfunctioning plane. The only problem is that the investigation of the accident revealed that the pilot had a substance use disorder , a crushing cocaine addiction and was under the effects of drugs and alcohol when he almost crashed the plane.
Flight was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who is also a pilot. A poignant and well-crafted drama, the movie contains an uplifting message of addiction recovery , rehabilitation and self-improvement, and Washington’s performance drives home the point even better. It’s considered one of the best movies about drug addiction and alcohol addiction .
3. Trainspotting (1996)
You can’t have a discussion about the best movies about drug addiction (or addiction movies in general) without Danny Boyle ‘s Trainspotting entering the conversation.
A British black comedy unlike anything you’ve ever seen, Trainspotting offers a unique look into the Edinburgh drug scene of the 90s. The movie follows Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor): a 26 years old heroin addict that hasn’t made anything worthwhile with his life so far.
Tired of the destructive allure of substance addiction , Renton tries repeatedly to go clean, but it seems like kicking the habit might be even more difficult than he thinks. Ewan McGregor went the extra mile to prepare for his character: he met with recovering addicts in Glasgow and learned how to prepare heroin in a spoon for the role. The actor went as far as to think about using actual heroin to understand the effects better but thankfully decided against it.
2. Blow (2001)
Starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, Blow is based on the real-life story of George Jung: the man that established the Medellin Cartel in America. The movie details the dealings of the Cartel in America, and how the cocaine craze of the 80s led to the emergence and position of Pablo Escobar as one of the richest men in the world.
This is the final movie that director Ted Demme ever made: the filmmaker would die less than a year after Blow’ s release while he was playing basketball. In a sad twist of fate, Demme’s toxicology report revealed that the director had traces of cocaine in his system at the time of his death.
1. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Whenever anyone talks of traumatizing movies that feature drug abuse as part of its main plot, everyone thinks of 2000’s Requiem for a Dream . An extremely disturbing movie that shows the disastrous results of wasting one’s life on drugs and excesses (whether that’s heroin addiction , sex addiction or addiction to prescription drugs ).
Requiem for a Dream follows the lives of four residents of Coney Island (Jared Leto’s Harry Goldfarb, Jennifer Connelly ‘s Marion Silver, Ellen Burstyn’s Sara Goldfarb and Marlon Wayans ‘ Tyrone C. Love) and how their lives have been irredeemably damaged by drugs. The visual presentation of the movie is intentionally hectic to make the audience feel as anxious and lost as the film’s protagonists.
As disturbing as it is impressive, Requiem for a Dream can be a bit too harsh for some people to enjoy, but that’s exactly what director Darren Aronofsky was going for with such an extreme film. A strong warning to the audience, Requiem for a Dream is definitely of the best movies about drug addiction, and mental health too.
Honourable Mentions: Beautiful Boy (Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell), Clean and Sober (Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman).
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15 drug themed movies to watch if you loved blow.
From the gritty classics to underrated gems, these are the best movies about addiction and drugs that Blow fans will love.
Drugs are prominently featured throughout all aspects of pop culture, whether it's through a rap song, a sordid novel, or displayed through our screens, and continue to fascinate our society. With the breakout success of TV shows like Breaking Bad (2008) and Narcos (2015), the representation of drugs throughout media proceeds to soar.
RELATED: 15 Stars Who Destroyed Their Careers With Drugs
The widely-beloved drama Blow (2001) will make any list of drug-related movies, gathering the inspiration for today's exploration. Here are the best drug-related movies to watch if you appreciated Blow .
Updated on December 6th, 2020 by Mark Birrell: Though given middling reviews from critics on release, and even contributing to Penelope Cruz's Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress, Ted Demme's Blow is a very highly-rated movie amongst fans of both star Johnny Depp's overall body of work and movies about the drug trade in general. Taking into account the movie's only increased popularity over time, we've increased the number of our recommendations to 15 to better help those fans looking for similar stories.
American Made (2017)
Based on the story of pilot Barry Seal, who became heavily involved in the smuggling of cocaine from South America into the United States during the 1980s, this thriller stars Tom Cruise as Seal and delves more deeply into the mechanics of the drug trade, particularly the CIA's involvement with the Medellin Cartel and the Nicaraguan Contras.
American Made handles a lot of the same subject matter as Blow and in the same time periods, only from a different perspective, and Cruise is more than enough star power to satisfy fans of Johnny Depp's compelling performance as George Jung.
Mr. Nice (2010)
Another adaptation of a true story from a larger-than-life dealer figure within the drug trade during the turbulence of the 70s and 80s, Mr. Nice dramatizes the life of Howard Marks within the illegal drugs trade, specifically the dealing of marijuana.
In a sense Marks' story is an alternate version of Jung's within Blow , showing what may have been in another place in the world if Jung had stuck to his original business of smuggling marijuana, though Marks has more than his fair share of run-ins with the law throughout his story.
A much more generally upbeat movie about young people trying to survive the drugs trade, and not based directly on real-life figures in any way, Dope is more in the vein of John Hughes than it is Martin Scorsese but will definitely appeal to fans of Blow 's wildest moments.
