Why Do We Like Sad Movies?
A surprising piece of research has shown that the real reason why people love sad movies is not out of some masochistic desire to experience the characters’ suffering, but rather that the emotions that sad movies evoke actually promote happiness and closeness to our loved ones.
Sounds like a paradox, huh? But actually, the idea is that when we see people in movies go through hardship and heartache, the centres in our brains that are responsible for making us feel sympathy and care for others are stimulated, making us feel a certain closeness with the people we’re watching with.
On top of this, we also become more appreciative of the good things in our lives – you’ve hopefully got a better life situation than the star-crossed lovers onscreen!
The Top 10 Saddest Movies
What makes a good sad movie? Well, with empathy being an important component of tearjerkers, it’s essential that you feel for the characters. The best movies that make you cry are highlighted by having some of the most relatable, memorable and empathetic characters in cinema.
Here are the 10 best movies to cry to, and why they make our list:
10. La La Land (2016)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Box office: $USD 446-million ($AUD 655-million)
An aspiring actress and a pianist fall in love in Los Angeles, as the two are pursuing their dreams. La La Land is famous for its bittersweet subversion of the traditional Hollywood love story, and its weepy scenes about the choice between love and ambition.
9. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Director: Lee Unkrich
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen
Box office: $USD 1.067-billion ($AUD 1.568-billion)
Everyone thought Toy Story 3 was going to be a whimsical adventure with everyone's favourite toy characters. But with the final torch-passing scene from Andy to the Bonnie as he leaves for college, the film achieved the same heights of sadness that were last seen in Jessie’s origin story in Toy Story 2.
8. The Notebook (2004)
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling
Box office: $USD 115.6-million ($AUD 169.9-million)
The Notebook tells the story of a young couple, Noah and Allie, who fall in love in the World War II period. Noah is sent to war, and his letters never reach his lover. When he returns, she’s already found a new partner, thinking he’s died. The Notebook is sometimes described as one of the sappiest movies ever, but there are very real tears flowing when Noah returns home to find his lover in the arms of another.
7. Me Before You (2016)
Director: Thea Sharrock
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin
Box office: $USD 208.3-million ($AUD 306-million)
A young, rather unambitious woman named Louise becomes the caregiver of a rich banker, Will, who was paralyzed in an accident. The two start off with a resentful relationship, with Will depressed by his disability and annoyed by Louise’s upbeat vibes, but the two eventually fall in love. The crux of the film’s sadness comes when Will makes plans to commit assisted suicide, even with the love that he shares with Louise.
6. About Time (2013)
Director: Richard Curtis
Cast: Domnhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams
Box office: $USD 87.1-million ($AUD 128-million)
A man discovers that he has the ability to travel back in time to moments from his past. He constantly rewinds time and rewrites his own history to improve his life, but discovers that there are consequences to interfering with the flow of time. Perhaps the saddest scene is when he realises that no amount of time travelling will ever make someone fall in love with him, and he decides to live his love story one day at a time.
5. Inside Out (2015)
Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith
Box office: $USD 857.6-million ($AUD 1.26-billion)
Inside Out tells the story of Riley and the anthropomorphic emotions that control her brain. Perhaps the crowning moment of sadness is the moment where Riley finally admits that she’s unhappy in her new life, a scene that resonates with audiences of all ages.
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Director: Michael Gondry
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Box office: $USD 72.3-million ($AUD 106.3-million)
Imagine if technology existed that allowed you to forget your memories of someone. There’d definitely be broken-hearted couples who’d try and erase each other from their brains. That’s the premise of one of the most unique breakup movies ever made, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. One standout scene involves the protagonist reflecting on his loneliness, saying, “Why do I fall in love with anyone who gives me the slightest attention?"
3. Forrest Gump (1994)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright
Box office: $USD 678.1-million ($AUD 996.9 million)
Lovable idiot Forrest Gump finds himself at pivotal moments in history completely by accident, and treats every encounter with childlike innocence and naiveté. The sad but romantic scenes with Forrest’s childhood love Jenny are a major highlight of the story.
2. Schindler's List (1993)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Liam Neeson
Box office: $USD 322.1-million ($AUD 473.5-million)
Schindler’s List tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, an industrialist and factory owner who saved the lives of more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust. It’s one of the top-rated films of all time, with enough melancholic scenes about death and loss to soften even the hardest heart.
1. Up (2008)
Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Jordan Nagai, Ed Asner, Bob Peterson
Box office: $USD 735.1-million ($AUD 1.08-billion)
Up depicts the story of Carl Fredricksen, a grumpy old man who flies to South America by tying balloons to his house, fulfilling a promise to his late wife Ellie. A little kid gets dragged along for the ride, and the two teach each other some very valuable life lessons on their adventure.
Up takes the top spot on our best movies list because of its first fifteen minutes, a prologue montage that depicts Carl and Ellie’s love story in a beautiful short that could very well be one of the saddest scenes in cinematic history.
Sad Movies, Heartwarming Nights
Sad movies are some of the best flicks to watch on rainy days, or for cozying up to a partner. These movies will have you weeping your heart out, so it’s time to grab a friend, fire up the Netflix, and get ready for a cry sesh!