The knockout success of Creed has proven one thing: people like to cry. Oh sure, it also proved that serious dramas can succeed in a marketplace typically driven by genre entertainments, and that audiences won’t reject a good franchise if the lead actor is now black (are the producers of James Bond listening?), but for whatever reason what we’re hearing about the most is that Creed is responsible for a phenomenon known as “man-weeping.”
That’s a silly phrase, folks. It’s just weeping. Men do that too. But if it takes a motion picture to bring out the tears from somebody who otherwise isn’t comfortable expressing their emotions – which they probably would have to be in order to qualify their crying with the prefix “man-” – that’s a good thing. Art is supposed to make you feel something, and great art can make you feel something truly meaningful (as opposed to simply “entertained”).
Fortunately, the history of cinema is rife with movies that will make you cry, and quite a few of them are now streaming, at the click of a button. The first five Rocky movies are all available on Netflix, but if you’ve seen Creed you’ve probably seen all of those already, so here are five more beautiful, emotional experiences you can have right now… if you’re ready for that sort of thing.
Big Fish (Netflix)
Before Tim Burton settled into a career of making (mostly) big budget visual effects extravaganzas, he directed one of the biggest tearjerkers of the century. Billy Crudup stars as a young man who feels like he never knew his dying father (Albert Finney), because every story the old man tells about his life sounds like a tall tale. This gives Burton the perfect excuse to visualize incredible stories about werewolves and giants and implausible gardening, but the real drama is taking place beneath the fabrications.
Can a disenchanted son become enchanted once again, before it’s too late? You’ll find out through a veil of salty tears.
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Amazon)
Few saw Felix van Groeningen’s fantastic drama about the formation and dissolution of a bluegrass marriage (and also a stellar bluegrass band), but those who did cannot deny that The Broken Circle Breakdown is something special. Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, the film tells its story in a broken chronology: two young musical lovers get married, have a wonderful child, learn that their child is sick, and struggle with the aftermath of tragedy all at the same time.
It’s a potent message, that the good and bad and everything in between are all intertwined, and you will emerge from The Broken Circle Breakdown feeling enlightened. After you finish drying your eyes, of course.
Fruitvale Station (Netflix)
The Weinstein Company
Before Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan brought you Creed, they dominated Sundance with this indie hit about a real-life tragedy. Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant (Jordan), a good kid with a good girlfriend and a few skeletons in his closet, just like anybody. He’s just going about his day, mostly. You’re going to like him a lot.
But if you recognize the title of the film – or Oscar Grant’s name – you probably know where Coogler’s movie is headed. Either way, you will be emotionally destroyed by Fruitvale Station, and you will understand why Sylvester Stallone thought that this was the team to revive the Rocky series.
Elden Henson is one of the breakout stars of Daredevil, but back in the 1990s he had one of the most interesting careers of any young actor at the time. His highlight: The Mighty, an adaptation of Rodman Philbrick’s powerful novel about a frail boy with Morquio’s Syndrome (Kieran Culkin) who befriends a kid who is unusually large for his age (Henson). Together they can tackle anything. Eventually, Henson becomes Culkin’s mighty steed.
There’s a fancifulness to The Mighty that gets played up in all of the posters, but this is serious film about a genuine friendship that gets pushed to the limit. Everyone’s great in Peter Chelsom’s movie – Sharon Stone, Harry Dean Stanton and Gena Rowlands round out the cast – but it’s Culkin and Henson who carry the film’s most emotional moments, and who will make you weep openly by the end.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (Netflix)
As a director, Lasse Hallström has practically devoted his entire career to weepy melodramas. But films like The Cider House Rules, Chocolat and Dear John feel downright artificial compared to his 1993 classic What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s an endearing story about a kindhearted young man named Gilbert (Johnny Depp) who somehow keeps his good nature even though he’s been given more than enough responsibility for anybody. His father committed suicide, his mother is so obese she can no longer leave the house, and his little brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio, earning his first Oscar nomination) is mentally disabled, and quite a handful on his own.
You watch What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? with a staunch admiration for Gilbert’s steadfast nature, but as life heaps more and more difficulties upon him, you just want to scoop the kid up in your arms and hug him and tell him he deserves a little something for himself, too. Hallström’s film never quite turns Depp’s tragic hero into a martyr – the story is too sweet for that – but if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed you will feel his pain, and you will cry for him.
Top Photo: The Weinstein Company
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.
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