Films that nearly make me cry (but not quite)

I don’t cry at films. That might make me seem like an emotionless monster, but it’s true. Some people sob the moment they see a small kitten or when the girl meets the guy of their dreams or whatever, but not me. You could drown a sackful of defenseless puppies and a tear would not roll down my cheek. It’s not that I don’t get upset or get a lump in my throat, but the physical act of crying during a film is not one I’m familiar with.

However, there are some films that push me right to the edge and very nearly make me cry. Here they are:



E.T. is one of the films I grew up watching and is one of my all-time favourites. It’s got everything; it makes you laugh, it’s scary at times but it’s also one that still make me all sad and that when he finally climbs aboard his spaceship and buggers off home. It’s emotionally manipulative, sure, but it works (actually more so now than it did when I was younger).



Now I haven’t seen this film in quite a while and it’s only really on here because it was the first film I can remember watching that properly put a lump in my throat (E.T. only really did that the older I’ve got). When Bruce Willis sacrifices himself for mankind and puts his trust in Ben Affleck to look after his daughter, it’s the ultimate altruistic act. However, I’d probably get more sad now thinking how Bruce will never get to see Liv Tyler again. Poor guy.

Into the Wild

into the wild

The true story of Chris ‘Alexander Supertramp’ McCandless is an incredible and tragic one. It has plenty of inspirational scenes and it feels really uplifting, making you want to run away and see the world. Until the ending when the whole thing comes crashing down in a waterfall of loneliness and despair. Cracking stuff.

12 Years a Slave

12 years a slave

The most recent film on the list, 12 Years a Slave is an emotionally draining film and is not an easy watch at all. However, the part that really got me was seeing Patsey being whipped incessantly not just by her slave master but also by her fellow slave Solomon. The brutal, unflinching and relentless and I just wanted it to stop.

Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings

Who doesn’t love Cool Runnings? There’s virtually nothing throughout the whole film that would even remotely bring a tear to your eye, and even when their dream collapses and the bobsleigh overturns isn’t that emotional. But when the crew get up and carry the bobsleigh over the finish line? That’s the moment that gets you. Those plucky Jamaicans.

The Lion King

lion king

Seeing the moment when Simba tries to bring round his dad Mufasa after being trampled by a herd of wildebeest was the first time I realised Disney could be such bastards! Bambi obviously did it much earlier, but The Lion King is much more heart wrenching.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

For Frodo.

The King’s Speech

The Kings Speech

This is quite a personal one for me as I myself have a stammer so could totally relate with Colin Firth’s King George. Well, apart from the being king part. It’s something that affects me every time I open my mouth, so hearing him deliver the speech at the end of the film really did get to me.

Toy Story 3

toy story 3

This is the killer. No other film makes me want to (almost) cry like a baby quite like Toy Story 3. The ending is pretty sad when Andy leaves his toys with someone else, but it’s the scene in the furnace that does it. The moment they all hold hands as they slide closer and closer to the fire? Jeez. I can feel the tears working their way up and then… nothing.

So what films have you blubbing like a child every time you watch them? Or are you a soulless monster like myself?

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74 thoughts on “Films that nearly make me cry (but not quite)

  1. theipc says:


    I can barely make it five minutes into the opening of UP before I break down. In fact, I can barely even think – great… I’m at work!

  2. Smash says:

    Yeah, this is a list of movies that will make me bawl. I watched Toy Story 3 for the first time when I was laid up with a busted elbow last fall, and I sobbed my ass off. The painkillers didn’t help dispel the tears any, but damn that was a sad sad part.

  3. strawberrypiemovies says:

    My Top 5.
    1. Gladiator (when Maximus dies.)
    2. The Constant Gardener (When Justin sees his wife at the end.)
    3. Iron Giant (All of it!)
    4. Les Miserables (Valjean dies knowing he has atoned for his earlier sins, asking God to take care of Marius and Cosette, also seeing Fantine again and her thanking him for taking care of Cosette for her.)
    5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Chief Bromden ends McMurphy’s suffering after his lobotomy.)

    I think I need to do a whole blogpost on this, ha ha. With my number 2 choice, I was quite surprised because I don’t really get emotionally attached to the characters in thrillers. Fiennes’s super performance only made it more awesome. Also, with my no. 4, ITS A DAMN KIDS FILM. IT SHOULDN’T MAKE YOU CRY! 🙂

    • Some really good choices there! I haven’t seen the Iron Giant though so don’t know about that one! Les Mis is a great choice, there’s loads of moments in that one. For me if I had to choose a moment it would have been Eponine’s On My Own, always sends shivers up my spine!

