Let’s be honest, having a big cry can be an essential part of getting through the week. And we’re not talking about shedding a tear: we mean snotty, unapologetic, stifled breath sobs. That’s where the catharsis is at.
Obviously, one of the best ways to get your emotions going (other than listening to Lana Del Rey’s entire discography with a bottle of Sauvignon on your living room floor) is watching a sad film.
Crying can release toxins, relieve stress and help you sleep. So, here are our top 20 films for letting all of your emotions out on the privacy of your own sofa.
1. Marley and Me
Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, and an adorable Golden Retriever, what more could you want from a tearjerker? If you’ve owned, hugged or loved a dog, this will really get you going. To be honest, any film about dogs is emotional. So it’s no wonder someone has created doesthedogdie.com to warn you of the emotional storm ahead.
2. King Kong
Set on New York City's skull island, a writer and actress are kidnapped by an ape called Kong who they discover is sensitive and can form human relationships. Thought by the rest of the world to be a monster, tragedy inevitably ensues.
3 . The Impossible
Based on the true experience of María Belón and her family in the 2004 tsunami, The Impossible is 113 minutes of tension, panic and drama that will leave you emotionally spent by the closing credits. Prepare to get particularly misty eyed at Ewan McGregor’s performance.
4. My Sister’s Keeper
Based on the bestselling book by Jodi Picoult, a young woman decides to legally emancipate herself from her parents after she was genetically engineered from birth to give bone marrow to her terminally ill sister.
5. My Girl
Macaulay Culkin stars an unbearably cute nerd who befriends a girl called Veda (Anna Chlumsky) in this coming-of-age tale. If you’re already scared of bees, give this one a miss. If you’re not, prepare for devastation.
6. A Star Is Born
Think you were off the deep end when you heard the soundtrack from this film? Try actually watching it. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper star as two musicians who fall in love and the good news basically ends there. Think tragedy, passion and some serious demons.
7. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
Two young boys become friends across the barrier of a concentration camp fence. One is the son of a German officer; the other is a Jewish prisoner called Shmuel. Their childhood naivety stops them from fully understanding the brutality that surrounds them and their fate will leave you in pieces.
From Phyllida Lloyd, the director of Mamma Mia (so you know it’s a triumph already), Herself follows a young mother called Sandra who escapes her abusive husband and is left living in a hotel with nowhere to go. To fight back against the broken housing system, she decides to try and build a home from scratch with help from her boss and a surly contractor.
9. One Day
Across a period of 18 years, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are best friends and sometimes lovers. The will they/won't they plot watches the pair struggle, grow apart and come back together with a devastating twist before the credits roll.
10. Bridge to Terabithia
Allegedly, this is a children’s film. But the tears are very much adult sized. It all starts when a wealthy girl called Leslie moves to the countryside with her family and befriends a local boy called Jess. Leslie’s family shows Jess the world of art and creativity as his new friend brings some much-needed joy and magic into his life. Now, hold your breath for the trauma.
Disney-Pixar movies have a talent for making people cry and Coco had us going for 45 minutes afterwards. The lead character, Miguel, pursues his love of singing even though his family has a ban on music. After discovering the Land Of The Dead he learns about his heritage and great-great-grandfather who was actually an iconic singer.
A no brainer. A classic. Was there room for Jack on that door with Rose? Absolutely, which makes the tears of frustration and sadness flow all the more easily. Leonardo DiCaprio’s face somewhat numbs the pain while you bury your face into your Kleenex.
13. Someone Great
If you’ve just gone through a break-up, then this is essential viewing. Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez has just been dumped by her long-term boyfriend and recruits her two best friends for a huge night out in NYC before she relocates to San Francisco. Might sound like an upbeat adventure but, trust us, it’s not.
14. The Pursuit Of Happyness
After Chris’ wife becomes tired of his professional failures and divorces him, he’s left completely broke. Struggling for custody of his son, he takes on an unpaid internship at a brokerage firm in an attempt to turn his family’s life around. Simply Will Smith at his best.
15. Plus One
Long-term best friend Ben and Alice make a deal to be each other’s dates for wedding season after all of their friends start tying the knot. Equal parts sweet and heart-wrenching, this film is seriously relatable and an emotional rollercoaster.
16. Spider-Man: No Way Home
The conclusion to Tom Holland’s superhero adventures, this had us sobbing in ways we didn’t expect. ‘What people will be really surprised about is that it’s not fun, this film,’ Holland told Total Film of the project. ‘It’s dark and it’s sad and it’s going to be really affecting. You’re going to see characters that you love go through things that you would never wish for them to go through.’
17. The Book Thief
Liesel is living with an adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Thanks to the kind heart of her foster father, she starts borrowing books and sharing them with a Jewish refugee who is hidden in her home. Based on the book by Markus Zusak, this story will break your heart into a million pieces.
18. Forrest Gump
Equal parts comedy and tragedy, Forrest Gump is considered one of the most emotive films in cinema history. Tom Hanks plays a kind-hearted man from Alabama who lives many lives as a college football star, soldier in the Vietnam war, and captain of a Shrimp boat. But through it all he never forgets his troubled childhood love Jenny Curran.
19. Me Before You
Emilia Clarke's Lou takes on a job as a carer to help her family financially. Her client is a paralysed young banker called Will (Sam Claflin) who was in an accident two years before. When the pair meet, Will is seriously cynical but, the more time they spend together, he starts to thaw and their lives change in ways they never expected. Yelp.
20. The Notebook
An all-time favourite. Who wouldn’t cry at the memory of young love erased by Alzheimer's? Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams have serious chemistry, the 1940s clothes are sensational and, as an added bonus, it will punch you right in the feels.