Movies are undoubtedly our most powerful art form: they can make us laugh, cringe, scream and sing. But, they also make us cry. Film, if executed properly (and that varies by genre), reenacts life, and depending on the subject, it can hit close to home for any number of people. For example, if your dog just died a few days ago, watching Old Yeller probably is not the way to go.
However, though these scenes may be upsetting, they are what make the film shine; it’s what we remember; it draws our attention towards and gives us a reason to care about what’s going on. These strong, emotional responses are what filmmakers are always looking to achieve, and when they have their audience reaching for the tissue boxes, that’s how they know they’ve done their job.
It’s true in all aspects of storytelling that time has allotted more to be shown in film. People are not killed off screen; murder is not merely suggested; rape, suicide, blood, and drugs aren’t as taboo as they used to be. If you showed Hacksaw Ridge to someone fifty years ago, you’d need to be CPR certified.
With that said, the direction cinema seems to be heading in the 21st century (and the years leading up to it) is that more is better; the result being more graphic, more realistic and thus, more upsetting scenes. On that note, what you’ll find here is a list of 10 of the most heartbreaking moments in movies from the current century (as of now).
In order to be considered for this list, the film must have been released during or after the year 2000. No exceptions for titles such as The Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan or The Green Mile, which also have scenes of incredible anguish. We consider this little bullet to be their honorable mention.