Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10 Movies That Make Men Cry (Esquire)

Just to be clear, it's okay for men to cry when they are not at the movies, as well. This Top 10 List from Esquire includes some good movies, and some serious tear-jerkers, but there are also some omissions worth noting.  

One of the best movies to make me cry is Whale Rider. Paikea's speech is especially poignant because she has been told that females cannot be leaders. Her grandfather is the man who has tried to enforce the old traditions, seeking a new leader for their people. Pai has invited him to the school concert to see her performance and she eagerly, then sadly, waits for his arrival, which never happens.

What movies make you cry and are not listed here?

I often "prescribe" a sad movie to clients who are emotionally stuck (men more often than women), so I would like to compile a longer list. Help me out, please.

10 Movies That Make Men Cry

Because it's okay to tear up in the theater

By Nick Schager on June 9, 2014

Scores of adolescent girls are heading to theaters to cry their eyes out over The Fault in Our Stars, an adaptation of John Green's popular young-adult novel about a girl stricken with cancer (played by Divergent's Shailene Woodley) who falls in love with a boy (newcomer Ansel Elgort) also attempting to overcome a battle with the fatal disease. It's a teen romance with a healthy dose of tragedy, and one designed to get its target female audience's waterworks flowing. But what about guys? Don't they get to shed a tear or two over the movies as well? In this summer season of stuff blowing up and superheroes saving the world from all manner of out-of-this-world monsters, we think men should remember that, when it comes to the right film — be it about sports, family, or war — it's never shameful to sob. As such, we present the ten best male weepies in movie history.

A Perfect World (1993)

The first of this list's two Kevin Costner-headlined dramas — both of which are rooted in the relationship between parents and children — Clint Eastwood's superb A Perfect World tugs at the heartstrings via the story of an outlaw (Costner) who takes a young boy hostage and, in the process, becomes his surrogate father figure. Their final parting is enough to make even the stoutest man misty-eyed.

Brian's Song (1971)

A 1971 TV movie that's attained legendary status as a work that no man's tear ducts can resist, Brian's Song tells the alternately mournful and inspiring tale of football player Brian Piccolo (James Caan), who was ultimately felled by cancer. His relationship with friend Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) is the stuff of archetypal male camaraderie, and Sayers's speech about his friend is one of the movies' all-time four-hankie moments.

Schindler's List (1993)

Any number of Holocaust films — be they fictional, based on real events, or documentary in nature — could easily fit this list's bill. But few are as emotionally forceful and eloquent as Steven Spielberg's 1993 epic, whose portrait of courage amidst unthinkable horrors remains nothing short of overwhelmingly moving.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

A movie about injustice, suffering, and the unbreakable bond forged between two unlikely allies (Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman), The Shawshank Redemption mixes tragedy and uplift to create a male-oriented melodrama perfect for eliciting tears. If Red's reunion with Andy doesn't make you a blubbering mess, nothing will.

The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Of all the neorealist masterpieces to come out of post-WWII Italy, none is as profoundly moving as Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, about a poor man's search for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to earn a living for his family. The last scene, between forlorn father and devoted son, is one of cinema's most quietly devastating.

Big Fish (2003)

A fantastical ode to extraordinary fathers — and the simultaneous love, jealousy, and resentment they inspire in their sons — Tim Burton's Big Fish tells the story of one man's process of truly learning about his larger-than-life dad at the very moment he must begin to let him go. Inspired by Fellini's 8 ½, its climactic parade through a lifetime's worth of friends and loved ones is pure male weepie gold.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Every adult once loved a childhood toy, and thus Toy Story 3's saga about growing up and permanently separating from those cherished playthings — as well as passing them on to future generations — strikes a universal chord, as manipulatively sentimental to men as it is to women and children. The final farewell between Andy and Woody is a bittersweet one for the ages.

Babe (1995)

A children's fable about a farmer and his pig would hardly seem to be prime crying-jag material for your average macho moviegoer. Nonetheless, Babe's buildup to its triumphant finale is so sweetly funny, and bolstered by such a fantastic performance by James Cromwell, that the farmer's expression of acceptance and love for his swine is apt to soften even the hardest heart.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan's clunky bookending scenes may be a misstep. Yet they do little to fundamentally undercut Steven Spielberg's harrowing and poignant portrait of American men — led by Tom Hanks, in a performance of affecting everyman heroism — thrust into extraordinary life-and-death WWII circumstances, and the struggles they must endure, and sacrifices they must make, to survive.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Baseball, fathers, sons, nostalgia, ghostly reunions, and a general air of wholesome middle-American romanticism: Field of Dreams is still the ultimate male weepie. When Kevin Costner's corn farmer finally gets to play catch with his dad, the only people who can resist the moment's waterworks-courting power are those who don't like sports. Or dads. Or feelings.

Honorable Mention:

  • The Natural
  • Forest Gump
  • The Pride of the Yankees
  • Gladiator
  • Rudy

~ Nick Schager is a New York City-area film critic and journalist who also contributes to The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Vulture, The A.V. Club, The Dissolve, The Atlantic, SF Weekly, Film Journal International, and Slant Magazine. In his scant spare time, he sleeps.

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