1. The Squid & The Whale
Writer-director Noah Baumbach is a master of crafting intriguing dramas about troubled middle-to-upper class bohemians who, despite being unlikeable, are nevertheless fascinating to observe in their web of neurosis, self-doubt and egoism.
The Squid and the Whale, arguably one of his best films, is a textbook example of a movie with characters who are almost too easy to dislike. Front and centre are pompous, cruel academic Bernard (a brilliant Jeff Daniels) and his unfaithful wife Joan (Laura Linney), who are instantly unsympathetic by so blatantly inflicting their impending divorce on their two sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline).
The kids, though seemingly sympathetic by having to suffer through their parents' arguments, act out in ways that make them difficult to relate to. Eisenberg's Walt begins adopting his father's arrogance, while Kline's Frank decides he can solve his situation by jerking off in the school's library (and smearing the resulting "emission" on some nearby books). Lovely.
It's brave of Baumbach to strip away sympathy from even the child characters, but it works splendidly as a truly torrid look at how divorce can turn just about everyone involved into a**holes and weirdos.
Which movies do you love despite their lack of sympathetic characters? Shout them out in the comments!