The story follows an ambitious teenager in Inglewood, California who becomes roped into an ordeal involving misplaced MDMA and is taken on a coming-of-age journey as he attempts to stay one step ahead of things.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
A retelling of the heyday of Jordan Belfort, an unscrupulous Wall Street mogul famous for making as much money as he could through whatever loophole he could find, The Wolf of Wall Street is about the real drug at the center of Blow (money) but also defines Belfort by his addictions to various other substances, particularly quaaludes.
Leonardo DiCaprio 's lead performance is outstanding as is the supporting work of Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie , in particular, but its director Martin Scorsese's signature style that's the real selling point of the movie. It makes The Wolf of Wall Street one of the few true successors to Scorsese's crime masterpiece Goodfellas , which Blow so clearly emulates throughout.
Party Monster (2003)
Based on a true story, Macaulay Culkin portrays convicted murderer Michael Alig, a pioneer of the New York City rave scene that popped up during the late 1980s. Alig also created the 'Club Kids'-- a sensational group of young party-goers who took the country by a storm after making appearances on daytime talk shows like The Phil Donahue Show. The group also prominently featured James St. James, portrayed by Seth Green in this 2003 cult classic.
Party Monster chronicles the rise and fall of Alig, beginning with his failed attempts at throwing parties, and ending with his arrest for the killing and dismemberment of his roommate and drug dealer, fellow 'Club Kids' member Andre "Angel" Melendez, after Alig recklessly joked about the murder during one of his TV appearances. The movie features heavy drug usage and is one of the only films to mention ketamine, a dissociative tranquilizer popular amongst rave culture.
Pineapple Express (2008)
After the wildly popular success of his roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Knocked Up (2007), Seth Rogen teams up with Judd Apatow and Adam Goldberg to write this hilarious stoner comedy, which became an instant cult-classic just through watching its trailer! Pineapple Express features process server Dale Denton (Rogen), a run-of-the-mill stoner who finds himself in a pickle after witnessing a murder alongside his half-baked drug-dealer Saul (James Franco).
After the pair accidentally drop a roach of the remarkably rare marijuana strain, ' Pineapple Express ', at the murder scene, they realize the illustrious joint can be directly traced back to them, which leads to an action-packed wild goose chase as drug lord (Gary Cole) and crooked cop (Rosie Perez) stay hot on their trail. Pineapple Express is the ultimate stoner movie and the perfect representation for this list.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas features lead Johnny Depp, also the main star in Blow (2001), the inspiration for this list! Irreverant sports journalist Raoul Duke (Depp) and his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) traverse the Mojave desert in a red convertible to cover a motorcycle race in Las Vegas.
After spending his advance on a suitcase of drugs, Duke and his attorney spiral out of control through multiple drug binges during their psychedelic pursuit of finding the 'American Dream', with police, hitchhikers, gamblers, and other zany characters detouring their final destination. The film features a plethora of drugs, with a focus on psychedelics like LSD and mescaline.
This disturbing indie-film provided Evan Rachel Wood with her breakout role as Tracy Freeland, the goody-two-shoes honor student who ingratiates herself with the wrong crowd. Influenced by her popular and promiscuous classmate, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), Tracy ditches her innocent best friend (Vanessa Hudgens) and protests the help or advice of her mother (Holly Hunter).
RELATED: Narcos: 10 Real-Life Stories About The Illegal Drug Trade That Could Work As A Narcos Spin-Off
Following Evie's lead, Tracy begins to steal, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual practices. At just thirteen years old, viewers were particularly disturbed with the opening scene, featuring Tracy and Evie huffing Dust-Off and punching each other in the face after being numbed from the drug. Nikki Reed co-wrote the movie at fifteen, building off her own encounters and misdirections.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Following the lives of four intertwined drug-addicts, Requiem For a Dream emphasizes a no-holds-barred approach and features some truly disturbing scenes. Retired widow Sarah Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) lives a delusional, dreary existence as she wastes her days watching a daytime talk show, slowly becoming reliant upon her diet pills. Her son, Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) becomes increasingly addicted to heroin alongside his drug accomplice Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) and girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly).
As the movie switches narrative between the four different addicts, their situations become darker and darker, leading to the eventual lobotomy Mrs. Goldfarb receives after being committed to a mental institution, and the sexual depravity revealed through Marion's desperate attempts to earn drug money. Though it's incredibly depressing, Requiem For a Dream does an excellent job paralleling illicit drugs to prescription drugs, revealing their eerily similar outcomes.
One of the most popular heroin-based films, Trainspotting (originating from the self-titled book by author Irvine Welsh) always makes the cut when mentioning any drug-related movies. Main character Renton (Ewan McGregor) tries to navigate himself away from the drug-addled world he knows well in Edinburgh.
Renton's attempts at sobriety prove to be more difficult than originally anticipated, influenced by his addicted friends and the perpetual fascination and calming force using drugs brings him. A gritty, unadulterated look into junkies and their careless habits, Trainspotting will always be one of the quintessential drug films.
