Personal Tearjerkers

by Jriff87 | created - 17 Apr 2011 | updated - 27 Jun 2016 | Public

Movies that never fail in making me weep or at least feel choked up, every time. A couple of classic "tearjerkers" are not here because I have not seen them yet (i.e. "Old Yeller", "Terms of Endearment", "Grave of the Fireflies", etc.) I have tried to avoid spoilers, but be warned that there a fewin the description boxes, so it's best to avoid reading on the films you haven't watched.

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1. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, War

59 Metascore

When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni | Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano

Votes: 507,929 | Gross: $57.60M

Two scenes: When Guido (Roberto Beningni) and his son (Giorgio Cantarini) get to the loudspeakers of the concentration camp to greet Dora (Nicoletta Braschi). And that ending, with the little boy on top of the tank with the American G.I., seeing his mother once again and screaming triumphally "We won!", while the closing narration does its work. It never fails to get me, even in publicly embarrasing situations.

2. Ustedes, los ricos (1948)

Not Rated | 130 min | Drama

Sequel to Nosotros los Pobres (1947). This time, Pepe "El Toro" (Infante) is married with "La Chorreada" (Pavon) and they have two children. Chachita (Munoz) knows her real grandma: Charito... See full summary »

Director: Ismael Rodríguez | Stars: Pedro Infante, Evita Muñoz 'Chachita', Blanca Estela Pavón, Fernando Soto

Votes: 402

Pepe el Toro (Pedro Infante) having a brutal emotional breakdown with his little boy's burnt corpse, which he holds on for many days, locked in their burned apartment. Scenes of the little kid play over scenes of Pepe's hysterical laughter, which quickly degenerate into mad sobs.

3. Shane (1953)

Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Western

A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde

Votes: 31,668 | Gross: $20.00M

The waterworks begin after the end of the final duel. Shane's farewell to Joey puts many other "goodbye" scenes to shame (no pun intended). The wounded Shane leaving on horseback while young Joey screams "Shane! Come back, Shane! Pa's got things for you to do. And Mother wants you. I know she does!", only to finally realize what he is saying. A farewell to a great hero, an era and childish innocence. Another movie that gets me hard always.

4. ¡Vuelven los García! (1947)

Not Rated | 113 min | Comedy, Romance

Luis Antonio, Jose Luis and Luis Manuel are back and seemingly at ease with each other. However, destiny still has something in store for them: the spawn of one of the evil Lopez, siblings Leon and Juan Simon, are looking for vengeance.

Director: Ismael Rodríguez | Stars: Sara García, Pedro Infante, Abel Salazar, Víctor Manuel Mendoza

Votes: 202

Half the movie. The death of Grandmother Garcia, the funeral scene, the scene with a drunken and devastated Luis Antonio (Pedro Infante) bringing a serenade to her grave and part of the hilarious testament scene. Great stuff.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Not Rated | 129 min | Crime, Drama

87 Metascore

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.

Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

Votes: 254,670

The ending scene with "Mr." Boo Radley.

6. Lonesome Dove (1989)

TV-14 | 384 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

Two former Texas Rangers renew their spirit of adventure as they and several other residents of a small Texas town join a cattle drive to the Montana Territory.

Stars: Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane

Votes: 17,286

While the mini-series contains many heart-wrenching scenes, Woodrow Call's (Tommy Lee Jones) return to Lonesome Dove after many of his comrades (including his best friend) have died (the scenes are re-played in flashback as this happens) is quite the punch to the emotional gut.

7. An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

G | 75 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

A family of Emigre mice decide to move out to the west, unaware that they are falling into a trap perpetrated by a smooth talking cat.

Directors: Phil Nibbelink, Simon Wells | Stars: James Stewart, John Cleese, Amy Irving, Phillip Glasser

Votes: 19,744 | Gross: $22.17M

Sheriff Burp's (Jimmy Stewart) final speech to Fievel. It's a moving, underrated speech on itself, but it's even sadder when you consider it was Stewart's final role, summing up not only his Western persona, but one of the finest acting careers in Hollywood.

8. My Dog Skip (2000)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

61 Metascore

A shy boy grows up in 1940s Mississippi with the help of his beloved dog, Skip.

Director: Jay Russell | Stars: Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson

Votes: 17,799 | Gross: $34.10M

The scenes leading up to, and including, Skip's death due to old age.

