Today I took my little dragons to see “We Bought A Zoo” which was the only movie I could imagine lasting through that they desired to see that didn’t involve Muppet’s or chipmunks. I knew little of it other than it starred Matt Damon and was a Cameron Crowe flick. Together I didn’t estimate the quality of said flick could be too awful and more importantly the dragons were earnest to see it. What I didn’t anticipate was how sentimental the content would be or how vulnerable it would render adult and child. This isn’t meant to be a review of the film though I did clearly enjoy it, but it made me realize how few and far in between it’s been that a movie has actually gotten me to spill tears. So this list is a personal one that is meant to inspire you to share movies that have touched you in one way or another as well. The ten most prevalent tear jerking movies in my life are here for you to empathize or perhaps turn your head sideways at.
Honorable Mention: Babylon 5 “Sleeping In The Light”
Though this list had an inspiration today, the fictional piece of work that has a most profound effect on my person is actually the final episode of Babylon 5. For those that have seen it, all I need quote is, “every morning for as long as she lived” and you’ll understand. Not only does this result in myself bawling hysterically during but for several hours afterwards. For the rest of you, just watch the damn show, it’s worth your while.
The first fifteen minutes was just as remarkable as Wall-E’s intro, but instead of visually, just such an honest depiction of a couples life together, the trials, mortality, and the reflection of an entire life of dreams, hopes, and happiness together. When tragedy is met I declare you soulless if you don’t feel a lump rise in your throat. This is no allegory of fantasy Disney Cinderella love. It is authentic, and doesn’t feel contrived for one minute. It’s at this point where the adult audience is going to develop an empathy for our Curmudgeon hero, while the youth is going to be laughing at his tennis ball walker and round nose.
9. RETURN OF THE KING: LORD OF THE RINGS
There is amazing character development and plot twists, but there is also one of the most overwhelming battles scenes ever onscreen. Weta not only needed to construct a massive attack with tens of thousands of Orc’s attacking Minas Tirith, but they also had to make the White City itself, which was an enormous undergoing. With special effects including giant Olyphants, a towering city, the giant spider Shelob, Barad-Dur, Mount Doom, The Witch King, 10,000 Rohirrim, and a ghost army, Return Of The King was a special effects dynasty. The emptiness of hopelessness is grasped so clearly in this film that it evokes real emotions. The battle of Minas Tirith is painful and awful to watch. It has amazing action sequences, but there are so many cuts to the actual demise of the city, and it’s people, despair is a greater emotion conveyed than the excitement of a great battle scene. When the Rohirrim show up and the light of the sun is behind them, facing overwhelming odds, yet giving that brief feel of hope, I choke up each time I watch it. It is one of the most powerful moments in cinema history. That one moment captures the entire essence of the entire story and brings it to a crashing pause of reflection, fear, and hope.
After years of serving Rome the greatest general it ever knew Maximus has been deemed a traitor after the son of the now dead Caesar takes over rule. Surviving his assassination attempt, Maximus returns home to find his family brutally murdered. He vows vengeance and in the process somehow becomes a slave only to work his way to battle his nemesis. After killing Commodus he falls over from a mortal would and envisions himself walking through the wheat field to meet his wife and son. Happy and sad tears.
7. BRIAN’S SONG
This story about a friendship between real life people Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, two football players, explores the companionship and hardships when it’s discovered Brian is dying. The genuine friendship and heartfelt relationship between the two men goes beyond palpable and really touches you. Nothing cheesy about this one.
Beaches is the epitome of chick flick. It’s a movie guys of all stations don’t get. Women generally watch it together and it is nearly guaranteed to become a tear-fest . Though it has all the stereotypical qualities to it, it has levels of depth and genuine connections between the characters that make it not just a “chick flick”, but a great movie as well. Though there is clearly tragedy looming in the future, the blooming of the friendship between Midler and Hershey is infectious and literally impossible not to get caught up in. Threw their drama, their fights, and the depths of their friendship that stands the test of time, it only has one final test to make. With the powerful voice of Bette Midler to be the voice of the films pathos….hysterics are inevitable for any of us gals that’s ever had a friend they loved so dearly.
5. SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
When life doesn’t turn out exactly as Deanie had intended Natalie Wood takes this character to the mattresses. She emotes a broken heart like no one I’d ever seen on screen before or since. Just picturing her mangled and distorted face pained by the loss of her love brings a sense of sorrow over me. Anyone who’s ever really been in love and had their heart broken, knows it feels that intense. Every time I watch this movie it makes me miss Natalie Wood that much more.
4. GOOD WILL HUNTING
Good Will Hunting is a resonating story about hope, loss, dreams, and love. This journey taken with extraordinary Will Hunting learning about life and himself is a palpable tale of self discovery and emergence into adulthood and the fears it holds. Will is the kind of guy who doesn’t take any chances in life, so he doesn’t have anything ever worth losing. His profound genius is just a symptom of his personality rather than the defining trait, his would be teacher played by Stellan Skarsgard, perceives it should be. With his future at the brink of his own discretion we take a look into the choices he makes that will change his future. The fears and apprehension that follow is explored in such a genuine manner, it becomes incredibly easy to connect and empathize with Will. This one gives sad tears from letting go of his past, and happy ones when he “goes to see about a girl.”
3. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
Edward as a gentle, kind hearted soul who doesn’t know how to connect with the rest of the world even though he desperately wants to, and what person can’t relate that sentiment? His relationship with the stereotypical cheerleader who supposedly has everything on the outside is clearly just as miserable on the inside as Edward. Their intimate relationship and different kind of love is heartbreaking as neither can comfort one another they way they want to. It is truly the greatest unconsummated love ever on film. Anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider, or ever felt alone can probably relate to Edward. The love story and his alienation from the world makes me sob every time.
2. GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
The realism of the situation was something I wasn’t prepared for. It really tapped into the sorrow of war and tragedy of real people. With these two small children as the centerpiece, it couldn’t have been more difficult to sit through. The struggle against their own family, and against their own people was dumbfounding. It literally burned my soul to see the awful intolerance for Seita and Setsuko. In our world, we are taught to protect children, and here they had no one but each other.
1. STEEL MAGNOLIAS
I’ve easily sat threw this film thirty or more times and every single time without missing a beat do I laugh hysterically enough to cry, and cry tears of sadness, followed by a moment of hilarious hysterics. This film often gets lumped into the category of “chick flick” but this isn’t a film for only women to connect to, even though it’s characters are centered around women, it’s a film about life, loss, love, and family. In the midst of it’s brilliant writing is amazing acting, and comedy that is second to none. I love this movie dearly, and willfully allow myself to let the waterworks go each time I watch it.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.