Enter the Void (2009)
One of the less popular movies to make the cut, Enter the Void features quite a unique storyline! After being shot dead by police in the bathroom of a Tokyo nightclub, drug-dealer Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) transcends his spirit through a DMT trip, which chronicles his life-story alongside sister turned stripper (Paz de la Huerta), Linda.
RELATED: The 10 Best Movies About Real Life Organized Crime, Ranked
Exposing past grievances and traumatic situations, Oscar's adventure through "the void" gives the audience a deep dive into how this pair of siblings ended up in the underbelly of Tokyo's dark night scene, relinquishing the power he once enjoyed.
This underrated meth-centric film features a star-studded cast, including Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, and Jason Schwartzman. Set over a three-day span in the life of drug user Ross (Schwartzman), Spun focuses on very realistic details, bringing meth mentality and overt paranoia to life. Ross meets fellow druggie Nikki (Murphy) through his dealer, Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), who promises a better score through "The Cook" (Rourke), Nikki's meth-chemist boyfriend.
Spun features some more-than-abrasive scenes involving an ultra-realistic drug psychosis, duct-taping the mouth of a stripper shut as she's handcuffed (and subsequently forgotten for the entire three days) to Ross' bed, and Mena Suvari's portrayal of Cookie, Spider Mike's demented girlfriend.
Another cult-classic written by Harmony Korine, known for Spring Breakers (2012) and Gummo (1997), the movie Kids is frequently mentioned as a cautionary tale. Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson both made their film debut in Kids, which launched them into further successes. The film highlights a day in the life of teenage skateboarders in New York City, as they smoke, bash in the skull of a rival skater, and de-flower virgins.
Though the movie is best known for its HIV-positive outcome, Kids also exhibits drug usage, particularly when Chloë Sevigny's character Jennie takes a random pill from a raver who says the mysterious drug will "make Special K look weak." Kids was controversially given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, which was later surrendered .
Fans of the novel Flowers for Algernon will love Limitless . After struggling writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) takes an ambiguous, seemingly cure-all pill 'NZT ', which enables 100% of the user's brain capacity, he finds himself losing control and needing more of the power-drug to live up to his newfound potential.
Through a continuous downward spiral and complete misdirection from Eddie's original intent, Limitless explores the concept that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
This Keanu Reeves movie features interpolated rotoscope, an animation technique where animators trace over live-action footage, an unusual style adding to the occultism of A Scanner Darkly .
Living in a dystopian, totalitarian society that's lost the war on drugs, undercover agent Bob Arctor (Reeves) begins to take 'Substance D', the crippling new hallucinogen and loses touch with reality.
NEXT: 10 Most Dangerous Fake Drugs in Movies
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10 Movies About Drug Addiction
- Requiem For A Dream
- Beautiful Boy
- A Star Is Born
- The Basketball Diaries
- Drugstore Cowboy
- Less Than Zero
In today’s world where streaming content online is the norm, chances are you’ve come across a film or two that has a story involving drug or alcohol addiction.
Addiction movies, whether you’ve suffered from substance abuse yourself or know firsthand the troubles that come with addiction, allow you to more deeply understand this chronic disease.
Many of the films on this list tell a true story that are likely to touch the lives of anyone who’s ever had to deal with alcohol or drug abuse.
Here are ten movies about addiction:
1. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
If you’re interested in a film that deals heavily with many types of drug addictions, as well as the sometimes horrifying consequences, Requiem for a Dream is an excellent choice.
Starring Ellen Burstyn and Jared Leto, this movie shows multiple characters battling various substance use disorders, from prescription amphetamine to heroin . It also shows how substance abuse can lead to mental health problems.
2. Beautiful Boy (2018)
Addiction can touch a life at any age and Beautiful Boy is a perfect example.
Touching on overdose and addiction, the movie follows a man (Steve Carell) and his son (Timothy Chalamet) as they navigate their personal relationship.
The son is addicted to multiple substances including methamphetamine . Despite this, the son continues to seek addiction recovery. This film is based on two books written by the real-life father and son.
3. Gia (1989)
Gia is based on the true story of Gia Carangi, known as the first supermodel. The movie follows Gia (Angeline Jolie) as she shoots up heroin and struggles with addiction. Linda (Elizabeth Mitchell) is Gia’s lover in the film.
Gia teaches an important real-life lesson about how far addiction can go and how the drug of choice can surpass the importance of a loved one in the eyes of the person with addiction.
4. Flight (2012)
Denzel Washington stars in Flight , a film about an airline pilot who is investigated following an airplane crash.
The investigation reveals that the pilot was mixing alcohol with cocaine . This film exposes the pilot’s lifelong concealment of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the stigma that comes with addiction.
5. A Star Is Born (2018)
Throughout the Hollywood years, there have been numerous versions of A Star is Born . The story follows a man struggling with alcohol abuse .
The latest version, starring Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga, is told through the lens of a famous country singer. The film shows that alcohol abuse can have devastating consequences for anyone, even those who live an extravagant lifestyle.
