September is my birth month (my birthday is September 25th so call 424 – CHAT – FTS (424-242-8387) and leave me a birthday voicemail!!) which means birthdays, which often mean parties!! If there’s one thing I know about parties, it’s what Lesley Gore famously sang: It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to. So my list is nothing but films that are guaranteed to make me cry. That being said, there will be spoilers in my reasoning so if I list a movie you haven’t seen yet, I’d skip why I cry during that film until you’ve seen it and potentially cry yourself. Time to grab some Kleenex and comfort food.. Enjoy!

#8. FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
After Kevin Costner takes the time to “build it” so “they will come”, he soon discovers that a baseball team from the past appears and begins to play on the field. What’s crazier is he meets his father and one of the most heartfelt moments unfolds. They have a conversation and as his father, played by Ray Liotta, walks away, Kevin Costner’s character calls out to him, “Hey Dad… you wanna have a catch?” And as he says it, the slightest tremble in his voice happens and he is close to tears. Holy Shit. Soon as that scene begins to happen, tears are in my eyes and I’m inches from bawling. It shows you, that with the right actor, and the right delivery, the simplest of questions can tug at your heartstrings.

#7. BRIAN’S SONG (1971)
When I was young, my father told me that there is only one movie men are allowed to cry at, and that’s Brian’s Song. It’s the story of two football players, one white and one black, who become very close friends as camp goes along. But one gets diagnosed with cancer and his slow decline breaks your heart all the way up to his goodbye speech. It’s one of, if not THE, greatest roles James Caan has ever and will ever have.

#6. CASABLANCA (1942)
It wasn’t until a screening of this film down in New Orleans that I realized the power of song. I had seen Casablanca on the screen many many times on DVD, BluRay, and TV and not once did I get upset. When I had the opportunity to see it on the big screen, I jumped at the chance and it forever ruined my chance of seeing the film all the way through with dry eyes. The scene that sets me off is when Ilsa (Ingmar Bergman) makes her way through Rick’s one night only to discover Sam (Dooley Wilson) is playing piano. Knowing Sam from a long time ago she asks him to play a special song that’s reminiscent of a love she once shared with the club’s owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart). I had never really focused on the words to “As Time Goes By” before but once the lyrics started clicking, the tears began flowing. What’s worse was the theatre was crowded AND I was sitting next to an attractive and presumably single woman. So now, no matter the format, I get teary and a bit choked up. Thanks movie theaters that show classic films on the big screen. Thanks a lot!

#5. NEVER LET ME GO (2010)
This movie is very hit and miss with most people. I enjoyed it to add it to my Annual Valentines Day Movie Marathon. It’s a marathon where I watch 3 or 4 films about love, get drunk, and look at how these films parallel my relationships. While a film about genetic clones used for medical purposes has NOTHING to do with my love life, the point where Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Kathy (Carey Mulligan) finally fall in love does. They fall in love after growing up together, and at times, apart, only to discover that it’s too late to save the relationship they have started. Tommy has donated organs too many times and will die soon. When you’re in love, you feel invincible. That nothing can happen to you because someone is right there by your side to help you and guide you along the way. The film introduces a morality we often forget and shows us that love, though the feelings and idea may always be forever, doesn’t have that same effect on people. That one day, our time will come and we’ll no longer physically be with the one we love. Tommy was lead away from Kathy by Ruth (Kiera Knightley) into a false love keeping them together so she could feel that sense on invincibility. But as they got older and that idea got farther and father away, they parted ways finally giving Tommy and Kathy a chance at love. A love, that was too late.

#4. CAST AWAY (2000)
Spoiler Alert, Tom Hanks escapes the island. But he brings along the only friend he’s had, a volleyball named Wilson. After a major storm, Tom falls asleep and Wilson rolls off the raft and begins to float away. Tom wakes up and discovers his friend is gone. He sees him floating away in the distance, leaps off the raft and goes after him. As Tom begins to shout after him, the saddest strings begin to play and you just know that Tom is too weak to save his best friend. I remember being in middle school and watching this on DVD and having to leave the room because I was crying so hard. To this day, I often times leave the room before that scene even happens.

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling gave extraordinary performances in the film that was overlooked and underrated. The film explores the beginnings of new love while at the same time showing the ending decay of that love. Most of the film is tragic and leaves you with the knot in your stomach you get from crying too hard. There are too many moments to pick where I reach for a tissue or paused the movie to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. It’s a film that I want to watch again, but can’t commit to that much heartbreak. I truly believe if Williams and Gosling weren’t in the lead roles, the film wouldn’t have the same impact. You wouldn’t truly feel the heart in heartbreak. They bring a reality and genuine nature to it that could have gotten lost in translation as pure anger or spite.

