Top 10 Tearjerker Movies for a Good Cry

by Natasha Alvar
Tearjerker Movies

There is some serious adulting going around in my life right now, and sometimes, I find I just a need a good cry to get me through the day. I am of the opinion that if someone wants to cry, let them. Crying is cathartic, and these are my 10 go-to movies should you need an outlet for those pent-up emotions.

Spoiler Alert

#10: A Walk to Remember

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Image via US Weekly

This movie is one of those rare gems that actually did well in the transition from book to screen.  Having read the book first, I was hoping they wouldn’t ruin the source material of something I so loved with a lackluster attempt. The first time I watched this movie, I was in camp. It was raining so they had to find a way to entertain us since all outdoor activities were cancelled. So we were all shepherded into the hall to watch the movie.

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The chemistry between Shane West and Mandy Moore is so good in the movie, they made the love story very believable. I was 14 at the time, and crying at the injustice of her losing her life at such a young age. The part that hits me the most is when she tells him she’s dying, and Moore does it with such vulnerability and even a touch of anger. She says, “I don’t need a reason to be angry at God.” That gets me every time.

#9: The Fault in Our Stars

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Image via Rappler

This movie throws out the trope of one person dying and gives us two. Once again, I read the book before seeing the movie, and this one survives the transition as well. I think it’s a mixture of knowing what to take from the book and also the selection of the right cast. Shailene Woodley just knocks it out of the park. The scene where she does her eulogy for Gus, and talks about how grateful she is for their little infinity, is a part I go back to watch whenever I feel I need a good cry.

#8: Me Before You

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Image via The Guardian

There seems to be an emerging trend in my list, for this was a book as well, but this time, instead of life loss to forces beyond one’s control, we get a character choosing to take his own life, as a way to relieve his suffering. Emilia Clarke is such a revelation in this, since before this movie I was only aware of her role on Game of Thrones. She is infectiously optimistic, a bright, bubbly entry into Will’s life.

I was really angry with Will after the book and the movie, because I couldn’t understand how someone could willingly walk away from love. I suppose it’s the romantic in me speaking. It is definitely a divisive movie, but one capable of bringing on the waterworks nonetheless.

#7: Call Me by Your Name

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Image via Dazed

“Elio Elio Elio Elio …”

I know I have been discussing this movie quite a fair bit lately, but I can’t help myself; it is just that good. The obvious rolling in the deep moment is of course the one at the train station where they separate. Yes I was sad when Elio started crying and then called his mom to pick him up. However, for me, it is his conversation with his father that sets me going. So much of what he says is so right, especially our treatment of heartbreak and pain: “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything ― what a waste.”

There are movies, and then there’s movies, films that make you think, feel, reevaluate your life … Call Me by Your Name is definitely the latter.

#6: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missori

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Image via The New Yorker

I was not expecting to like this movie as much as I did, or be so emotionally affected by it. This movie was watched mainly because it was an Oscar contender and well-reviewed, but ended up becoming one of my favourite movies.

The crying moments for me mostly revolved around Woody Harrelson’s character. He has a knack for choosing good movie projects to be a part of. If I think back to the past few years, with movies like Zombieland, The Hunger Games franchise, The Edge of Seventeen … he has definitely brought his career back into focus again.

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Image via IMDb

A lot depended on him selling his character, since we are meant to view him as the enemy initially, but then see that he is trying his best with a case that turned cold. That last day with his wife and children is so heart-wrenching to watch. I could see the writing on the wall, but that didn’t stop the tears from flowing when I heard the gun shot.

#5: My Girl

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Image via Bustle

If you ever need a reason to fall in love with your best friend, this movie gives it to you. It really is a quintessential growing up movie, with a protagonist possessing the most unique name I have ever heard. The theme of death surrounds the entire movie. We learn that Vada’s mother died while giving birth to her and her father operates a funeral service.