6. Trainspotting (1996)
Trainspotting follows Renton (Ewan McGregor) as he navigates the world of drugs in the streets of Edinburgh. As he tries to become clean and sober, he finds that overcoming addiction is far more difficult that he realized.
7. The Basketball Diaries (1995)
The Basketball Diaries follows a high school basketball player (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he struggles with heroin addiction. As he spirals out of control, his dreams of playing professional basketball begin to unravel.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Jim Carrol. The author recounts his real-life struggle with heroin addiction as a teenager.
8. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Set in the 1970s, Drugstore Cowboy follows a group of friends as they take cocaine, morphine , amphetamines, and other drugs. A dark tale, this film sheds light on drug overdoses.
9. Less Than Zero (1987)
Less Than Zero follows a college freshman as he returns home from school. Once home, he discovers that his best friend is addicted to cocaine. This movie serves as a great example of how there are both obvious and subtle signs of addiction.
10. Drunks (1995)
In Drunks , a man attending a 12-step recovery meeting tells of his struggles with alcohol and drug use.
The interesting aspect of this film is that, in-between scenes of the man’s personal struggles with alcohol addiction, we see glimpses of the other group members’ experiences with alcohol and drugs. This interesting concept shows how addiction can affect any of us.
If you or a loved one have substance abuse issues, our addiction treatment centers can help. Our treatment programs include detox support, inpatient/outpatient care, and more. To learn more, please connect with us today.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2021 ark national holdings, llc. | all rights reserved., this page does not provide medical advice..
Internet Movie Database (IMDb) - Top 80 Alcohol/Drug Addiction Movies
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The Top 15 Drug Movies Of All Time (2021 Update)
There is something riveting about watching drug-related movies, whether it's a tale of corrupt cops looking to benefit, or an emotional and visually stunning story about addiction. They can be light-hearted, or deadly serious, but drugs are a central theme in modern cinema either way. With that being said, we think these are the best in the genre.
Are you looking for an entertaining and intriguing tale for a drug-themed movie night? Whether you're just looking for one, or enough to fill up your next two weeks, we've got you covered! Some offer laughs, others will bring you to tears, and many will have you on the edge of your seat. Either way, we think they're classics, and we're honored to introduce you to them.
- Top 15 Drug Movies
From underground cult classics to the Hollywood blockbuster, drugs have long been a recurring theme in movies. They, more or less, are part of their own unique genre. Some glamourise the effects of drugs and the lifestyle of addicts, while others don't hold back on portraying the unflattering reality. However the film is made, or whichever approach they've taken, they can be entertaining and thought-provoking. With that in mind, in no particular order, we've put together our top 15 picks of drug movies we think you should check out.
1. Waking Life
If you're looking for a trippy tale, look no further than Waking Life. This highly stylised movie centres around an unnamed protagonist who we find dealing with an existential crisis. While this sounds fairly plain at first, the story offers interesting perspectives and different philosophies on life throughout, making for a perfect substitute for those late-night high conversations.
It also boasts an engaging art style, utilizing rotoscoping to make the live-action-character appear hand-drawn. There's certainly plenty to experience visually, as well as inwardly, with Waking Life.
2. Easy Rider
Seen as one of the quintessential American movies, Easy Rider stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as Wyatt and Billy, respectively. The film tells the story of their road trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans after smuggling drugs from Mexico. The ensuing tale shows all their lows and highs (and believe us, there are plenty of highs).
From the depictions of marijuana and LSD use, to the core of the plot, drugs are the foundation of Wyatt and Billy's story. They find themselves in some tricky situations as a result, and they ensure it’s gripping from start to finish. With all that, plus a 60s soundtrack that holds up to this day, we recommend you don't miss out on Easy Rider.
3. A Scanner Darkly
From the mind of prolific science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly tells a story of America in the near future. Having lost the “war on drugs,” the movie shows both sides of drug use, as well as those that attempt to curb it.
Bob Arctor (played by Keanu Reeves) finds himself in the middle. As an undercover agent tasked with finding the supplier of a mysterious drug called “Substance D”, Arctor treads the line between his mission and dealing with being an addict himself. It’s visually impressive, too, using a similar rotoscoping technique as Waking Life. So, while we could describe it all day, A Scanner Darkly is a movie that has to be seen to be believed.
Spun is a dark comedy that focuses on a group involved in a methamphetamine drug ring. The ensuing story is a strange experience, showing the dangers of all involved, from the people responsible for making the drugs, the dealers, and those that use them.
While hard-hitting and visceral in places, there is also some quality dark humour to be found here. With a soundtrack of some of the best metal bands (there's even a cameo from Judas Priest's frontman Rob Halford), Spun offers a thrilling, non-stop cautionary tale.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
Based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street is the shocking semi-true story of excess, drugs and stockbroking in the late 1980s. With a fantastic cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie) led by legendary director Martin Scorsese, you know you're in for a great movie before it's even started.
