Crying has never been a classically masculine trait – traditionally speaking, men are supposed to rigid bastions of stoicism, calm, and level-headedness. But in the 21st century spirit of transparency, we know that there are plenty of things in this world that can drive a man to weeping, and the most modern art form of film definitely holds great power when it comes to making men-folk sob.
Although there is no list that could ever contain the amount of movies that guys find themselves either openly or secretly crying over, we’ve compiled a list of films that are powerful enough that any man could admit getting choked up over without out embarrassment.
Here is Screen Rant’s list of 15 Sad Movies That Men Are Allowed to Cry At.
No matter what age or gender you happen to be, there is nothing that seems to rouse the spirit and get the heart going like a triumphant underdog story, and the easiest place to find a movie like that is to look to sports. With all of the opportunities for camaraderie though, it isn’t hard to divine why men love their sports movies so much and why they so easily inspire crying.
Rudy is the real-life story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, an impassioned Notre Dame fan who dreams of greatness on the field despite being both academically and athletically ungifted. The truly amazing part of the this tale is that Rudy has no shortage of obstacles in his way, from being humiliated by his ex to being doubted by his family – and yet, he persists towards his dream until he has reached it.
While the blissful famous ending is likely to cause any man’s well of emotion to overflow, the more understated moment of the entire football team willing to sacrifice their places to let Rudy play, laying their jerseys down in front of their coach one by one, packs the heaviest emotional punch.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
As selfless sacrifice is one of the purist and most beautiful things in the world, any decent film about war is prone to being a tearjerker for guys, especially since, up until recently, war has been almost an entirely masculine endeavor. As such, this list could plausibly be made completely of war films, but in the interest of variety some choosiness was required. While it was hard to eliminate some movies from this list, including Steven Spielberg’s epic World War II saga Saving Private Ryan came as easy as the weeping it inspires comes frequently.
The movie tells the tale of a group of soldiers who have been tasked by higher command to go on a search mission through Nazi-occupied France to find a single soldier and bring him home. Praised as being one of the most realistic war films ever made, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint a single, great moment of tears. One of the most elegant and simple is an elderly Private Ryan visiting the Normandy grave of the leader of his rag-tag group of saviors, tearfully asking his wife if the life he has led is worthy of the sacrifice those men made for him to come home all those years ago.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
One of the reasons why Pixar has found so much monetary success is because they have found a formula for movie-making that communicates to all audiences equally. For those men out there who keep in touch with their inner child (basically every single man out there), the Toy Story saga proves to be particularly powerful as it speaks to its adult male viewers on multiple levels. The third installment in particular evokes the feelings of being a kid and the gravity of becoming an adult so deftly and poignantly that it would be a miracle if any man could finish this film without getting choked up.
In their third feature film, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys are faced with a huge turning point in their existence – Andy has grown up and is heading off to college, so what is to become of them? Fearing that they are to be thrown away, the gang decides to donate themselves to a daycare, only to find it isn’t the life of joyous playtime they were expecting. The last half-hour is chock full of gut-wrenching moments – the little moment of handholding solidarity the toys have when they believe they are all about to be destroyed is as dark and intense as you’ve ever seen Pixar go – but Andy’s final farewell to the beloved playthings that were responsible for a large part of his childhood happiness and Woody saying “So long, partner” as Andy drives off to college is all but guaranteed to get the tears flowing.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Everyone has at one point or another in their adult life reached a breaking point – that moment where something terrible happens and relief is nowhere in sight and you just want to give up. Since its World War II-era release, no filmmaker has yet to capture the magic of this all-too-human dilemma than the as-dark-as-it-is-delightful Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Starring the legendary Jimmy Stewart as the everyman George Bailey, this is probably one of the few films on this list that inspires tears of happiness.
George is a businessman and beloved citizen in his hometown of Bedford Falls, with a wealth of friends and family who love him, but when his uncle misplaces a large sum of money that threatens his livelihood he is disparaged to the point of suicide with feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. To help show him the way, God sends an angel to George to show him his importance by giving him a glimpse of what the world would be like if he had never been born. Stewart is riveting in the role – the scene where he sends up a desperate prayer to God for guidance is so beautifully acted it will even give shivers to the agnostics out there. But the big crying moment is when, in a joyous epiphany, George realizes that he does lead a blessed life no matter how bad things can get.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
If your significant other had ever forced you to watch the classic chick flick Sleepless in Seattle, then you probably remember one of the few scenes that men found truly amusing – when Tom Hanks and Victor Garber mock the mushy sentiments of women crying over romantic movies by joking at how the classic war film The Dirty Dozen made them cry. While the scene is meant to be amusing, any guy who is familiar with the 1967 Robert Aldrich film knows that amidst the film’s hilarity, the scene outlined in the Nora Ephron comedy is apt to get a man’s waterworks moving.
