Not everyone enjoys a movie that will leave them in tears, but there’s something comforting about a cathartic cry. Maybe watching a sad film in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t your idea of escapism. Or maybe you’d rather have another reason to cry it out. Don’t worry, there are happy endings in some of these plot lines—just tread carefully.
Some of these movies will leave you wanting to call your mom, dad, grandma, sister, brother, and/or best friend. Others will make you want to dip into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and stay in bed for a few extra hours. Either way, clear your schedule.
The Notebook takes the Cake for sure
Things you didn’t know about the Notebook
Breathe is a whole new level of Bawling you ready?
The No 1 tearjerker! There’s definitely something comforting about a cathartic cry. Clear your schedule, prepare your Ben N Jerry’s it’s Friday y’all time for a good ol Bawl...
The Notebook (2004) Nothing quite brings on the feelings like an animated film about them. Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has a lot of emotions, and this movie examines all of them through cartoon cartoon personifications voiced by Amy Poehler, The Office’s Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, and more. Also: Bing Bong. (If you know, you know.) —HW
Me before You 2016
After becoming unemployed, Louisa Clark is forced to accept one which requires her to take care of Will Traynor, a paralysed man. The two of them soon bond with each other.
After contracting polio at the age of 28, Robin Cavendish is confined to bed and given only months to live. But with the help of his wife Diana and her twin brothers, and the groundbreaking ideas of inventor Teddy Hall, Cavendish emerges from the hospital ward and devotes the rest of his life to helping fellow patients and the disabled.
Tragedy strikes when Joyce Smith's adopted son, John, falls through the ice on a frozen lake in Missouri. Trapped underwater for more than 15 minutes, rescuers bring John back to the surface and rush him to the nearest hospital. While doctors fear the worst, the 14-year-old boy continues to fight for his life as Joyce, her husband and their pastor stay by his bedside and pray for a miracle.
The Pursuit of Happyness 2006
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his young son (Jaden Smith) have been evicted from their apartment with nowhere to go. Chris takes on an unpaid internship and does everything he can to ensure that his little family has a better life. —HW
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) is different from other people, but his mother (Sally Field) has never made him feel that way. He fights in the Vietnam War, captains a shrimp boat, and runs across America, but the only thing he really cares about is the affection of his childhood sweetheart, Jenny (Robin Wright). —Hilary Weaver
Blue Valentine (2010)
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) appear to have the perfect marriage—from the outside looking in. But upon closer inspection, it seems this couple is coming up against obstacles that might end their storybook romance. —HW
The Hours (2002)
Get ready to write a queer theory paper on this one. The Hours is the story of three women searching for more meaningful lives while facing demons of their own. One of these women is Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), whose book Mrs. Dalloway inspires the two other women, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) as they are experience circumstances that parallel Woolf’s famous work.
My Sister's Keeper (2009)
Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) is a bone marrow donor for her older sister, who is gravely ill. Anna sues her parents for emancipation, and her entire family might fall apart as a result. Cameron Diaz might not have been able to cry in The Holiday, but this film, in which she stars, gives her plenty of reason. —HW
P.S. I Love You (2007)
As a teenager studying abroad in Europe Holly (Hilary Swank) meets charming Irishman Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler). They get married and have a passionate romance until Gerry dies young. Holly is devastated, but it turns out Gerry left her a few letters before he died, and their adventure together isn’t quite over. Bonus: Butler (who’s from Scotland) really pulls off the charismatic Irish type. —HW
A Walk to Remember (2002)
This might be the most underrated Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker. Shane West and Mandy Moore star as two teens who aren’t a predictable match. They might be kids, but their love comes up against some real adult stuff. Plus, once you hear "Only Hope," you'll never forget it. —HW
Good Will Hunting (1998)
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has an impressively high IQ but work as a janitor at MIT. After school hours, Will solves an impossible math equation and his talent is discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård). But after Will gets arrested, he promises to get help from therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). —HW
One True Thing (1998)
This movie was adapted from a novel by Anna Quindlen and tells the story of Kate, a housewife whose own family undervalues her. When she gets a cancer diagnosis, her daughter Ellen (Renée Zellweger) comes home to take care of her mother while her father (William Hurt) continues his career as a respected writer and professor. Kate protests, but Ellen stays, and the time they spend together helps Ellen see her mother in a completely new light. —HW
Inside Out (2015)
Nothing quite brings on the feelings like an animated film about them. Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has a lot of emotions, and this movie examines all of them through cartoon cartoon personifications voiced by Amy Poehler, The Office’s Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, and more. Also: Bing Bong. (If you know, you know.) —HW
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star as cowboys who fall in love while working together as sheep herders. The fact that the world lost Ledger far too soon adds an extra layer of sadness to this Oscar winner. —AS
Co-parenting with an ex isn't always easy...especially when there's a third person in the equation. We won't spoil this tearjerker if you haven't seen it, but the twist will break your heart. —AS
The real-life story of this shipwreck is tragic enough without the fictional love connection between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet). The rich girl/poor boy romance still draws you in, over 20 years after its release. "You jump, I jump...remember?" —AS
The Lion King (1994)
There are plenty of scenes in this movie that will make you laugh—and then there's Mufasa. Just writing that name chokes me up a little. —AS
My Girl (1991)
Any kid who went to see this movie because "the boy from Home Alone" (Macaulay Culkin) was in it got a huge surprise. As traumatizing as its big twist may have been, this coming-of-age tale about 11-year-old Veda (its sequel works too) is basically comfort food in movie form. —AS
The Color Purple (1985)
Based on Alice Walker's award-winning novel and directed by Steven Spielberg, this unforgettable movie follows Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), a young African-American woman in the south trying to overcome years of abuse. Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover deliver classic, affecting performances. —AS
A Star Is Born (2018)
Not every artist can make the jump from music to acting, but this is Lady Gaga we're talking about. Gaga wrecks us as her character Ally achieves the fame she's been fighting for—but at a cost. Her chemistry with Bradley Cooper is undeniable and that's exactly why audiences and the awards circuit loved it. —AS
Sophie's Choice (1982)
Meryl Streep won an Oscar for her role as Sophie, a concentration camp survivor trying to rebuild her life with a Jewish American man (Kevin Kline) who is fixated on the holocaust. Like many other films on this list, it's not easy to sit through—its emotional heft is undeniable. —AS