We are not robots. We feel things. We can't survive on comedic bromances and CGI-ed action sequences alone. We like our
joy, but we need our sadness, too. So bring a box of Kleenex and settle in for some melancholic movie-watching. It's not about wallowing in misery. It's about getting lost in a story that captures the full human experience, with all of its highs and lows.
A good drama hits you right where it hurts, whether it's
Blue Valentine 's broken romance or Fruitvale Station 's sense of injustice. If these cinematic tear-jerkers don't have you crying, keening, and curling up into a little ball, we don't know what will.
After their neighbors catch them playing a harmless after-school game with boys, five orphaned Turkish sisters are given an outsized punishment. Their conservative grandmother and uncle decide to lock the sisters in their house, and embark on a mission of making the girls marriageable. One by one, the teenagers are forced to end their childhoods early. But they're not submitting without a fight.
(2009) Mr. Nobody
The premise of
Mr. Nobody is simple — a young boy is forced to make an impossible choice between his parents — but the movie's execution is anything but. Mr. Nobody explores the branches his life could've taken, based on whether he chooses to stay with his mother or father. The film relies on sci-fi themes and imaginative, interweaving storylines to get at a nagging sensation we all have: Where else could the course of our lives have taken us? To where did our decisions lead? More
(2008) Seven Pounds
Tim (Will Smith) kills seven people in a tragic car accident. As karmic retribution, he plans to donate his organs to seven "good" people after he commits suicide. With such a grim subject matter, tears — or at least deep existential probing — are inevitable.
(2013) Little England
On the Greek island of Andros in the '40s, 20-year-old Orsa falls madly, desperately in love with a fellow islander named Spyros, but her controlling mother, Mina, deems the match unfit. Orsa marries a sea captain, and her love, a lieutenant, goes to war. When he returns, Mina marries Orsa's younger sister, Moscha, to the lieutenant. All living under the same house, Spyros and Orsa's secret love will threaten to break just about everyone's hearts.
(1979) Kramer vs. Kramer
In this harrowing portrait of the emotional toil of divorce, Ted (Dustin Hoffman) and Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) fight for custody over their son.
(2017) Beatriz at Dinner
Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a deeply empathetic, kind Mexican immigrant who's had
quite a hard week — her neighbor killed her pet goat! When her car breaks down at her wealthy employers' house, she's reluctantly invited to join their dinner. At the dinner, celebrating Beatriz goes head-to-head with a callous billionaire, and feels steamrolled by forces of capitalism. It's a quiet, disturbing movie that'll make you weep for the underdog. More
Should it have won the Academy Award for Best Picture over
Brokeback Mountain? Probably not. But will this movie about Los Angelinos whose lives collide in the wake of a terrible car crash make you cry? Absolutely. Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock More
(1961) West Side Story
Romeo and Juliet adaptations, you go into this musical knowing what to expect from an ending. And like all the best adaptations, the ending still feels like a massive sucker punch. Mirisch-7 Arts/United Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock More Read More
(2006) After the Wedding
Jacob Peterson (Mads MIkkelsen) has dedicated his life to an orphanage in India. When a wealthy Dane, Jorgen (Rolf Lassgard), promises to donate four million dollars to his orphanage if Jacob meets him in person, Jacob complies. Jacob finds there's another stipulation: he must attend Jorgen's daughter's wedding, where Jacob's past will converge with the present in a shocking way. This melodramatic movie will have you guessing and cryin' till the end.
(1997) My Best Friend's Wedding
Just because this movie has Julia Roberts and a wedding doesn't mean it's a romantic comedy. Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and her best friend Michael O'Neil (Dermot Mulroney) had a long-standing deal to marry each other if they were still single at 28. On the eve of their 28th birthdays, Michael announces he's marrying a much younger woman. Will Julianne confess her love for him before the big day?
