In Coldplay's hit 2011 song, frontman Chris Martin crooned "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall." Okay, while that's a totally ridiculous sentiment, it may have made a little bit more sense if the band had released the song this year, considering all the movies that caused us to cry waterfall-sized tears. Even with those movies that you approached fully prepared, knowing that they would turn you into a sniffly, blubbery mess (Les Misérables, Amour, and The Impossible), it didn't make them any easier to get through.
From the movies that broke our hearts in the most wonderful way possible (Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), to the movies that just plain broke our hearts (Bully, Amour again) here are the 10 saddest movie moments from 2012. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF CRYING AT YOUR DESK AHEAD!
Fantine's swan song always brings down the house with tears, and Anne Hathaway's heartbreaking turn with the showstopper is no exception. In fact, the only thing that could hurt Hathaway's chances for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar is if voters' eyes are still too blurry and can't read the ballot.
The Beasts of the Southern Wild:
Take your pick from Benh Zeitlin's visual masterpiece, because the last 45 minutes of the film is basically one extended unabashedly crying in public session. But the scene that really hits the hardest is when Hushpuppy (the staggeringly great Quvenzhané Wallis) has to say goodbye to her dying father Wink (Dwight Henry). She may have been a strong warrior during her journey, but we were reduced to sobbing puddles.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a bittersweet anthem to the ups and downs of high school life. So when Charlie (the criminally underrated Logan Lerman) reunites with his friends after his tragic stint in the hospital and they play their anthem and drive through the tunnel once more, our own high school memories came flooding back. So did the tears.
When Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) is finally reunited with his wife in San Francisco, he gives a stirring, inspirational speech to her father. Once you realize that Adam and his wife are past reincarnations of Sonmi and Hae-Joo, the tears can't help but flow. Quitting the slave trade is just icing on the sadness cake.
Life Of Pi:
They could have called this thing Life of Cry, amirite?! Between Pi sitting on the boat after his family has perished and the sad death of the orangutan, we were already goners. But it's when Pi's loyal tiger leaves his side after their journey at sea, without even a goodbye, that did us in.
Just...all of it.
The Hunger Games:
There were a lot of changes made from Suzanne Collins' wildly popular saga when it hit the big screen, but sadly, Rue's horrendous death remained the same in that it made fans cry a whole lot. When Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) gives Rue peace in comfort in the final moments of her all-too-short life by singing to her, we were chanting for her to win even more between bouts of weeping.
Like Rue's death, we knew the fate of poor Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio). And while our hearts have gone on since 1997, watching him die an icy, watery death in 2012 in 3D made all those emotions come rushing back. We'll never let go.
There were plenty of documentaries in 2012 that struck a nerve with viewers. But hearts everywhere broke when we met sweet, quiet middle school student Alex Libby for the first time, and witnessed the hell he has endured at the hand of his bullies. Whether we were crying because we related, crying because we felt helpless to do anything for him, or even crying out of regret for the way we treated our classmates, it didn't matter: we were just crying.
As much as you try to brace yourself for The Impossible, the harrowing, inspirational account of a real-life family who, against all odds, survived the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, nothing prepares you for how emotional the experience of their reunions after being torn apart is. Don't believe us? Try to make it through the trailer without losing it, let alone a two hour movie.
[Photo credits: Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Summit Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics]
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At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
In Dream House – the new suspense thriller from Jim Sheridan (In America My Left Foot) – Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton a successful New York publisher who disavows his high-powered Manhattan lifestyle and relocates along with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and two daughters (Taylor and Claire Astin Geare) to a picturesque New England hamlet. Their new home a quaint fixer-upper bears imprints of the family that lived there previously: Old tools and other belongings are strewn about the basement a secret room abutting the children’s bedroom is filled with discarded toys. Will and Libby see the items as charming artifacts signs that their house has a history a soul.
The new neighborhood is not so bucolic as it seems. The children complain of a man peering in on them from the front yard – a suspicion confirmed when Will discovers footsteps in the snow the next day. If that weren’t ominous enough Will later learns that five years earlier his new home was the site of a grisly murder spree in which the previous owner Peter Ward was alleged to have killed his wife and two daughters. Acquitted due to a lack of evidence Ward spent a brief time at a psychiatric facility before being released. Could the shadowy figure glimpsed outside the window be Ward returning to the scene of the crime preparing to kill again?
At this point Dream House pulls off a whopper of a mid-game twist that effectively re-frames the entire narrative. (I won’t spoil it for you but if you want to know what it is just watch the trailer which rather stupidly gives it away.) Until now Sheridan has worked steadily to foster the guise of a relatively conventional haunted-house tale presenting a portrait of idyllic domesticity while simultaneously building an atmosphere of looming peril. After the story drops its bombshell the film morphs into a sort of supernatural murder mystery with Craig’s character scouring for clues within his own tortured psyche. Characters and scenes that might have been dismissible as red herrings – a neighbor (Naomi Watts) appears oddly stand-offish; her ex-husband (Martin Csokas) cartoonishly gruff; the town cops inexplicably apathetic – gain sudden relevance.
It’s a clever gambit; it is also patently absurd. A talented cast helps make the twist easier to swallow but the film’s second half sheds credulity seemingly by the frame at points devolving into schlock. Which in a different film might bode well for some silly fun but Sheridan aims for a restrained tone that seems more suitable for a somber character study than a flagrantly preposterous suspense thriller. As it is Dream House is neither thrilling nor suspenseful.