Sit back for the 179-minute runtime and watch Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he rises from being a no-name junior stockbroker to the head of the shady Stratton Oakmont brokerage. The Wolf of Wall Street is a rise and fall story like no other; It's hilarious from start to finish, and, if you ask us, completely unforgettable.
In Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a struggling writer who is frustrated by his life. That is, of course, until he is introduced to the new drug “NZT-48," a pill that can unlock all of the hidden potential in his brain. This allows him to become “limitless” in his intelligence and ambitions. While everything seems much better for Eddie on the surface, the reality is not what it seems, and his struggles escalate beyond belief. A fascinating science fiction thriller, Limitless subverts expectations to offer a gripping and memorable experience.
If there was ever an advert to show the effects and the unglamorous lifestyle of heroin addiction, Trainspotting would be it. Based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh, this is a visceral movie that tells the story of addict Mark Renton (played by Ewan McGregor). It’s set in 1990s Edinburgh, Scotland, and follows Mark's numerous attempts to become clean.
Things are not that easy though. With some truly striking moments, Trainspotting has become one of the most popular drug movies in history.
8. Training Day
A multi-award-winning movie, Training Day follows the story of narcotics detective Alonzo Harris (played by Denzel Washington) and his task of evaluating officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke).
The result blurs the lines between law and crime, as it becomes clear Alonzo is a reckless and corrupt cop who’s heavily involved with the Russian Mafia and local street gangs. He manipulates and blackmails Jake throughout, driving him further to the edge with every moment. If you love action-packed crime stories, this is nothing short of a must-watch.
Depicting the “war” aspect of the war on drugs , Sicario is an action-packed movie that focuses on a government task force's efforts to fight Mexican drug cartels. They enlist FBI agent Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt), who learns that the government's methods are not exactly legal.
This is confirmed when they bring in the mysterious and foreboding Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). See, Alejandro has a history with the cartel and may have some ulterior motives for his involvement. As it all comes together, it offers some amazing bits of action coupled with some claustrophobic and often brutal scenes.
10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Seen by many as the ultimate drug movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by acclaimed author, Hunter S. Thompson, and directed by Terry Gilliam. The iconic story follows a road trip taken by journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo. Aided by some intense psychedelic drugs, there are some truly trippy scenes and hilarious moments to be found throughout. Thought-provoking at times, but always bizarre, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a film that demands your attention.
11. City of God
City of God is a no-holds-barred, and often brutal, story set in Rio de Janeiro. Spanning several decades, the movie shows a group of friends rising to power from their beginnings as petty street criminals. While some movies look to glamourise the use of drugs and the crime syndicates behind them, City of God shows an unflinching illustration of life in the favelas during these times. Gang warfare, police corruption and drug cartels are a consistent presence, making for a captivating viewing that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
12. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Guy Ritchie's major directorial debut, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is the quintessential British crime movie. After losing a rigged card game, Eddie must come up with £500,000 to cover his losses. He and his friends hatch a plan to try and rob their criminal neighbours after overhearing they have acquired a large quantity of cannabis.
Related article Top 15 Stoner Movies Of All Times
Of course, as you could suspect, not everything goes to plan, and there are hilarious scenes that ensue. These are also offset with some nail-biting tense moments—all making for a movie that is considered to be a true classic.
13. Pulp Fiction
After the release of Quentin Tarantino's debut, Reservoir Dogs, the world was wondering what this critically acclaimed director would do next. Just a few years later, Pulp Fiction arrived.
This is a non-linear movie that plays with your expectations of what a crime movie should be. Sharp humor is offered in spades, but there are also many unforgettably intense scenes, including an overdose depiction that perfectly captures the panic and regret of the moment. No matter what it’s discussing, the film pulls absolutely no punches.
Considering all this, it’s no wonder that university dorm rooms across the world have Pulp Fiction posters hung up on the walls.
As screenwriter Oliver Stone's “farewell love letter” to his cocaine addiction, Scarface is a remake of the 1932 movie of the same name. In case you’ve somehow missed out, the movie follows Cuban refugee Tony Montana's rise to the top.
As the film progresses, you can see his use of cocaine ultimately undermines his hunger for power and success. With plenty of on-screen violence and drug use (apparently powdered milk was used as a substitute), it all culminates in one of the wildest showdown scenes ever filmed. Scarface, as a result of the gripping subject matter and near-perfect execution, has retained its cult classic status and prestige for decades.
15. Requiem for a Dream
Requiem for a Dream is an unwavering look at addiction and the circumstances that surround it. Each character has unique personalities, aspirations, and dreams, making their harrowing story of heroin dependency and downward spiraling far more potent.
Depicting incarceration, prostitution, and everything in between, it’s clear the director and writers refused to hold back in presenting the subject matter. With an impressive cast (including Jared Leto), Requiem for a Dream is seen as one of the most depressing yet thought-provoking movies ever made.
- Best Cannabis Strains to Smoke While Watching Movies
So now you know what to watch, but now you’re probably wondering what to smoke during the movie. Keeping that in mind, we've put together a short guide that will show you which one to pick for each genre . It’s all subjective, of course, but we think these specific pairings are worth your consideration.