Lars von Trier
would stage a wedding at the end of the world. As Earth heads toward a fatal collision with the planet Melancholia, two sisters handle it differently: Claire (Kirsten Dunst) focuses on her extravagant wedding, and Justine (Charlotte Gainsbourg) buckles under the fear of disaster. Zentropa/REX/Shutterstock More
(2006) Pan's Labyrinth
In 1944 in fascist Spain, a young girl and her ailing mother move to the countryside. While there, Ofelia encounters the faun Pan, who tells her she is a secret princess and can achieve immortality should she complete three tasks. As Ofelia is pulled deeper into a fantasy, the political sphere interferes drastically in their daily lives. Reality, fantasy, and tragedy blur together in this
Alice in Wonderland for adults. Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock More
(2011) Like Crazy
Anna and x fall headfirst into a furious, passionate, life-altering kind of love at the end of their senior year of college. The only issue? In an oversight of the heart, Anna (Felicity Jones) overstays her student visa, and is banned from reentering the United States. With Jacob (Anton Yelchin) in Los Angeles and Anna in London, their love is strained under transatlantic pressures.
After three decades spent in a catatonic state, victims of the epidemic of
encephalitis lethargica are given another chance at life when a doctor finds a miracle cure. Starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams, Awakenings is based on the true story of Oliver Sacks, who discovered benefits of the new drug L-Dopa. Think Sleeping Beauty, but more true and way more tear-jerking. Louis Goldman/Columbia/REX/Shutterstock More
In this bleak movie burdened by grief, an extremely wealthy Chicago family is torn apart by the tragic death of their eldest son. After his brother's death, a guilt-ridden Buck attempts suicide. The movie starts when Buck returns home and attempts to reconnect with his cold, angry mother (Mary Tyler Moore) and his wounded father (Donald Sutherland).
(2007) Into the Wild
A movie that portrays the dark underbelly of youthful adventures,
Into the Wild is further proof that if you're going to take an adventure in Alaska, please bring your guidebook along. River Road/Paramount/REX/Shutterstock More
(2002) The Pianist
Based on a true story,
The Pianist is about a man who spends the entirety of WWII hiding and in extreme isolation. Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a Polish Jewish pianist who lives in Warsaw, and sees his neighborhood shift at the start of the war. He moves into the Jewish Ghetto with his family, but they're later separated. Wladyslaw drifts around the ruins of Warsaw in this quiet, devastating film. Guy Ferrandis/Focus Features/Studio Canal/REX/Shutterstock More
(1999) The Green Mile
Stephen King doesn't just pen terrifying stories like
It and The Shining; he writes devastating ones, too. In The Green Mile, a group of Death Row prison guards are forever changed by a convict who's unlike the rest of the bunch. Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) had never met anyone like John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), thrown in the pen for the supposed murder of two little girls. Along with his gentle and naive spirit, John is also graced with something that's decidedly, well – divine. Could he really be a murderer? Ralph Jr Nelson/Castle Rock/Warner Bros/REX/Shutterstock More
(1950) Sunset Boulevard This 1950 Billy Wilder masterpiece is a noirish, cautionary tale of life after fame. Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond is believed to be a composite of many of the silent film era starlets who descended into reclusiveness and madness after fading into obscurity.
Pictured: Gloria Swanson Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. More
(2007) Bridge to Terabithia
This book made us cry as kids, and the movie made us cry as adults. This charming fantasy adventure film has an ending that’s all too real.
Kristy Griffen/Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media/REX/Shutterstock More
(2014) Still Alice Julianne Moore’s titular character, Alice, is a professor of at Columbia University. After a few incidents of disorientation, she’s diagnosed with early onset dementia. The film tracks her descent into the sickness and the toll Alzheimer’s takes on family life. Heartbreaking, emotional, and for many families, all too relatable. Jojo Whilden/Killer Films/Big Indie Pictures/Sony More
(2016) I, Daniel Blake Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) just can't catch a break when a heart attack puts him out of work. Named Best British Film at the 2017 BAFTAs, this Ken Loach drama is an indictment on the welfare system and bureaucratic red tape that'll leave you outraged and heartbroken.
