American movies have often followed strict guidelines within their storytelling. They generally promote values such as freedom, justice, patriotism, and the "American dream" of hard work and happiness. Especially within the realms of Hollywood, motion pictures tend to avoid a negative outlook on life, which is part of the reason that so many comedies are pumped out in the American film industry. In comedy, the protagonist is met with a life-altering event, but he/she is always able to overcome the obstacle by whatever means necessary. It is rare when that protagonist is left in a state of disillusionment and helplessness, however, many filmmakers these days are looking beyond what Hollywood wants to promote and making movies that do not always end happily.
Tragic films are more easily found in cinema outside of the United States. As I was compiling my list, I had to scratch off several films that I discovered were made in different countries, such as Spain, England, even our neighbors to the North, Canada. A lot of these films I did find in the U.S. are often based on true stories; as many have learned, the types of movies we see in America are almost never anything like what we experience in real life. Thus, it appears that tragedies more often replicate what people go through in their lifetimes.
Finally, before the list begins, one must take note of the social commentary that each film provides on American culture. Especially within tragedy, there is often a reason that the story is being told, and that reason is not always simply for entertainment purposes. With that, please enjoy the list and also take note that there are SPOILERS.