Pick Six: Movies that Make Grown Men Cry

I am man. I watch movie. I am man who cry at movie.

The world of film holds many secrets and surprises, but none are kept closer to our hearts than those that make us cry (as in, we don’t want anyone to know we bawled like a girl). But just as any work of art can inspire emotion, film may be the most effective. Moving pictures, swelling scores, and incredible acting can make any grown man cry. Here are six films that ruined me in some regard.

The Lion King, 1994

Let’s put the most obvious one out there. Disney’s The Lion King is a childhood wrecker and nostalgia beater-upper that continues to make anyone with a soul lose a little bit of it during every viewing. The death of Mufasa is perhaps one of the most emotional moments of my growing up at the movies and it still makes me misty eyed. It’s one of those moments where no matter how many times you watch the film, you continually pray that by any possible miracle, the great King of the Jungle is not betrayed by his brother and he continues to reign over Pride Rock alongside his cub, Simba. F**k, that alternate storyline even hurts the feels.

Any Movie Where the Dog Dies, 1900-???

I can watch people decapitate each other with swords and guns, with guts spilling out on the floor in pools of blood, but for some reason, any violence towards a dog of any kind gets me emotional more than anything else. Hell, I don’t even have a dog, but seeing an innocent little puppy die in any fashion should be one of the very few things to be banned from cinema.

This also includes dogs that die from other causes- be it old age, car accidents, or any other evil God decides to bring upon the canine world.

United 93, 2006

Some films are so realistic and suspenseful, that your body’s only way to emote is with tears. United 93 is one of those films. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the shaky camera work, use of unrecognizable actors, and a single setting, United 93 relives one of our country’s darkest days. The power behind the film is that you truly believe that the passengers on the hijacked plane will fight the bad guys and win. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as we all know, and the suspense of the terror that unfolded thousands of feet above us is overwhelming.

Up, 2009

Oh the power of animation. In 2009, Pixar released their most mature film to date with Up. Telling the story of a widower who goes on a journey to fulfill the dreams he shared with his dead wife, Up is a heartwarming adventure with talking dogs, flying houses, and Kevin. Yet, the most emotional scene of the film is before said adventure. As we see Carl and Ellie grow old together, we witness a montage of events that hit you like a train of Man-Up and Grab-a-Tissue. Who knew we would feel this depressed from a Pixar flick?

Grave of the Fireflies, 1988

Continuing with the animated world, Grave of the Fireflies is one of the bravest, unnerving, unexpected movies I have ever seen, animated or live-action. It tells the story of two kids surviving in Japan during World War II, after the US dropped the atomic bombs, and their fight to find their family, shelter, food, and safety. It’s a surprisingly beautiful film, given its subject matter, but when the shiny surface erodes away, the emotional core will tear you apart. The studio behind the film, Studio Ghibli, most known for their gorgeous adventures and giant fluffy neighbors, delivers its

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, 2008

When a movie you watch haunts you for days after viewing it, we can call that effective emotional storytelling. When a movie you watch haunts you for years after viewing it, we can call that Dear Zachary. It’s hard to go in depth about the documentary without giving away too much, but it is an unflinching, absolutely terrifying tale of a friend, father, and son, and the psychopathic woman who killed him. I am not afraid to admit that Dear Zachary ruined me, and the days after watching the film were muted compared to what I had lived before. It’s a story too hard to believe and once the truth settles in, the only way to react is to cry.

As depressing as the film may be, I still have to recommend it. But watch it before the weekend, so you have a couple of days to recover. You will need it.

Films that Missed the Cut:

Life is Beautiful, 1997
Bambi, 1942
Schindler’s List, 1993
Simon Birch, 1998
My Girl, 1991
About Time, 2013
Brokeback Mountain, 2005

What films make you cry? Share them in the comment section below. 

Written By Nick

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he’s seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.

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  • Shane

    Toy Story 3 wrecks me at the end. I’m still scared to watch Dear Zachary. I love the other choices, especially Up.

  • I have no idea why I forgot Toy Story 3…. great addition.

  • Great list Nick. Love the addition of Grave of the Fireflies. Man that movie is really powerful. Other movies that have scenes that made me cry every time I watch it are Dancer in The Dark, Beauty and The Beast, Finding Nemo, Thirteen, and Muppets Take Manhattan

  • rich

    there is no film that makes me cry more than the ending of “The Searchers,” when you think John Wayne is going to shoot Natalie Wood, but instead he picks her up like he’s going to throw her, holds her, and says, “Let’s go home, Debbie.” i’m ready to cry just thinking about it.

    another film that made me cry but very unexpectedly was “Poltergeist.” Lemme explain – the first time i watched it, i was just a teenager i think. it was a paranormal thing, blah blah blah. the second time i watched it was after i had a kid. so instead of a paranormal thing, it was now a family trying to get their precious daughter back from a demon. that made it very different, and i cried like a baby.

  • rich

    oh, i remembered another one. “Black Beauty.” the ending, when they’re crossing the finish line, and you see the flashback to when the boy and the horse were on the island. that’s movie magic.

  • fernandorafael_c2c

    OK, so I’ve cried with A LOT of movies but only two have had me literally sobbing and gasping for air: 127 Hours and The Impossible.

  • 127 Hours had me cringe more than anything. It didn’t have the same “i know what happens but still hits the feels” effect that United 93 had.

  • Animated movies are powerful! lol

  • I can understand the Poltergeist thing. I’ve heard of a lot of parents seeing films a lot differently after having kids. Guess I’ll just have to wait and find out in about.. 45 years.

  • D’awwww….

  • rich

    also, if you’ve ever watched “to kill a mockingbird” (of course you have) and watched the end when scout realizes it was boo radley who saved her brother. then she looks up at him, walks over, and just holds his hand. without saying a word, she let’s us know how remorseful she is for all the rude things they had said and done to him.

  • rich

    have you seen “finding nemo: the musical” at disney’s animal kingdom? the songs are different than the film, and there’s a song that kills me when nemo is in the fish tank. the other fish tell him that his father will come for him, but he sings “not my dad.” it kills me to think of a kid in trouble but has no faith that his father would make the effort to come save him. of course, i watch it sitting next to my kid, and she’s always looking at me and smiling.


    btw – for anyone who has seen the show and heard the songs, they were written by the same husband and wife team who wrote all the songs for “frozen.”

  • No shame, the denouement of ‘LOTR: The Return of the King’, in Rivendell just gets to me (most effective after a trilogy marathon). Also, the beginning of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is heart wrenching. Anything with Dogs I can relate to, and a few other comments I too am afraid of Dear Zachary.