I know some people can’t get behind Vada’s precocious tendencies, but this was really something I connected with when I watched it as a child. I was often alone, and would often escape into the world of books to alleviate my loneliness. It is also the first movie that got me thinking about death and its defining moment in our lives.

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Image via Moviefone

Watching it now with adult eyes, Thomas J’s death is definitely foreshadowed in the movie, with Vada’s question to her dad about why a coffin is so small as a huge indicator. While death has followed Vada her whole life, this is the first time she comes to very close contact with it; losing her best friend is very different from losing a mom you never really got to know. I simply cannot hold back my tears during the funeral scene, hearing her scream about how he needs his glasses is so heartbreaking. I am happy that Vada gets a better ending in My Girl 2, but the part of me who was rooting for her and Thomas J to be together dies a little every time I watch the sequel.

#4: Armageddon

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Image via The Omega Sector BBS

The premise of Armageddon is the mitigation of the possible annihilation of human life; if that is unable to inspire tears, I don’t know what will. It is a double dose of sacrifice here. Not only does Bruce Willis’ character sacrifice himself so that mankind can live, he also does it so that his daughter wouldn’t lose the man whom she loves (even though the Ben Affleck character is a bit of an idiot in this film, and I was hoping she would wise up and dump him). That last conversation between father and daughter gets me every time.

#3: City of Angels

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Image via Decider

This movie is just a big ole cheese cake factory. It is so cheesy I find myself becoming lactose intolerant in the process of watching it. Yet, I have watched it many times. I don’t know, I guess I want to have my cake and eat it.

I mean, come on guys! He is an angel who gives up his wings, in order to be with the woman he loves. He trades immortality and never having to feel pain … for her. While watching this movie, I switch between cringing at some parts of Nicholas Cage’s acting, to crying like a baby at his reaction following her death. Even now as I compose this, I feel the impending tears as I recall his words: “I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.”

#2: Train to Busan

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Image via Variety

I know it’s strange to include a zombie movie in this list, but honestly, Korean movies just know how to get the faucet running. Yes this movie is about the undead, however, it is also about relationships and redemption.

I cried when the father-to-be (Dong-seok Ma’s character), who is the best character in the film in my opinion, sacrificed himself to protect his wife and unborn child. The epic slow-mo death of the main character, also built on sacrifice, is a point of redemption for him. I like that the movie wants to push the best sides of humanity forward, instead of man’s tendency to egoism and self-preservation.

#1: Wonder Woman

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Image via IMDb

This movie might seem like a strange choice, but its tearjerker qualities should not be underestimated. I teared up both times I watched it, as well as multiple times into the movie. I cried when she walked through No Man’s Land, I too shed tears with her when she realized the horrible things man is capable of.

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The greatest water trip of the entire movie is Steve’s death. The way it is filmed just catalyses that strong feeling of sadness. We see the last moment they share twice. The first time her hearing is temporarily impaired so she cannot hear what he says. When we do hear him, we also hear the backdrop of violence, the explosions and the chaos. Chris Pine delivers this so well, a mixture of resignation yet determination. He knows what he has to do but that sacrifice will take him away from her. “I wish we had more time,” he says before he runs off, leaving his watch with her. I am a sucker for symbolism, even if this is a bit on the nose.

Thanks for reading!  Do you have any movies you would add to the list?  Comment down below!

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Marc Leslie Kagan March 6, 2019 - 3:27 pm

Your selections are worst examples of what a real tear-jerker is. Most film historians consider these films to be the quintessential tear-jerkers not the garbage that hollywood produces today:

Stella Dalllas both the 1925 silent version starring Belle Bennett – Stella Dallas is a small town girl who marries the upper class Stephen Dallas, with whom she has nothing in common. After the birth of a daughter, Laurel, the Dallas couple go their separate ways. Now confined to poverty, Stella must sacrifice her own life and happiness for the sake of her daughter.