Girl Scout Cookies
If you're looking for a full-body, cerebral high that will complement any movie night, look no further than Girl Scout Cookies . There's no need to stock up on sweet treats and popcorn, as this strain features earthy sweet flavors and aromas that’ll offer pure bliss.
Coupled with an average of 23% THC, this indica-dominant strain will offer a relaxing high that won't put you to sleep. So you can sit back, sink into your chair and enjoy the movie. Sounds like a perfect combination to us.
Seen as one of the most famous strains around, we couldn't make this list without White Widow . This sativa/indica hybrid strain comes highly recommended from us, along with all those that try her. With a refreshing pine and citrus flavour and aroma, along with an average THC content of 18%, White Widow offers a delicious and soothing experience.
But take it easy with her! Despite the sub-20% THC content, she can pack a punch that can knock you out if you aren’t careful. Just take a few hits and make sure you’re awake for the end of the movie!
Not just beautiful to look at, Purple Kush is an indica-dominant strain with effects that’re just as striking as her looks.
Starting with her subtle, sweet and herbal aroma and flavours, she is sure to put a smile on your face. That smile will only grow wider as you feel the full soothing sensation of her 22% THC nugs. All that goodness is wrapped together in each powerful hit, perfect for indulging while you put your favourite movie on.
Dim the lights, light up your favourite flower, and enjoy your movie night!
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Table of contents
The Most Devastating Films About Substance Use
These films present substance use disorder (SUD) in stark, painful, but artistic ways that reveal the often devastating effects of drugs.
Whether we like it or not, drugs are a part of everyday life in most of the world. The drug trade can make one rich beyond one’s wildest dreams, but also places the drug users and dealers in great physical jeopardy and can ruin lives. It should be no surprise that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of films dealing with drug and alcohol use. While some films like D azed and Confused , Friday, and most of Seth Rogen’s work glorifies casual drug use, the films in this list all show the darker, deadlier side of drug dealing and drug abuse . Terms like 'addict' and 'addiction' are now considered to be stigmatizing and discriminative (and have been replaced with de-stigmatizing language like 'substance use disorder'); no matter the language, however, these are the most powerful and devastating films about drug use.
11 Last Days Here
Last Days Here is a documentary about the 1970s metal band Pentagram . The documentary focuses on the desperate life of the band’s disturbed singer, Bobby Liebling, who is a crack and heroin user who lives in his parents’ sub-basement and relies on them to get through the day. Heroin releases histamines which causes the skin to itch, and cocaine abuse can cause users to believe they are crawling with bugs that are hiding under the skin. Because of this, the lead singer is constantly scratching himself, digging holes in his skin, in a frantic search for non-existent bugs.
The documentary’s big reveal comes when he rolls his sleeve up, and we see that he has dug a gigantic hole in his arm big enough to fit a fist into. It is utterly disgusting and a total tragedy, stronger than any PSA. Although he is known to some as a rock and roll star , we learn the truth, that he is a sad person who lives with and depends on his parents, and who causes disgusting harm to his body due to his substance use disorder (SUD), which eventually kills his career and is the reason that Pentagram are not a very well known band, despite a great metal sound. A nasty documentary about the tragedy of hard drug abuse.
10 Killing Zoe
Killing Zoe is a drugged-out bank robbery film starring Eric Stoltz (the heroin dealer in Pulp Fiction ) that takes place in France. Stoltz is lured to Paris where he hangs out with his SUD pals as they plan a robbery - but this is like no bank robbery in film history. The lead bank robber, played by Jean-Hughes Anglade, is dying from AIDS and has no intention of actually stealing any money. He just wants to go out with a bang, killing as many people as possible.
In an astounding scene, in the middle of a bloody, deadly bank robbery, Anglade takes a bathroom break, so he can inject himself with heroin. At this point we can figure out that the bank robbery was never meant to succeed. Stoltz finds his loyalty questioned as he must decide what to do when he realizes the robbery is just an excuse for a massacre, and that he has had sexual relations with Zoe (Julie Delpy), a prostitute who works at the bank he is robbing. Written and directed by Roger Avary, who won an Oscar for co-writing Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino.
9 Enter the Void
Enter the Void is an extremely controversial French film from renegade director Gaspar Noe ( Irreversible , I Stand Alone ). Drugs used, shown and discussed in this film include pills, alcohol, LSD, DMT, cocaine, GHB, marijuana, ice, heroin, and more. Featuring bright flashing lights and a hyperkinetic, psychedelic style, the film is nearly seizure-inducing and attempts to be a perfect representation of an acid trip. Besides drugs and murder, the art film is a provocation that deals with a whole host of adult themes like abortion, sexuality, incest, infidelity, conception, car accidents, and stripping. It's not for the faint of heart.
