Come on. Let it on out. I know the song says, “Don’t cry out loud,” but you can cry as loud as you want with me. Sometimes all that stands between me and a better mood is a strong, cathartic cry brought on by some sort of sentimental sweetness, and while sometimes this can be done with a puppy picture or Macy’s 150th anniversary commercial, my tear instigator of choice remains a good movie that makes you cry while simultaneously making you feel good about life. Whether you’re a single, trickling tear or a full-out sob kind of pal, you’d have to be heartless (or Chandler Bing) not to cry at these flicks.
Life Is Beautiful // How big is a parent’s love? For this incredible dad, it’s big enough to create happiness and a joyous childhood in the middle of a Nazi concentration camp. It’s big enough to protect, and it’s big enough to make life beautiful even in the most hellish of circumstances.
Little Women // Laurie loves Joe. Joe loves Laurie, but only as a friend. We love Laurie. We are mad when Joe doesn’t pick Christian Bale Laurie. Meanwhile, the March sisters wait for their father to come home, and deal with growing up. Death, birth, laughter, love, cry, cry, cry.
Up // I’ll give you the first twenty minutes to work up a tear, but if you’re eyes aren’t at least “watering” when Ellie dies, you are dead inside. Plus, Carl Hendrickson is the coolest old guy out there.
An Affair To Remember // “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. We’ve already missed the spring.” Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. It doesn’t get much better than this. Two people fall in love, but are committed to others. Out of respect for their fiancées, they part to break off their engagements and meet again on Valentine’s Day at the top of the Empire State Building. But she doesn’t show. He’s heartbroken. She’s heartbroken. And both of them are too hurt to listen and too stubborn to explain. A nice bonus, next time you watch Sleepless in Seattle, you’ll get all of the superb references.
Marley & Me // Do we even have to go into this one? Put an animal in a movie, and you know what’s going to happen. And will be more heartbreaking than any human-human deathbed scene on film.
It’s A Wonderful Life // One of the most sincere movies ever made. When you think you’re life is meaningless, stop and realize the impact you’ve had on the world, for “no man is a failure who has friends.” Plus, you’ll be saying, “Zuzu’s petals,” in a Jimmy Stewart voice for the next two weeks.
Finding Nemo // Pixar is on this list twice because they know how to manipulate emotions (i.e. make a meaningful story), and watching a dad who so loves his only son learn to let go makes one of the most gut-wrenching, sweetly crafted films of the last ten years. Plus, you can’t beat Dori-isms.
The Impossible // This disaster movie, based on a real life experience, follows one family’s will to survive and find each other in the wake of the Thailand Tsunami. At its heart, it’s about a mother’s love for her children, the most important lessons we pass to others, and finding strength beyond your circumstance to carry on.
The Notebook // How could I not put this on the list? Sure, it’s so mainstream, but it’s also a well-done film, with heartbreaking performances. And we all fall a part when Noah fights for Allie, “It’s going to be really hard, and we’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever. You and me, every day.”
A Little Princess // I’ve always loved this story. Sarah Crewe is left at a boarding school when her widower father goes off to WWI (to a different war in the book); her imaginative tales enthrall the students and clash with the headmistress. When Sarah’s father goes missing (believed to be dead), she is forced to work as a servant for the school. Without love or affection (and sometimes without food), Sarah relies on her imagination and her friendship to prove that all girls are princesses: “Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty or smart or young. They’re still princesses. All of us.”
So, tell us: what flicks do you watch when you’re in the mood for a good cathartic cry?
Hilary Miller is currently an MFA student in Screenwriting at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When not not watching, writing, or talking about movies and television shows, she can usually be found making crock-pot creations, laughing, talking too loud, running, devouring a good book, eating, racking up cellular bills chatting with her bomb family, sticking her toes in the sand, or wishing she were Hermione Granger, sometimes all at once. And while part of her heart is still in Indiana, the rest of it belongs to her puppy, Estelle Getty.