10 emotional movies to give you a good cry

Need a good cry? Try watching one of these films.


“The Impossible” (2013) is the true story of a family of five that survived one of the most devastating tsunamis in history while on vacation in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment)

After nearly a year of shutdowns, and working and learning remotely from home, the pandemic has yet to let up. With all the overwhelming circumstances and big questions about when things will go “back to normal,” it’s only natural to have the occasional “good cry” session, while we deal with our emotions and ponder the existential meaning. If I know I need a good cry, I go straight to watching some of my favorite emotional movies that open the floodgates every time. Maybe some of you are looking for those classic “good cry” movies, to help get those waterworks flowing. Here is a list of movies that definitely gave me a good cry, and if they don’t give you one, you might want to check if you’re actually breathing. Let the crying begin!

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008) reveals the gruesome events of the Holocaust through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy. (Photo courtesy of Miramax)

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” | 2008

This World War II historical drama, directed by Mark Herman, and starring a young Asa Butterfield, is emotional, especially if it’s your first time fully grasping the Holocaust and what the Nazi Regime did to the Jewish people and other prejudiced people groups during that time. In this film, eight-year-old Bruno and his parents relocate from Berlin nearer to a Jewish concentration camp that his father has recently been put in command over. A bored Bruno wanders off to the borders of the camp where he befriends a boy on the other side of the fence who appears to be wearing striped pajamas. Hauntingly ironic and thought-provoking, this film gives new insight into the concentration camps, since you are viewing it through the eyes of a young boy. This film can be watched on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

“The Impossible” | 2013

This film, directed by J.A. Bayona, is the incredible true story of the Spanish, Belon-Alvarez family who survived one of the deadliest tsunamis recorded in history in Khao Lak, Thailand, while on vacation. For the film adaption, a British family, the Bennets, is portrayed instead, but the events that transpire reflect the actual story. Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGreggor, and a young Tom Holland, this film is gripping and difficult to watch at certain parts. The incredible realism of the scenery, wreckage, and acting will have you crying throughout. Watts won an Oscar for her portrayal of Maria Bennet (Maria Belon), a mother and doctor fighting for the safety of her family. This film is now available to watch on Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video.

“Requiem for a Dream” | 2000

This psychological drama directed by Darren Aronofsky is a bold statement piece loaded with symbolic imagery and themes. Starring Academy Award winner Jared Leto, Jennifer Connely, and Ellen Burstyn, this one is an absolute tear-jerker with themes of addiction, lust, loss, and madness. Aronofsky plays with what drives human desire, happiness, and connection in a parable-like format. The film follows the recently widowed Sara Goldfarb (Burstyn) and her distant and strained relationship with her aimless son, Harry Goldfarb (Leto). Sara becomes consumed with the prospect of appearing on a TV game show and starts a strict diet. Harry has big dreams but finds himself wrapped up in the drug scene with a friend. In their pursuit of happiness, they each slowly descend into madness and loss. This film can be watched on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play and iTunes.

Despite Warner Brother’s poor marketing of “The Iron Giant”, the film still received very high critical reviews and still sits at a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brother’s Studios)

“The Iron Giant” | 1999

This Warner Bros animation, directed by Brad Bird, is not your typical “sad movie”, but is still a tear-jerker with wonderful themes of friendship, peace, and what it means to have a soul. Hogarth Hughs, voiced by Eli Marienthal, discovers a massive, but friendly giant that descended to earth from outer space. As Hogarth develops a personal relationship with Giant, voiced by Vin Diesel, he fights to protect and hide him from outside forces that view him as a weapon. Jennifer Aniston and Harry Connick Jr. also lend their voice talents to this film that currently sits at an impressive 96% on the Rotten Tomatoes meter. This film can be watched on YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Prime Video.

“A Star is Born” | 2018

This award-winning film directed by Bradley Cooper, is a story of how fame and recognition can create the illusion of happiness and purpose but can destroy the relationships that really matter, past the point of redemption. Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Lady Gaga, who usually makes her presence known in groundbreaking ways in the music industry, makes a huge impression acting in her first role in a feature film, proving she can wear multiple hats in the entertainment industry. This film follows Jackson Maine (Cooper), a seasoned performer, who falls in love with the talented but struggling artist Ally (Gaga). He takes Ally on the road, where she ends up gaining recognition which ultimately ends up skyrocketing her to fame. As life gets more complicated with the demands of fame, Jackson finds himself battling old demons. This film can be watched on HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube.

