A film, or any other form of storytelling, for that matter, is not successful until it makes you feel something. Until it extorts a reaction out of you. All sorts of stories are made to pull on the strings of different emotions. While some leave you happy enough to feel light as a feather, there are others that induce the heaviness of a saddened heart. The criteria of what makes people sad is as extensive as the ones that make them feel happy or confused or even leave them entertained. This list constitutes the films that will definitely make you cry. Here are the saddest movies of this decade (2010-2019):
14. Never Let Me Go (2010)
The premise where the boy and girl are supposed to die before their romance can fulfil its meaning has been used countless times to evoke grief in the audience’s heart. Be it a terminal disease or the fact that their families will rather have them dead than together or a goddamned iceberg, an ill-fated story of two lovers is always a sad affair. ‘Never Let Me Go’ does something similar but with greater stakes, not just for its protagonists but also for the morality of humanity. It is set in a dystopian world where a set of children are reared just so they can eventually donate organs to other people to increase their life span. Kathy and Tommy fall in love while at a boarding school, but before they can express it, Ruth enters the equation.
13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
When we become friends with someone, especially the one with whom it naturally clicks, we look into the future and see ourselves hanging out with them, the same way as we do now, even in our eighties and beyond. To maintain a lifetime of friendship is a task in itself; it requires love, dedication and understanding of another level, and who doesn’t want that one person that knows them inside out. This begs the question, would you be ready to befriend someone who, you know, is not going to be your friend for long? Would you open yourself to the emotional risk of getting attached to someone with terminal illness? Greg Gaines is forced to spend time with Rachel, after the news of her cancer becomes common knowledge. As they grow close, Greg tries to keep up Rachel’s spirit but also braces himself for the loss that would soon knock on his door.
12. Letter from Prague (2016)
One of the most common tropes used by storytellers to make their audience cry is a letter from the dead character. Think about all the movies that made you cry, think about the particular scene that allowed the dam of tears to burst, and you’ll see, it is more often than not, a letter. Or at least, a message from the loved one whom the protagonist will most definitely not see ever again. Now, imagine a story that focuses entirely on a bunch of letters written by the protagonist’s loved one, and their quest to explore a completely different side of the deceased. In ‘Letters from Prague’, a divorced woman embarks on a journey to deliver the letters written by her mother, and in turn, understands her even better.
11. Beautiful Boy (2018)
To lose a child is, perhaps, the worst thing to ever happen to someone. The pain goes deep because it is someone who came from you, who is as much a part of your body and soul like yourself. This is why, parents hold on to their children for as long as possible, even if the kid tries to sabotage them or his/herself. ‘Beautiful Boy’ presents the struggle of a man who is trying to not let go of his son. Based on a true story, it stars Steve Carell and Timotheé Chalamet as the father-son duo, David and Nic Sheff. When Nic falls into the habit of drugs, David has to try every way possible to make his son better. Turns out, it is not a one-time deal. This is something that both of them have to fight with very hard for a span longer than both of them want.
10. The Rainbow Kid (2015)
‘The Rainbow Kid’ is an inspiring tale, but the roots of the fascinating journey of its character lie in some sad circumstances. The protagonist is a boy named Eugene. He has Down Syndrome which makes him more vulnerable to the bullies (not that they need any reason to torment anyone). Dylan Harman shines in his portrayal of Eugene and brings us face to face with the heartless behaviour of other kids. At times, their cruelty makes us realise that kids can be even more drastic than adults. Luckily, it doesn’t last for long and we watch Eugene embark on a quest that gives him a golden life lesson.
9. A Star is Born (2018)
Every time ‘A Star is Born’ is remade, it succeeds in taking the cover of the contemporary romance which strongly resonates with its audience. The story is the same, it has always been the same. In fact, it just might be one of the, if not the, most clichéd romances. And yet, it manages to break your heart, every single time. There is something raw in the brokenness of the boy and the innocent vulnerability of the girl that captures the essence of love and turns it into a tearjerker. Then there is also the aspect of the rise of one while the other falls, the relatability factor of which has hiked with every version due to the increasingly competitive nature of our world. And to see that love always suffers doesn’t make it better.