The 1937 version starring Barbara Stanwyck who receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Working-class Stella Martin marries high-end Stephen Dallas and soon they have a daughter named Laurel. But Stephen’s incessant demands of Stella to become what she isn’t leads to their eventual separation. Stephen later marries Helen Morrison (his prior fiancée), and Laurel becomes the focus of Stella’s life and love. Nothing is too good for Laurel as far as Stella is concerned. Determined to give her all the advantages, she takes Laurel on a trip to an expensive resort where Laurel makes friends with rich kids. After an embarrassing incident, Stella realizes that her daughter would go farther in life without Stella as her mother. Her subsequent sacrifice is shattering.

The Sin of Madelon Claudet 1931 for which Helen Hayes received the Academy Award for Best Actress
French country girl Madelon falls for artist Larry, who leaves her after she becomes pregnant. She finds help from jewel thief Carlo, but he commits suicide when the police try to arrest him. Madelon is arrested and receives a ten year term in prison for assisting him in his profession. To support her son, who does not know that she’s been in prison, she becomes a street walker, allowing him to attend medical school.
The Secret Of Madame Blanche 1933 starring Irene Dunne as showgirl Sally meets young playboy Leonard St. John; they fall in love and are secretly married. When Leonard’s father discovers this he sets out to break them apart, and following a bitter row, Leonard kills himself, leaving Sally to pick up the pieces of her life.
The Old Maid 1939 starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins – After a two-year absence, Clem Spender returns home on the very day that his former fiancée, Delia (Hopkins), is marrying another man. Clem enlists in the Union army and dies on the battlefield, but not before finding comfort in the arms of Delia’s cousin, Charlotte Lovell (Davis). The years pass and Charlotte establishes an orphanage and eventually confesses to Delia that her dearest young charge, Tina, is an fact her own child by Clem. Jealousy and family secrets threaten to tear the sisters apart
Dark Victory 1939 Bette Davis stars as Judith Traherne is at the height of young society when Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) diagnoses a brain tumor. After surgery she falls in love with Steele. The doctor tells her secretary that the tumor will come back and eventually kill her. Learning this, Judith becomes manic and depressive. Her horse trainer Michael, who loves her, tells her to get as much out of life as she can. She marries Steele who intends to find a cure for her illness. As he goes off to a conference in New York failing eyesight indicates to Judith that she is dying. Davis received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance.
I Remember Mama 1948 Irene Dunne received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as the mother of a Norwegian immigrant family in 1910 San Francisco which centers around Mama and her detailed, pennywise household budget. We follow the Hansens’ small joys, sorrows, and aspirations.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn 1945 starring Dorothy McGuire who tries to kept her family together at the turn of the 20th century. In Brooklyn circa 1900, the Nolans manage to enjoy life on pennies despite great poverty and Papa’s alcoholism. We come to know these people well through big and little troubles.
The Blue Veil 1951 Jane Wyman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for performance as Louise Mason is a young widow who fills her empty life with the task of becoming a children’s nurse. As the years pass, and the widow tries to find her own place in life, her young charges, the children of various employers, grow and soon find themselves ready to face the world. When it seems that she will be alone, the nurse finds that her ‘children’ have ideas of their own in regards to helping their beloved mentor.
Valiant Is The Word For Carrie 1936 For her performance Gladys George receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress – George plays the town trollop, who for the love of two orphaned children sets up a successful dry-cleaning business. Her past comes back to haunt her, but she perseveres, giving up all thoughts of personal happiness to provide a decent upbringing for her adopted family.
The Yearling 1946 For her performance as Orry Baxter Jane Wyman received and Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The family of Civil War veteran Penny Baxter, who lives and works on a farm in Florida with his wife, Orry, and their son, Jody. The only surviving child of the family, Jody longs for companionship and unexpectedly finds it in the form of an orphaned fawn. While Penny is supportive of his son’s four-legged friend, Orry is not, leading to heartbreaking conflict.
Carrie 1952 Starring Jennifer Jones and Lawrence Olivier – A young girl (Jones) from a provincial town learns the bitter reality of a big city and great love.
Imitation Of Life 1934 version starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers – Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie have had a hard time making ends meet since Bea’s husband died. Help comes in the form of Delilah Johnson, who agrees to work as Bea’s housekeeper in exchange for a room for herself and her daughter Peola. Bea comes up with a plan to market Delilah’s pancake recipe. The two soon become wealthy and as the years go on, their friendship deepens. Their relationships with their daughters, however, become strained. Ashamed of her mother, Peola seeks a new life by passing for white. Bea’s love for her daughter is tested when she and Jessie fall for the same man.
Imitation Of Life 1959 Starring Lana Turner and Juanita Moore – Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson, a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though, Annie’s little girl Sarah Jane, is by far the worse. Neurotic and obnoxious, Sarah Jane doesn’t like being black; since she’s light-skinned (her father was practically white), she spends the rest of the film passing as white, much to her mother’s heartache and shame. Lora, meanwhile, virtually ignores her own daughter in a single-minded quest for stardom.

