We could all use a good cry every once in a while — yes, even if you identify as a Cameron Diaz in The Holiday-level non-crier. When life gets busy, it’s hard to find a good moment to let the tears flow, so that’s why we love watching sad movies that give us an excuse to get it all out. A good cry sesh is a key part of watching any sad movie (or happy movie with some very sad moments). Plus, did you know that a good cry can release endorphins and oxytocin? AKA the same chemicals released by physical exercise, which is way less fun? The next time someone asks why you’re watching The Notebook for the 17th time, tell them that.
Now, we assume that most of you have a list of go-to sad movies at home (no?). But just in case you don’t, we’ve gathered up our favorites here for when you just want to curl up on the couch and work your way through a box of tissues. Honestly, some of Hollywood’s finest films can only be described as tearjerkers — so you’re not just getting an emotional release, you’re watching very important cinema. It’s basically like going to a museum from the comfort of your couch.
From heart-wrenching love stories to seemingly-innocent children’s movies, these are the movies that keep tissue companies in business. We recommend you space them out with something soothing, like an episode of Friends — but up to you!
A version of this article was originally published in July 2015.
The sadness layers to this ’90s classic are endless. And any time Celine Dion busts out “My Heart Will Go On,” you know a crying situation is on the horizon.
Look, every version of Dumbo is tragic — but Tim Burton’s 2019 live-action remake is especially hard to watch. Seeing a real elephant be separated from his mom at a young age is somehow even harder to bear than the adorable cartoon version (in our opinion, anyway).
‘The Sun Is Also a Star’
Natasha Kingsley and her whole family are facing deportation to Jamaica — but on her last day in the U.S., she meets Daniel Bae, and a doomed whirlwind romance sweeps her away.
‘Short Term 12’
Brie Larson shines in this heartfelt film about a staff member at a foster care facility trying to reach the troubled teens she works with. The foster care environment soon forces Grace (Larson) to contend with her own past.
‘The Theory of Everything’
When Stephen Hawking meets his first wife Jane, he’s a young, ambitious Cambridge student. But he’s soon diagnosed with motor neuron disease, and his life — and relationship with Jane — abruptly change.
This 1993 Holocaust film by Steven Spielberg is a classic for a reason — few films have captured the cold brutality of the time as effectively. Oh, and that John Williams score will make you cry if the events of the film (for some reason) don’t suffice.
Considering the movie is largely based around the concept of death, you’d think we’d be prepared for waterworks. But children’s movie Coco manages to totally squeeze every last tear out of your body.
It’s a bold statement to make, but Old Yeller might be the biggest tear-jerker of all time. The 1957 film is about a young boy and his dog and, well, if animal movies are rough for you, you might want to skip this one.
This 1988 movie is the tale of two BFFs from very different walks of life. Needless to say, you’ll need your bestie to watch this one with you so you can comfort each other through the ending.
The incomparable Meryl Streep plays a Holocaust survivor in this 1982 film. You can only imagine the emotions involved.
Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood, as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. It’s no small feat in the rough Miami neighborhood he was raised in.
If this 2016 indie doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you might not be human.
‘A Monster Calls’
We bet you can’t even get through a short synopsis of this movie without knowing you’ll need to grab tissues.
A young boy who is relentlessly bullied at school and dealing with a terminally ill mother at home seeks solace in a tree monster.
‘A Walk to Remember’
The tears come flooding out when Landon proposes to Jamie, knowing full well that Jamie only has a little time left to live. Just when you thought you couldn’t cry any more, Landon’s monologue after Jamie’s death about his unending love for her will completely rip your heart out.
Although this movie tugs at your heart strings multiple times, the saddest part is at the end, when Tim is forced to choose between visiting his deceased father and staying in the present to be with his wife and children.
Nothing hurts more than watching a heartbroken Channing Tatum lose the love of his life after being separated too soon. The end gives you a little bit of hope that they will be together again, although you are left uncertain and impossibly sad for the both of them.
