By Cady Drell
Sometimes a big, cathartic cry is just what's needed to make it through a tough week. Just being a person in the world is exhausting, and weeping recharges your batteries! And one of the best ways to get the waterworks going is to watch a tear-jerkin' movie, so we've assembled some of the saddest, most romantic, cry-worthy flicks ever—all to get you in the mood...for sobbing. You might want to invest in a good amount of tissue boxes before watching, just saying. (If you're looking for Netflix-specific sad movies, you can check out our picks at that link.)
Spoiler alert: In order to talk about what's sad in these movies, sharing some crucial details are essential. You've been warned.
P.S. I Love You (2007)
Reason You'll Cry: Her husband dies and leaves her letters. Need we say more?
Weepiness Level: A full box of tissues will be needed.
Five Feet Apart (2019)
Reason You'll Cry: More than 30,000 Americans live with cystic fibrosis, and we get a glimpse of how the disease takes a toll on young people.
Weepiness Level: At least one box of tissues and a call to your mom after the movie ends.
Little Women (2019)
Reason You'll Cry: All we want is for Jo March to find love and live the life she deserves. There's another big reason you'll cry, but we won't spoil it for you.
Weepiness Level: A couple packs of tissues are necessary.
Pieces of a Woman (2021)
Reason You'll Cry: A devastating home birth the main character experiences will hit home for a lot of women.
Weepiness Level: Quite a bit of "ugly crying."
The Lovely Bones (2009)
Reason You'll Cry: Grappling with the murder of a young girl and the lack of answers her family receives about her death throughout the movie, plus experiencing the life she had ahead of her.
Weepiness Level: You'll be calling your parents at least three times after finishing the movie.
The Farewell (2019)
Reason You'll Cry: Because you'll be reminded of a simple fact that we all know, but usually try to ignore actively thinking about: Everyone we love will eventually die and all we can do is make the most of the time we have with them.
Weepiness Level: At least half a box of tissues and a tearful call home to your grandparents and parents.
Seven Pounds (2008)
Reason You'll Cry: We'll try to be as un-spoilery as possible here, but let's just say that when the truth about the main character's random acts of kindness is revealed, crying is guaranteed.
Weepiness Level: Stunned silence and then a steady stream of quiet, body-shaking sobs.
Me Before You (2015)
Reason You'll Cry: Because not all love stories have a happy ending, but it's even sadder when that sad ending is part of a choice and not fate stepping in.
Weepiness Level: Ugly crying into a bottle of wine and drunk texting "I love you" to everyone you care about.
Marriage Story (2019)
Reason You'll Cry: We've all experienced the crushing loss of a relationship falling apart and Marriage Story reflects that pain right back to us.
Weepiness Level: Pretending its allergies to everyone watching with you even though it is clearly not just allergies.
Inside Out (2015)
Reason You'll Cry: Leave it to Pixar to craft a children's movie that explains something as complex as depression. Also, how could you not tear up in a Pixar movie about depression?
Weepiness Level: Let's put it this way: If, like Bing Bong in the movie, you cried candy instead of tears, you'd produce an entire Halloween's supply of trick-or-treat candy with every viewing.
Dead Poets Society (1983)
Reason You'll Cry: In this movie, we have: Robin Williams as the teacher figure you always wanted, a group of young men trying to find there way in this scary unknown world, overbearing parents who just won't quit meddling, and the life-altering power of literature.
Weepiness Level: The kind where you have to hold in your sobs to not draw attention.
Marley and Me (2008)
Reason You'll Cry: It tracks the life of possibly one of the cutest and most energetic dogs on the planet. It's promoted as a comedy, which, trust us, does have its moments, but like we said, "tracks the life," so uh, that also includes the end.
Weepiness Level: Clutching your furry friends coat while crying takes some serious talent.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Reason You'll Cry: Love is complicated, we know this, but Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's relationship takes the cake. This movie would be incredibly shorter if they just were so damn prideful (ha! jokes!), but then we would have less Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy, and that itself should make any normal person cry.
Weepiness Level: Two single tears accompanied with the sudden urge to go walking in the hours of the wee morning.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Reason You'll Cry: Childhood friends turned love-struck couple struggle to move forward with their life together when one of them is arrested and put in jail for a crime they didn't commit. You'll never want to scream at your television more.
Weepiness Level: A jumbo box of tissues' worth.
Reason You'll Cry: It's criminal how good Russell Crowe looks as former Roman General Maximus in this movie. Seriously. Don't be fooled by his good looks, though. He's actually a crazy good Gladiator on a mission to avenge the death of his son and wife, who were murdered by a jealous Greek emperor.