Pictured: Dave Johns and Hayley Squires Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1996) The English Patient We're such slaves to tragic romances set during wartime, aren't we? This Anthony Minghella-directed epic starring Ralph Fiennes and Queen of Fucking Everything Kristin Scott Thomas reduced romantics to tears and has a pile of Oscars to show for it.
Pictured: Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas Photo: Phil Bray/Tiger Moth/Miramax/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2009) White Material If you're on a Isabelle Huppert kick thanks to Elle, consider this incredibly intense French drama set in an unnamed African country on the brink of civil war. Huppert plays a coffee plantation owner determined to stay afloat at all costs. To say things get bleak is an understatement.
Pictured: Isabelle Huppert Photo: Canal+/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2009) The Greatest A family's struggle to come to terms with the death of their son grows more complicated when it's revealed that his girlfriend is pregnant with his child.
Pictured: Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Carey Mulligan Photo: Barbarian Films/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2009) My Sister's Keeper Based on Jodi Picoult's novel, this tear-jerker focuses on a family with two daughters: one diagnosed with leukemia and the other conceived via IVF as a "savior sister," meaning she's a medical match who can theoretically donate organs. Drama ensues when the younger sister (Abigail Breslin) sues for medical emancipation.
Pictured: Abigail Breslin and Sofia Vassilieva Photo: Mark Johnson Productions/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1982) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Rumor has it that there are people who have watched this without breaking down, but we don't know who they are.
Pictured: E.T. Photo: Universal/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2010) Toy Story 3 We're not crying during a kid's movie. You're crying during a kid's movie.
Pictured: Andy deals Buzz and Woody a harsh blow. Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2010) Beginners Directed by Mike Mills of 20th Century Women fame, this heartfelt drama about a man recovering from the loss of his father earned Christopher Plummer an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Pictured: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2000) Requiem for a Dream Darren Aronofky's supremely depressing drugs drama is one long "Just Say No" PSA.
Pictured: Ellen Burstyn Photo: John Baer/Artisan Pictures/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1989) Field of Dreams You don't have to be a dude with daddy issues, or even a baseball fan, to be moved by this tale about second chances.
Pictured: Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones Photo: Universal/Gordon/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2016) The Light Between Oceans Real-life couple Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender star as a married couple who try to pass off a newborn baby girl they've found as their own child. All goes well until the baby's birth mother resurfaces.
Pictured: Alicia Vikander Photo: MOVIESTORE COLLECTION LTD/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2016) Manchester by the Sea Catching one of the year's most critically acclaimed films comes with a price: buckets of tears. Grief is at the heart of this story about a man tapped to raise his late brother's teen son.
Pictured: Kyle Chandler and Casey Affleck Photo: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studio. More
(2016) Edge of Seventeen Hailee Steinfeld's new drama is more emotionally piercing than you might expect from a film aimed at teens. You'll leave feeling grateful that your high school days are behind you.
Pictured: Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson Photo: MOVIESTORE COLLECTION LTD/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2003) My Life Without Me Sarah Polley plays a young woman who keeps her terminal ovarian cancer a secret from her husband and children, choosing instead to embark on new experiences.
Pictured: Sarah Polley and Mark Ruffalo Photo: Bob Askester/Milestones Productions Inc./Sony/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1992) Of Mice and Men Sad book, sad film. This adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel sees Gary Sinise and John Malkovich as ranch-hands George and Lennie, two men with big dreams and no shortage of hardships.
Pictured: John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, and Ray Walston Photo: MGM/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1985) Mask Eric Stolz played Rocky Dennis, whose craniodiaphyseal dysplasia caused cranial enlargements, in this moving biographical film. Cher won a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress award for her performance as Dennis' tough-as-nails mother, who battles depression, drug addiction, and a tumultuous love life.
Pictured: Sam Elliott and Cher Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2008) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button No shame if Baby Benjamin made you crumple.
