There you are, sitting comfortably in your favorite movie-watching spot, armed with a bowl of popcorn and a heart full of resolve, ready to journey through tales of joy and sorrow, love and loss, life and death. That’s right, we’re talking about those special cinematic experiences that trigger waterworks like no other—a good, ugly cry movie. We’ve scoured the breadth of IMDb, dug through countless reviews, and prepared a selection of 20 movies guaranteed to leave you weeping uncontrollably.
So, arm yourself with a box of tissues and a comforting cup of hot cocoa because we’re about to embark on an emotional roller coaster. If your goal is to boo-hoo like a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Just remember to hydrate—it’s going to be a salty ride!
1. ‘The Green Mile’ (1999)
Oscar-nominated Stephen King adaptation? Check. Tom Hanks playing the emotionally tortured prison guard? Double-check. “The Green Mile” revolves around a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression, who witnesses supernatural events when an unusual inmate arrives. This profound exploration of empathy and cruelty, life and death, delivers a series of emotional punches that will leave you in a pool of tears. The heartbreaking paradox of Coffey (portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan)—an innocent, gentle giant with the power to heal—facing the electric chair is hard to digest, making this film a veritable tear-jerker.
2. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (1988)
Regarded as one of the most emotional war films ever, this Japanese animated movie isn’t your usual Studio Ghibli fare. Set during World War II, this emotional rollercoaster follows two siblings struggling to survive in war-ravaged Kobe, Japan. From battling starvation to the poignant but futile efforts to capture the fleeting joy of their childhood, the characters’ circumstances paint a bleak picture that is all too real. This grim, yet beautifully portrayed tale about the harsh realities of war will drain your tear ducts. Get ready to cry till you’ve run out of tears and then some.
3. ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)
In this Spielberg masterpiece, the ugliness of the Holocaust is exposed with the grace of a poignant black-and-white palette. The film follows Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, a businessman who gradually turns from a profit-seeking opportunist into an unlikely savior of over a thousand Jews. The profound paradoxes and heartbreaking scenes, like the unforgettable one of the little girl in the red coat, are bound to evoke a waterfall of tears.
4. ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ (2008)
This chilling tale of friendship and innocence lost against the backdrop of the Holocaust is a definite tear-jerker. The story revolves around Bruno, the son of a concentration camp commandant, who befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy imprisoned in the camp. Their innocent friendship and ignorance of the horrifying circumstances culminate in a heart-wrenching finale that underscores the human cost of prejudice and hatred, a moment sure to reduce you to a blubbering mess.
5. ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ (2009)
“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” based on a true story, is a heartfelt testament to the unconditional love and loyalty of dogs. This tearjerker follows Hachiko, an Akita dog that faithfully waits for his deceased master at a train station every day for nearly a decade. The unwavering loyalty of Hachi, combined with Richard Gere’s emotive performance, makes this a beautiful yet heartbreaking portrayal of companionship and loss. From the moment of Gere’s character’s sudden death onwards, every scene of Hachi waiting at the station will flood your heart and your living room.
6. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
This blockbuster romance-disaster film directed by James Cameron is an iconic tearjerker. As the magnificent Titanic sinks, so does our hearts watching the tragic love story of Jack and Rose (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) unfold. The cinematic beauty, the heart-wrenching sacrifices, and the icy death scene (We all know there was room for two on that door, Rose!) will definitely lead to an ugly-cry fest. Warning: Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” will forever trigger waterworks.
7. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)
In “Manchester by the Sea,” Casey Affleck delivers an Oscar-winning performance as a man drowning in an ocean of grief and guilt. The narrative cleverly oscillates between the past and the present, gradually revealing the horrific event that turned Affleck’s character, Lee Chandler, into a silent sufferer. The raw, poignant depiction of loss and Affleck’s heartrending performance create an emotionally-charged atmosphere that doesn’t just make you cry—it practically dehydrates you.
8. ‘A Monster Calls’ (2016)
“A Monster Calls” is a visually stunning and metaphorically deep tale of a young boy’s struggle with his mother’s terminal illness. The film weaves together the real world and a fantastical one, where a monstrous tree creature narrates allegorical tales that help the boy cope with his reality. The climactic revelation of the boy’s true fear—his desire for an end to his mother’s suffering—is a hard-hitting, tear-inducing moment that you’ll carry with you long after the credits roll.
