“The Fault in Our Stars” with Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley is supposed to have the power to make adults weep in public like children who’ve just lost their favorite pet. Adapted from John Green’s emotional roller coaster of a novel, the expectation for tears is so great that those who don’t cry have questioned whether they’ve misplaced their soul, or are possibly androids.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946): There are at least two reasons why this Frank Capra classic with James Stewart and Donna Reed always pulls at the heartstrings: 1) It’s centered around the holidays, a season known to bring on the tears; and 2) It answers that existential question, “What would life be like if I weren’t here?” with a joy-filled family reunion. Hugs never looked so good.
“Beaches” (1988): This is another tearjerker with roots in a novel. Garry Marshall’s “Beaches” is the movie to watch when you want a story about an enduring friendship (between Barbara Hershey, right, and Bette Midler) that leaves you sobbing on the couch.
“My Girl” (1991): A mix of humor and heart, “My Girl” is also an absolute heartbreak. Anna Chlumsky’s Vada is a preteen who is familiar with death, but what happens to her beloved friend Thomas J. (Macaulay Culkin) can get you with every viewing.
“Love Story” (1970): If you were around when Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw starred in “Love Story,” then you have an idea of what’s going on in theater showings of “The Fault in Our Stars.” The stories aren’t too dissimilar: Young love blossoms against all odds and then… boom! Tragedy hits.
“E.T.” (1982): Before all these apocalyptic movies about aliens, most of us thought extraterrestrials were exactly like Steven Spielberg’s “cute and cuddly” “E.T.” When it comes to heartbreaking scenes, you can pick your poison with this movie, whether it’s E.T. being near death or his finally making it home.
“Imitation of Life” (1959): This movie, starring Susan Kohner, left and Juanita Moore, is like one long, vicious gut punch. Throughout the movie, we watch as a black housemaid, Annie, is continuously rejected by her fair-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane, who passes for white. We won’t spoil it for you, but when Annie takes ill near the end, that’s when the tears really start to flow.
“Terms of Endearment” (1983): This best picture Oscar winner, starring Debra Winger, left, and Shirley MacLaine, is packed with drama. There’s a mother and daughter butting heads, and more than one unhappy marriage, but when a terminal cancer diagnosis is made, any chance of holding back the tears is off.
“The Notebook” (2004): Ryan Gosling doesn’t usually inspire tears, but the exception is this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, which co-stars Rachel McAdams. The fan-favorite movie has all the elements of a weepie, including a challenged but fated love that persists even in death.
“Dead Man Walking” (1995): This drama based on a true story manages to get at the heart of what’s typically treated as an intellectual discussion: capital punishment. Susan Sarandon’s Oscar-winning turn as a nun who never stops believing in the potential redemption of a man on death row (played by Sean Penn) will make you weep.
“The Green Mile” (1999): This movie has its critics, but what isn’t debatable is how affecting Michael Clarke Duncan’s performance is as a man with unique gifts on death row. Like 1994’s “The Shawshank Redemption,” this is a prison-set movie that reaches far beyond.
“Marley & Me” (2008): This comedy starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston hits home for all the people who’ve raised, loved and lost a furry, four-legged member of the family.
“A Walk to Remember” (2002): Some moviegoers are comparing “The Fault In Our Stars” to this 2002 movie starring Mandy Moore and Shane West, based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name. Moore and West play a pair of mismatched teen lovebirds whose romance gets interrupted by a devastating secret.
– “Fruitvale Station” (2013): There were a raft of acclaimed movies in 2013 that demanded viewing with tissues, and “Fruitvale Station” is one of them. The hardest part is that most viewers go into the movie knowing exactly how it’s going to end, making Michael B. Jordan’s winning portrayal of a young man trying to get his life back on track all the more heartbreaking to watch.
“Rudy” (1993): Sometimes, you need a movie that will make you shed tears of joy. The true story of Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger (played by Sean Astin) and his unfailing persistence to reach dreams against all odds is one of them.
“Field of Dreams” (1989): Some can’t even talk about this movie without choking up. The premise may seem hokey — an Iowa farmer creates a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield and discovers it has a magical, comforting power for the suffering — but the execution, led by Kevin Costner, right, will get you every time.
“Brian’s Song” (1971): This timeless football TV movie is also known as the easiest way to make your dad/brother/boyfriend cry. Based on the true story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, played by Billy Dee Williams and James Caan, respectively, “Brian’s Song” deftly tells about an interracial friendship that highlighted a changing NFL.
“Remember the Titans” (2000): To be clear, Denzel Washington has a track record of making us cry with his movies, but “Remember the Titans” is one of the standouts. Like “Brian’s Song,” it has an emotionally powerful plot: the drama of sport, the angst of high school, and the triumph of overpowering insidious racism.
“Old Yeller” (1957): In the era of “Lassie,” Old Yeller was America’s other favorite dog, and was the epitome of the tough decisions we have to face as we move out of childhood. We understand that Old Yeller had to be put down, but no, we’re still not over it. (Yeller’s best friend was played by Kevin Corcoran.)
“Up” (2009): Disney/Pixar should probably win an award for being able to make so many moviegoers bawl in their seats within the first 10 minutes of a movie, like they did with the adventurous animated story “Up.”