It's not something in your eye, you're crying
There's nothing wrong with a good cry. A hearty soul-shaking sob to clear out the tear ducts and reinvigorate your sinus cavity is perfectly acceptable behaviour. Especially when it's over a fictional scenario cooked up in the brain of a screenwriter.
It's a fact that some of mankind's most historic tear-fuelled breakdowns are the result of watching too many melodramas with the saddest bits played over and over on repeat for maximum emotional reverberation.
So gather the Kleenex, and join us for a look back on some of cinema's best tearjerkers. And we agree, it's a crying (!) shame that Terminator 2 isn't on the list, we've gone for films that are start to finish bawlfests, as opposed to movies that have particularly sad moments.
25. A Single Man (2009)
The movie: Set over the course of a day, designer Tom Ford's directorial debut counters the sombre subject of Christopher Isherwood's source novel with a lively visual approach.
Dress it up however you like, the story of mourning college professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) is prone to making you sob at every plot turn. Still reeling from the death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode) - whom he was with for sixteen years - George contemplates suicide before he finally gets to grips with his grief.
Grab the tissues when: George receives a courtesy call from Jim's cousin to let him know that Jim passed away the day before in a car accident, and that he need not trouble himself with attending the funeral -- it's just for family members. Firth's performance as grief slowly trickles through George is enough to make anyone sob.
24. Up (2009)
The movie: Straight out of the gate Up starts tugging on the heartstrings and never lets up throughout its entire running time. Pixar's penchant for sentimentality is in full force.
Considering the film's premise is an outlandish feat - even by Pixar standards - the story of a travel extravaganza in a house fuelled by hot air balloons is driven by one old timer's love for his late wife.
Grab the tissues when: Carl and Ellie's life plays out in a four-minute montage that's a devastating reminder of how fleeting all of this truly is...
23. E.T. (1982)
The movie: Guaranteed to get the little 'uns sobbing along with you, Steven Spielberg's Amblin classic doesn't pull any punches when it comes to stirring up your hidden well of emotions. The story follows Elliott (Henry Thomas)'s friendship with an extraterrestrial lifeform who becomes a part of the family and naturally, a part of their hearts.
Whether Spielberg intended to create a movie to teach kids about loss at an early age doesn't matter, because anyone who watches this will be struggling to hold back the eye juice by the time ET's ship returns.
Grab the tissues when: ET says his goodbye to Elliott before boarding his ship. Placing a finger on the boy's forehead, he looks his friend in the eye and tells him "I'll be right here."
22. Life is Beautiful (1997)
The movie: In a role that landed him an Oscar Roberto Benigni plays Guido, a father who attempts to keep his son's spirits up during their imprisonment at a concentration camp during World War Two by pretending it's all a game.
Though his efforts are heroic, they're more bittersweet than cheerful, as there's no escaping their fate at the hands of the Nazi guards. Still, his efforts raise a smile to his lad's lips on more than one occasion as he continues to believe in his dad's performance.
Grab the tissues when: Guido manages to slip in one last jolly for his son, by pretending to be a soldier as he's marched to his death. Seconds later gunshots ring out.
21. Titanic (1997)
The movie: Who doesn't know this one? James Cameron's grandiose take on the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 put a fictionalised romance at the heart of its tragedy.
From the second the iceberg hits heartstrings are being yanked left, right and centre. Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) vow to stay together til the bitter, freezing end, an elderly couple hold each other as water fills their cabin, families try to make their way to the lifeboats... The entire second and third acts are an exercise in keeping it together, lest anyone see your histrionic sobbing.
Grab the tissues when: The band decides to play on even after the ship has started sinking.
20. The Lion King (1994)
The movie: Another win for Disney, who raised the sob stakes significantly with this triumphant tale of a young lion named Simba whose life journey is filled with a rich tapestry of emotions.
This isn't a typical kiddie pic, especially as themes of guilt, mourning and depression rank pretty high, and one that teaches valuable lessons about overcoming loss and rising up against adversity.