Pictured: Cate Blanchett and Charles Henry Wyson Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2015) A Tale of Love and Darkness To call Natalie Portman's directorial feature debut bleak is an understatement. This adaptation of Israeli author Amos Oz's autobiographical novel tackles war, a loveless marriage, and depression against the backdrop of the Arab-Israeli War.
Pictured: Natalie Portman as Fania Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1988) The Land Before Time Think of this animated tear-jerker as Bambi for '80s kids. Spoiler: Littlefoot's mom dies and turns into some sort of ghost cloud. Traumatizing.
Pictured: Littlefoot Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1991) Regarding Henry A pre-stardom J.J. Abrams wrote this poignant screenplay about an unscrupulous lawyer who must piece his life back together after suffering brain damage in a shooting. Harrison Ford and Annette Bening star, but look out for Bill Nunn, who died September 24, 2016, in a pivotal supporting role.
Pictured: Harrison Ford and Bill Nunn Photo: SNAP/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1999) The Cider House Rules Take a film about an orphanage, pile on subplots about incest, rape, heartbreak, war, and accidental overdoses, and you've got one bleak movie night ahead.
Pictured: Tobey Maguire as Homer Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2010) Rabbit Hole Nicole Kidman earned an Academy Award nomination for her role as a mother mourning the sudden death of her young son. The film doesn't shy away from tackling grief in its many forms. Can a person forgive? Is one life worth more than another? How do you move on?
Pictured: Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2008) Doubt Stealing the show from Meryl Streep is no small feat, but Viola Davis did just that with her searing portrayal of a mother whose son, Donald, is thought to have been abused by his priest. Donald's story and the cloud over his future really is the emotional center of this powerful morality tale.
Pictured: Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2001) I Am Sam Sean Penn plays a father with a developmental disability who must fight to keep custody of his young daughter in this tearjerker co-starring baby Dakota Fanning.
Pictured: Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1992) A River Runs Through It Who knew fly fishing could make us so weepy? This Robert Redford-directed drama about two very different brothers requires hankies.
Pictured: Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2006) Away From Her Julie Christie earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a Canadian woman whose Alzheimer's disease changes the dynamics of her picture-perfect marriage.
Pictured: Julia Christie and Gordon Pinsent Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2009) Bright Star Who doesn't love a heart-crushing romance between a sickly poet and his muse? Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish play John Keats and his true love Fanny Brawne in this stunning drama directed by Jane Campion.
Pictured: Cornish and Whishaw Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1988) Cinema Paradiso There are plenty of joyful moments in this Italian film about a young boy's friendship with the local film projectionist. It's the final scene, featuring a grown-up Toto, that'll kick you in the gut.
Pictured: Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1989) Glory The film that gave Denzel Washington his first Oscar should be mandatory viewing in classrooms, thanks to its moving portrayal of an African-American regiment fighting for the Union during the Civil War. Morgan Freeman, Matthew Broderick, and Andre Braugher co-star in the war drama.
Pictured: Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(1989) Dead Poets Society Assuming that the gory Saturday Night Live parody didn't ruin it for you, expect major emotions from this drama about a teacher who changes the lives of his students forever thanks to Walt Whitman.
Pictured: Robin Williams stars alongside Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Josh Charles Photo:Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2012) The Hunt Hannibal has feelings, y'all. Mads Mikkelsen stars as a man shut out by his friends and community after being falsely accused of molesting a young girl in this Danish drama. The ensuing witch hunt is upsetting and truly hard to watch.
Pictured: Mads Mikkelsen Photo: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2008) Marley & Me It's like Old Yeller for millennials, right down to the snotty ugly-crying. Who'd have thought an Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston film could make us feel so many feels?
Pictured: Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston Photo: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(1942) Mrs. Miniver We know this Oscar-winning classic set during World War II is all about maintaining that British stiff upper lip, but the series of tragedies always turn us into a wobbly mess.
Pictured: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the Minivers Photo: Snap/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2001) Life as a House Terminal illness, divorce, and a complex father-son relationship: This drama ticks all the tear-inducing boxes. Both Kevin Kline and Hayden Christensen (yes, Anakin himself) were nominated for acting awards for their moving performances.