8. Still Alice (2014)
Life presents the possibility to take endless forms for us, but in the end, it comes down to just one question. Will death take us before old age gets a chance to perform its tricks? In our young years, we try to live to the fullest and dodge death for as long as possible, but we also don’t want to grow old because that comes with its own set of problems. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common afflictions of ageing and the most devastating one as well. Because while other illnesses degrade our bodies, this one tramples the most important thing of all- our memories. To watch Julianne Moore’s Alice Howland go through the early onset of Alzheimer’s is utterly heart-breaking.
7. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
What could be sadder than a young, doomed romance! Starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is the book to screen adaptation of John Green’s bestselling novel of the same name. It tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers afflicted with cancer who meet each other at a support group. Knowing that the clock is ticking on their lives, they try to live it to the fullest. As their romance blooms, they also have to struggle with the depression that their imminent mortality brings with it. The film ends with Augustus succumbing to the disease, but leaving behind a letter for Hazel, asking her to make every last minute of her life count.
6. Fruitvale Station (2013)
In his breakout role, Michael B. Jordan recreated the life of Oscar Grant, a man who was killed by the cops due to apparent misunderstanding. However, it was clear that there was much more than a simple mistake involved in this incident. The case of racial bias that cops exhibit takes centerstage and we see a young life falling victim to it. Through the last day in Oscar’s life, we get a glimpse into his situation, what it was and what it could be. And our knowledge of the incident makes us sympathise with him even more because we know that despite all his efforts, it is not going to end well for him. Sadly, things like this continue to happen even now.
5. Lion (2016)
The reason a story incites emotions in us is that there is an authenticity in it because we know that even in fiction, there are some things that are rooted in reality. This relatability factor is increased in a biographical film because the troubles that the character goes through aren’t made up; all of that actually happened with someone. While watching ‘Lion’, this knowledge is what makes it so much harder to watch. It is based on the life of Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his family when he was five-years-old. He finally ends up with an Australian family, but the thought of his real family still eats at him. Twenty-five years later, he sets out to find them.
4. Coco (2017)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, ‘Coco’ makes you cry as much as it makes you laugh. Inspired from the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexican culture, it tells the story of a boy named Miguel who accidentally crosses over to the world of the deceased and has to make it back in time before the gates between the two worlds close. While it begins with a boy’s love for music, ultimately, the soul of the film comes down to a man’s love for his daughter. The aspect of the story, which also comes from a belief in Mexican culture, wherein a person dies for the last time when they are completely forgotten by alive people not only makes you feel sad for Hector but also makes you wonder how long will it take for this “third death” to befall you. Makes “Remember Me” even more meaningful. If that doesn’t throw into the well of sadness, you are indeed a very happy person.
3. Blue Valentine (2010)
The true test of a relationship comes after the passionate initial phase has gone by. It is then that we begin to understand the other person and ourselves, in their context, and the relationship begins to take a more settled meaning. ‘Blue Valentine’ focuses on the story of two lovers who fall out of love after giving years to their romance. Ryan Gosling plays the role of Dean, a high school dropout, who meets Cindy (Michelle Williams), a pre-med student. Fresh out of a break-up, Dean proves to be a perfect reprieve for her. They fall in love, get married and have a kid and get a dog. Their story picks up years later when their marriage goes lifeless.
2. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
It is easy to express happiness; it is easy to show that you are sad. Both love and hatred find a way to come out, no matter how hard you try to keep them secret. Which is why most storytellers use these emotions to drive their characters and their storylines. Grief, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. How do you show a grieving person? Do they cry all the time, or do they completely shut themselves and spend their days confined in a dark room? Do they simply accept their situation and move forward, or do they lose their will to live and kill themselves? The answer is none of them and yet, all of them. It might not look like it, but a grieving person feels all of these things all at once. They feel empty, yet overwhelmed; and if there is one film that has captured this emotion with poignant subtlety, it is ‘Manchester by the Sea’.
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1. Amour (2012)
One of the things that everyone wants is to find someone they can spend all of their life with. In pain and sorrow, sickness and health, everyone wants a love story where till death do they part. Watching elderly couples who have sustained years of love and marriage despite all of their differences makes you wish you had something like that. In ‘Amour’, we find one such couple as the centre of the story. Georges and Anne Laurent had been music teachers, and retire in their 80s. They live in an apartment in Paris, and it is on one fine morning that Anne, unexpectedly, suffers a stroke which leaves her paralysed on the right side. As her condition deteriorates, Georges has to take care of her. But for how long can he do that? For how long can he watch his wife in such a state?
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