Grab the tissues when: After watching his father plummet to his death Simba pleads for Mufasa to wake up. His cries of heartache and anguish are utterly harrowing. That's nothing compared to the sight of the youngster placing his papa's paw around him, for one last hug...
19. Stand By Me (1986)
The movie: Rob Reiner's coming-of-age tale is based on a Stephen King novella entitled The Body, and traces the journey of a tight-knit group of young lads who venture off on a hike to see their first dead body.
Along their way the four pals Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern - Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell - learn a series of life lessons. Some are funny, others are just darn heartbreaking...
Grab the tissues when: Richard Dreyfus - a grown-up Gordie who tells the story in flashback - reveals the fates of his once-close friends. It's sad enough to hear that Teddy and Vern eventually became just faces in the hall, but the real knock-out comes as he explains Chris' death, right as he had started to make something of his life. The sight of a young River Phoenix disappearing as he walks away from his friend is just....
18. The Notebook (2004)
The movie: The Nicholas Sparks genre was born with this tale of star-crossed lovers, told through a wrap-around flashback from the perspective of Duke (James Garner) to his dementia-suffering nursing home companion.
Rachel McAdams' rich young socialite falls for Ryan Gosling's 'boy from the wrong side of the tracks' in spite of her snobby mother's intense dislike of the lad. Their steamy affair happens nevertheless with the obligatory smooch in the rain. And so Gosling's heart-throbbery began.
Grab the tissues when: When Duke turns to his friend at the end of the movie, she realises that the story he's been telling her was theirs. She's Allie.
17. Love Story (1970)
The movie: Director Erich Segal cast Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw as two seemingly incompatible lovers for this shameless seventies melodrama. He's a bratty Harvard jock and she's an art school student, and yet in spite of their different backgrounds the pair fall hopelessly in love.
This is a tearjerker for a reason; their idyllic affair comes to a tragic end far too soon when she is diagnosed with cancer.
Grab the tissues when: Oliver's father - who alienated his son and his daughter-in-law throughout their short marriage - says "I'm sorry" to his heartbroken child, moments after Jenny's death. "Love means never having to say you're sorry," replies Oliver, echoing what his wife told him earlier...
16. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The movie: The world of Shawshank prison becomes a reality for banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) as he finds himself sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover.
Interestingly, it's the vitriol of the warden Norton (Bob Gunton) whose personal vendetta against Andy fuels much of his determination that lays the groundwork for one of the movie's most beautiful moments. Mozart's Marriage of Figaro billows into the prison yard, the first time in years any of the inmates have heard such splendour, thanks to Andy's scheme to break into the warden's office. Knowing he'll get tossed into solitary, he does it anyway.
Grab the tissues when: Red makes his way to Mexico, years after Andy's escape, following his friend's instructions until he reaches the golden beaches of Zihuatanejo.
"I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head," his closing voiceover reads. "I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."
15. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
The movie: The pair of riveting performances from Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood are what's guaranteed to make you sob buckets over this melodrama.
As an Iowan housewife and National Geographic photographer respectively, they cross paths while he's on a work assignment snapping pics of the infamous bridges of Madison County. With her husband and children away the pair embark on a four-day affair...
Grab the tissues when: Francesca watches as Robert drives away, and for a split second she gives a look like she's going to give chase and wave her arms frantically down the dirt road, begging him to take her with him. She doesn't.
14. The Green Mile (1999)
The movie: Flooded with flashback and flashforward scenes of the lives of those who surrounded the mystical giant John Coffey, The Green Mile tells the story of a wrongly incarcerated man to maximum waterworks-inducing effect. A harrowing take on the criminal justice system is also a morality lesson, on how grace never truly abandons us, even in our darkest hours.
Grab the tissues when: The kind-hearted Coffey pleads to have the bag taken from his head moments before death because he's afraid of the dark.
13. Bambi (1942)
The movie: Timeless in its complete and utter assault of the senses, Walt Disney struck a chord with this man vs. nature fable about a young deer making his way through the world with the help of his animal cohorts.
Animated frolics during happier times are the perfect spoonful of sugar to help kiddies swallow the bitterness that accompanies such startling loss. Reportedly the film responsible for turning Paul McCartney into a veggie.