Pictured: Kevin Kline, Hayden Christensen, and Kristin Scott Thomas Photo: Snap Stills/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2016) Me Before You Like, puddles. We won't give away any spoilers, but let's just say that this Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin romantic drama will make your tear ducts feel like they've been set on fire by Daenerys.
Pictured: Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin Photo: Warner Bros/Moviestore Collection Ltd/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2015) 45 Years More bleak and quietly disheartening than boo-hoo, this British drama earned Charlotte Rampling a Best Actress Oscar nomination earlier this year. It was well deserved, too, with the legendary actress beautifully conveying emotions like romantic disappointment and jealous irritation.
Pictured: Charlotte Rampling Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(1996) Jack For the most part, this is a light comedy about a young boy with Werner syndrome, which ages him to the point that he looks like Robin Williams. It's all very bittersweet, though, culminating in a graduation speech that's sure to set off your facial sprinkler system.
Pictured: Diane Lane and Robin Williams Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2011) Project Nim This heart-wrenching documentary follows the story of a chimpanzee raised with a human family before becoming the subject of an extensive research project in the 1970s. Long story short: Nim Chimpsky gets let down by pretty much everyone.
Pictured: Nim Chimpsky with a researcher Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2002) Rabbit-Proof Fence Kenneth Branagh plays the baddie in this Australian drama about three mixed-race Aboriginal girls who try to make their way home after being ripped from their families and placed in a settlement camp for "half castes." The film is loosely based on a true story.
Pictured: Everlyn Sampi and Tianna Sansbury Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2013) The Book Thief Based on Markus Zusak's bestselling book of the same name, this story about a book-loving orphan entrusted to a German family in 1938 strings together a series of heartbreaking plot points. Star Sophie Nélisse is a wonder as the lead character Leisel.
Pictured: Sophie Nélisse Photo: Moviestore Collection/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2015) The Danish Girl Eddie Redmayne's Einar Wegener struggles to find love and acceptance as he transitions into a woman, while Alicia Vikander, playing Wegener's wife Gerda, beautifully captures a sense of loss. The train station scene is brutal.
Pictured: Eddie Redmayne Photo: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(1993) Schindler's List Unless you're Jerry Seinfeld, this Oscar-winning story about heroism during the Holocaust will have you weeping uncontrollably right down to the end credits.
Pictured: Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson Photo: Snap/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2006) The Pursuit of Happyness Just keep reminding yourself that this based-on-a-true-story film has a happy ending as you watch Will Smith constantly struggle to support his son (a pre-Louis Vuitton Jaden Smith) and get a pinky toe on the corporate ladder. Photo: Snap Stills/Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2015) Southpaw Consider this a sucker punch to the heartstrings. A surprise twist elevates this 2015 hit from a mere boxing flick to an emotional drama about love, family, and discipline.
Pictured: Rachel McAdams and Jake Gyllenhaal Photo: Rex/Shutterstock. More
(2005) The Constant Gardener Beyond the intrigue, this political thriller digs deep into heartbreak, questions of fidelity, and devotion.
Pictured: Rachel Weisz Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2008) Frozen River Melissa Leo and the late Misty Upham star in this bleak drama about two women (one a down-and-out single mom, the other a Mohawk bingo parlor employee separated from her son) going to great lengths to make ends meet.
Pictured: Melissa Leo Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock. More
(2013) Still Life Eddie Marsan stars as a government employee tasked with sorting out funerals for deceased citizens who have no loved ones. One final case prompts him to investigate the death of a man who died in squalor. Trust us when we tell you that the ending will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Pictured: Eddie Marsan Photo: Redwave Films/Embargo Films. More
(1993) Philadelphia We still can't listen to Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen without welling up, and it's all due to this tearjerker. Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for playing an AIDS-stricken lawyer suing his old firm for discrimination, with Denzel Washington as the "ambulance chaser" leading the charge.
