There are some movies out there that will make even the toughest of dudes cry. Most guys won’t cop to it, but when they’re all by their lonesome and you pop one of these suckers in, nine out of 10 dudes will shed a tear. Only the most callous man can resist the emotional turmoil these movies inspire in the manliest of men.
Source: Columbia Pictures
10. The Fly
Source: 20th Century Fox
This film is tragic on so many levels. Man makes invention, man meets woman, man shows woman invention, woman is impressed and falls in love with man. Man becomes fly and tries to barf on/eat everything he comes across. Man loses woman, humanity, and life. Aristotle couldn’t write this stuff.
Tearjerker moment: When Veronica (Geena Davis) is forced to shoot Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) after he’s turned completely into a gigantic fly/telepod. Brundle realizes he must sacrifice his own life for the sake of Veronica and himself. He is, finally, a monster – but a selfless monster.
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Return of the King is inarguably the best of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The epic scale of the battles, the sacrifices the characters must make, the defeat of Sauron -- there are enough tearjerker scenes in this film to last you a lifetime, and it’s guaranteed to choke you up at some point during its 201-minute run time (251 for the extended edition) even if you’re watching it on a date (which is not recommended, for various reasons that involve girls and their general distaste for war, fantasy, wizards, and hobbits).
Tearjerker moment: When the better part of Middle Earth bows down to King Aragorn and Arwen. When the King and Elf approach the hobbits, they also bow down. But Aragorn implores them to rise. “For you bow to no one,” he says. *Gulp, tear* Gets you every time.
One of Oliver Stone’s best films, Platoon is one of those movies that actually manages to be exciting and fun while making war look like hell. Chris (Charlie Sheen) tries to survive his stint in Vietnam under the command of the psychotic Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), and he only manages to do so with the help of his friend and mentor Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe). It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even met anyone who fought in Vietnam, you’ll still get hit right where it counts.
Tearjerker moment: Without a doubt it’s at the end of the movie when Elias (whom we thought had been killed earlier) runs after the chopper that whisks Chris to safety. Chris watches as his friend is gunned down by the Vietcong, Elias’ arms outstretched, almost Christ-like. Only a man with a heart of coal can suppress the tears.
7. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
Source: Universal Pictures
This isn’t necessarily the manliest movie on the list, but it’s definitely the one that speaks to the kid in all of us. The movie is a metaphor about friendship and growing up, and though E.T. is resurrected from the dead there’s a moment where it looks like Elliott (Henry Thomas) was going to see his friend eat the farm. When we watch E.T. die, we’re really watching our childhood extinguished. By the government.
Tearjerker moment: When the government cronies have rigged a zillion machines up to E.T.’s body and his heart stops pulsing and he’s become a chalky white alien corpse, it’s hard not to bawl like a little baby. Which is exactly what Drew Barrymore does in the best role of her career.
6. Field of Dreams
Source: Universal Pictures
This is the movie that really put Kevin Costner on the map. Field of Dreams also gave us one of the most oft-repeated lines in movie history: "If you build it, he will come." Well, he did come, along with thousands of other people -- to the movie, and in droves. And they all cried like little babies. Don’t pretend like you didn’t. Baseball fans and non-fans alike, we all cried like little babies who just wanted to toss the ball around with our pa.
Tearjerker moment: When the ghost of Ray’s (Costner) father appears after he’s built the baseball triangle, and Ray asks his dad if he’d like to have a catch. The film ends with the two men playing a simple game of catch. The film ends with us losing our s*** like school girls.
5. The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption isn’t just a movie about prison in the ‘40s, it’s about friendship and the ways friendship can make even a painful existence worth living. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman) become fast friends and help each other with the daily miseries of being locked up in Shawshank. It’s basically the ultimate buddy movie, one that has yet to be surpassed.
Tearjerker moment: When Red is finally released from prison, and his life is looking more meaningless than ever. He digs up a note hidden for him by Andy and takes a stroll along an idyllic beach only to run into…Andy Dufresne. The reunion of the friends is simple, elegant, and wordless -- and very likely to leave you a blubbering idiot for the next ten minutes. Don’t resist it, it's useless.
Source: TriStar Pictures
For every guy who was too small (or stupid) to make the team, for every guy who just wanted his fifteen minutes, there’s Rudy, the feel-good football movie every dude likes -- even if he doesn’t like football. It’s a story about a guy chasing after his dream against all odds and achieving it, if only for one play. Even guys who don’t have an athletic bone in their body know what it’s like to be the last one picked and to to be told their dreams are stupid. Rudy proves that no dream is stupid -- if you’re willing to take enough physical punishment to achieve it.
Tearjerker moment: Rudy finally gets to show his father that he’s suited up for a Notre Dame game against Georgia Tech, and he even manages to sack the quarterback in the last play of the game. His teammates lift him up onto his shoulders and carry him off the field to the roar of the stadium. You might not have thought football could make you cry before watching this movie, but you won’t make that bet again after watching it.
3. Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is on a lot of guys’ Top 10 Best Movies Ever lists, and for good reason. To this day it remains one of the most realistic (I assume – I didn’t actually fight in World War II), sympathetic portraits filmed of U.S. soldiers during the second world war.
Tearjerker moment: When we fade from Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon) as a young man to present day, an old man who still appreciates the sacrifices his fellow men made for him over fifty years ago. Even if one of your grandfathers didn’t fight in the war, don’t even pretend like you didn’t start gushing.
Source: 20th Century Fox
This movie has all the elements of a manly movie: men with big muscles who beat each other into a pulp, lots of training scenes, and a meat locker. Everything is in place to make Rocky one of the manliest movies of all time. And yet: it touches us. It grabs us by the heartstrings and it doesn’t relent until we are whimpering little pantywaists, casting about for the nearest tissue to dry our red, swollen lily-livered eyes.
Tearjerker moment: Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) has survived his time in the ring with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and wants only one thing: his woman. He bellows like the savage he is, “Adriaaaaan!” It’s a primal roar to move the most stoic of dudes. And while we're at it, throw in the ending to Rocky II, too. Either way you're going to become a shameful mess of man-grief.
Arguably the best film Mel Gibson ever starred in (on top of which he also directed), Braveheart is possibly the manliest film ever made. You’ve got the Scots painting their faces like they were getting ready for a football game, wielding spears and swords, and bellowing at the top of their lungs. Led by Edward “Longshanks” I (Patrick McGoohan), the English are murderous and despicable and we thrill every time one of them is impaled on a splintery spear. The English die by the dozens as the Scots smash their skulls with flails, swords, and sheer ferocity. Death is brutal, excruciating, and lingering in Braveheart. And yet we cry.
Tearjerker moment: When William Wallace (Gibson) is suffering a live disembowelment he’s asked if he wants to end it all by simply asking for mercy. Wallace screams, “FREEDOM!” in response to the English fool who asked him such a cowardly question. He’s finally decapitated as he sees the ghost of his murdered wife look lovingly at him. This scene encapsulates so many elements of awesomeness that even if you’re not moved by the bravery and suffering of Wallace, the overwhelming badassness will make you shed a tear.