Weepiness Level: Pointing your finger at the TV in frustration while simultaneously crying.
The Color Purple (1985)
Reason You'll Cry: When things seem to be looking up for Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), things just go back down again, but the strength Celie possesses will keep you watching. BTW: The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, is based on the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Weepiness Level: Biting your lip to keep in your sobs type of crying.
A Walk to Remember (2002)
Reason You'll Cry: In a twist of events, a high school girl doesn't want the popular guy to fall in love with her because she's secretly dying. Shocker alert: he doesn't listen to her pleas. Instead, he falls deeply in love with his shy classmate, and well you can guess what happens.
Weepiness Level: An "Is love real?" type of cry.
A Star Is Born (2018)
Reason You'll Cry: Two musicians come together to create arguably one of the best songs of all time *cough* "Shallow" *cough* and fall in love. If this was a perfect world, the film would end there, but because it's a movie, Bradley Cooper's character is a pill-popping alcoholic who desperately needs to be saved.
Weepiness Level: When you think you're done crying, it'll make you cry again.
Sophie's Choice (1982)
Reason You'll Cry: The titular choice in this movie is synonymous with devastating, no-win situations. That choice, if you haven't seen the movie, is the moment when Holocaust survivor Sophie (played by Meryl Streep) was forced to choose which of her children to send to their death.
Weepiness Level: Existential crisis-induced sobs and a lingering sadness that will hit you again, without warning, for the rest of your life.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Reason You'll Cry: When Andy's toys come face to face with their own, horrifying demise and then just accept that they're going to burn to death in an incinerator, you'll feel the burning pain of your own childhood dying a little. Don't worry, they make it out (is that even a spoiler, since there's now a Toy Story 4?), but still.
Weepiness Level: The always-jarring feeling of being forced to acknowledge your own mortality, paired with a setting that makes you consider that through the lens of childhood. BRB, dying inside a little (/a lot).
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Reason You'll Cry: Even though we all know how this one ends, the look of shock and devastation on Leo's face when he realizes his Juliet is really alive and he's about to definitely not be is tragic.
Weepiness Level: Classic cries. Throwback, Shakespearean cries.
Mary and Max (2009)
Reason You'll Cry: This movie captures the essence of intense loneliness, isolation, suicidal depression, and the power of a single, human connection in a way that no movie with live-action actors ever has.
Weepiness Level: More crying than you ever expected to do for claymation characters, that's for sure.
AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Reason You'll Cry: If you can watch the scene where Haley Joel Osment, playing a robot who believes he's a real boy, begs his human mother not to abandon him as she drives away and leaves him to mourn her love for all eternity, then you might be the robot.
Weepiness Level: Moderate weeping, as this list goes. Luckily, there are less sob-fest parts of the movie, too.
The Lion King (1994)
Reason You'll Cry: If you're a millennial, Mufasa's death scene will always take you right back to the first time you cried in a movie theater.
Weepiness Level: "When we die, our bodies become the grass, and...," sorry, already crying.
One Day (2011)
Reason You'll Cry: Described by several people on the MarieClaire.com staff as "one of the most manipulative movies of all time" (in a good-cry way), this story that follows Anne Hathaway (with an accent) and Jim Sturgess as two people who meet in college and meet up again on the same day each year for two decades. There is more death than there probably needs to be for something that's such a slow burn. Even telling you the plot might make you tear up.
Weepiness Level: Tears over how unfair life (and this movie) can sometimes be.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Reason You'll Cry: Swelling orchestral soundtrack? Check. Romantic, forbidden love triangle? Check. Doomed loves? Check. Postmodern fable about clones based on a book by Kishuo Ishiguro? Um, also check.
Weepiness Level: A good, transfixed cry.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Reason You'll Cry: Michel Gondry makes movies that are thoughtfully quirky and then punch you right in the gut. This one stars Jim Carey as a man reeling from a crappy breakup who decides to use new technology to have all memories of his ex, Kate Winslet, wiped from his memory. But as the strange, surreal erasure process starts to take him through every memory he has with her, he realizes that maybe relationships are filled with good and bad—and that's sort of the point of everything.
Weepiness Level: More like Eternal Sadness of the Sad Mind.
Finding Neverland (2004)
Reason You'll Cry: The true-ish story of Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie and his friendship with a widow (Kate Winslet, again! She's on this list a lot.) and her four sons, who inspired the tale of the little boy who never grew up.
Weepiness Level: Lovely, nostalgic little tears.
