When you just feel like sobbing, the right movie can be the perfect way to get a ”good cry.”
Here are ten movies that are sure to tug at your heartstrings and make you cry like a baby. And we’re going from newest to oldest because, let’s be honest, the likelihood that you’ve seen the film decreases with every decade. Oh, and watch out—spoilers ahead!
Related: Top 10 Songs That Evoke Powerful Emotions
10 Me Before You (2016)
I’ve got a bone to pick with Jojo Moyes. As the author of the book Me Before You, she had some nerve emotionally destroying us all like that.
It’s easy to identify with Louisa Clark, a quirky and cheerful girl who takes on a job as a caretaker for a wealthy quadriplegic man named Will Traynor. Will was a successful businessman and adrenaline junkie before a motorcycle accident paralyzed him from the neck down.
Slowly, Will falls for Louisa’s sweetness and stories of glittery wellies. But it all starts to unravel when Louisa learns that Will has made the difficult decision to end his life through assisted suicide in Switzerland. She sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
Obviously, they fall in love (how could you not fall in love with Emilia Clarke or Sam Claflin). Still, Will’s decision to end his life looms over their relationship. As you watch this story play out, you desperately want Will to choose a life with Louisa. And his choice not to will make you cry so hard you can barely breathe.
But as Will dies peacefully with his family and his love by his side, you can understand his desire to move on from a life full of pain. You don’t like it, but you understand it.
9 The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Before you watch a story that focuses on two young cancer patients, you should prepare yourself. This will not end well, but it will end beautifully, okay? Okay.
Based on the brilliant book by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars follows Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenage girl with lung cancer who attends a support group for teens. There in the “literal heart of Jesus,” she meets Augustus Waters, a charming and witty boy in remission from osteosarcoma.
Hazel and Augustus bond over their shared love of a book called An Imperial Affliction and decide to travel to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive author, Peter Van Houten, in hopes of getting answers to some of the book’s unresolved questions.
He turns out to be a terrible human being, but they still have a good time… at least until Augustus’s cancer comes back with a vengeance.
Watching him struggle with his deteriorating health will kick off a never-ending parade of tears that won’t stop until the credits roll.
8 My Sister’s Keeper (2009)
How much would you give to keep your sister alive?
Based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper asks this difficult question. The story follows Anna Fitzgerald, a teenage girl who was only conceived through IVF to be a genetic match for her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia.
Anna has undergone numerous medical procedures to keep Kate alive, including bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions. When Kate’s condition worsens, and she requires a kidney transplant, Anna files a lawsuit against her parents for medical emancipation, demanding the right to make decisions about her own body.
They have all sacrificed for Kate’s sake, but is Anna being forced to give too much?
While the whole concept of this movie is worth the tears you’ll shed, it’s the goodbye scene that hits the hardest. Kate apologizes for the pain she caused simply by existing and struggling with things outside her control.
7 Becoming Jane (2007)
Who would have thought that the most famous romance writer of all time would have the most depressing love life?
Becoming Jane is a biographical romantic drama inspired by the life of the famous British author Jane Austen. The movie is fictionalized but uses real events and people from her life as inspiration for the story.
Played by Anne Hathaway, Austen struggles to find a suitable husband in late 18th-century England. Then she meets Tom Lefroy, a charming but penniless young lawyer. But the fire and wit that keeps them at odds are what ultimately connect them.
As Jane and Tom’s romance deepens, they face opposition from their families and society. Jane must choose between her desire for love, her duty to her family, and the societal expectations of a woman of her time.
But here’s where the dam breaks on those tears.
In the end, it isn’t really her choice. Even though you know how it ends, you can’t help wishing that Tom will throw all his responsibilities away for love. At least the final scene gives a little bit of closure, letting us know that she never left his thoughts.
6 Finding Neverland (2004)
Since this film was centered around the famous play Peter Pan and its creator, you’d think it would be full of lighthearted adventure.
Nope. Plan for tears. Lots of tears.
Finding Neverland is a historical fantasy drama directed by Marc Forster and is a fictionalized account of J.M. Barrie’s life. It earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. As Barrie, played by Johnny Depp, struggles to write another hit play, he meets a widow and her four sons. The family becomes his source of inspiration for Peter Pan. Barrie creates a magical world of pirates, fairies, and adventure that the boys thrive in.
As Barrie becomes more involved in the boys’ lives, he faces criticism from his wife and the society around him for his unconventional behavior and questionable motives. But despite it all, he is determined to bring this world to life on stage for those boys (and their mother… *wink*).