  4. Return of the King gets me every time. Frodo. The boat. Ahh. In fact, the ending of Fellowship tends to get me going too! Blood Diamond’s another. And Sunshine… almost. I was crying at the end of Diana, but I think that was out of joy and relief that it was over. Great list Chris!


  5. theipc says:

    How about when Mickey dies in Rocky 3? I just watched that scene and I’m bawling here…

  6. I think the last film that affected me like that is Brokeback Mountain. Other than that, I’m pretty hard to squeeze a tear from

  7. Great list! While you can’t cry, I can’t stop from doing so.
    1. Most all Holocaust films; just balled the other day for ‘The Book Thief’
    2. West Side Story
    3. Les Miserables
    Oh, too many. I’m a cry baby.

    • I’d love one day to just bawl my eyes out to a film, just to see what it’s like! Les Mis is a good one although I can’t say The Book Thief did a huge amount for me. Anything with personal achievement or overcoming adversity gets me the most.

  8. strawberrypiemovies says:

    Further to my earlier comment, Cuckoo’s Nest is neck-and-neck with Schindler’s List. All of it.

  9. Tom says:

    Nice selections Chris, you cruel bastard, you. Hahahah. I must admit that my threshold for sadness is pretty high, and I rarely find myself breaking down. But if I were to name a few, Toy Story 3 would definitely be included and also The Perfect Storm (don’t laugh), Million Dollar Baby, and. . . yeah, 12 Years a Slave. That’s a very good, relevant pick.

    Of course, I try to avoid such moments because crying my eyes out is not the first thing I necessarily associate with spending $10 on a movie ticket for entertainment’s purposes 😀 😀

    • Haha cheers man! Toy Story 3 seems a popular one on here, glad it’s not just me! A Perfect Storm? Wasn’t expecting to see that one crop up! I know what you mean though, I have to be really in the mood for something I know might make me cry.

      • Tom says:

        yeah man I tell ya, that scene at the end with Wahlberg floating in the ocean after the Andrea Gail goes down. . .it may seem entirely cliche to get upset at that point, but it gets me everytime.

  10. Patricia says:

    Obviously yes to Toy Story 3. I think it even made my Dad cry.

  11. 70srichard says:

    Almost any emotional movie can make me start with the waterworks. Country songs and movies will do it to me all the time so this would be a long list for me. I decided to narrow it down by choosing an actor and listing the movies he has been in that I cried at. I picked Denzel Washington:

    Remember the Titans
    Man on Fire
    The Book of Eli

  12. Great choices! Toy Story 3 definitely hits a spot. The last parts of the movie = total sobfest.

  13. Some really teary films here Chris! The way these movies do it though is so genuine. I can’t abide movies that manipulate you from the outset just to see those tears! Pixar’s Up is the most I’ve ever cried in a movie – nearly all the way through – I was very embarrassed leaving the screening full of children with my giant puffy red eyes!

  14. Popcorn Nights says:

    Nice article mate! I cried when I saw ET at the cinema (think I was about 7 years old at the time) and also when Han Solo got frozen in carbonite. I was devastated by that until Return Of The Jedi came out. More recently I will add my name to the long list of people who cried at the start of Up…that has to be one of the saddest openings to a film ever. Life Is Beautiful also got to me as well, if memory serves.

    And for anyone who saw me in a UCI cinema in 1997 at the end of Titanic who thought I was crying: rest assured I was … er … trying to get something out of my eye.

    • Thanks Stu! Haha, we have a Titanic softie on our hands! To be honest, even though it’s a cheese-fest at times, it does hit certain right notes in terms of getting a lot of people to well up. And another shout for UP, that one is killing people!

  15. Beer Movie says:

    I don’t cry often in films, but when I do, I think it is a sign that the film is pretty exceptional. But it is pretty rare, most films that try and manipulate you into tearing up don’t really affect me. The Sessions and The Broken Circle Breakdown are two recent ones that had me crying.

    • It’ll have to be something extraordinary to get me to cry too. I remember coming out of The Book Thief having felt nothing and half the cinema was in tears. The Sessions is a great film, but I haven’t seen The Broken Circle Breakdown although I’ve heard good things about it.

  16. thomasjford says:

    I tend to well up more now I have kids I have to say. Mostly of when an outsider makes friends and does something great in a coming-of-age drama or something. A couple of moments in film that always bring a lump to my throat would be, off the top of my head (but certainly not the only moments!):

    1. LOTR Return of The King: When Aragorn is crowned king and everyone, including the Hobbits bow to him and he says to Frodo and co “My friends, you bow to no-one”. I just got a shiver typing it!