9. Titanic (1997)

PG-13 | 194 min | Drama, Romance

75 Metascore

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates

Votes: 893,803 | Gross: $659.33M

Several scenes surrounding the deaths of the passengers. The mother telling a bedtime story about the Irish heaven to her children. An elderly couple embracing each other as water surrounds them. Captain Smith's encounter with the doomed mother and her baby, as well as him sinking with ship. Mr. Andrew's heartbreaking "I'm sorry I didn't build you a stronger ship, young Rose" and his scene with the clock. And of course, "Gentlemen. It has been a privilege playing with you tonight."

10. The Elephant Man (1980)

PG | 124 min | Biography, Drama

77 Metascore

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud

Votes: 188,967

11. The Cure (1995)

PG-13 | 97 min | Drama

Erik, a loner, finds a friend in Dexter, an eleven-year-old boy with AIDS. They vow to find a cure for AIDS together and save Dexter's life in an eventful summer.

Director: Peter Horton | Stars: Joseph Mazzello, Brad Renfro, Aeryk Egan, Delphine French

Votes: 8,264 | Gross: $2.57M

The inevitable end to the story of two young friends, one of whom has AIDS.

12. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 1,954,041 | Gross: $28.34M

All of the story of "Brooks Was Here". Also, the ending with Red and his closing narration.

13. Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

G | 93 min | Drama, Family

A college professor's bond with the abandoned dog he takes into his home.

Director: Lasse Hallström | Stars: Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Sarah Roemer

Votes: 204,083

The fate of Hachiko's owner, and the fate of Hachiko himself, especially when his master comes for him again.

14. An American Tail (1986)

G | 80 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

38 Metascore

While emigrating to the United States, a young Russian mouse gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country.

Director: Don Bluth | Stars: Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer, Erica Yohn, Nehemiah Persoff

Votes: 42,462 | Gross: $47.48M

Fievel accepting his fate as an orphan, moments before encountering his family again.

15. The Lion King (1994)

G | 88 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

83 Metascore

A Lion cub crown prince is tricked by a treacherous uncle into thinking he caused his father's death and flees into exile in despair, only to learn in adulthood his identity and his responsibilities.

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg

Votes: 766,655 | Gross: $312.90M

"Dad, come on wake up!" A scene with a great impact on a generation.

16. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

93 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 1,007,988 | Gross: $96.07M

Several scenes, including the evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto, the murder of the one-armed elder gentleman and the fate of the girl with the red coat. And of course, Schindler's (Liam Neeson) breakdown at the end ("I could've saved more") taking off his Nazi gold pin and calculating how many more lives he could've saved. The final tribute with the survivors and the actors that played them is also highly emotional.

17. Dumbo (1941)

G | 64 min | Animation, Drama, Family

Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

Directors: Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen, John Elliotte | Stars: Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, James Baskett, Herman Bing

Votes: 99,238 | Gross: $1.60M

The "Baby of Mine" song scene, with Dumbo and his mother. Damn.

18. Toy Story 3 (2010)

G | 103 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

92 Metascore

The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

Director: Lee Unkrich | Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty

Votes: 636,049 | Gross: $415.00M

That ending. Enough said.

19. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

G | 83 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

Two childhood friends find themselves forced to become enemies.

Directors: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens | Stars: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson

Votes: 71,952 | Gross: $63.46M

"Goodbye May Seem Forever"...Sweet Lord. Also, in retrospect, "Best of Friends".

20. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

PG-13 | 140 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

68 Metascore

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescue Palpatine from Count Dooku. As Obi-Wan pursues a new threat, Anakin acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

Director: George Lucas | Stars: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson

Votes: 602,171 | Gross: $380.26M

The execution of order 066, including the implied murder of the younglings ("Master Anakin, there's too many of them. What are we going to do?" Never have I hated the sound and sight of a lightsaber being switched on) Also, Obi-Wan's final conversation with Anakin, ending with the saddest "I loved you" ever.

21. Braveheart (1995)

R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History

68 Metascore

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen

Votes: 844,611 | Gross: $75.60M

"You bled with Wallace! Now bleed with ME!" Manly tears ensue.

22. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R | 229 min | Crime, Drama

A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams

Votes: 258,709 | Gross: $5.32M

"Noodles...I...slipped." Oh, Dominic...

23. Up (2009)

PG | 96 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

88 Metascore

Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson | Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer

Votes: 784,941 | Gross: $293.00M

Anything involving Ellie.

24. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

PG | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

58 Metascore

After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy a more powerful Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap.

Director: Richard Marquand | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 808,285 | Gross: $309.13M

Darth Vader's redemption and his final words to Luke ("Tell your sister...you were right. You were right about me.") Also, the scene with the dead Ewok and its partner trying to wake him up.

