Top 10 Tear-Jerking Movie Moments

For those that know, I love movies.

Comedies, dramas, stupid ones, docs, etc, I love movies, it does not matter.

I guess I am fascinated in the whole process of an idea, then a script, then the greenlight, then shooting it, then editing it, adding a soundtrack and then, pray it resonates on some level with someone, anyone.

Same goes for emotional scenes in movies.  Ones that tear me apart, even though I have seen that movie, dozens and dozens of times.

So, I have compiled a list of the Top 10 emotional moments in cinema that get me every single time.



10)  E.T.


When he tells Elliott goodbye, slays me every time.  I remember watching that movie at the old Hermitage 4 and a lady in the theater was in hysterics and would not stop crying.  That lady?  My Mom…….


9) Terms Of Endearment



You want to know why Shirley Maclaine is the greatest actress of all time, watch this movie.  Then watch it again.  She is absolutely mesmerizing and she is coming to Nashville to sit in with the symphony on July 30th.  She is so great in this scene of showing relief, yet, extreme pain after her daughter’s battle with cancer.




I have watched this movie so many times it is not even funny.  This speech by Billy Dee is incredible and the whole movie is just so well done.  If you have not seen it, please, you will not regret it.


7)  Starman

Little known fact that part of this movie was filmed in Nashville, off of Briley Parkway to be exact, over in the Madison area.  This movie is really good and when he has to leave at the end, another box of tissues.  Karen Allen kicks ass in this movie, too.



Amazing scene here, just amazing.  When Cruise’s character realizes it is not about the money with Ray, but about having a brother, and to see that character come full circle and this scene captures it so well, it is incredible.


5)  Dominick and Eugene

You probably missed this one when it came out back in 1988 but do yourself a favor, watch it.  I wont spoil it for you but the last scene, so emotional, it would bring a tear to a glass eye.  The acting is so good you almost forgot you are watching a movie.



Hate all you want, but this scene is powerful.  When Harry pushes A.J. back in and then says goodbye to his daughter, it gets me every time.  I have seen this movie and this scene countless times, it still gets to me.


3) UP

It is the best PIXAR movie, don’t even try to argue with me on this and that clip, is the best 4 minute montage in movie history.  I actually fell asleep in the movie when I saw it, then read a review where a critic almost did, too, then went back and watched it and was blown away.  I am the same way.  This movie is simply fantastic and that scene, heartbreaking.



Go to the 2:10 mark in the clip and watch.  For those who remember this movie, will remember this scene.  For those who didn’t see it, you will totally know what is going on.  And the part where his dad is shaving him, waterworks.



My friends, NOTHING comes close to this scene here.  So powerful on so many levels and just as I said that Shirley Maclaine was the greatest actress, Tom Hanks is the greatest actor.  Watching his pain as his mom dies and tells him goodbye is so reflective not only in his body language, but his eyes.  I know many men have cried at this scene and although they won’t admit it, they did.

So if you haven’t seen any of these, check them out.  If they made the Big Joe list, then they have to be outstanding.



  1. Michele July 8, 2015 3:35 pm  Reply

    THE CHAMP – Ricky Schroder crying “Wake up, Champ. Don’t sleep now.” KILLING ME! Now I’m crying just typing this.

  2. STAN July 8, 2015 7:04 pm  Reply


  3. Beth July 8, 2015 11:02 pm  Reply

    Where is Steel Magnolias on this list. The cemetery scene leaves me crying every time even when I know what’s coming. Must agree with your #1 choice.

  4. Mary Lane July 9, 2015 4:07 am  Reply

    Joe ….did you not see Glory? OMG! No way you could watch that ending and not dissolve into a puddle! It is #1 on my list!

  5. Dena July 10, 2015 5:00 pm  Reply

    I’m with Beth – Steel Magnolias makes me literally sob.
    Imitation of Life, circa 1959, is also a tear jerker. My mom and I watched a lot of old movies when I was growing up. It’s fantastically sad. Plus, it has Lana Turner, Sandra Dee and the beautiful John Gavin. Not familiar? Here’s the synopsis off IMDb and you’ll probably cry at it alone:
    A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
    Also on my list, Hope Floats. Yes, really. The scene where the little girl is begging her Daddy not to leave … probably hits too close to home for me. 🙂 Great list!

  6. Susan McFarlin July 12, 2015 6:42 pm  Reply

    Come on Joe, where is ‘Old Yeller’? I still can’t watch the end without crying my eyes out. I also agree with Beth and Dena. Steel Magnolias makes me cry at the Sally Field (there she is again) scene after the funeral.
    I also agree with old movies, my favorite “Back Street” with Susan Hayward and once again, John Gavin.
    Other than Old Yeller, loved your list!

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