I’ll stop at lucky 13. During Hollywood’s Golden Era the films made back them are considered classic that’s why we still watch them in theaters at festivals and they are still revered today.

Natasha Alvar March 8, 2019 - 9:50 am

I know you feel strongly about this, considering the length of your comment. Nowhere did I say ‘top 10 tearjerkers of all time’ because this is clearly a subjective topic. To say that all movies now are garbage is a tad hyperbolic. It is great you like the Golden Era, but I would take the current more prevalent presentation of diversity – it is a matter of taste. Thank you for your comment :)

13mesh September 13, 2018 - 4:31 am

Stepmom always gets me! I agree on Walk To Remember, but Wonder Woman… lol

Natasha Alvar September 15, 2018 - 10:48 am

Oh yes! Stepmom is a good choice. Love Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon! Haha, I cried every single time I watched it, so it wasn’t an isolated incident. I think some part of me knew that Steve was going to die, so when I watched them being intimate and falling in love with each other, I felt really sad about the impending loss that was to come.

A Walk to Remember is such a good movie. So many years have passed yet I can still watch it and be utterly compelled by every moment.

P.M. Henderson September 11, 2018 - 11:45 am

Oh my gosh, I cried just reading about the funeral scene in My Girl, that’s how rough that one is. Good choices.

It may be cheating to choose a documentary, but there’s a spot in Michael Jackson’s This Is It that makes me cry every time, even if I can make it through the rest of it (I can’t always). It’s when the dancers find out they’ve been chosen for the tour. Their reactions bring on the waterworks. And that’s not even “sad,” it’s just so touching (well… it’s sad if you think about the fact that said tour never happened).

Natasha Alvar September 15, 2018 - 10:45 am

I think I have watched bits and pieces of that documentary, usually its playing in the background on cable while I am doing something. That sounds pretty intense, maybe I will try to power through it one of these days. Yeah, My Girl really brings on the waterworks for me, and I watched it when I was really young, so it sticks in a different way you know?

Patricia Henderson September 15, 2018 - 10:46 am

Absolutely. I think I was about 13-14 when I saw it.

Patricia Henderson September 16, 2018 - 3:40 pm

Absolutely. I think was 14 when I saw that.

Patricia Henderson September 16, 2018 - 3:42 pm

Oops. Sorry. The WordPress app acting like my first reply hadn’t posted. 🙄

Patricia Henderson September 16, 2018 - 3:42 pm

*was acting. I’m gonna just give up now. Ha ha.

natloveslit September 18, 2018 - 7:36 pm

HAHA! I was wondering why I had a sudden influx of comments. 🤣

Peachy August 30, 2018 - 10:03 pm

Have you read the book of Call Me By Your Name? I made sure to read it just before the movie came out…. and I didn’t expect it. Since then, Andre Aciman will always be one of my highly-esteemed authors. A modern classic author. I’m so glad the movie met my high expectations anyway – I’m just so impressed with Timothee!