With an all-star cast that includes Lee Marvin, Donald Sutherland, and Charles Bronson, The Dirty Dozen revolves around a wily Army major who recruits twelve convicts to go on a suicide mission on the eve of D-Day. Yes, the entire end of the movie is one great moment after another, but the tear-jerking parts are unquestionably football player Jim Brown and his character Jefferson’s heroics and of course the tragic death of Trini López’s Pedro Jimenez.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Will Hunting appears to everyone to be an average guy from South Boston, working day to day to earn a good wage like so many other men – but Will isn’t just any man. While working as a janitor at M.I.T., a professor discovers Will is secretly a mathematical genius. When Will is arrested, the professor makes a deal with the judge to put Will under his supervision under the condition he sees a psychiatrist. Seeming better than jail, Will takes the deal without realizing the impact that the choice will have on his future.
Most people remember this amazing Gus Van Sant film because of how sharp and witty it is – Matt Damon and Ben Affleck absolutely deserved their Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, if only for all of Will’s brilliant, cutting monologues. But the soul of the film lives in the scene’s between Damon’s abused orphan Will and Robin Williams as his psychiatrist Sean Maguire – the moment when Sean finally breaks through and Will begins to accept that his horrible childhood was no fault of his own is not only a heart-rending moment but also a magnificent and organic piece of filmmaking.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump is quite possibly the most-beloved movie of the last twenty-five years, so much so that when it came time to choosing the Best Picture Oscar of 1994, it stole the prize from the groundbreaking masterpiece Pulp Fiction. The Robert Zemeckis picture uses the life of its simpleton eponymous hero as a vehicle to takes its viewers on a trip through American history, his lifelong love of his childhood best friend taking him on a crazy journey through the some of the most important moments of the 20th century.
Without Tom Hanks as the beating heart of this movie, there wouldn’t really be anything worth watching, and as such all of the tearful moments are a direct result of his unbelievable acting prowess. There are two scenes that meet in a tie for moments most likely to make a man weep. The first Forrest’s little monologue at the grave of his beloved Jenny; the second is when Forrest first learns that he has a son and that, despite his father’s low I.Q., he is the smartest boy in his class.
It is such a tragic thing that, when asked if they have ever seen the film Mask, most people answer, “the one with Jim Carrey?” Although the early Carrey comedy has its merits, the Peter Bogdanovich film starring Cher and Eric Stoltz is one of those truly unique movies with an unlikely hero at the center that sounds both strange and boring but ends up being surprisingly affective and moving.
Stoltz plays Rocky Dennis, a kid with a rare bone disorder called craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, which causes calcium build-ups all over the skull, causing a severe facial deformity known as “the look of the lion.” But Rocky does his best to live normal life with his mother, conquering the pains of being a teenager as well as dealing with the stigma of his illness. The characters perseverance is so admirable that it’s hard not to relate to him. With all of the optimism that the film offers its viewers, it’s a hard-hitting moment for both men and women when his mom goes to wake him up for school and finds him dead – watching her dissolve into an emotional wreck as she tears her house apart in anger is beyond difficult to watch.
Field of Dreams (1989)
There are few movies in the world that are so loved and yet seem so strange on paper – trying to explain Field of Dreams to someone who is unfamiliar with the movie is always the most interesting. An Iowa corn farmer starts hearing voices that inspire him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his fields… and after he does, he begins to see the ghosts of dead baseball players appear there and start playing ball. As weirdly fanciful as the premise sounds, it happens to be not only one of the most cherished films amongst baseball fans, but one that can reduce its male viewers to puddles.
For followers of America’s favorite pastime, there is a lot of sport’s history to enjoy, especially if you’re familiar with the 1919 World Series and the Black Sox scandal – but that isn’t what makes the film so moving. At the core of Field of Dreams is the longing of a father/son connection between Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella and the memory of his deceased dad. When Ray realizes that the message “If you build it, he will come” is referring to his father after seeing his ghost on the diamond, there is a deep sense of relief and satisfaction that penetrates the fourth wall. Watching the Kinsella men bond over a supernatural game of catch is the very epitome of a warm and fuzzy ending.
Stand By Me (1986)
Stephen King may be the master of horror, but that has never pigeonholed him as a writer. On the contrary, King has written a number of non-horror fiction novels that have been turned into equally wonderful movies with incredible tear-jerking moments – and on this list, Stand By Me happens to be the first of two King adaptations.
