Sometimes you're just in the mood for watching movies that will make you cry all night. There's just something so incredibly cathartic about hunkering down in your pajamas, turning down the lights, and knowing that whatever happens, you're going to be seriously moved. Maybe it's the fact that, as Judith Orloff, M.D. says in an article for Psychology Today, crying can potentially reduce stress. Maybe it's just that humans are naturally drawn to stories that genuinely make us feel something. Whatever it is, there's definitely something that just feels undeniably good about movies that make us feel sad.
That being said, when you're in the mood for a classic tearjerker, you don't want to go halfway; no, a mere dramedy isn't going to cut it. You're going to want something that can guarantee that you'll be blowing your nose and quietly sobbing into a pillow by the time the credits roll. And as soon as you've calmed down, you're going to want to be able to recommend the movie that just emotionally devastated you to everyone you know.
So cancel your evening plans, pull down the shades, and grab the tissues, because these movies are guaranteed to make you cry.
1. The Notebook
There's not a soul among us who doesn't lose it a little in The Notebook's final moments. Even if you've seen this movie before (who hasn't?), it's worth a re-watch just to fully experience and appreciate the sadness. God. I already need a tissue.
2. My Girl
I recently re-watched My Girl, believing that it would somehow be less sad now that I was a big strong grown up. Wrong. It turns out getting older only makes you more acutely aware of the movie's central tragedy.
3. Moulin Rouge
Some people forget that this frenetic, visual kaleidoscope of a movie is also incredibly sad. It features star-crossed lovers Satine and Christian finally getting together, only to have it all cut cruelly short by events out of their control. And after they had just serenaded each other to the song, "I Will Love You 'Til My Dying Day." Yeah, you'll definitely cry.
I had never heard a person cry louder or harder in a movie theater than when the lights came up after a screening of Brokeback Mountain. And I challenge anyone not to cry while watching Heath Ledger hold back tears of his own in the film's final moments.
5. Toy Story 3
The waterworks start about two minutes into Toy Story 3, when we see a montage of Andy growing up and outgrowing his old beloved toys, and they don't stop until the very end when he plays with them one last time. This movie is adorable, but may also emotionally devastate you. But it's worth it, I promise.
OK, so I was literally racked with sobs when I saw this movie in theaters. Even if you've already read the book and know exactly what's going to happen to young cancer patients Hazel and Gus, you are absolutely no less devastated by the unfairness of it all, and with the absolute elegance of the characters themselves.
Even the toughest of of the tough have to admit that this movie is shockingly sad, especially for an action-packed disaster movie.
Stepmom will guarantee the heavy waterworks; watching Susan Sarandon's character deal with harsh realities of cancer is enough to make anyone lose it.
This semi-biographical movie follows Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie's friendship with a widowed mother that inspired his famous book. Oh, and Freddie Highmore, the child actor who plays Peter, has the most devastating cry face I've ever seen.
I don't know why, but Dead Poets Society is another one of those movies that only gets sadder the older you get. Maybe it's because you start to realize just how young the boys truly are, or just how unique a teacher like Robin Williams really was (in the film and in life). Either way, the students standing on their desks and shouting, "Oh Captain, My Captain" hits me harder and harder every time.
11. Steel Magnolias
Steel Magnolias is a sad classic for a reason. And although it may seem like a cliché film at this point, it also gets major props for often making you smile, even through the tears. And there's nothing like a good cry-laugh.
If you're in the mood to cry, and are also cool with subtitles, then I highly recommend the WWII film Life Is Beautiful, about a father trying to make life bearable — and somehow, still beautiful — for his son within the confines of a concentration camp. You. Will. Sob.
13. Pieces of April
This little indie movie not only showcases a rarely-seen bad girl side of Katie Holmes, but perfectly captures the conflicts and emotions of a family dealing with terminal illness. You'll probably be able to hold it together for most of the movie, but will definitely melt down in the last five minutes.
So go forth and watch these movies when you're feeling like you need a good old emotional wrecking ball to the heart. You'll thank me just as soon as you can breathe through the tears.
Images: Giphy (12); Dead Poet's Society/Touchstone Pictures