    2. When the widowed Ben Stiller character in Royal Tenebaums confesses to his estranged father at the end of the movie “I’ve had a rough year pop’s” and his Dad, who he has been at war with the entire movie embraces him gently and says “I know you have Chas, I know you have” weep weep weep!!!

    • I’m with you on people doing great things. Personal achievement always gets me. That moment in LOTR was a close second to the one I chose here, it’s definitely a choker! And I love your other choice. Not one I’d have gone for personally but it’s a great film and a great scene.

  17. lauren says:

    I know its manipulative but Titanic always gets me crying. More recently the first 10 minuites of UP had me bawling like a baby!

  18. sati says:

    ” You could drown a sackful of defenseless puppies and a tear would not roll down my cheek” – I’d need a therapy if I saw that ^^

    I cried so hard during the last 4 movies you mentioned in that post. I usually don’t cry at cinemas, because it’s awkward as I’m there with someone but I lost it completely when Snape held Lily’s body in Deathly Hallows part 2.

    • Haha, well if it happened in real life I probably would but not on screen! Good call on Deathly Hallows, there are a few moments in that. When Neville finally becomes a badass I get a bit of a lump in my throat.

  19. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Terry:

    I have no use for cute aliens. Hence, I have never seen “E.T”.

    While “Up” has the most emotional, non verbal back story in film.

    Gotta stick with the last reel of “Old Yeller”. It never fails.

    Also get choked up at the last few minutes of Huey and Louie planting trees in the bio sphere in “Silent Running”.

    • Hi Jack,
      We all have a use for cute aliens! You should definitely check out ET!

      I’ve heard about Old Yeller but never seen it whilst I’ve been meaning to check out Silent Running for quite some time now actually.

  20. ruth says:

    Ahah, come on Chris, you did shed a tear watching these, admit it 😉 I think people who didn’t cry when Mufasa died have no soul! Ha..ha.. I have to admit I choked up a bit watching that scene in Armageddon, and practically sobbing watching Toy Story 3 finale!

  21. That’s a great list! I wouldn’t put Cool Runnings on there but still! More films are making me cry as I get older. Sad I know! It gets a bit dusty when I watch In America.

  22. Jon Harrison says:

    Your list is spot on! To add on that for me would be Boyz N The Hood from the moments of the shooting up until when Furious stops Trey. Oh also On The Waterfront, not so much wanting to cry but just damn. That perfectly delivered scene between the two brothers in the car.

  23. I WAS a soulless monster like you, lol! But it all changed when I watched (and don’t judge me) Click, that Adam Sandler movie. It was the first time I cried at the movies and now it happens with every other film.

  24. hybridZone says:

    Pursuit of Happiness and Life is Beautiful were real tear jerkers for me

  25. Nostra says:

    Not many movies manage that to do that, but three which immediately come to mind is E.T. during the scene where he seems dead, the end of Black Swan and the last scene in Fruitvale Station where the mother and her daughter are in the shower and the daughter asks “Where’s dad?”

  26. Brittani says:

    I’m jealous of you, I WISH I didn’t cry in movies! Since becoming a parent, anything that has to do with a kid makes me bawl. So the last scene of 12 Years A Slave when Solomon comes home and apologizes to his family for being gone, I lost my shit.

  27. le0pard13 says:

    You’re stone, Chris 😉 Great list, though.

  28. Great list, I always feel dumb tearing up during Lion King. lol

  29. Ha, I am in the exact same boat! Only a few movies have got me choked up: 12 Years a Slave, Grave of the Fireflies and 50/50.

  30. As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been getting more emotional easily. You are right on about Toy Story 3. For me, Les Miserables is the mega tearjerker, that last scene kills me every single time. A Walk to Remember does that also. And then there’s this Hong Kong movie 2 Young that really stirs up some intense emotions. Thats from the top of my head but I tear up quite a bit so there’s oodles more.

  31. Requiem for a Dream totally destroyed me. I literally had to sit down on the floor and have a good 45 minuet cry. There are some personal demons there for sure, but yeah, that movie absolutely did me in.

  32. elina says:

    I always cry watching The Lion King. So cruel! But usually, I just get sucked dry of any energy when it’s really sad instead of crying. I’d prefer crying haha. I think I cried watching The King’s Speech, though, too — and I’m not a king either. I was just so proud of him. 😀 Awesome post, Chris!

    • Thanks Elina! Pride is something that always puts a lump in my throat, and that’s precisely what happened with The King’s Speech! I know what you mean about being sucked dry. That usually happens to me when something’s depressing, such as Grave of the Fireflies or The Butterfly Effect.

  33. Alex Withrow says:

    Nice list here. E.T. always gets me – love when they all fly away, out of the grasp of the cops. So perfect. And Cool Runnings – forgetaboutit. Emotional shit right there.

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