Films have the capacity to move us, but what brings one viewer to tears may not even bring a twitch to another’s stony eyes. Our writers explain which films make them blubber every time they watch them. And somehow, Armageddon (1998) did not make the list!
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
The book of the same name made me cry endlessly so there was no doubt that this film was going to have the same effect. Directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) this film was beautifully shot and crafted a story in the most delicate of ways. It’s true that this film didn’t get all the credit it deserved but in my eyes it was one of the most moving films I had ever seen. A tale of a false accusations but more deeply of the love shared between a young couple as they wait for their first child to be born. It’s a story that tackles miscarriage of justice not shying away from the themes of racism that are so boldly tackled in James Baldwin’s original novel. It isn’t just this though as Jenkin’s clever directing draws you in to characters so that you feel their pain when everything is ripped away from them.
A Star Is Born (2018)
I’m pretty sure I saw this film three times in the cinema, and every time I was a mess. Also, I was probably crying a little bit because I was proud of Gaga for showing up the people who ever doubted her singing and acting ability. But anyway, back to the film, this isn’t a Gaga piece. I’m sure you’re all aware of the plot as there are literally four versions of this film, but I’ll give a brief overview. In all the films they have a similar plot of an alcoholic singer who falls in love with a woman who he sees has a remarkable talent, eventually rising into fame herself. However, their relationship ultimately ends in tragedy because of his addiction and mental health issues. I think it’s significant that across 81 years, the plot still resonates with people. Each adaptation makes it more modern for contemporary audiences, but the elements of the tragedy of addiction and the turmoil of mental health are still prevalent.
The real beauty of this film comes from genuinely seeing Ally and Jackson fall in love on-screen and believing every moment their journey. This was so believable that people actually believed that Cooper and Gaga were in a relationship in real life. If the love they showed through their acting transcended into people believing that they were genuinely in love, I think that shows how brilliant of a job they did. This makes the demise of their relationship even more heartbreaking. You truly see the ups and the lows of this relationship, and hope that they can work out, despite their extremely troubled circumstances. You see how happy they were in the beginning, and want them to return to that stage. However, mental illness and addiction don’t let people think rationally, it poisons people.
But then…Gaga’s ‘I’ll Never Love Again’. Oh, God. Oh dear God. The incorporation of Jackson singing at the end…I literally start hyperventilating through my snot. What makes this scene even more tragic is the knowledge that Gaga recorded this song less than an hour after her best friend Sonja Durham sadly passed away after her long battle with cancer. Gaga missed her by ten minutes, and then came back to the studio to record. She isn’t just singing about the loss of her husband in the film, but the loss of her best friend.
Fair to say, this film utterly destroys me, and I adore it so much.
The Farewell (2019)
It might be because I was dropped on my head as a child, but I’m yet to watch a film that gets the waterworks to start. Of course, I’ve been sad watching a film, I’m not Hannibal Lecter, but never so much that I’ll be in tears. Marley and Me was up there but the closest I’ve ever come is Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. That woman is an evil genius of playing with people’s emotions.
Based loosely on Lulu’s own experience, The Farewell follows a terminally ill grandmother who is unaware of her illness. Her family knows but refuses to tell her and come from across the globe to say goodbye under the guise of a wedding. You know the outcome of the film from the beginning but it doesn’t make it hurt any less by the time you reach the end. The grandma, Nai Nai, was played remarkably by Zhao Shuzhen and throughout the film, you can’t help but fall in love with the character and fills you with dread about what’s going to happen to her. It’s the brilliance of the character you get to know that makes the ending pack such a hard punch. The final shot of Nai Nai receding into the background as Awkwafina’s character Billie drives away is a brutal watch that had me on the verge of tears.
It also makes you question, did Nai Nai know of her illness the entire time?