Schindler’s List is a rough movie altogether. It’s about the holocaust so you know there isn’t going to be a gag reel during the credits. It’s not the tragedy or trials and tribulations the Jewish characters go through, but the heart breaking speech Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) gives as he looks around at those he was able to save. He cries because it’s not good enough. He starts to go through his possessions and look at their worth in the lives that he could have saved and to see a man, who changed his heart and saved so many, was broken that he could not save more. It’s a beautiful yet tragic moment that I will always remember.

#1. MANHATTAN (1979)
My favorite Woody Allen film begins with beauty and ends with an optimistic yet beautiful heartbreak. At the very end of the film, Woody’s character has one last conversation with a girl whom he left to be with someone else because the girl was 17 at the time and the other woman was closer to his age and somehow a polar opposite. Realizing the error in his ways, he rushes to the girls apartment and sees that she’s leaving for school in France. As he begins to beg and plead her to stay, the most moving violin section of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue begins to play. As soon as the bow hits the strings I’m done. I’m a complete wreck as she rationalizes her decision and what Woody needs to do to be able to truly love someone. The conversation ends, the full band strikes up and joins the violins in my favorite movement of the piece as it plays out over the Manhattan night sky.

What movies cause you to fight back tears?


About Nick

Nick can be heard every week on the FTS podcast making puns, complaining about Will and laying down his unique insight on film.

37 thoughts on “Top 8 Films That Make Me Cry

  1. I have cried every one of the 362 times I’ve watched Little Women. Goddammit Beth. The last 10 minutes of An Affair to Remember is a huge tearjerker. Movies make me cry all the time though!

  2. Excellent list! Never Let Me Go got to me too, and Schindler’s speech about those he *could* have saved is definitely powerful. Blue Valentine was tough — so many lost opportunities to reconnect. I can also see why Cast Away could be heart-wrenching. “Wilson!”

  3. Movies that made me tear up.

    Forrest Gump
    Marley & Me
    I Am Sam
    Schindler’s List
    The Pianist
    American History X
    E.T. – The Extraterrestrial
    The Pursuit of Happyness

  4. One of the films that makes me cry every time I see it is Mighty Joe Young. The scene at the end where Joe climbs up the burning ferris wheel to save the little boy, and then the ferris wheel breaks and tips over, and Joe falls, but is still able to protect the kid. Then Joe is laying there, and everybody thinks hes dead. Ughhh, that scene makes me cry, every time without fail.

  5. One that never fails to get me emotional is ‘The Color Purple’ a complicated emotional roller coaster that left me in an exhausted combination of happiness and sadness. . and always prompted me to call my sister

  6. Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan, Spocks death scene, and subsequent funeral, always get to me. When Kirk’s voice cracks during the eulogy, I lose it.

  7. So Nick, you’re a guy that gets blubbery from THESE films. Boy what a sissy!

    First off, Ray Liotta didn’t play the father in Field of Dreams, he played Shoeless Joe Jackson.

    The ending in Schindler’s List was completely made up and instead of making me cry, I got really ticked off at it. I hated it, to me, it ruined the film. It was just typical Spielberg pushing buttons at the expense of authenticity. Schindler simply made an escape and said goodbye to no one. If Spielberg had just kept his departure more subtle, it would have maintained Schindler as enigmatic as the rest of the film had done.

    Hell, if there was any film that had me come close to tears, it was The Deer Hunter. The ultimate male-bonding film.

  8. Ok, Color Purple was one too. Ironically Spielberg again.

    But the real clincher was The Dirty Dozen when Jim Brown gets it. I just fall to pieces when that comes up.

  9. Imitation of Life…the funeral at end is heart wrenching and this is the very first tear-jerker I remember watching as a young boy.

  10. Big Fish, watched the movie a couple times and can’t get through the end with out tearing up. Kind of a similar ending as Field of Dreams with the father/son story lines, but more moving IMO.

  11. Seriously…not one person mentions The Notebook?
    What about My Sister’s Keeper?
    And the beginning of PS I Love You…where he’s gone and she’s in the apartment, slowly losing it, listening to his voicemail over and over again.

  12. I’ve only seen one of these (how embarrassing) so I might be getting my cry on soon and checking some more out! I’m quite a sucker for tear jerkers, wouldn’t surprise me if they all get me (although I think I was fine for Blue Valentine haha)

    One’s I cried for that I can remember:
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Cafe de Flore
    Dark Knight Rises (hmmmm!)

  13. Great article, I wish I could be as brave as you. I’m a sentimental fool at heart and I’m always crying at movies. Of course, I never admit it, and if I ever feel tears coming on while watching a film with my wife I’ll feign that elusive bit of dust in my eye and start rubbing it to make it better!

    Of the films you mentioned above Field of Dreams never fails to bring out my sentimental side.

  14. Pingback: Top 5 Movies That Make Me Cry | French Toast Sunday

  15. what about The Champ with Jon Voight & Ricky Shoroder? “Wake Up Champ!”…Wow & definitely Imitation of Life, Cooley High, Brian’s Song, Ladder49, the Notebook, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (OMG)

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