A-List: Movies That Would
Make Even John Wayne Cry

By Walid Habboub

December 3, 2003

Billy practices for his Academy Awards hosting duties with an unwilling audience.

There are no qualifiers for this particular list; the only criteria is that to make it on the list, a film has to make the coldest of hearts warm up like a roasted chestnut at Santa's house. Now, a real man would never cry during some contrived story like Beaches or Fried Green Tomatoes. Instead, we men will only get choked up with serious matters like baseball, dogs or big giant freaking robots. Now those, ladies and gentlemen, are worth crying over.

Old Standards

Nothing gets to a man's heart like a good old film that ends in a best friend's death. And what crying list would be complete without the classic films Old Yeller and Brian's Song? While both deal with two different kinds of death, they both make any person watching them shed a rainstorm of tears before they end. It's almost not fair to ask someone to watch either film and expect them not to be moved. The power of these films is that they can make a grown man cry every single time he sees them. That, guys, is something.

Giant Robots with Giant Freaking Lasers

So maybe the sight of Arnie sinking into hot liquid metal at the end of Terminator doesn't necessarily meet the "giant" or the "freaking laser" parameters of this sub-category, but there is no doubt that any guy would get choked up at the sight of the once murderous machine sacrificing itself to save all of humanity, which included Linda Hamilton's newly-buffed body. Maybe it was the collective male conciousness realizing that this would be the pinnacle of Arnold's career and that it just didn't get any better, but we doubt it. Terminator 2 just kicked ass and then made us cry after the ass-kicking was over.

One film that does completely qualify for this particular type of tear-jerker is The Iron Giant. Okay, we know 90% of you haven't seen that movie, but why the hell not? What is wrong with you? We've only put it at or near the top of any kind of underrated, underappreciated list we have ever put together. Now we are telling you to watch it again. No arguments, guys. Just watch this damn movie. It could be the best one we mention on this page.

Speaking of Animated Films

Yes, The Lion King is basically Hamlet with talking animals and a soundtrack by a '70s rock legend, but who the hell cares, right? The fact remains that this Disney film deals with rites of passage, redemption, unnecessary guilt and a giant sense of responsibility. What guy cannot relate to that? Put your hand down, Frink, you're one of a very few. While the ladies and the kiddies flocked to the film to hear the sugary soundtrack, us guys went to see the film to see a cub become a lion, a boy become a man and there's just no beating that. Hakuna matata, mofo.

Not Quite Daddy

Another film you probably haven't seen but really should is A Perfect World. This Clint Eastwood directed film, starring Eastwood and Kevin Costner, is the most subtle of all the films on our list and will have you in tears without knowing why. The films deals with the ever-powerful father/son relationship without really addressing the father side of the equation. The film essentially follows two very different kinds of children on a trek across Middle America. It is wonderfully sublime and powerful enough that I can't really find anything fluffy to say about it. That, my friends, is a big thing.

Remember When Kevin Costner Movies Were Good

Another must-see is Field of Dreams, a baseball film that has very little to do with baseball. What's really sad about this movie is how far Kevin Costner's career has fallen. Did this guy really star in Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Dances With Wolves only to go on to make The Postman and Message in a Bottle? What happened, Kevin? One moment, you're every guy's hero and the next you're...well...not. Just don't try and recapture the magic with Field of Dreams II: Roid Rage.

Speaking of Falling Stock

Mel Gibson had a couple of great years that in the mid-'90s, didn't he? Before his powerful portrayal of a desperate father in Ransom, he provided us with a film no guy can watch without shedding a tear. Braveheart really did kick a lot of ass only to leave you a crumpled heap by the end. Who didn't watch that last scene just absolutely dying for a Deus Ex Machina? Who didn't almost rip the arm rest of the theatre seat while thinking "Goddamn it, somebody do something!!" while holding back tears only to be completely crushed by William Wallace's final desperate cry of "FREEEEDDDDDDDOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!" Admit it, you're getting choked up just thinking about it.

The End All, Be All

Nothing gets a guy choked up like the ending of Milos Forman's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (assuming, that is, that said person has watched the film from its beginning). Jack Nicholson's best performance was given in this film about a man who enters a mental institute and fights the powers that be. This translation of the Ken Kesey novel is almost as good as the novel (some who might not be fans of some of Kesey's drug-laced chapters think the film is superior) and never betrays the spirit of it. And it's the spirit of the film that makes a viewer susceptible to its gut wrenching finale. The kicker of it all is that the finale is bittersweet and leaves anyone seeing it asking for a tissue.