(WARNING: This post contains MAJOR spoilers for the movies listed below. You've been warned)
According to science, crying is good for our health. When I say science, I'm being very vague. Now that we're all older, most of us won't admit that on the odd occasion — whether it be chopping an onion, having a moment, or watching a film — you hold back the tears, or, if you're more open to it, you just let the waterworks run their course.
We all need a bit of cathartic release once in a while. I'm not condoning you should go and have a cry now, but research shows a good sob session reduces stress levels, it lowers your blood pressure, rids of certain toxins, and also, it means you're human. Getting soppy now?
It's only in the past year have a handful of films started to make me sad, and am not at all embarrassed to admit that. Now, I'm going to list which films leave me either blubbering, slightly tearing or just completely sobbing. Some choices may have you questioning why, but to each to their own — some things impact people whereas others won't feel a thing.
So, go ahead — stick on one of these films, get sunk in, and let it all out.
1. 'The Impossible'
This harrowing disaster drama highlights the devastation and loss of the deadly tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004. While the grisly injury detail, wide-scale destruction and death toll is sad and frightening enough, the masterful performances from Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, #TomHolland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast hit hardest. As they get separated among the chaos, the fight they face to find safety and each other is tough.
There are so many sweet moments, like Tom Holland’s character helping to reunite a father and his son in a crowded hospital. When he finally finds his two younger brothers that’s when the tears started rolling for me, and when the whole family reunites it just leaves me in a mess. It’s a thrilling yet moving film, and just unmissable.
2. 'Lone Survivor'
An unbreakable bond between brothers. Based on the incredible true story of Marcus Luttrell, who was the sole survivor in a group of four SEALs who were tasked with tracking down and killing Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, only to fight against his army, Peter Berg's war masterpiece builds you up as you follow these brothers on their mission Operation Red Wings, only to have you crumble into pieces as these SEALs face a firefight.
The atmospheric yet haunting and tender score slowly soothes its way in as sacrifices are made and Luttrell loses his fellow serviceman. When Dietz and Murphy are shot upon the mountain, the impact hurts. Things get more moving when Luttrell is saved by the Pashtun villagers, and the end credits feature a touching tribute to the fallen men, which left me in tears, as did the epilogue that reveals a photo showing Luttrell still keeping in contact with Mohammad Gulab, the man who single-handedly saved Luttrell. Do yourself a favor and listen to Explosions In The Sky's track "Waking Up."
3. 'The Grey'
A simple score comprised of a haunting piano will leave you gut-wrenching in this intense survival thriller that sees #LiamNeeson and a crashed plane of survivors fighting a pack of wolves in the unforgiving frozen wilderness. Neeson delivers one of his best performances as John Ottway, a man who has lost everything.
The climax is a truly astonishing piece of film, as the cinematography puts you right in the moment among the deadly wolf’s den and the harsh cold, as Ottway prepares to fight back. The reveal that his wife was actually dying as well as the beautiful piano score playing in the background just left me feeling really sad, all the way up to the moment the credits began to roll.
My reaction to hearing James Horner’s theme when I watch Titanic — whenever I hear those flutes or them calm, soothing choirs — is a resounding “Oh God, I’m gonna start weeping again." Everyone is doomed in this James Cameron classic about the fateful voyage of the #Titanic. There’s so much in this film that leaves me sobbing pathetically: The shot of the captain going down with his ship, the old couple and the woman with her two kids holding one another in bed as the water floods in, Jack letting go and drowning, Rose crying, and an older Rose remembering all these tragic events. This film builds you up with its fantastical and sweet first half, then by the next half you’ve been broken.
5. 'The Lion King'
There had to be at least one animated film on this list, and what better choice than #TheLionKing? This was the first film I watched as a kid, and my parents used to tell me how I’d cry then laugh, cry then laugh at the film, before rewinding it on VHS and watching it all over again.
Cut to 2014 and I bought it in newly remastered 3D. I could barely see through my 3D glasses, as the over a decade long gap between viewings all came rushing back. Mufasa’s death, the wise monkey in the tree painting Simba, Simba’s visions of his father in the sky — this film is still powerful yet thoroughly enjoyable to this day, and a real tear-jerker through and through.
6. 'The Butler'
A blind purchase, The Butler drew me in with its star-studded cast; I didn’t expect the film to be so good! This film highlights slavery, racism, the depiction of how black people were treated in their own homes, as well as how one man, Cecil Gaines — a White House butler — rose from humble beginnings to a treasured figure in American government.
Just when you thought he’d been through it all, the ending sees Forrest Whittaker’s Cecil Gaines and his wife (played by Oprah Winfrey) enjoying each other’s company. He then turns to find her head down, panicking when he realizes his wife has died right in front of him. Because of Winfrey’s and Whittaker’s performances, this scene feels so real and devastating it’s guaranteed to have an effect on you. Someone get me a tissue!
7. 'Furious 7'
Did anyone else see this coming? A Fast & Furious film that made audiences cry? I didn’t. The tribute to #PaulWalker in Furious 7 hit all the right notes. Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa’s collaboration on "See You Again" couldn’t have been anymore perfect and emotive, especially the montage to all the times Vin Diesel and co. shared the screen with Paul Walker and the shot of Diesel and Walker driving down separate paths off into the sunset. I sunk into my seat at the theater and teared up majorly. I could hear people all around me in the theater sniffling and gasping. What a tribute to a great star and a fantastic ending.
8. 'How To Train Your Dragon 2'
Another animated film on this list? Disney and other animation companies know how to tug on your heartstrings and leave you weeping. The first How To Train Your Dragon was charming, very funny and surprisingly thrilling. I missed the sequel in theaters, and maybe that was for the better, because there’s a scene in this film that left me sniffling and wiping my eyes.
When Hiccup and his island of dragon fighters face off in an epic battle against Drago’s forces, Hiccup’s father is killed by a possessed Toothless. Hiccup is beside himself, Toothless then becomes himself again and tries to comfort Hiccup. Cue the funeral scene, then come the tears. Some people asked me why I found this scene sad, I think it’s because DreamWorks’ Dragon films are my favorites — I really love these films, so I feel more involved and invested in them.
While it’s not a ball-your-eyes-out kind of film, Warrior is such an intense film that by the ending your eyes will be watering at the powerful drama in this excellent sport drama. #TomHardy delivers a tour-de-force performance as usual, as do Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte as two brothers and a father trying to reconnect after a damaged past filled with alcoholism and loss.
As Tom Hardy’s Tommy Conlon works his way up the ranks to take part in MMA tournament Sparta, his brother Brendan fights his way up too, before they both collide in a blistering and shocking fight that pits a damaged Tommy and a forgiving Brendan. The punches hit so hard and not only do the tears fall in the film, they fall for audiences, too, as the two brothers reconcile.
What film leave a lump in your throat? Or, are you resistant to tears? Let me know below, and what do you think of my choices in a comment below.