My Sister's Keeper (2009)
Reason You'll Cry: Abigail Breslin stars in this Nicholas Sparks movie based on a Jodi Picoult bestselling book. She plays a young woman genetically engineered from birth to provide bone marrow and various other donations for her terminally ill older sister, but who decides to legally emancipate herself from her parents and choose her own destiny—even at the risk of letting her sister die.
Weepiness Level: Come on, this thing was genetically engineered from birth to make you WEEP.
Reason You'll Cry: The story of a little Indian boy who gets separated from his family, adopted by an Australian couple, and then who goes in search of his birth family. Ugh, it's so sad!
Weepiness Level: Some of the heaviest crying you'll do in a film, guaranteed.
The Notebook (2004)
Reason You'll Cry: Look, this movie is schmaltzy as hell. But it's also deeply romantic and tragic in the way that all love stories are tragic because they can't possibly last forever and...I'm sorry, I just need a minute.
Weepiness Level: Ugly-crying.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Reason You'll Cry: The sensuous Italian scenery, the budding but shy romance between two gorgeous-in-different-ways men (Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer), the ultimately futile nature of their love...Get ready to cry along with Timmy to the dulcet tones of Sufjan Stevens.
Weepiness Level: The exact same level that Timmy stoically, beautifully cries at the end of the movie—no more or less.
The Way We Were (1973)
Reason You'll Cry: Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford have undeniable chemistry in this story of two mismatched lovers who, in the end, just can't make it work. It's sad because it'll remind you of your own lost loves. Also, it's got a killer soundtrack.
Weepiness Level: Sobs that won't stop because, honestly, they're not really about the movie, are they?
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Reason You'll Cry: A fun, gorgeous, sexy, musical romp about love that ultimately ends in tuberculosis. So unfair.
Weepiness Level: Lip-quivering with perhaps a contemplative tear.
Reason You'll Cry: A beautiful, lush movie about a terrible mistake made by a young girl that ruins not only her life but the lives of two innocent, very attractive people? Ugh, fine, pass the tissues.
Weepiness Level: Horrified tears.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Reason You'll Cry: It's a movie about a group of sister-friends, one of whom dies tragically after having a kid against doctor's orders. If you have a pulse, you will cry. Also, Dolly Parton is in it. That's not a reason to cry but it's good to know.
Weepiness Level: Snotty nose-blowing.
Reason You'll Cry: Ummm, how about because an entire ship full of people meet their watery doom? But mostly due to the scene in which two old people lay in bed and wait for the Grim Reaper to take them.
Weepiness Level: Several fully-formed tears.
Reason You'll Cry: Honestly, you can watch this movie and not cry, but it would require skipping the first 10 minutes. The gist is: Woman meets man, woman marries man, woman lives a perfect life with man, woman dies, man has to keep on going somehow. Even typing that made me well up.
Weepiness Level: Quiet, heaving sobs for two minutes.
My Dog Skip (2000)
Reason You'll Cry: There should be a rule like Chekhov's Gun in movies, but it's Chekhov's Dog: If there's a dog in a heartwarming family film's first ten minutes, the dog is going to die by the end of the movie. Yes, the dog dies. I told you there were spoilers.
Weepiness Level: Full-on heaving sobs.
A Song to Remember (1945)
Reason You'll Cry: This movie was made in 1945, which means you get to tap into your love for Old Hollywood while also shake-crying. The throwback flick is about Frédéric Chopin's relationship with French novelist George Sand. Prediction: You will be surprised by your level of tears.
Weepiness Level: Sustained weeping.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Reason You'll Cry: It's a story of strength, secrets, loss, and love—in other words, a perfect storm of crying fodder. And the fact that Heath Ledger is no longer with us certainly ups the tear-jerking factor.
Weepiness Level: Sad sighing with one really good tear.
My Girl (1991)
Reason You'll Cry: Even if you're not a chid of the '90s, Macauley Culkin as an adorably sweet dweeb with a fatal bee allergy will ruin you.
Weepiness Level: A few minutes of bawling.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Reason You'll Cry: It's a love story that heavily involves cancer. Gee, wonder if you'll be sad about that?
Weepiness Level: Choke-crying.
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Reason You'll Cry: Legends of the Fall is an epic of gargantuan proportions, full of tender moments, broken hearts, unexpected deaths, and Brad Pitt's free-flowing mane of blonde hair. Its beauty alone will get you.
Weepiness Level: Hard sobs, but silent ones.
Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Reason You'll Cry: If you can make it through the last twenty minutes of this film with your tear ducts still in tact, you're a hero. But that also means you're the kind of person who's able to sit through at least three traumatizing and highly unexpected character deaths, so...
Weepiness Level: Shock, then crying.
Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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