Even though many elements of the film are heartbreaking, the loss of Ms. Davies will crush you. With the boys left motherless, Barrie becomes a source of strength for them as they process their grief.
And you’ll be processing your own grief right along with them, thanks to this movie.
5 Life Is Beautiful (1998)
Life Is Beautiful is set in Italy during World War II. It follows an Italian Jewish man named Guido, played by Roberto Benigni, who also directed this masterpiece. After marrying the love of his life and starting a family, Guido is taken to a concentration camp along with his young son, Giosue.
In an effort to protect his son from the horrors of the camp, Guido tells him that it’s all a game. And if he earns enough points, he’ll win a tank. Thanks to his father’s optimism and imagination, his son can find joy despite the cruelty and brutality around them.
But I will tell you right now that this movie doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war. If you want a cathartic cry, this movie will keep the tears coming. Still, the message of the human capacity for resilience and hope is worth crying over.
Life is Beautiful won three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actor for Benigni, and Best Original Score. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time and has been praised for its emotional depth, powerful performances, and uplifting message.
Oh, and watch it in Italian with subtitles. Trust me—it’s more powerful that way.
4 My Girl (1991)
My Girl is one of those coming-of-age stories that will both traumatize you and heal something you didn’t know was broken.
This movie is set in the summer of 1972 and follows an 11-year-old tomboy named Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky). She lives in a funeral home with her father, played by Dan Aykroyd. Talk about a weird childhood.
Between her unusual home and her mother’s loss, Vada struggles to understand death. She’s on the verge of being a hypochondriac. Navigating the challenges of growing up, Vada attends summer school because she’s in love with her teacher, tries makeup for the first time, and gets her first period.
She goes on all these adventures with a shy boy named Thomas J. (Macaulay Culkin). As the summer progresses, their friendship deepens. And then Thomas J., who is allergic, is stung by a hive of bees.
Cue the waterworks.
Watching Vada face the grief of his death, you will question everything you know about life and love. But if you can reach the end, it leaves you with a memorable lesson.
3 Steel Magnolias (1989)
It is impossible to watch the last twenty minutes of this movie and not sob like a baby, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. So this is one you should always watch with friends—”I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence.”
Steel Magnolias is the quintessential friendship movie, full of timeless quotes and inspiring characters. Directed by Herbert Ross and based on the play by Robert Harling, the story takes place in a small southern town and follows the lives of a group of women.
Dolly Parton, who plays Truvy Jones, runs a beauty salon in town. Julia Roberts plays Shelby, a young bride with her mother M’Lynn played by Sally Field. The film focuses on their relationship over time and the power of a community of women to carry them through joy and sorrow.
It’s not until the very end that the tears really start flowing. As M’Lynn struggles to cope with losing her daughter, Field gives us the performance of a lifetime.
2 Love Story (1970)
Never has there been a more obnoxious main character than Jennifer Cavilleri (played by Ali MacGraw). And yet, the end of this movie will leave you completely destroyed. She grows on you quickly, and the love story in this film slowly transitions from infatuation to enduring dedication.
Love Story was directed by Arthur Hiller and based on the novel by Erich Segal. In it, Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) is a wealthy Harvard student, as evident by the pretentious name. But he falls in love with Jennifer, a working-class Radcliffe student. They get married, despite the objections of Oliver’s snobbish family. Reality hits them dead on as they face challenges like Oliver’s disapproving father, financial struggles, and Jennifer’s diagnosis of a fatal illness.
And that’s when you cry until you pass out—which is when the unforgettable score by Francis Lai will lull you to sleep.
1 An Affair to Remember (1957)
There’s a reason why four female characters in Sleepless in Seattle start sobbing because of this movie. It is the ultimate chick-flick love story—the godfather of romance. This beloved classic has been rightfully recognized as one of the greatest romantic films of all time.
The story follows Nickie Ferrante, a wealthy and charming playboy (Cary Grant), and singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr). The two meet on a transatlantic ocean liner and are immediately drawn to each other despite being engaged to other people. They agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building.
But here’s the kicker. Terry never makes it to the top. While a car accident leaves her paralyzed on the street below, Nickie waits long into the night for a love that never shows. (I know; you’re already starting to cry. But that’s not even the saddest part.)
It’s the moment when they’re together, and he finally realizes what happened that will leave you using up the last of your year’s supply of Kleenex.