I cry at a lot of stuff to be fair. But there’s some films that trigger something in me that means I end up looking like an absolute idiot with eyeliner down my face. Me Before You (2016) had me tearing up a little until they played Jack Garratt’s ‘Surprise Yourself’ and then I spent the rest of the film trying watching Sam Claflin through very blurry eyes. But it’s not always a song. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood had my heart gripped from the start, but right at the very very end of the film – it broke me. So spoilers, if you haven’t seen this one.
Mason and Nicole just sit talking about life. That’s pretty much the whole scene. The camera doesn’t cut away too much, occasionally to their friends stoned speeches into the vast nothingness, but the focus here is Mason and Nicole. “You know how everyone’s always saying ‘seize the moment?’” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kinda thinking it’s the other way around, y’know, like ‘the moment seizes us.’” She might also be high, but it makes sense anyway. Subtle glances they give to each other – neither wanting to be caught and laughing shyly when they do. Linklater just gets the whole new romance, young love feeling so perfectly that I’ll applaud anyone who didn’t at least well up a little bit at this.
Yes, it broke me. Yes, I’m still recovering. Someone pass me the tissues, please…
The Green Mile (1999)
There are so many films that have left me in utter sadness and tears by the end. There was Titanic (1997), The Notebook (2004), The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (2008), My Sister’s Keeper (2009), and especially Marley & Me (2008). But one film that left me broken once it ended was The Green Mile.
I remember when I first watched the film I was not old enough to see it and I’d snuck the DVD out of the house for a sleepover thinking it would be something fun to watch as it was an 18. I was so wrong – I ended up so broken from the film I had to admit taking the DVD to my parents because I couldn’t stop crying about the ending.
The Green Mile is an American prison fantasy crime drama, based on Stephen King’s bestseller of the same name. The film takes place on a prison’s death row, nicknamed the green mile. The lives of the guards, particularly of Paul Edgecomb, the head guard of the prison, are affected by an inmate, John Coffey, a black man who has been accused of murdering and raping two children. But is it soon discovered he has a mysterious gift.
Starring Tom Hanks, David Morse, and Michael Clarke Duncan, the storytelling is phenomenal, and the performances are so moving. Michael Clarke Duncan’s portrayal of John Coffey is outstanding and will leave you heartbroken.
3096 Days (2013)
To say this film gives me ‘depression’ may be a bit of a bold statement but it definitely brings a good few tears to my eyes and really makes me think about life, specifically how fortunate my own life is, every time I watch it. Directed by Sherry Hormann, 3096 Days is based on the tragic true story of Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped at age 10 and held captive in an Austrian cellar for more than 8 years before she managed to escape.
It is evident that the cast were extremely dedicated to their respective roles with Antonia Campbell-Hughes practically starving herself by undergoing a drastic diet to accurately portray Kampusch who, by her teens, was being starved and neglected by her abductor. Moreover, the movie tackles sensitive themes such as the rape and physical abuse, that Kampusch herself had to endure, that is often so realistic it hurts to watch, and I often find myself getting in both fits of rage and tears every time I watch it.
Beautiful Boy (2018)
I would be lying if I said I didn’t almost give up on this film multiple times during it’s two-hour run-time. And that’s not because it’s a bad film. The hard-hitting subject matter and message behind Beautiful Boy is what made it such a difficult watch. This is made worse by the fact that it’s based on the true story of father and son David and Nic Sheff. With standout performances by Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy follows their strained relationship as Nic’s (Chalamet) drug addiction becomes out of control.
Although there are many films documenting the harrowing effects of drug addiction, Beautiful Boy is different in that you experience so many different emotions whilst watching it, feeling uncomfortable to frustrated to saddened all at once. As we see David (Carell) attempt to reconnect with Nic, believing he’s finally reaching out to him for help, all he wants is money for his next hit. Nic spends the entire film in and out of rehab, finally excelling when he keeps up his sobriety, only to relapse again. It is when he realises he does have a loving and supporting family that eventually gives him the push he needs to get better.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Few movies have broken my heart as much as The Royal Tenenbaums has. Wes Anderson’s 2001 comedy-drama about a dysfunctional New-York family of geniuses is a movie with a multitude of themes, with the main connecting link being that it is a movie about relationships, familial, or otherwise.
