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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#18 Tearjerker.

Too often these days I’m incapable of watching a film without turning into a sobbing, snotty, embarrassing wreck.

I can’t seem to control it.

Disney animations, hard-boiled westerns, cheesy sports flicks - anything with an ounce of emotional intensity or a dying labrador and I’m a goner.

It drives our daughters crazy - ‘YOU’RE SOOO CRINGEY DAD!’

So, in tribute to those movies that have moved me the most, here are my #TopFiveFriday saddest films of all time.

Feel free to disagree with me. In fact, that would be great.


5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

This would easily make one of my top ten films of all time. John Candy’s larger-than-life Del Griffith character is unforgettable. Amidst all the hilarious road trip one-liners, calamity and slapstick, Del’s desperate loneliness and grief - and his reluctant travelling companion Neal Page'’s loving response to it - has me weeping into my cushion every time.

4. It’s A Wonderful Life.

This is a far darker Christmas film than we often realise. The main character, George Bailey, is a tormented, restless, regret-filled soul. He feels his life is incomplete and of little value outside his close family circle. George’s eventual revelation about the difference he’s made to his little town, Bedford Falls, and how much he’s treasured, is a moment of pure cinematic joy. I defy anyone not to watch the final scene without sobbing uncontrollably.

3. Up.

If there’s a finer opening ten minutes in the history of cinema than in the Pixar classic, Up, I’ve never seen it. For me, it's also the most heartbreaking. I never really fully recover after watching the sad and beautiful key moments of Carl and Ellie’s life together. It's the full cycle of love, loss, joy and pain - in ten incredible minutes. Unforgettable, unbearably sad cinema.

2. Of Gods and Men.

If Up has the saddest opening segment of any film, Of Gods and Men has one of the saddest endings. Not a word is spoken between the doomed community of French monks as they eat together in what turned out to be their last supper. Muslim extremists are expected to break-in and attack them at any moment. Yet as the music of Swan Lake plays, all we get is their facial expressions round the meal table. They convey exactly how their feeling. Their fears, unflinching joy, love for one another, regrets, deep sadness and extraordinary courage. It’s like being present at the most sacred, sad-yet-beautiful, holiest of communions.

1. Manchester By The Sea.

I find Manchester By The Sea barely watchable.

It’s just too sad. Too tragic. Too grossly unfair.

And yet I’ve made myself watch it numerous times now.

It’s a slow-burning masterpiece about how a set of tragic events can have such devastating consequences on families and relationships. For me, it’s a reminder of the resilience and power of the human condition. This is the film that stays with me the longest after watching. A stone cold classic - but a total heartbreaker.

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