I’m a crier. I can usually hold it together in real life, but put me in front of certain movies or TV shows and I’m a mess. I’ve even written about the shows you should stream when you need a good cry.
There are specific cinematic moments that never fail to make me misty-eyed and sniffling. Perhaps I’ll soon talk about TV moments that made me ugly cry to the extreme, but for now, I want to focus on the more low-key, tender moments in film that either made me upset even as a child or have only struck a chord in recent years.
There will definitely be mentions of spoilers for these movies, so proceed with caution!
1) Matthew dies in Anne of Green Gables
The 1985 version of Anne of Green Gables is my favorite book-to-movie adaptation ever. It stays so faithful to the tone of the story but knows just where to put a slight cinematic flourish. I’m still very torn about watching the Anne With An E series on Netflix, as part of me feels that I can never accept another traditional adaptation specifically set in the time of the original book.
I don’t think I really comprehended the emotion of this scene as a kid, but I remember watching the movie for the first time since my grandfather died and being a wreck watching this scene. The follow-up scene where Marilla finds Anne crying in bed made it even worse for me because, at the time, that was me almost every night, reliving my grandpa’s last month and trying to deal with my grief.
2) Sara reunites with her father and jogs his lost memory in A Little Princess
Playing around with the original story of A Little Princess and adding some magical realism to it, this 1995 adaptation (directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who directed the third Harry Potter film) introduces the idea that Sara Crewe’s army captain father suffered from amnesia and was presumed dead. Sara has been living as a servant at her boarding school and is narrowly trying to escape wrongful arrest when, in this clip, she discovers her father has been healing in the school’s neighbor’s home. Through movie magic, her father’s memory restores just in time and they have a beautiful reunion in the rain.
I always thought Sara’s father was so handsome. Apparently he’s some grizzly-looking Game of Thrones actor now, but I totally prefer him clean-shaven and young here. Using this clip with the cheesy opening title instead of a more official-looking one was a must because this one includes a little detail that always gets me weeping. When Captain Crewe is hugging Sara and looks up at the sky, it just destroys me. I’ve always interpreted it as his thank you to his late wife for aligning this fate.
3) The town gathers to help the Baileys and Harry toasts George at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life
My family and I watch this every Christmas Eve, and we purposely watch it on DVD rather than bear with its commercials on TV. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, and after swooning over George Bailey on his moonlit stroll with Mary and shuddering at the alternate reality he experiences, the ending never fails to make me tear up a bit. I’m going off the assumption that you know this movie and I don’t need to explain it, but please correct this flaw during the Christmas season if you’ve yet to see it.
Plus, Jimmy Stewart in his post-World War II prime. Excuse me while my heart flutters.
4) Tim tries to see the beauty in every day in About Time
My favorite Richard Curtis movie and the reason for my weird crush on Domnhall Gleeson, About Time follows a young man’s life after his father tells him that the men in their family are able to travel through time. I know it sounds crazy, but the story is still so grounded in reality that it works.
This scene shows Gleeson’s Tim taking his father’s advice to try and find the good in each day rather than focus on something he would like to go back and change through time travel. Tim reliving this day to find its beauty always gets me. I think it’s because it involves such simple, pure moments and it also features aspects of London that I adore and miss – the Tube, the casual gorgeousness of its buildings, and people at Pret asking if your food is a takeaway.
5) The toys choose to embrace death together in Toy Story 3
I don’t care how old you are, but if there’s any Pixar moment that should make you cry, it’s this one. The last 20 minutes of this movie are a tough emotional ride, and this scene is when the waterworks kick in and don’t stop until the credits. Seeing toys accept their fate and decide to embrace it together is so human, and Pixar never fails in pulling off such adult concepts in kids’ movies.
What about you? What movie moments always make you cry?