25. Viento negro (1965)

127 min | Drama, Adventure

A man recently estranged from his wife is in charge of setting a new rail line across the desert in difficult conditions. Things are further complicated when his 'sheltered' son arrives wanting to reconnect.

Director: Servando González | Stars: José Elías Moreno, David Reynoso, Jorge Martínez de Hoyos, Fernando Luján

Votes: 167

The last scene.

26. Simitrio (1960)

90 min | Drama, Family

An elderly teacher, who works in a rural school and is about to remain completely blind, has to support a group of rebellious and mischievous students.

Director: Emilio Gómez Muriel | Stars: José Elías Moreno, Javier Tejeda, Carlos López Moctezuma, Roberto Álvarez

Votes: 56

The plot itself is sad, as an elderly country teacher is slowly losing his sight and his rowdy classroom takes advantage of this to pull prank after prank against him while laying the blame on a fictional new student named Simitrio, with the students taking turns at impersonating him, since the teacher can't distinguish his features. The scenes of the pranks and the poor teacher's frustrating attempts at trying to reach out this troublesome "boy" are heart-wrenching.

27. The Kid (1921)

Not Rated | 68 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan, Carl Miller

Votes: 87,583 | Gross: $5.45M

The scene where Social (dis)Services tries to take away John from the Little Fellow. The music and the acting of Chaplin and Gleeson will get you always.

28. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

PG-13 | 146 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

65 Metascore

As Harry races against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, he uncovers the existence of three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.

Director: David Yates | Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bill Nighy

Votes: 388,942 | Gross: $295.98M

Dobby is a free elf, indeed.

29. Children of Men (2006)

R | 109 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

84 Metascore

In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine

Votes: 404,298 | Gross: $35.55M

Who would've thought that a "pull my finger" joke could be so heart-rendering?

30. Interstellar (2014)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

74 Metascore

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

Votes: 1,175,661 | Gross: $188.02M

31. The Godfather: Part III (1990)

R | 162 min | Crime, Drama

60 Metascore

In the midst of trying to legitimize his business dealings in New York City and Italy in 1979, aging Mafia Don Michael Corleone seeks to avow for his sins, while taking his nephew Vincent Mancini under his wing.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire

Votes: 309,135 | Gross: $66.67M

Two scenes. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) remembering his lost loves while his son sings a Sicilian song that's basically The Godfather Love Theme with lyrics. And the tragic ending scene, and Michael's primal and brutally anguished reaction to it (including a silent cry that seems to last forever)

32. El niño y el muro (1965)

85 min | Drama

Not realizing the dangers he is facing, Young Dieter will do anything to get his ball back after it was thrown over the Berlin wall by a ruthless guard.

Director: Ismael Rodríguez | Stars: Daniel Gélin, Yolanda Varela, Nino Del Arco, Karin Block

Votes: 87

The ending concerning the boy and girl who become friends on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall.

33. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

46 Metascore

A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney

Votes: 112,372 | Gross: $20.16M

The Swamp of Adness and what happens to poor Artax. Also, the Child Empress teary pleading to Bastian.

34. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, War

90 Metascore

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Votes: 1,030,060 | Gross: $216.54M

"Earn this!" and the "Am I a good man?" that follows that.

35. Bambi (1942)

G | 70 min | Animation, Drama, Family

The story of a young deer growing up in the forest.

Directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Norman Wright | Stars: Hardie Albright, Stan Alexander, Bobette Audrey, Peter Behn

Votes: 109,156 | Gross: $102.80M

You already know why this is here.

36. Noah (2014)

PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

68 Metascore

Noah is chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

Votes: 219,903 | Gross: $101.20M

37. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

R | 134 min | Drama, Romance

87 Metascore

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid

Votes: 285,533 | Gross: $83.04M

The jacket. "Jack, I swear..." indeed.

38. The Searchers (1956)

Passed | 119 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond

Votes: 69,435

Ethan Edwards' change of heart about killing his niece...gently carrying her instead back to whatever remains of home with her part-Cherokee step-brother. And Ethan, realizing that his job was done and that he no longer belonged to "civilization", turns back around the door frame and leaves as the door closes.

39. Click (2006)

PG-13 | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

45 Metascore

A workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices.

Director: Frank Coraci | Stars: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff

Votes: 271,192 | Gross: $137.36M

When his father passes away after an argument, and his own death on the street in the rain.