“Just Mercy” | 2019

There are so many reasons to cry while watching this film. It’s not only heartbreaking, but it’s inspirational and has its heart-warming moments. Regardless, watching this film is one giant crying fest with the imagery shown of the lives of inmates waiting to die in the electric chair. This based-on-a-true-story, legal drama, directed by Destin Daniel Cretin, follows Harvard Law graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), as he relocates to Alabama, to defend inmates on death row accused of crimes they did not commit, including Walter McMillian who was convicted in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. Stevenson fights for years to free McMillian, a legal battle that leads him to his calling of freeing the innocent, no matter the opposition standing in his way. This film can be watched on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube and Vudu.

During the 89th Academy Awards in February 2017, it was mistakenly announced that “La La Land” won the Oscar for Best Picture, which was followed by announcing the correct winner, “Moonlight.” Despite not winning Best Picture, the film still took home six awards that night. (Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment)

“La La Land” | 2016

The Academy Award winning “La La Land,” directed by Damien Chazelle, changed the game for how audiences view musicals. Chazelle creates an incredibly realistic Hollywood landscape and concept of the “starving artist.” This film, with its pallet of bright colors, groovy jazz, exciting musical numbers, and snappy, comedic one-liners from the film’s stars, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, you wouldn’t expect to find yourself crying at all, but that is the beauty of” La La Land.” This is the story of Mia (Stone) and Sebastian (Gosling) as they navigate through Hollywood with big dreams, and little room to compromise on achieving those dreams. As one’s dreams become realized, sacrifices must be made. This film can be watched on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

“Up” | 2009

With me being a sucker for cute, heart-warming animated films, of course, I had to put “Up” on the list. While this Pixar film’s target audience is mainly children, legendary Pixar director Pete Docter, knew how to create content that would tug at the heartstrings of full-grown adults. The film’s opening montage will have you bawling before the plot is even formed and the references to absent fatherhood and finding family in unexpected ways will invoke all sorts of dormant feelings you’ve been out of touch with for years. This film follows retired balloon salesman, Carl Fredrickson, voiced by Ed Asner, who is still grieving the loss of his late wife, Ellie. A young boy named Russel (Jordan Nagai) seeks out Mr. Fredrickson, in hopes of receiving his Assisting the Elderly Badge as a Wilderness Explorer, but the two end up on a journey to Paradise Falls in South America in Carl’s floating house held up by hundreds of helium balloons. This film can be watched on Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube and Vudu.

“Leave No Trace” | 2018

“Leave No Trace,” directed by Debra Granick, is the intriguing story of a father, Will (Ben Foster) and daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), who quietly reside in a nature reserve, Forest Park near Portland, rarely ever making contact with the outside world. One small mistake that gave away their location tips them off to the authorities, and they are forcefully removed from their quiet life in the woods and coerced to assimilate with the general population. Will, who has dealt with an ongoing battle with PTSD after serving tours in Iraq, attempts to carry out what’s best for his daughter, but cannot run far enough away from his demons. This film is difficult to watch and may be one of the saddest films I’ve ever seen. This film can be watched on Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Amazon Prime Video, Philo and Google Play.

It is rumored that Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is a cursed film, due to several of the cast and crew members experiencing bizarre happenings off and on set during the making of the film, including the film’s star, Jim Caviezel, according to an Insider article. (Photo courtesy of Icon Productions)

“The Passion of the Christ” | 2004

This film, directed by Mel Gibson, is the account of the events leading up to the death of Jesus Christ, including the Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal, (Jim Caviezel) and the effect it had on Christ’s many followers at the time and the legacy he left behind. Regardless if you are religious or not, this film is absolutely emotional and vividly displays the gruesome torture Christ endured up until the final moment of his crucifixion and is incredibly difficult to watch. Viewing this film through a historical lens can allow the audience to be emotionally affected by Christ’s torture and death. This is truly one of the most emotional films I’ve seen yet, and other versions of the story of Christ do not hold a candle to Gibson’s masterpiece. This film can be watched on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes.