WARNING THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS.
These are the movies I have deemed acceptable for men to cry during. No other movies shall produce tears out of the eyes of males. Other movies may bring tears to a man’s eye, but not out of it. So it is written…
Also, “Up” isn’t on this list, but it should be, maybe I’ll add an 11th slot later.
“Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?”
10. The Wrestler
That quote up there is actually from the song Bruce Springsteen wrote for this movie. Now I am willing to defend this choice to the death. This was a beautiful film and Darren Aronofsky’s choice to shoot it mostly handheld was genius. It’s so intimate and the audience gets to see every bad decision Mickey Rourke’s character ever made over his lifetime all displayed on his face. I’ve heard of some people who didn’t like the ending because it was left open. It’s called an ‘ambiguous ending’ and they are my favourite kind of ending. Because we all know that life doesn’t just end with a fade out. There will always be something left unsaid. Something for someone else to figure out. It’s a metaphor, read a fucking book, they’re full of them.
MOMENTS WHEN THE TEARS COME: When Randy the Ram (Rourke) has one wonderful day with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) on the abandoned boardwalk and he basically throws himself at her mercy saying that all he wants is for her not to hate him. Even though they both know that is almost impossible. Also when he is having a heart attack and jumps off the screen at the very end of the movie and the Boss’ award winning song closes the film brilliantly. Then tears.
“Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess.”
9. Saving Private Ryan
This movie is fantastic. A brilliant depiction of war as hell on Earth, it is presented so honestly and with only the slightest traces of sentimentality. But what I love most about this movie is that, beyond the American flag waving at the beginning and the end, there is no posturing and advertising for the AMERICAN MILITARY. A true classic by a true master, Steven Spielberg. Who, coincidentally, has two movies on this list.
MOMENTS WHEN THE TEARS COME: When Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) is dying on the bridge at the very end and he says to Private Ryan (Matt Damon), “earn this.” Simple, almost inaudible, but it gets me every time.
“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom“
Remember Mel Gibson? He was that awesome action hero from the Lethal Weapon and Mad Max movies? Well before he turned anti-semite he made this film and showed real promise of becoming a great director someday. This movie is a brutal and simple story that has it’s roots in the most basic elements of classic Hollywood epics: love, revenge, loyalty, betrayal and patriotism. It also boasts an amazingly tear-jerking score and great cinematography of the Scottish Highlands as well as some perfectly orchestrated medieval battle sequences. This is how I like to remember Mel.
MOMENTS WHEN THE TEARS COME: This movie is actually paced really well so that when there is a terrible scene of gut wrenching emotion the audience is almost immediately rescued from tears by visceral violence or some ridiculous humour. An example that immediately comes to mind is when William Wallace’s wife, Murron, is killed, the audience isn’t even given a minute to soak it in before Wallace trudges into town on his horse and starts wrecking everyone’s shit. But when Wallace is being tortured at the very end and yells out “FREEEEEEDOM!” for the whole country to hear, there’s no coming back. Tears.
“If you build it, he will come”
7. Field of Dreams
I’m a guy who enjoys a little cheesy nostalgia every once in a while and this film is full of it. From the highly unlikely premise to the very hokey ending that could almost be attributed to Deus Ex Machina, I love it all. The beautiful images of Iowa almost make me want to live in the heartland of America.
Kevin Costner has never been considered a ‘great actor’ but in this film he plays the part of Ray Kinsella pitch-perfectly, a down on his luck farmer on a mission to bring the spirit of baseball back to life. This film makes the most boring game in the universe seem interesting and full of whimsical romance and for that feat alone it should be praised.
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: Almost at the very end of the movie, Kevin Costner’s character notices a man on the White Sox team playing on his ballpark. The man is his father. After the game Costner approaches the man and he tells him he is his son. Then they have a catch together, something neither of them had done with each other while Costner was young. Nostalgia tears.