The scene where Forrest meets his son, Forrest Jr., is emotional because you just know that Forrest Sr. is going to make an amazing dad to the adorable young Haley Joel Osment. This scene just might be even more tearjerking than the movie’s main loss.
Ghost was sad enough after Demi Moore’s character Molly lost her other half in the violent shooting scene. However, the ending was even more painful as Molly and the ghost of Sam finally had to say goodbye forever.
‘Good Will Hunting’
The famous “it’s not your fault” scene where therapist Sean Maguire finally breaks through with the troubled Will Hunting will hit you right in the heart. Few things evoke more tears than seeing Matt Damon sob while clinging to the amazing Robin Williams.
Inside Out is Pixar’s latest tearjerker, telling the story of a young girl’s emotional struggles. Perhaps the saddest part is when she loses her imaginary friend Bing-Bong in her forgotten memories. He makes the saddest plea to “make sure she goes to the moon for me” and that is when you will lose it.
A memorably depressing moment of this film is the scene where Emma Thompson sobs to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” after finding out she is being cheated on. Any woman who has been there before will be hit right in the feels by this heart-rending moment.
‘Marley and Me’
It doesn’t matter who you are or how you feel about dogs, anyone will cry like an absolute baby when there are dogs like this involved. We will love Marley forever.
‘Pay It Forward’
Nothing inspires a good, long cry like sad music. The saddest part of this movie is made even worse by the background song “Calling all Angels” that plays at poor Trevor’s candlelit vigil. Let the sobbing begin.
‘P.S I Love You’
This movie is basically a continuous sob-fest. Whether it’s tears of sadness after Gerry dies or tears of bittersweet happiness while you watch the widowed Holly experience the amazing surprises her deceased husband left for her, either way you will be crying quite a bit.
‘The Fault In Our Stars’
If you read the book, you know the drill. The gut-wrenching twist is just not fair. Augustus Waters is so adorable and sensitive, and watching poor Hazel Grace deal with her illness while also falling in love will bring the tears flooding in no time.
Possibly one of the most heartbreaking movie moments of all time, the ending scene where Noah and Allie peacefully die in each other’s loving arms is the most soul-crushing way to end a romance that was already so full of touching and agonizing moments.
‘The Pursuit of Happyness’
Will Smith’s character Chris Gardner’s persistance to provide a better life for his adorable son in The Pursuit of Happyness is an emotional roller coaster. You will cry sad, ugly tears while watching the homeless Chris struggle, but then tears of utter happiness after all of his hard work finally pays off.
Watching The Vow conjures up tears of frustration, as you want so badly for Paige to remember her husband, the sexy and sensitive Leo. She never does though, but she does fall in love with him all over again after a rather gut-wrenching series of events.
It doesn’t take very long at all for this movie to make you bawl, hitting you with one of the most depressing fictional deaths ever right off the bat. The death of Carl’s wife is alleviated, however, by the sweet friendship that forms between him and Russell, which will make you cry much happier tears at the end.
‘Terms of Endearment’
Watching a mother with cancer say goodbye to her frustrated kids for the last time is guaranteed not to leave a dry eye in the house.
‘Road to Perdition’
Even with all the gritty mob drama that can almost overshadow the relationship between a father and his son, the tragic ending will catch you by surprise.
Seeing what really went on in the gay community and how much work it took to get where we are today will break your heart.
Based on a novel of the same name, this movie about an imprisoned young mother and her child will have you crying all the way through.
Also based on a book of the same title, Julianne Moore won her Best Actress Oscar for portraying a woman’s descent into early Alzheimer’s disease.
‘Me Before You’
When Lou Clark falls for a man for whom she has become a caretaker, no one’s prepared for their deep connection — or the heartbreaking ending that lies ahead.
Not gonna lie, our noses are running just looking at this still of Sandra Bloom cuddling with her dying husband, Ed Bloom, in the bathtub.
‘What Dreams May Come’
Now that Robin Williams is gone, this heartbreaking film about suicide and losing family members is even harder to watch than it was before.
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