40. Brazil (1985)
Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenwriter: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown
Terry Gilliam and writers Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown certainly didn't hide their pessimism while penning the script for the 1985 dystopian masterpiece Brazil. As if the story's worldview, that of a futuristic society that's under totalitarian rule and entirely dependent on broken machinery, isn't grim enough, Brazil's main character, Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) gets subjected to a cruel bait-and-switch of a joke.
Charged with disloyalty toward the government, Lowry is arrested, strapped to a chair inside a cylindrical room, and tortured by an old acquaintance (Michael Palin) who's wearing the freaky mask previously seen in Sam's worst bedtime nightmares. But then, like an act from the heavens above, renegade anarchist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro) rescues him.
Except not. Tuttle's efforts only happened in Sam's delusions. In reality, he's still confined to the chair, on the verge of an execution. It doesn't get much drearier than that. —MB