Home > Lists > 10 Movies That Have Made Me Cry (…or at Least Tear Up): 10 – 6

10 Movies That Have Made Me Cry (…or at Least Tear Up): 10 – 6

I recently watched the movie Radio for the first time. I was told that it could possibly make me cry by several people before, and the movie had been sitting in my Netflix queue for quite a while, though I hadn’t watched it because, let’s face it, who wants to just watch a movie that will just make you cry? But then, I sometimes am that person. I thought to myself, “You know, after watching The Walking Dead, I could really use a movie like that.”

It wasn’t that the episode of The Walking Dead I had just watched was just particularly grim, or anything, but I felt like watching something emotionally uplifting and inspirational. Radio seemed to fit that bill, and so I threw it on and… nothing. Nothing came out. Sure, it had a few recognizably tear-worthy moments but, overall? Nothing. Not even tears of joy. I was profoundly disappointed.

Am I the only one who wants to have these emotional outbursts with movies sometimes? I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t extraordinarily tired. I just wanted to watch something profoundly, emotionally true. Unfortunately, Radio is just not that great of a movie to begin with. And while I don’t normally find myself crying at movies, I doubt that I’m a cold, emotionless jerk. Afterall, there have been more than a few movies that have gotten me to that breaking point — even ones that aren’t particularly good, come to think of it. (Man… did Radio just suck that much?)

So, I submit to you this list. A list of ten movies that, in some way or another, have made me either cry or, at the very least, tear up consistently. Watch these movies, and I dare you to not feel emotionally touched, at least at some point during the movie. (Also, I’m apparently a very sensitive man, so please be nice…)

List is not necessarily in any particular order. These are just the first 5 entries. Spoilers Inbound! 

I Am Legend

This wasn’t a particularly good movie by any means. While the first half is pretty fantastic, the second half really fell apart. But that first half… man! Though not quite as stirring as the abandoned London of 28 Days Later, the computer-enhanced New York City in this film is still quite impressive in scope and its ability to instill fear and a bit of awe in audiences as Dr. Neville (Will Smith) and his dog, Sam, roam about the city as he goes about what has become his daily routine of trying to survive by day, get home by night, and find a cure for the disease that has turned everyone into zombie-vampire-like creatures.

Sam is his only true companion in this apocalypse, and his only living connection to the wife and daughter that he lost. As a puppy, Sam was a gift to his daughter, but when the plague struck, the doctor had his family airlifted out of the city, only to watch in horror as the helicopter was sent crashing back down. Sam becomes more than just a protector for him — she’s also, like most pets, a part of his family now, and the only living connection back to his lost loved ones.

But when they are attacked by a pack of infected dogs, Sam is bitten. She saves Neville, but quickly becomes unstable. He rushes back home and injects her with an experimental cure, and, holding the dog tightly in his arms, watches in grief as his only companion succumbs to the disease and begins to turn aggressive. Before she can cause him harm, Neville, tears in his eyes, is forced to strangle his last surviving family member to death. The scene is the modern day, sci-fi equivalent to Old Yeller, made all the more painful thanks to Smith’s performance in this scene and the next, where he attempts to have a conversation with one of the many mannequins he’s set up around the city in a futile attempt to give it a friendly population. It’s a shame that this movie couldn’t have been equally as brilliant throughout the rest of the movie, but that first half is almost worth the price of owning it alone.

King Kong

Call it overlong. Call it self-indulgent. I call it a blockbuster masterpiece. Though I admit it could have been trimmed down a bit, Peter Jackson’s remake of the 1933 original was a very artful blockbuster thrill ride that managed to throw in tons of action and peril while still having a profound emotional impact. And while you might be thinking that I’m going to single out the death of Kong as he falls off the Empire State Building in the fantastic climax, well… I’m not.

The scene that actually makes me tear up the most is just before that. After being taken from his home and away from the only person who showed compassion towards him, Kong is placed on Broadway in a reenactment of how he was discovered. When he discovers that the girl who was offered up to him on the island is being portrayed by another girl, Kong becomes enraged and escapes from his shackles, rampaging throughout the city. When Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) finds out what is going on, she knows she’s the only one who can tame him and goes to find him. When Kong finally finds her, the film’s action gives way to something surprisingly, emotionally resonant as Kong and Ann bond together once again as the once destructive beast becomes a gentle guardian. Jackson’s version of the film gets rid of the strange romantic vibe and replaces it with a bond between two easily exploited individuals.

The watery eyes come when Kong discovers the frozen lake. Still carrying Ann in his arms, he glides about playfully on the ice, something he has never seen before in his tropical home. He becomes filled with wonder and happiness, and the audience, if they haven’t already, comes to realize that this beast is something to be treasured, not exploited. Naomi Watts is wonderful as Ann, her eyes always filled with wonder and affection for Kong. Combined with Andy Serkis’ motion capture performance and Weta Digital’s gorgeous effects work, Kong becomes an incredibly sympathetic creature, and this quiet, poetic scene, bookended by exploitation and destruction, becomes the last chance we get to marvel at how wondrous he really is.