Pictured: Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock. More
(2013) Fruitvale Station If you sobbed when Wallace got shot on The Wire, this other Michael B. Jordan vehicle will no doubt have you in the fetal position for days. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that the events in the Ryan Coogler-directed drama actually happened.
Pictured: Michael B. Jordan Photo: Snap Stills/REX Shutterstock. More
(2013) All Is Lost What this Robert Redford drama lacks in dialogue, it compensates with edge-of-your-seat drama and an overwhelming sense of weariness and frustration. Will Redford save his broken boat? Maybe. Will you ever go sailing again? Probably not.
Pictured: Robert Redford Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock. More
(2013) About Time On its face, this is a rom-com with a time-traveling twist. Perhaps that's why the built-in life lessons and a plot about terminal illness hit us like a ton of bricks.
Pictured: Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock. More
(2014) Still Alice Julianne Moore earned her Best Actress Oscar for playing an active and intelligent 50-year-old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her struggle is heartbreaking, from having to tell her grown children that the disease is genetic, to making a list of questions she must answer every day to keep her memory sharp.
Pictured: Julianne Moore Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock. More
(1991) My Girl Although the 1991 coming-of-age film is billed as a comedy-drama, director Howard Zieff certainly pulled out all the stops when young Vada Sultenfuss (played by newcomer Anna Chlumsky) had to deal with the tragic loss of her friend (Macaulay Culkin) while growing up in her father's funeral home in the '70s.
Pictured: Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures. More
(1980) The Elephant Man David Lynch's 1980 biopic of Victorian freak-show exhibit John Merrick, a man suffering from severe elephantiasis, is a stark indictment of the inhumanity and moral exclusion people routinely inflict on others.
Pictured: John Hurt Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. More
(2010) Blue Valentine Michelle Williams certainly earned her Oscar nomination in this 2010 film documenting the gut-wrenching dissolution of her character's marriage to a violent alcoholic played by Ryan Gosling.
Pictured: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling Photo: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. More
(1989) Steel Magnolias Few movies portray the bonds of female friendship quite like this 1989 ensemble dramedy, adapted from the eponymous Robert Harling play. The film — which features a magnificent cast, including Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and Dolly Parton — tells the story of how a tight-knit group of Southern women support each other through the various peaks and valleys of their lives. Some of the saddest moments are watching Sally Fields' grief as her daughter, a pre- Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, dies of complications from diabetes. Talk about an emotional gut punch.
Pictured: Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah, and Dolly Parton Photo: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures. More
(2007) P.S. I Love You This movie is explicitly designed to turn on the waterworks. It's the story of a young widow (Hilary Swank) who receives posthumous letters of encouragement from her late husband (Gerard Butler) after he dies of a brain tumor.
Pictured: Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. More
(1993) My Life This under-appreciated 1993 gem features Michael Keaton as a high-powered PR executive and expectant father who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fearing that he will not live long enough to see the birth of his son, Keaton records a video documentary of himself so that his child can get to know him.
Pictured: Nicole Kidman and Michael Keaton Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures. More
(1999) Magnolia Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 drama features an interconnected group of characters in L.A, who are forced to grapple with forgiveness, desperation, and the search for happiness when their lives intersect around the death of a terminally ill quiz-show producer played by Jason Robards. The scene where Tom Cruise's pick-up artist character breaks down by the death bed of his estranged father is one of the great emotionally affecting scenes (and Cruise won his third Golden Globe for the role).
Pictured: A theatrical poster for Magnolia Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema. More
(2007) Atonement The iconic Vanessa Redgrave delivers a somber and arresting performance as a novelist who used fiction to atone for the young lovers whose lives she ruined when she mistakenly accused a man (James McAvoy) of a sex crime at the onset of World War II. Adapted from the 2001 Ian McEwan novel, the film deals with decades' worth of grief as a result of a youthful flight of fancy that contributed to the premature death of her sister (Keira Knightley) and the false imprisonment of her sister's lover.
