I recently caught THE COOLER on DVD, and admire the tension engineered into Bernie's emotional and action stories. The better things look for him personally, the worse things get professionally.
The stakes are high for both threads, and this conflict caused a more engaged response than I typically get in a movie. The audience wants him to be happy -- Macy's in excellent Likeable Sadsack form as the perfectly-named Bernie Lootz -- but fears the danger that this happiness means for him and the people around him. There were points in the movie where I had no idea how things were going to get resolved. Even if some of those resolutions ended up falling a bit flat, dang, that was refreshing.
What are some other movies that have this kind of richly oppositional story tension?