9. ‘Lion’ (2016)
Based on an incredible true story, “Lion” traces the survival journey of a five-year-old Indian boy, Saroo, who gets lost thousands of kilometers from home, faces numerous challenges, and is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. The journey of Saroo, first as a lost boy in Calcutta and then as a man seeking his roots using Google Earth, is an intense emotional ride. The climax, where Saroo finally reunites with his biological mother after 25 years, is a moment of tearful joy that captures the profound longing and love of a child for his mother.
10. ‘Coco’ (2017)
Pixar’s “Coco” is a brilliant blend of colorful visuals, compelling narrative, and poignant emotional moments. Set in a world where music is banned and the dead are celebrated once a year, the film follows young Miguel’s journey into the Land of the Dead to unlock his family’s ancestral history. The heartwarming depiction of family, heritage, and the power of music reaches its emotional peak when the title character, Coco, is reminded of her father through the song ‘Remember Me,’ causing a flood of memories—and a flood of tears from the audience.
11. ‘My Girl’ (1991)
In “My Girl,” a charming childhood love story takes a dark turn. This is a beautiful and devastating coming-of-age film about love, loss, and the harsh realities of life seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl named Vada. Her bittersweet relationship with her best friend, Thomas J., and the innocent exploration of death and mourning, is deeply moving. The scene where Vada breaks down after realizing Thomas J. won’t be coming back is a heart-shattering moment that will leave you crying uncontrollably.
12. ‘The Notebook’ (2004)
This Nicholas Sparks adaptation is a go-to movie when you’re in need of a good cry. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ chemistry in this tale of young lovers torn apart by societal pressures is palpable. The gut-wrenching Alzheimer’s subplot adds an extra layer of tragedy to an already weep-worthy narrative. The final scene, with the couple dying in each other’s arms, will make the tears well up, guaranteed.
13. ‘Patch Adams’ (1998)
Robin Williams’ turn as the real-life Dr. Patch Adams, who uses humor to heal his patients, is a bittersweet rollercoaster of laughter and tears. His relentless positivity is infectious, yet heartbreaking in the face of cruel reality. The scene where Carin, Patch’s love interest, is murdered is gutting. The emotional spiral Adams goes through afterwards will have you crying into your pillow.
14. ‘Life Is Beautiful’ (1997)
Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful” is a hauntingly poignant film that explores the depths of love and sacrifice amidst the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Guido, an imaginative Jewish man, uses humor to shield his son from their grim reality. The ending, where Guido’s efforts are revealed to have been a beautiful lie to protect his son, is triumphant yet heart-wrenching. His last act of love will leave you bawling.
15. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)
This Christmas classic is a heart-warming and tear-jerking story of a man who’s given up on life, only to be shown what the world would be like without him by his guardian angel. George’s realization of his worth and the town’s outpouring of love will turn on the waterworks for sure.
16. ‘P.S. I Love You’ (2007)
“P.S. I Love You” tells the story of a widow who receives letters from her husband posthumously, guiding her on a journey of healing and self-discovery. The heartbreaking letters create an emotional whirlwind that will leave you tear-stained but somehow satisfied.
17. ‘Sophie’s Choice’ (1982)
“Sophie’s Choice,” featuring an Oscar-winning performance by Meryl Streep, is an emotional tour de force that explores the lasting trauma of the Holocaust. The narrative gradually unravels Sophie’s heartbreaking past and the devastating choice she had to make between her two children at Auschwitz. The powerful retelling of this choice is an agonizing moment that will bring even the strongest viewer to tears.
18. ‘Dancer in the Dark’ (2000)
“Dancer in the Dark,” directed by Lars von Trier, tells the heartbreaking story of Selma, a factory worker and single mother who’s gradually losing her sight. Selma escapes her dreary life through her love for Hollywood musicals. The ending, a stark contrast to her musical fantasies, is tragically inevitable, leading to an outpouring of tears that’s hard to contain.
19. ‘Old Yeller’ (1957)
In “Old Yeller,” a classic Disney film, the bond between a young boy and his brave dog is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The tearful punch when Yeller protects the family from a rabid wolf, with devastating consequences, will send even the toughest viewers to the tissue box.
20. ‘Terms of Endearment’ (1983)
This Oscar-winning film gives us the tumultuous relationship between Aurora and her daughter Emma in “Terms of Endearment.” It’s a life-affirming yet tear-jerking look at love, loss, and motherhood. The film’s climax, involving a terminal illness, is sure to trigger an ugly cry.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.
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