The camerawork is brilliant, and most of the shots are filmed from either high up or right behind the head of protagonist Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), so that he stars in the film, yet we rarely see his face; this is meant to mimic an out-of-body experience. The film takes place in Tokyo, primarily on the street, in sex clubs, and at the apartments of drug dealers. Like most Noe films, there is a nihilistic feel to Enter the Void that is a powerful warning against the dangers of an illegal drug lifestyle, which can lead to devastation, death, and sexual exploitation. Everything about this film is avant-garde and stunningly original, and it is a mesmerizing and hallucinatory masterpiece.
8 The Falcon and The Snowman
The Falcon and The Snowman is the true story of a high-level military contractor with access to national security matters, and his partner with SUD who sells secrets to the Soviet Union. Sean Penn plays Timothy Hutton's sleazy partner, whose heroin use spirals out of control; when Hutton catches Penn snorting it, Penn lies, arguing that he's ‘just using cocaine.' It's pretty bad when your cover-up lie is still an illegal activity.
Things get disastrous for the two when they visit the Russian embassy in Mexico, where Penn tries to make a heroin deal with scary KGB agents who don’t take too well to Penn and his addiction. As is the case of many drug films, users lose control and clear heads, forcing them to make terrible and dangerous decisions. The Falcon and The Snowman is one of Penn’s best performances as a fast-talking criminal with SUD.
Related: These Are Sean Penn's Best Movies, Ranked
Scarface , written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian De Palma, is the ultimate cocaine movie. It is a remake of the classic 1932 gangster film of the same name, but couldn't be any more different. At first glance the film seems to glorify the cocaine trade, but a closer watch reveals the devastation caused by drug use. Al Pacino plays Tony Montana, a criminal psychopath from Cuba, who works his way up the drug dealing world until he has a massive cocaine empire. Pacino’s epic performance as a small-time criminal who moves to the top of the drug world and gets increasingly hooked on cocaine is simply impossible to ignore. Pacino doesn’t play Tony Montana as much as he transforms himself into the character.
Tony Montana makes the enormous mistake of breaking the one key rule for high level drug dealers, which is ‘don’t get high on your own supply.’ In one infamous scene, he snorts from a mountain of cocaine the size of a watermelon. His massive cocaine use totally alters his judgment and drives him mad with rage and jealousy, killing those closest to him, and making fatal mistakes. Ironically, it's a nearly canonical film for gangsters everywhere, despite depicting the epic downfall and destruction of its antihero . One wonders if director Luca Guadagnino will do the same in his upcoming remake .
6 The Salton Sea
In The Salton Sea , a terrifying portrayal of crystal meth, Val Kilmer plays an undercover agent infiltrating the crystal meth community, trying to solve a personal tragedy. The real stand out in the film, though, is Vincent D’Onofrio, who is absolutely terrifying as he re-enacts the assassination of JFK with pigeons and engages in other bizarre activities after injecting crystal meth. A man who has a fake nose because he destroyed it from snorting too much meth, and looks and sounds terrifying, this is one of the actor’s best roles.
5 Carlito’s Way
In this follow up to Scarface , director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino again team up for another story dealing with cocaine, Carlito's Way . Unlike in Scarface , Pacino is not the person with a dangerous SUD with cocaine. Instead, it is his lawyer, Sean Penn (again), who has a cocaine habit that degenerates to the point that he becomes a dangerous and unstable individual, committing violent acts and ultimately losing out because of terrible, cocaine-influenced decisions he chooses which make him a liability. Sean Penn’s transformation to a cocaine addict is brilliantly done.
Related: Ridley Scott's Gucci Movie Lines Up A-List Cast with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and More
4 A Scanner Darkly
Keanu Reeves stars in A Scanner Darkly , based on the infamous book by Philip K Dick, whose visionary stories were the basis for films like Minority Report , Blade Runner and the series The Man in the High Castle . Reeves plays an undercover cop taking Substance D (D is for Death), a drug that is taking over future America. In addition to having a SUD, he is also unknowingly tracking himself in his own police investigation. Substance D causes a split in the user’s brain so that one man can literally be following himself and his own actions without knowing it. His wild friends (including a brilliantly manic Robert Downey Jr. and a fun Woody Harrelson) are all also deep into using Substance D, with Rory Cochrane seeing bugs everywhere, especially in his own body and hair. It's a brilliant film that uses rotoscoping to solidify its hallucinogenic visuals.
3 Drugstore Cowboy
Matt Dillon leads a small group of drug users who resort to stealing from pharmacies to get powerful painkillers in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy . Dillon’s girlfriend (Kelly Lynch) is sexually unsatisfied because his opiate use has killed his libido and made him essentially asexual. Things get worse for the group, and at one point they rent a hotel room in a hotel full of police who were there for a major conference. This terrifies the gang, who escape into a series of adventures and meet a mix of odd characters along the way, the most memorable being a cameo by the famous writer and heroin user William S Burroughs. Things start going south for Matt Dillon and his crew after a drug tragedy strikes, and he tries to get clean. Drugstore Cowboy is a gritty and realistic look at the lives of a group of criminals with SUD in the 1970s.