Natasha Alvar September 1, 2018 - 12:28 pm

I am on page 150 of the book! The writing is very beautiful and sensual. I should have read it before watching but I just couldn’t help myself. Timothee does a fantastic job, especially when considering the source material. He does a lot of micro expressions that help us in understanding what Elio is feeling or thinking. In the book Elio is the narrator, so he can just tell us; its harder to depict visually. I am definitely looking forward to see where else his career takes him.

Peachy September 1, 2018 - 9:10 pm

Yes, me too. I’m definitely going to watch his career’s progression! 😊😊😊 and yes, all of Andre Aciman’s writings have that unique sensual quality!

pajamapopcorn August 17, 2018 - 1:21 pm

Marley and Me.

pajamapopcorn August 17, 2018 - 1:20 pm

That’s a great list! I haven’t seen some of them. I would also suggest The Family Stone, if you are into those awkward family holiday movies. It’s a great ensemble cast. I normally don’t like Sarah Jessica Parker much, but she’s good in this one. It’s a bit dated because of the topics they bring up, but it’s a good one. Also, Old Yeller and A Dog’s Purpose are not to be overlooked. The latter is a lot happier though, in my opinion. At least he comes back every time to find his purpose. It’s also a book. I like The Secret Life of Bees, if you’re into a good old historical fiction one. Also, Gattaca made me cry. It’s sci-fi.

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:36 am

Marley and Me is definitely a tearjerker. I have seen The Family Stone, I kind of liked it but wasn’t inspired to tears haha. OMG Extreme YES to Gattaca! The ending when he gets to fulfil his dream and the swim with his brother. Great movie!

Bonnie Anderson August 16, 2018 - 1:47 pm

Interesting that you included Wonder Woman. I would not have thought of that, but it made me cry. How about Toy Story 3? Seriously, more than one time tears went down my cheeks. When the toys hold hands and when he’s saying goodbye to his toys. Boy. As a mom who has launched four kids, that gets me every time. (Side note: I cry easily in movies, but I think my husband is worse than me. I love that.)

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:39 am

Toy Story 3 definitely has those moments. I don’t think I cried? I think in part because I kind of knew they would be saved in the end and that wouldn’t be the ending. I love that your husband is a crier, those are the best. My boyfriend is sensitive as well and I love it :)

michellesmultifariousmusings August 15, 2018 - 11:48 am


Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:46 am

I hope you mean the article :) Thank you!

The Animation Commendation August 15, 2018 - 11:30 am

I don’t think I cried at any of these movies, lol, but I haven’t seen like 4 of them.

Inside Out made me cry.

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:42 am

Haha, well, movies can be subjective at times. Which are the four that you haven’t seen?

The Animation Commendation August 19, 2018 - 11:33 am

I meant I’ve only seen 4 of them: Walk to Remember, Fault in our Stars, Me Before You, and Wonder Woman.

Rachel August 15, 2018 - 10:29 am

For me it would be The Book of Henry, when Henry is in the hospital with his brother and mother.

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:43 am

Thanks for this! I have been meaning to watch this movie because of Jacob Tremblay.

M.R. Miller August 15, 2018 - 9:41 am

“It’s a Wonderful Life.” When the townspeople start bringing in their money to save George at the end, I sob like a little girl. Every. Single. Time.
And while this definitely isn’t a love story, the end of “Man on Fire” always makes me cry. When Denzel Washington meets Dakota Fanning on the bridge right before he walks to his death, I just start bawling.
Good list — some of these I haven’t seen yet so will have to check them out.

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:45 am

Oh my, a Denzel movie I haven’t watched! With Dakota Fanning moreover. Thanks for the comment! Gonna check it out, and prepare the tissue.

P.M. Henderson September 11, 2018 - 11:45 am

Oh my, yes! Both excellent choices!

Lance Heard August 15, 2018 - 9:32 am

Terms of Endearment!

Natasha Alvar August 18, 2018 - 11:43 am

Haha nice one!

Nick Kush August 15, 2018 - 9:06 am

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