In honor of the sublime moment on last week's episode of "Lost" when Wanda from the front end of the plane was reunited with her husband from the tail end of the plane (which made a vast number of us weep for joy as though this was something happening to our own family... but that's just good television, when you're that invested in it), I give you my list of the movie moments that make me weep, usually with joy but there are a couple that are more bittersweet than anything else. Rated on a scale of one to ten tissues.
Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King: Towards the end, when Aragorn is crowned king, and makes his way into the crowd, and first is reunited with Arwen, who has appeared with a number of elves; together they continue through the crowd and come upon the 4 hobbits (Sam, Frodo, Merry and Pip). The hobbits ready themselves to bow before the king, and Aragorn holds up his hand and says "NO. You four... bow to no one." And then the whole crowd bows to the four hobbits. I can run through half a box of tissue on this scene alone, nevermind the rest of the trilogy.
Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: At the end of Obi Wan and Anakin's epic lightsaber battle in the lava rivers of Mustafar, after Anakin has become Charbroiled Sith minus a few key limbs. Obi Wan is in tears and wails, "You were my brother!" before he leaves Anakin there to die. It could have been so cheesey, but Ewan McGregor totally delivers. 4 tissues.
Forrest Gump: The scene at the anti-war rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C. when Forrest is asked to stand up and speak about his experience in Viet Nam; he tells his name to the crowd and there is a moment of silence, then you hear a woman shout "Forrrrrest!!" and suddenly there's Jenny, wading into the Reflection Pool. Forrest runs straight throuhg the crowd to join her, and they embrace. 10 tissues!!
Bridget Jones' Diary: At the end, when Bridget and Mark Darcy kiss in the snow to the lovely strains of Van Morrison's "Someone Like You." Oh yeah. Any movie that ends with a girl being snogged by Colin Firth is a movie with a happy ending. 5 tissues.
A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuaron version): The scene near the end when Sara is begging her amnesiac father to recognzie her. It's SO heartbreaking, even though one is a) aware it's only a fucking movie, and b) fully aware that a happy ending is only 30 seconds away!! Again, at least half a box of tissues.
Independence Day: Yes, I am aware that I am the only person on the planet who actually loves this movie. And therefore I am also the only person on the planet moved to tears by Bill Pullman as POTUS' stirring speech to the pilots about to take off to battle the aliens. And then of course, the part where the no-good alcoholic crop duster dad saves the day by scarificing his own life to deliver his bomb straight into the alien ship's center. He's a hero, and I need a box of Puffs, stat! Ten tissues.
Because of Winn Dixie: There's a lot here to make a person weepy, but the climactic scene in which Winn Dixie has bolted and disappeared due to his fright at a thunderstorm. Opal and The Preacher search all over town for him while Opal rattles off a list of "10 Things" about Winn Dixie that will help people to know him when they meet him. 10 tissues!! And yeah, the dog totally comes back. I didn't vote this one of my Best Movies of the Year for nothing.
Billy Elliot: There are a number of tear-jerking moments to be had here as well, but the five-alarm hankie moment comes right at the end, when Billy's grown up and debuting as the Swan King in "Swan Lake" with the Royal Ballet while his father in the audience weeps -- we suspect it's mixed weeping, a little pride and joy, and a little sorrow that Billy's mother wasn't there to see it, and a little sorrow for a life that never even occurred to him was out there. Anyway, the moment is the final frame in which we see Grown-Up Billy leap across the stage in a grande jete Mikhail Baryshnikov would kill to execute (okay, he could probably do it no problem, but you see my point), the epitome of strength and grace, light years away from the Durham coalfields near where he spent his formative years and which would have been his lot in life if not for the Royal Ballet School. This is seriously the best closing moment in a movie ever. 10 tissues! Maybe more!!
Mulan: An underrated Disney classic, the tears come when Mulan's father says, "The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter." Choke. 4 tissues. Maybe 5.
Sliding Doors: When Gwyneth Paltrow Character Version One dies, of course. But also the very last frame, when she says, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" and she and the hot Scottish bloke share that look. 7 tissues.
Apollo 13: When the Jim Lovell character tells Houston, "Houston, we want to come home." Oh, and also the bit where he says, "Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure flying with you." Tom Hanks kicks ass. And bear in mind this is the sort of movie where one is hyperaware that it's a movie, and one already knows the ending since it's based in fact, and yet it still sucks you in emotionally. 6 tissues.
Armageddon: Oh yes -- another man's crap is my good movie. And I'm a sad sucker for the scene in which the Ben Affleck character goes back to the shuttle because Bruce Willis has shoved him back into the elevator, planning to do the suicide job himself. And back on Earth, Live Tyler as Bruce's daughter speaks to him one last time from the ground control center, and then the screen goes black and she reaches out to touch it. It's so bittersweet. And a totally cheap ploy to get women invested in what's happening. But whatever. 3 tissues.
Ever After: The bit where Danielle's stepmother and stepsister are called to Court to answer to the Queen, and everyone bows when Danielle enters the room and they're all bewildered and then it finally dawns on them that she's married the Prince and is now a Princess. And she asks the Queen to "show them the same kindness they have shown me," and they have to go work in this dreadful sweatshop of some sort. Brilliant. Love it. 4 tissues.
The Goonies: The part where Josh Brolin hugs younger brother Sean Astin, to comfort him over the pending loss of their home. It's so tender and unexpected in what is essentially a Raiders of the Lost Ark film for preteens. 4 tissues.
And while we're on Steven Spielberg, let's not forget the moment in E.T. when ET's about to get on his ship and touches Elliot's chest and says, "I'll be right here." Nine tissues.
Love, Actually: There are actually several I'm compelled to mention from this movie; it's a veritable happy-cry weepfest, clearly designed with PMS in mind:
1) Near the end, when the Colin Firth character ("I hate Uncle Jamie!") proposes to Aurelia in the restaurant on Christmas Eve. It's so sweet and so totally unrealistic. 7 tissues.
2) Right at the beginning, with the Hugh Grant voiceover that opens the Heathrow Arrivals Gate footge: "When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the message from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were messages of love... If you look for it, love actually is all around." I love a movie that so unabashedly celebrates love in all its forms. 10 tissues.
3) After Peter and Juliet's wedding when the choir begins to sing "All You Need Is Love." 3 tissues.
4) The bit where Hugh Grant as Prime Minister gives his little speech about what makes Britain a great country. Add scruffy haired guitarists and awesome bands, and he's got it right. 3 tissues.
5) When Sam gets his little peck on the cheek from Joanna at the airport. Awww. 2 tissues.
6) When Daniel plays the Bay City Rollers' "Bye Bye Baby" at his wife's funeral, at her request. 4 tissues.
Perhaps not terribly coincidentally, these are the movies I come back to again and again and again.
Here are the bands you should be listening to this month if you aren't already; it ain't rocket science to hear that they kick ass:
My Morning Jacket
The Magic Numbers
Now go. Watch movies and download some new tunes.