Pictured: James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures. More
(1988) Beaches It is absolutely impossible not to cry during this 1988 drama where the deeply complicated 30-year-friendship between a brash actress (Bette Midler) and a privileged lawyer (Barbara Hershey) is brought to an abrupt end when the latter is diagnosed with a rare heart disease. The opening bars of Midler's performance of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" are usually all it takes to open the floodgates.
Pictured: Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler Photo: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures. More
(2004) Million Dollar Baby Hilary Swank is a bit of a staple in the tearjerker genre. This time around she's a scrappy boxer who eventually develops a bond with her hard-nosed boxing coach, played by Clint Eastwood (who also directed the film). The movie has all the makings of your typical sports drama with a triumphant underdog — until it delivers an emotional sucker punch at the end.
Pictured: Hilary Swank Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. More
(2009) Up We have to hand it to this 2009 Pixar offering for completely reinventing the formula we've come to know and expect from sad movies. While most tearjerkers save the most gut-wrenching developments for the third act, this beloved animated feature has both kids and adults reaching for the Kleenex within the first 10 minutes.
Pictured: A scene from Up Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. More
(2014) The Fault in Our Stars As this 2014 romantic dramedy proves, the only thing more tragic than a fresh-faced teenager with terminal cancer is a fresh-faced teenager with terminal cancer in love. This film though? Doubles down: It features two terminally ill teens in love, played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
Pictured: Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. More
(1997) Life Is Beautiful The Italian film's director and star Roberto Benigni took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance of a father trying to distract his son from the horrors of life in a Nazi concentration camp.
Pictured: Roberto Benigni with Nicoletta Braschi and Giorgio Cantarini Photo: Courtesy of Miramax Films. More
(1999) Boys Don't Cry Hilary Swank makes yet another appearance on the list in this indie biopic of Brandon Teena, a trans man whose blossoming romance with a karaoke singer (Chloë Sevigny) was cut short after he was brutally murdered in small-town Nebraska. The movie is not only heartbreaking because of it's ill-fated love story, but also because it illustrates the bigotry and threats that many trans people have historically endured and continue to face.
Pictured: Chloë Sevigny and Hilary Swank Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. More
(2008) Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father Dear Zachary is a unique entry on this list because it's a documentary. The 2008 film starts off as a video diary to the infant Zachary from friends and family giving testimonials about the murdered father he'll never meet. Events take an unexpected, true-crime turn however, and tragedy further compounds itself by the film's end.
Pictured: Zachary with his grandparents Photo: Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories. More
(2000) Dancer in the Dark Leave it to Lars von Trier to make arguably the most depressing musical ever filmed. Things start out pretty bleak, with Björk starring as an impoverished factory worker who is pinching pennies to pay for an operation that will save her son from the same genetic, degenerative eye disease that is causing her to go blind. If that doesn't sound upsetting enough, things only go downhill from there.
Pictured: Björk Photo: Courtesy of Fine Line Features. More
(1982) Sophie's Choice Thanks to this critically lauded 1982 drama, the term "Sophie's Choice" has entered the lexicon to stand for any scenario where one must make an impossible decision. In this case, Meryl Streep's Sophie was forced to choose which of her two young children would be sent to the gas chamber when the family was imprisoned in Auschwitz. Streep brought home an Oscar for her performance, and the film as a whole pretty much set the gold standard for tearjerkers.
Pictured: Meryl Streep Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures. More
(2014) 12 Years a Slave One could argue that the saddest movies on the list are the ones depict the inhumanity of people or institutions in power. Steve McQueen's 2014 Best Picture winner is not only heartbreaking because it depicts the plight of one man sold into slavery, but because it depicts the cruelty that was once an accepted as status quo.
Pictured: Chiwetel Ejiofor Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures More
(1948) Bicycle Thieves Vittorio De Sica's 1948 Italian neorealist film is widely lauded as one of the best movies ever made. A young father is desperate to feed his impoverished family, so he scrapes together the money to buy the bicycle necessary for his new job hanging advertisements around the city. As luck would have it, his bike gets stolen on his first day on the job. With his young son in tow, the man sets out on a near impossible mission to get it back.