A quintessential coming-of-age story, Stand By Me follows four pre-teen buddies who go on a hike to try and find the body of a missing boy they heard about on the radio. There are few movies that so perfectly capture that interstitial period between child and adult. The themes of coming to terms with the death cut incredibly deep, especially considering the tragic premature death of River Phoenix, one of the film’s stars. Listening to narrator Richard Dreyfuss (who plays the adult version of one of the boys) muse about his childhood best friend he ever after learning about his death as an adult is such a perfect quiet moment in such an intense film – a perfect respite at the movie’s close to stop an let the tears overwhelm you.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Before amplifying the greatness of the Pixar family with movies like The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Brad Bird debuted as a feature film writer/director with a little movie called The Iron Giant. A particularly clever 1950s animated period piece, Giant is the story of a lonely boy named Hogarth and the massive alien robot he befriends after finding the thing crash-landed in the woods behind his house. Unbeknownst to the child and his metal pal, the twitchy Cold-War-era U.S. government is on the hunt for the alien robot, certain that it is a weapon of destruction.
As the movie progresses, it becomes abundantly clear that the Iron Giant was never really meant to be a friendly entity but rather an instrument of death – but it is Hogarth and his uncompromising morality who teaches the being “you are who you choose to be.” There are few films out there that do such an eloquent and understated job of teaching its audience how one’s nature does not define one’s destiny. The most tearful moment of all is when, with the love he has learned from his human friend, the Giant sets himself on a collision course toward certain death with a nuclear bomb to save a town full of innocent people, his arm out-stretched imitating his favorite comic hero Superman.
My Life (1993)
While the story of My Life is innately sad for any audience member, fathers are particularly prone to crying at this heartbreaking movie. Michael Keaton plays Bob Jones, a man who, despite a lot of emotional baggage, lives a great life with a beautiful wife and his first child on the way – but all that is suddenly pulled from him when he discovers he has kidney cancer and will only last a few more months. So in an effort to make sure his son will know him, Bob Jones sets out to videotape himself dispensing fatherly wisdom.
Since you learn the inevitable end of the story before you even get near the end of the story, the whole film qualifies as being emotionally burdensome to watch. Depending on the gentleman, any scene could produce a good bit of crying, whether it’s Bob making peace with his estranged family on his death bed or watching Bob make videos teaching how to shave and ask a girl out on a date.
If you haven’t realized it by now, Tom Hanks seems to have a direct line to every man’s emotional core. While he began his career tickling people’s funny bones, Hanks’ filmography took an interesting turn when he decided to take on a dramatic role in Jonathan Demme’s courtroom drama Philadelphia. In one fell swoop, he proved his ability to be more than just a comedian and won the acclaim of the world’s critics as well, walking away from awards season with his first Oscar.
Hanks stars as Andrew Beckett, a young man enjoying a successful career as a lawyer until his firm fires him for being a gay man infected with AIDS. Beckett looks to sue for wrongful termination, but the only man he can find to represent him is Denzel Washington’s Joe Miller, a homophobic ambulance chaser. Their relationship starts out as purely business, but as they get to know one another they form a great friendship. The scene where Beckett tells Miller about his favorite aria as it plays over the stereo in a turbulent monologue goes beyond heart-breaking – if it doesn’t make you want to cry you should probably see your psychiatrist for emotional problems.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
After being accused of the murder of his wife and her lover, Andy Dufresne is sentenced to serve two life sentences at the Shawshank Prison. Battling loneliness, boredom, and predatory inmates, Andy finds joy in his friendship with fellow inmate Red. Over a period of almost twenty years, the men form an unbreakable bond that they vow to one day uphold when they are both free.
If there were ever any movie to be crowned as king of critically underappreciated movies, it would be The Shawshank Redemption. While it would be okay for any guy to admit that this film didn’t make him cry, it would be utterly tragic if said guy also admitted he wasn’t moved at all by it. This Stephen King adaptation has no shortage of powerful moments bound to get its viewers misty-eyed, but its all a matter of picking a favorite. The death of James Whitmore’s Brooks and Andy washing himself in the rain during his first moment of freedom are pretty powerful, but the joyful reunion of Andy and Red after Morgan Freeman’s pitch perfect monologue about hope is about as honest and true as it gets.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
What kind of person would want to regularly indulge in a story of young men filled with idealism and pushed to greatness by their favorite teacher then see their youthful happiness yanked from underneath them? When you’ve got a movie like Dead Poets Society that is as feel-good as it is feel-sad, that answer teeters upon how often your eyes can handle excessive crying. The teenage-weeper is an incredibly small subgenre of movies that neither filmmaker nor viewer likes to visit often… but that’s probably because the Peter Weir drama is so great that every other director is afraid to try and top it.
Considering the recent suicide of the legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams, it’s very likely that the very thought of this movie could bring a man to tears. As Professor Keating, the high school English teacher who inspires his students to see the world through their own eyes, Williams has such a fervent glow about him that fills up his character. The look of pure, peaceful satisfaction when he sees his young students stand atop their desks to salute him with “O Captain! My Captain!” is the closest you can ever get to seeing a man simultaneously cry happy and sad tears.
Hey, gentleman, did we miss any movies you love to watch with a box of tissues? Let us know in the comments section!