The movie centers around the titular Tenenbaums, consisting of the estranged patriarch, Royal Tenenbaum, (Gene Hackman), the matriarch, Etheline Tenenbaum, (Angelica Hudson), and the three children, Chas the business prodigy (Ben Stiller), Ritchie the tennis star (Luke Wilson) and Margot, the (adopted) playwright (Gwyneth Paltrow). There’s also a cast of stellar supporting characters, including Raliegh St. Clair, Margot’s psychiatrist husband, (Bill Murray), and Ritchie’s drug-addicted author childhood friend Eli, (Owen Wilson). It’s an ensemble cast, but each character is individually well-crafted and all have rich stories of their own.
The main conflict of the film is Royal suddenly deciding he wants to re-enter the lives of his children, and faking a terminal illness to do so. This brings the family under the same roof after a long time, and all the old wounds are laid bare, ripe for resolution. Oh, and also, Ritchie’s in love with his adopted sister Margot. The setting makes for some absolutely heartbreaking moments throughout the script, but I wont go into specifics since I’m not too keen on spoiling things. What I will say is that some of the most impactful moments in the movie involve the masterful use of music, like the scene where Ritchie and Margot meet again after a long time being scored to “These Days” by Nico, by far the most beautiful moment in the movie. Furthermore, the notorious bathroom scene with Ritchie (you’ll know if you’ve seen it) scored to “Needle In the Hay” by Elliot Smith, one of the most depressing songs ever recorded.
The movie is a 2 hour long sadness trip, with at least some resolution at the end, but nearly not enough to make up for all the heartbreak it puts you through. My eyes were not dry for a moment watching it, and I might be a sappy twee fuck, but even still the movie is exceptionally emotional. Watch it, for one of the best dysfunctional family movies ever made.
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
I have very avid memories of watching this film aged seven and pretending to my family that I needed to go to the loo so that I could sit by myself and have a massive sob. Did the exact same thing happen when I re-watched this a few weeks ago? Maybe.
Bridge To Terabithia is a typically predictable American movie in a ‘character runs out of the house to catch the school bus while eating a piece of toast’ and ‘featuring Zooey Deschanel’ kind of way. But it also has unexpectedly lovely fantastical imagination and special effects that help make the friendship between two outsider kids at its heart so emotional. Very much for seven-year-olds, but also very much for anyone of any age who needs a good ol’ cry.
Brokeback Mountain (2004)
Brokeback Mountain without a doubt, always, makes me feel sad after watching. In fact, it’s one of those films I can’t really re-watch as it just makes me feel hollowed out.
Watching this film for the first time was a roller-coaster. I started crying at the first note when the score played. I kept crying as Jack and Ennis fell in love. I cried harder as they were torn apart and I full on sobbed as they struggled to hold each other in their lives. But they never gave up, their relationship was their only source of happiness and at this point, you’d think I would be out of tears but no. I kept crying. I kept crying as they wasted their lives away while longing from a distance. I cried through the pain, the devastation and the love.
In all seriousness, this is a film that explores a beautiful and honest portrayal of a relationship that attempts to survive in a hateful and misunderstood climate. The acting is also phenomenal (surprisingly, I noted that during my crying). Big thanks go to Heath and Jake for their brilliant work in portraying the love and the pain of these characters. Besides his iconic role in The Dark Knight, Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain is easily his second-best performance. He portrays the complex character of Ennis Del Mar so beautifully and with such grace that your heart breaks when you see in his facial expressions alone how he struggles with his emotions. Visually and plot-wise, the film is also extremely soft with one of my absolute favourite scores ever.
This film means so much to me and it changes with every viewing (the crying still continues of course). You might be the most heartless person in the whole world but Brokeback Mountain will touch you and it will stay there. The viewing experience is one I’ll never forget. Brokeback Mountain…I wish I knew how to quit you.
Last modified: 28th April 2020