Pictured: Enzo Staiola and Lamberto Maggiorani Photo: Courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment. More
(2012) Amour Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke isn't known for making particularly uplifting films, and 2012's Amour is no exception. This Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film takes a profoundly sad and somber look at how an elderly Parisian couple fares when one half slips into dementia after a series of strokes.
Pictured: Emmanuelle Riva Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. More
(1983) Terms of Endearment No list of sad movies is complete without this 1983 dramedy. Shirley MacLaine's performance, particularly the part where she's dealing with the loss of her daughter, is the barometer against which all other sad-movie performances must be measured.
Pictured: Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. More
(2008) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas If Sophie's Choice and Life Is Beautiful taught us anything, the surefire formula for a devastating tearjerker combines the Holocaust with child mortality, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has both. Nine-year-old Bruno's family relocates near a concentration camp when his father, an SS officer, is given a promotion. Little Bruno sneaks off and befriends a prisoner his age near the edge of the camp, where they play checkers through the barbed wire. Although the two boys become great friends, little Bruno learns some hard truths about what his father does for a living, and why his new friend wears what he mistakenly assumes are pajamas.
Pictured: Jack Scanlon. Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. More
(2009) The Road In this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, this film's grim, post-apocalyptic vision makes the dystopia of The Hunger Games look downright desirable. The unnamed father and son duo do their best to keep hope alive in a bleak world where roving bands have turned to cannibalism in the bleak hellscape left over from an unspecified disaster.
Pictured: Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee Photo: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. More
(1975) The Day of the Locust John Schlesinger's 1975 adaptation of the Nathanael West novel of the same name is a grim look at Hollywood in the '30s, particularly at a group of broken has-beens and never-were who failed to make their show business dreams come true.
Pictured: A scene from The Day of the Locust Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. More
(2004) The Notebook Sure, we all like to think of 2004's The Notebook as an enduring love story first and foremost, especially given the fantastic circumstances leading up to Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling's sexy, rain-soaked kiss. However, we have to hand it to James Garner and Gena Rowlands for effectively reducing us all to tears at the end.
Pictured: Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema. More
(2005) Brokeback Mountain This heartbreaking love story of the 20-year affair between two ranch hands, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, was easily the most talked-about movie of 2005. Ledger and Gyllenhaal began an affair on a job site on the movie's titular mountain, before being fired by the summer's end. The pair continue with a shaky and sporadic relationship, despite their attempts to marry women and live lifestyles that society deemed more acceptable in the '60s to the '80s.
Pictured: Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features. More
(1998) Stepmom Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts play the respective ex-wife and fiancée to Ed Harris. The tension between the two is heightened when Sarandon passive aggressively uses her children as pawns in her quiet war with her ex. However, the women are forced to make peace when Sarandon is diagnosed with terminal cancer and they realize the family dynamics really will change forever.
Pictured: Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures. More
(2009) Precious This is easily one of the hardest movies on the list to watch. The 2009 Lee Daniels film tells the story of Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), an illiterate, pregnant 16-year-old who regularly escapes into her own fantasy world when faced with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her family. Despite being in the eighth grade at 16, Precious is tasked with getting her GED and ultimately changing her life's direction so that she can escape her abusive home and provide for her children.
Pictured: Gabourey Sidibe Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate. More
(1979) The Champ Franco Zeffirelli's 1979 remake of the 1931 film of the same name features a young Ricky Schroder in his film debut. The movie details the dysfunctional relationship between young T.J (Schroder) and his dad (Jon Voight), a former boxer turned alcoholic horse trainer with a gambling problem. However, things get more complicated as T.J.'s estranged mother (Faye Dunaway) comes back into the picture. Despite being just 9 years old, Schroder gives an incredibly impressive onscreen cry. In turn, it will definitely get your waterworks going.
Pictured: Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight Photo: Courtesy of United Artists. More
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