“E.T. phone home”
6. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
This explanation will be brief. Everyone knows about the story of the little alien and his otherworldly connection with the boy named Elliot. I must confess that I only saw this movie once when I was seven or eight and I was balling from the first fifteen minutes to the closing credits. I couldn’t exactly say what set it all off, but I do remember it being a painfully emotional experience, one I never wanted to revisit. So I didn’t. But I probably will soon.
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: The whole freaking thing apparently.
“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. 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.”
5. The Shawshank Redemption
Do I really even need to justify this one? If you don’t get choked up by the time the credits role then you need to seek out the help of a therapist and discuss your deep seeded emotional problems. Seriously.
MOMENTS WHEN THE TEARS COME: Lots of times. When Brooks hangs himself in his apartment; When Tommy gets shot by the Guard Captain; When Andy Dufresne escapes from Shawshank and feels the cold cleansing rain on his face as a free man for the first time in twenty years; When Red meets Andy on the beach in Mexico and they exchange a wordless embrace as the credits begin to roll. Tears.
“Go on, go on and be perfect”
4. Friday Night Lights
Wow this movie is great. The mostly true story of the Odessa, Texas Permian Panthers football team and their 1988 season. It is my personal favourite sports movie of all time for many reasons: First and foremost being its unique look, mainly shot on hand held HD cameras that gives each moment of sense of urgency and makes the audience feel like voyeurs looking in on this incredible part of American culture, also the digital gloss of each frame gives the football games themselves a extremely beautiful look and feel. Second is the absolutely illuminating score by one of my favourite bands: Explosions in the Sky. Each original composition is instrumental, yet the songs say more in the notes than most tracks with lyrics. Each song is strikingly beautiful. Thirdly is an all around wonderful ensemble cast, all of whom give convincing and sometimes heartbreaking performances.
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: When the final buzzer of the championship game sounds and the Panthers come one yard short of the winning touchdown. Then Fullback Don Billingsley’s father (Tim McGraw) confronts his son on the field and gives him his own championship ring. They hug. Just watch the movie. Trust me.
“Come with me if you want to live…”
3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Ok, I don’t think many people would expect this one but hear me out. Terminator 2 is one of those rare sequels that is not only better than its predecessor, but also makes the first one suck in comparison. I believe it shares the title of Best Action Film Ever with Die Hard. That’s how much I love this movie. From the mind-blowing special effects to the jaw-dropping action sequences this film has it all. But underneath all the spectacle and budget there is a very basic story of learning what it means to be human. This film also boasts a truly great performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger (that’s something I never thought I’d write, but it’s true, this is the part he was born to play).
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: I’ve talked a lot about this film’s merits as an action vehicle, but when The Terminator discovers what it is to be human, and that it is something that he can never be, he decides to sacrifice himself to save the human race (pictured above). When he gives John Connor the thumbs up as he is engulfed in lava…tears.
“It’s not your fault”
2. Good Will Hunting
A fascinating script, a remarkable cast and some really outstanding direction make this one of the better movies I’ve ever seen. Each interaction that goes on between Robin Williams and Matt Damon is an example of incredible acting. I can’t really say much more. I just love this movie.
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: When Sean (Williams) and Will (Damon) are finishing their last session of therapy together and Sean finally makes a breakthrough with Will as he calmly yet effectively tells him that all the abandonment and hardship he’s suffered isn’t his fault. It’s a simple yet beautiful scene. Tears.
“I have been and always shall be your friend.”
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
I know! I know! It’s a Star Trek movie. Put down your torches I mean no harm. This film may fall within the realm of the geek and the fanboy but what most people may dismiss as cartoonish sci-fi, others, like myself, recognize as a wonderful story of friendship and sacrifice. This film rightfully belongs in the pantheon of great Science Fiction adventures. Made on a shoestring budget after the colossal failure that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Wrath of Kahn proved that less is more. A fast paced and simple story that would set the tone for the every other Trek film to follow (except for the new one, which is still fucking awesome).
MOMENT WHEN THE TEARS COME: When Spock makes the ultimate sacrifice and saves the Enterprise from certain doom. Sure it might be really cheesy, but it’s Star Trek, take it with an enormous helping of salt.