Grab the tissues when: Bambi and his mother run to escape a hunter, the young fawn galloping away only just making it to safety. "We made it, we made it mother," he cries breathlessly, turning to where his mother should be right as gunshots ring out...
11. Brian's Song (1971)
The movie: The true-life tale of Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gayle Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), one of the first titles to explore the male bond without reducing their relationship to bromance silliness.
Set at the height of the Civil Rights Movement it further shed light on the progressive nature of their friendship, shared on and off the field until Brian's health takes a turn when he receives a cancer diagnosis. Gayle's speeches alone will ensure there's not a dry eye in the house.
Grab the tissues when: Receiving an award for courage, Gayle tells the crowd that he loves his friend.
10. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
The movie: Widely considered to be one of the greatest foreign films ever made, Giuseppe Tornatore's melodrama tells the life of filmmaker Salvatore through flashbacks.
Throughout his life he finds sanctuary in the local movie theatre, befriending projectionist Alfredo, who teaches him about the world and dispenses advice to the lad by quoting American movies.
Grab the tissues when: An older Salvatore returns to the theater following Alfredo's passing, and discovers a reel of film: all the kisses they'd had to cut from the movies....
9. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The movie: Frank Capra's classic Christmas movie wraps its seasonal cheer around the dark woe of George Bailey (James Stewart), a man dissatisfied with life whose suicide attempt is thwarted by an angel named Clarence, on hand to teach him how life is worth all of the anguish for the moments of joy.
And so, he takes him through a series of what-if scenarios showing him what the small town of Bedford Falls would be like if he had died. Bailey eventually realises that he wants to live after all, and returns to the warm embrace of his family and friends.
Grab the tissues when: Clarence shows George his brother's grave, "Every man on that transport died," he explains. "Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry."
8. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The movie: Back in 2005 Ang Lee's 'gay cowboy' movie completely bowled over moviegoers when it turned out to be one of the biggest tearjerkers in recent memory.
Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Mar (Heath Ledger)'s mountainside affair becomes a life-long romance for both men even after their season on the hill ends, and their wives discover the truth. True love knows no bounds, and the course of their individual lives is largely defined by their shared time together, a tryst that's all the sweeter for its brevity.
Grab the tissues when: Ennis visits Jack's childhood home after he learns of his lover's death. Reaching inside the closet, he spies their two workshirts from when they first met alongside a postcard of Brokeback Mountain. "Jack, I swear..." he begins, but there's no need for him to finish. The tears streaming down his - and our - faces say it all.
7. Steel Magnolias (1989)
The movie: Julia Roberts may have taken the starring role as Shelby in Herbert Ross' Southern dramedy, but it was Sally Field as her mother M'Lynn who keeps the tears barely at bay throughout the entire bittersweet story. The two are part of a larger group of female friends, who laugh and cry their way through life, mostly over at Truvy (Dolly Parton)'s beauty salon.
Along the way, Shelby chooses to go through with a pregnancy despite her doctor's cautions, with the support of her family and friends - that includes cinema's wittiest old gal odd couple Ouiser Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine) and Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis) - to cheer her on.
Grab the tissues when: M'Lynn breaks down at Shelby's funeral, refusing to accept her daughter's death she hysterically sobs and begs for God to take her instead. Even after Clairee steps in and tells her to swing at Ouiser - breaking the tension - the tears keep coming, albeit for a different reason.
6. Field Of Dreams (1989)
The movie: Based on the novel Shoeless Joe Phil Alden Robinson's baseball fantasy unites both men and women by reducing anyone who watches it to a blubbery mess. Kevin Costner stars as Ray Kinsella, an Iowan who turns his cornfield into a baseball diamond on the advice of a spooky voice.
What happens from there involves mysterious authors, ghostly baseball figures, and one last opportunity to see a long-lost loved one emerged from the rustling rows of corn. It's a steady stream of nostalgic heartstring yanking scenes, topped off by one helluva ending.
Grab the tissues when: During one of the games, Ray's young daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffman) starts to choke on a hot dog. The young Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham (Burt Lancaster) - who later in life becomes an MD - runs over to the white line. If he crosses he can save her life, but he won't be able to return to the field, transforming back into an old man. He does it anyway.
5. Ghost (1990)
The movie: Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore star in this 1990s teary thriller as yuppie Manhattan couple Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen. Torn apart when he is gunned down in a grimy New York back alley, Sam's ghost lingers on Earth to try and track down his murderer and prevent Molly from the same fate.
A bit of comedy is thrown in for good measure to balance out the blubbing, when Sam tracks down Whoopi Goldberg's sketchy psychic Oda Mae Brown to help him.
Grab the tissues when: The angels come a'calling for Sam, right at the exact second Molly is finally able to see his spectral form. As the strains of Unchained Melody sing him to his rest, it's Molly's final, sparse goodbye to the love of her life that's the real clincher. "See ya."
4. Beaches (1988)
The movie: Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey's characters meet as young kids during a blissful carefree summer on the Atlantic City boardwalk and pledge to remain friends for the rest of their lives.
They do, and endure all of the ups and downs life throws at them as CC (Midler) skyrockets to stardom as an entertainer, while Hilary (Hershey) yearns for domesticity, landing a husband and eventually having a daughter. The slow build of their relationship over the years comes crashing down when Hilary is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. There's a reason it's one of the most celebrated tearjerkers of all time.
Grab the tissues when: Wind Beneath My Wings plays over scenes of Hilary's funeral, after the two friends spend her last summer together out on the beach.
3. Sophie's Choice (1982)
The movie: Famous now for its heart-breaking titular moment - see below - Sophie's Choice cemented the brilliance of Meryl Streep into the cultural bedrock. As a Polish refugee who survived a harrowing sentence at a concentration camp she's the sole reason this movie continues to pulse with sadness three decades later.
Her fate, stirringly told to us by narrator Stingo (Peter MacNicol), serves as a brutal reminder of the trauma suffered by those who came away from the Holocaust laden with scars of its horrors.
Grab the tissues when: Sophie disembarks the train at Auschwitz and a Nazi officer singles her out, asking her to choose: which one of her two children will be taken to a labour camp and which will go straight to the gas chamber?
2. Brief Encounter (1946)
The movie: Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been,'" goes the old phrase, that's the cause of all the heartache in David Lean's 1946 weepie about a couple who meet in a train station tea room, embark on an affair and realise they must part.
It's not because of illness or an impending work commitment, it's because Laura (Celia Johnson) and Alec (Trevor Howard) are both married to other people. Still, there's nothing sadder than witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime romance brought to its tragic end because they both wed the wrong people to begin with.
Grab the tissues when: Alec and Laura take a final tea in the same place they met to say goodbye before his train arrives. Alas, a chatty pal of Laura's interrupts and wastes those precious moments the couple have left right as his train pulls into the station. He squeezes Laura's shoulder and walks out of her life forever...
1. Terms of Endearment (1983)
The movie: Fatal illness and a difficult familial relationship are the two core ingredients in this early eighties dramedy from As Good As It Gets helmer James L. Brooks. It charts the love-hate dynamic between mother Aurora (Shirley Maclaine) and daughter Emma (Debra Winger) over the course of their lives.
Things come to a head when Emma receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. From that point on every scene is steeped in an undercurrent of melancholy, for the inevitable goodbyes with her husband, her sons and most of all, her mother.
Grab the tissues when: Emma explains to her boys that she won't be around anymore, focusing her speech on her eldest son Tommy telling him that even though he won't admit that he loves her, she knows that he does:
"And in a few years when I haven't been around to be on your tail about something or irritating you, you're gonna remember... that time that I bought you the baseball glove when you thought we were too broke. You know? Or when I read you those stories? Or when I let you goof off instead of mowing the lawn? Lots of things like that. And you're gonna realize that you love me. And maybe you're gonna feel badly, because you never told me. But don't - I know that you love me. So don't ever do that to yourself, all right?" Excuse us....