Superbad

Okay, this one’s a bit more unusual than the other movies on this list, but hear me out! Superbad may be a crass “guy” movie, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a heart, okay! In true Judd Apatow-esque fashion, this movie hides a lot of emotional truth beneath its sex-joke littered exterior.

After a night of obtaining booze, losing the booze, and going through all types of hell only to realize that the girls of their dreams aren’t what they imagined them to be, Seth and Evan, best friends since childhood, literally retreat to Evan’s home, exhausted, humiliated, and incredibly drunk. They expected the night to be the turning point of their adolescent lives, but instead found that they’re none the wiser for their experiences, and all they want to do now is go to sleep.

As they tuck themselves in, the two of them unload the feelings they’ve been having for the past few weeks as they prepare for the end of high school and face a future in college — most likely apart from each other. Evan (Michael Cera), the more intelligent and rational of the two, is likely going to Dartmouth with their tenuous friend Fogell, and Seth (Jonah Hill), who’ll be lucky to make it into a state college, fears that he will lose Evan to distance and Fogell’s interference.

As he confesses his feelings, Seth has an epiphany: He loves Evan! And not, like, in the gay kind of way, but like, as a brother, you know? And what’s so wrong about that? So he tells Evan, and Evan, too realizes, that, dude, he loves Seth, too! And as the two drunken teens confess their brotherly love for each other, yes… that’s when I started watering up. Dude, it’s totally okay to cry about loving your close friend, okay!

Monsters Inc.

This movie is perhaps one of the more imaginative and fun-filled of Pixar’s films, and yet it has the briefest of any of the scenes on this list.

Sully (John Goodman) has done the unthinkable in Monstropolis. He has actually grown attached to a little human girl, and has even given her a nickname: Boo. Boo, in turn, believes Sully is a big blue and purple cat, and so she calls him, of course, “Kitty!” Though his buddy Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) is apprehensive about the whole situation, he, too, grows to love the adorable little girl, and the two monsters fight to keep her safe from their conniving rival, Randall (Steve Buscemi).

When they finally overcome Randall and the conspiracy going on behind closed doors at Monsters Inc., they are told that Boo has to go back home for good. Sully reluctantly takes Boo back into her room in the human world, tucks her in, and gently but abruptly leaves through the closet door. Boo, thinking he’s playing, rushes over and flings the door open. “Boo!” … But Sully’s already gone. Teared up yet? No, we’re not there yet…

A while later, Sully continues to hold on to a small shard of Boo’s now destroyed door. After a hard day’s work harvesting energy from kids’ laughter, Mike pulls Sully aside, only to show him that he’s pieced together Boo’s door again — at least, most of it. “It only works if you have every piece.” Sully pulls out the missing shard and taps it into place. As he opens the door, he doesn’t know what to expect. He looks around hopefully and… “Kitty!” a little voice calls out. Sully’s face fills with absolute joy. And that is when the waterworks come!

Stand by Me

Here’s one film where it’s a bit more personal for me in the reasons why I cried, so bear with me. Everyone has their issues with their own dad. Some more than others. I was in the latter category. In the film Stand By Me, almost every guy could identify with one of the boys in the film. There are characteristics in each of them that I could point out also pertain to me, but the one I identified most with was Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton, Star Trek: The Next Generation).

I wasn’t a very secure child, and I still struggle with anxiety and doubt as an adult. Unlike the more aggressive Teddy (Corey Feldman), whose issues with his father were far more physical than the relationship I had with my own biological father, Gordie and I shared more than the insecurities and a fondness for writing. We also shared the emotional emptiness when it came to our fathers.

The whole point of the boys’ journey throughout the film is to find the dead body of a missing boy who may have been struck by a train and become local heroes. After a long journey and learning experience, they finally discover the boy’s body. Gordie, who had recently lost his more athletic and protective older brother to a car accident, suddenly breaks down when he remembers how much sorrow he now feels when at home. “My dad hates me!” he cries out to his best friend, Chris (River Phoenix), who tries to comfort him in turn.

Wheaton’s performance is startlingly realistic in this scene, and I completely identified with him. I didn’t have an older brother to be compared to, but I definitely had the same expectations placed upon me — expectations that I couldn’t and never would live up to. Gordie eventually takes solace in Chris’ reassurance that he will go on to show his father his worth through his writing, with or without his support. And despite a sudden interruption of the scene, the emotional baggage, already informed by the struggles the boys go through beforehand, carries on heavily through to the end of the film, where we are told the fates of each of the boys as time has moved on.

PART II >> 5 – 1


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