As many people know, I’m a decently emotional guy. Be that good or bad, I’m not positive, but it is what it is. Being as such, I love emotional moments in movies, especially emotional moments in movies that you wouldn’t expect would have them. That being said, I know a lot of the best moments are in movies that are meant to be emotional in one way or another, I just always find welcome surprise when you get hit in the heart during a drama, or when a consummate comedian breaks you down into tears. So I made this list of some of my favourite emotional moments in movies. I imagine a lot of these will have been seen, but maybe one or two will shock you and give you a welcome surprise as well. As always, this list will involve spoilers, some pretty big ones. But the movies are worth it.
- SLC Punk (1998) We follow Steveo (Matthew Lillard) and Bob (Michael Goorjian) through their exploits as 1980’s punk rockers in Salt lake City. The big emotional moment happens with about 15 minutes left in the movie, there was a big party and everyone was having a good time. The next morning Steveo wakes up and goes downstairs to find Bob laying on the floor having died from an overdose of heroin. He gets angry and yells at him, screams at him and breaks some things. Finally he collapses to the floor in tears, looks up at his dead friend and yells “Now who’s going to be my best friend?!” This scene really got to me, Matthew Lillard sold his best friend dying so well and he had that moment when he’s crying and talking and you see the saliva around his mouth that makes it just so real.
- 2001 brought us the first in the biggest trilogy of all time (so far) in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As with seemingly every movie he’s in, Sean Bean dies in this movie. But his death scene was done so well. The filming of the movie gave the illusion that his character Boromir had betrayed the fellowship and while Frodo (The ring bearer) was being overrun by Orcs, Boromir comes out of nowhere to save the day! He kills what feels like two hundred Orcs and tells Frodo to run, but as he does it an arrow hits him in the chest. It’s a slow motion hit and you see the way his body reacts to the shot done so well. Frodo stops to look at him, but he doesn’t see as he continues to fight the Orcs. A second arrow hits and he nears the end. In heroic fashion he steps up and continues once more to give Frodo more time, only to be shot on last time. He falls to his knees and cannot go on. An Orc (Uruk-hai for people who will rip into me for saying the wrong race) stands in front of him with a bow drawn to shoot him a fourth time, but he is given reprise as Aragorn saves him. After the Orc gets killed Aragorn goes to his side and you hear Sean Bean say “I would have followed you my brother, my captain, my king.” And he dies. This one isn’t even given proper kudos from me in this little blurb, it gets me going every single time.
- Say Anything (1989) stars John Cusack in one of the most iconic roles of all time, at least in the romantic world. He plays Lloyd Dobbler, a man who falls in love with a woman over a single summer. She is afraid at first, but she falls in love with him too. She then gets scared and stops talking to him, telling him it couldn’t work. Lloyd doesn’t believe her and tries to win her back. The big payoff is when you see John Cusack standing in the rain holding a boom box out front of her house. It’s such a good scene that falls in the middle of a montage and it brings tears every single time.
- Good Will Hunting (1997) gave us so many people. Shot Matt Damon and Ben Affleck up the ladder, Showed people that Minnie Driver isn’t useless and, to me anyways, gave us one of the best performances in history from Robin Williams. He plays Will’s mentor almost and throughout the first half of the movie there is conflict abound, one specific scene where Matt Damon says something about Williams’ deceased wife. That causes Williams to attack and threaten him, showing just how much of a badass Williams in. But the big scene is when they’re both in an office and Robin Williams finds out that Matt Damon blames himself for many parts of his life being how it is. He looks at him and says “it’s not your fault” to which Damon replies I know, looks at him again and says “It’s not your fault”, Damon gets uneasy and says I know again, “It’s not your fault Will”, more and more uncomfortable “I know, stop that”, Robin Williams looks him in the eye one more time and says “It’s not your fault”. Matt Damon breaks down into tears and bawls as he embraces Williams character. While I often use the awesome line to joke with my friends, it doesn’t change that the line came from a very important and emotional scene.
- Adam Sandler often gets wrecked by people for having phoned it in in the past decade. I cannot disagree with them on it for the most part, but there was one movie, Reign over Me (2007) where he plays a man who has mental issues. Throughout the movie you think he is getting better, but we find that he’s not. We also find out that his psyche is damaged because he lost his family in the 9/11 plane crash and he was supposed to go with them, but didn’t. On top of finding out that he’s constantly redecorating his kitchen because he and his wife got into a fight about what they both wanted before she passed away and he now doesn’t know what she wants, we find out that his in laws want to have him put into a mental hospital for his issues. They go to court, put Sandler on trial and his in laws start to play into him losing his family. Kind of a shitty move to pull in a scenario for someone you love, but I get it. They then pull out photos of his dead children and force him to look at the photo, why don’t you look at your own children they say. He then breaks down and has a really well done speech that has him say the line “You want to know why I don’t look at photos of my own children? Because I don’t have to! Because I see them every single time I close my eyes!” It crushed me.
- (2001) gave us Life as a House. Holy crap this movie got me going. It’s about Kevin Kline, an architect who finds out he has cancer and is going to die. He doesn’t tell anyone, but brings his estranged son (Hayden Christiansen) to his house for the summer so that they can finish the house that Kline started building some time ago. Throughout the movie there is a lot of conflict between the two but they mostly get along. Then one day Kline collapses on the floor and is taken to the Hospital, he’s joined by his ex-wife and son who starts to cry and yells at him while he’s unconscious, “Why couldn’t you tell me? That was so selfish, I hate you!” He obviously has grown to love his father again and, with the help of a bunch of people, finishes the house while his dad is in the hospital. He goes to tell his dad that it’s done, wheels him to a window to show him that it’s done and Kline passes away knowing he finished it. It’s a really amazing movie with some phenomenal acting by all people, but that ending just had me weeping.
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is the only movie on this list that is completely sad. While done very well and an awesome movie, the whole thing is just so awful. It’s about how a young orphaned boy and his even younger sister try to survive in World War 2 after their mother has died and their father is nowhere to be found (thought to be dead, not just left). This movie, while so very well done by Studio Ghibli, is heartbreaking. If you haven’t seen it and don’t know anything about how war ravages everyone, don’t watch it. If you have seen it, please don’t watch it again. I think people should see it, but only if they’re prepared for just feeling awful throughout.
I just wanted to show that amazing movies can have some of the saddest moments in them. By no means is this the entire list, or a top ten, merely different than other lists that people have out there.