The fact that Bug is about crystal meth and amphetamine psychosis is heavily down-played and subtle, and is hidden beneath metaphors and imagery. We only really learn that the two characters, played incredibly by Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, are smoking crystal meth when a mysterious man enters their bizarre hotel room and takes a hit from a meth pipe, explaining to Judd that Shannon is a mental patient. Their mental health condition as a result of their use of speed leads them to sink deeper and deeper into paranoid psychosis, imaginary bugs infecting them and infesting their world as a result. The ending is one of the most disturbing, surprising, devastating, and unforgettable scenes in film history. Bug is a brilliant movie about psychosis and paranoia from a late-career William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist and The French Connection .
1 The French Connection II
The French Connection II is unlike any other drug film because the user gets involuntarily addicted to heroin as revenge. American cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) travels to France to hunt down a heroin dealer, Fernando Rey, in this gritty film from John Frankenheimer ( The Manchurian Candidate ). He is abducted by a drug gang and imprisoned, and they start injecting him with heroin on a regular basis. At first, he fights it, but as time goes on he develops a SUD, eagerly awaiting his next fix. The transformation is an incredibly powerful indictment of the addictive nature of heroin. When the drug dealers are done with Hackman, they dump him in front of a police station as a message. Now a free man, he has to undergo cold turkey heroin withdrawal. He is so sick that he does everything possible to resist getting clean and going through dope sickness. Once clean, however, Popeye Doyle is on a mission for revenge in this underrated sequel to The French Connection .
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The Best Drug Movies of All Time
What are the top movies about drugs? When it comes to making a story "edgy," drugs are the weapon of choice in popular cinema. Be it pot movies, cocaine movies, heroin films or any other type of drug, Hollywood has made a movie about it. This is a list of the best drug movies of all time, including good films about drug dealers, drug traffickers, drug use, and drug abuse. It may not be all the drug films ever made, but these are the greatest. Vote for your favorite drug movie, or use this list to find movies like Blow .
Some of the stars of the drug movies below even have their own celebrity cannabis brands , like Seth Rogen of Pineapple Express . For other interesting movie lists check out the cult movies , psychological thriller movies , college movies , and epic movie list.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Released : 1998
- Directed by : Terry Gilliam
- # 270 of 375 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime
- # 359 of 456 The Most Quotable Movies Of All Time
- # 2 of 18 Underrated Comedies That Flopped At The Box Office
- Released : 1996
- Directed by : Danny Boyle
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- # 178 of 392 The Best Movies Based On Books
- # 15 of 122 The Best Movies Of 1996
Requiem for a Dream
- Released : 2000
- Directed by : Darren Aronofsky
- # 10 of 82 The Best Movies Of 2000
- # 30 of 189 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time
- # 34 of 55 The Saddest Romance Movies That Will Make You Cry
- Released : 1994
- Directed by : Quentin Tarantino
- Fan Theories From 'Pulp Fiction' That Are As Good As A Five-Dollar Shake
- # 69 of 145 Movies That Need Sequels
- # 12 of 66 Movies You Wish You Could Still Watch for the First Time
Dazed and Confused
- Released : 1993
- Directed by : Richard Linklater
- # 200 of 247 The Best Rainy Day Movies
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- # 17 of 93 Awesome Teen Movies You Must See Before You Turn 20
The Wolf of Wall Street
- Released : 2013
- Directed by : Martin Scorsese
- # 9 of 84 The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books
- # 2 of 127 The Best Period Movies Set in the '80s
- # 6 of 37 The Best Martin Scorsese Movies
The 25 Best Drug Movies of All Time · 1. Requiem for a Dream (2000). R | 102 min | Drama · 2. Pulp Fiction (1994). R | 154 min | Crime, Drama · 3. Boogie Nights (
1 Requiem For a Dream. Fear and Loathing and Half baked are sure fun drug movies, but this movie could turn most people off the dangerous drugs.
20 best movies about drugs · 20. Blow (2001) · 19. Candy (2006) · 18. Pusher (1996) · 17. Human Traffic (1999) · 16. The Panic in Needle Park (1971).
Here are the best movies about drug addiction · 10. Scarface (1983) · 9. Sid and Nancy (1986) · 8. The Basketball Diaries (1995) · 7. Fear and
15 Drug Themed Movies To Watch If You Loved Blow · American Made (2017) · Mr. Nice (2010) · Dope (2015) · The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) · Party
Top 10 Best Drug Movies · 10. Reefer Madness (1936) · 9. Traffic (2000) · 8. Every Cheech and Chong Film (1978 and on) · 7. Candy (2006) · 6. Dead
10 Movies About Drug Addiction · 1. Requiem For A Dream (2000) · 2. Beautiful Boy (2018) · 3. Gia (1989) · 4. Flight (2012) · 5. A Star Is Born (2018).
Seen by many as the ultimate drug movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the semi-autobiographical book of the
11 Last Days Here · 10 Killing Zoe · 9 Enter the Void · 8 The Falcon and The Snowman · 7 Scarface · 6 The Salton Sea · 5 Carlito's Way · 4 A Scanner
1998 · Terry Gilliam ; 1996 · Danny Boyle ; 2000 · Darren Aronofsky.