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20 Movies that Make Men Cry

1. Brian’s Song (1971)

This Emmy-winning movie of the week focuses on Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and his friendship with fullback Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Coach George Halas (Jack Warden) encourages Piccolo to be Sayers’s roommate during the season — the first white-black pairing of its kind in professional sports. When Piccolo develops cancer, Sayers stands by his pal. Perfect for all ages.

2. Rudy (1993)

In this fact-based drama about the triumph of the human spirit, scrawny high schooler Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) dreams of playing football at Notre Dame. But his father (Ned Beatty) can’t afford to send him, and his mediocre grades don’t cut it, so he ends up at a college across the street instead. Undaunted, Rudy eventually transfers to Notre Dame, where he begins assisting the groundskeeper (Charles S. Dutton) and joins the practice squad.

3. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain Tom Hanks and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home. Steven Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski paint a harrowing picture of the price of war and heroism — one that netted them Oscars for Best Director and Best Cinematography, respectively.

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

The first movie since It Happened One Night to win all five major Academy Awards (picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay), Cuckoo’s Nest still has the ability to entertain and inspire. Implacable rabble-rouser Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is committed to an asylum and inspires his fellow patients to rebel against the authoritarian rule of head nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

5. The Natural (1984)

A bat made from a tree struck by lightning and a passion for baseball define Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford). But when he’s shot and severely wounded, his career gets cut short. Years later, Hobbs tries out for a struggling team. He steps to the plate and knocks the ball out of the park in this mythic film that’s as epic as America’s national pastime.

6. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is framed for a double murder in the 1940s and begins a life sentence at the Shawshank prison, where he’s befriended by an older inmate named Red (Morgan Freeman). During his long stretch in prison, Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates for his upstanding moral code and unquenchable sense of hope. Co-stars Gil Bellows and Bob Gunton (who’s memorable as the amoral prison warden).

7. Schindler’s List (1993)

Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and is an unforgettable testament to the possibility of human goodness. Greedy factory owner Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) was exploiting cheap Jewish labor, but in the midst of WWII became an unlikely humanitarian, losing his fortune by helping to save 1,100 Jews from Auschwitz.

8. Old Yeller (1957)

Disney’s heartwarming family classic Old Yeller tells the tale of young farm boy Travis Coates (Tommy Kirk), who learns valuable lessons of courage, loyalty and trust from an adopted yellow mongrel.

9. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

This is one of the greatest American stories about one of the greatest American heroes: baseball phenomenon Lou Gehrig. The film follows the Iron Horse (Gary Cooper) from childhood to his later glory on the diamond. Gehrig embodied the American ethic of humility and hard work, playing in 2,130 consecutive games until he was forced to retire because of the disease that now bears his name.

10. Terms of Endearment (1983)

Mothers are from Mars, and daughters are from Venus in this warm, offbeat story adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel. Director James L. Brooks seamlessly tells the story of a mother and daughter whose lives are changed by the men they love and their abiding love for each other. Terms of Endearment won five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Director and Best Screenplay.

11. The Iron Giant (1999)

In rustic 1957 Maine, 9-year-old Hogarth finds a colossal but disoriented robot (of unknown origin), and the two form a strong bond of friendship. Before long, however, a government agent is on their trail — and he’s intent on destroying the automaton. This beautifully rendered parable based on British poet Ted Hughes’ feted short story features the voices of Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr. and Cloris Leachman.

12. Philadelphia (1993)

When attorney Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) reveals his HIV-positive status — and his homosexuality — to his co-workers, he soon finds himself unemployed. Seeking to sue for wrongful termination, Hanks works with the only lawyer who’ll take the case: ambulance-chasing, homophobic Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). Hanks received an Oscar for his work in this Jonathan Demme-directed film — the first major-studio picture to tackle the topic of AIDS.

13. Big Fish (2003)

William Bloom (Billy Crudup) tries to learn more about his dying father, Edward (Albert Finney), by piecing together the facts out of the various fantastic tales and legends of epic proportions he’s been told over the years. Edward was a traveling salesman, and his journeys throughout the South are the seed of the tales. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie co-stars Ewan McGregor (as the young Edward), Helena Bonham-Carter and Steve Buscemi.

14. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

This multiple Oscar winner follows a determined young athlete who, through her sheer determination, awakens a long-lost fire within two aging boxers. Despondent over a painful estrangement from his daughter, trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) isn’t prepared for boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) to enter his life. Maggie’s determined to go pro, and she eventually convinces Dunn and his cohort (Morgan Freeman) to help her get to the top.

15. Life is Beautiful (1997)

In this poignant tragicomedy, a clever Jewish-Italian waiter named Guido (Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for his role) is sent to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, along with his wife (Nicoletta Braschi) and their young son (Giorgio Cantarini). Refusing to give up hope, Guido tries to protect his son’s innocence by pretending that their imprisonment is an elaborate game, with the grand prize being a tank.

16. Love Actually (2003)

An ensemble comedy that tells 10 separate (but intertwining) London love stories, leading to a big climax on Christmas Eve. One of the threads follows the brand-new, unmarried Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) of the United Kingdom, who, on his first day in 10 Downing Street, falls in love with the girl (Martine McCutcheon) who brings him his tea. Denise Richards, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley and Rowan Atkinson co-star.

17. Rocky (1976)

Gritty, grim and epic, Rocky is the real deal, a crowd pleaser with a less-than-storybook ending. When Muhammad Ali-esque boxing champ Carl Weathers wants to give a nobody a shot at the title as a publicity stunt, his handlers pick palooka Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky won the 1976 Best Picture Oscar thanks to John Avildsen’s solid direction and Stallone’s root-for-the-underdog script.

18. The Pianist (2002)

Famed Polish concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody, who won an Oscar for the role) struggles to survive the onslaught of Nazi tyranny during World War II in this autobiographical film. Already lauded at the time for his talents as a musician, Szpilman spent those years holed up in Warsaw, subsisting on scraps of food and barely able to stay alive. Grace comes in the form of a second chance — at music, at freedom, at life.

19. Mystic River (2003)

Three childhood friends, Sean (Kevin Bacon), Dave (Tim Robbins) and Jimmy (Sean Penn) are reunited in Boston 25 years later when they are linked together in the murder investigation of Jimmy’s daughter. This taut thriller from director Clint Eastwood won two acting Oscars (for Robbins and Penn) and was nominated for several more in its exploration of human behavior when faced with pain just beneath the surface, justified rage and scars that never heal.

20. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Southern comforts abound in this classic adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his role as Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer who takes on the task of defending an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges, only to wind up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice that threatens to invade the lives of his children, Jem and Scout (Phillip Alford and Mary Badham).

Guys or not, we want to know what movies make you cry.