These 2016 Oscar Nominees Make Guys Cry

DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

“2016 Oscar Nominee Movies”

This Sunday is the 2016 Academy Awards, a ceremony where the rich give each other awards and the goody bags could get your average millennial out of student debt. All snark aside, it’s always fun to watch the Oscars; the glitzy outfits, the enjoyable comedy bits, and rooting for the movie you’ve actually heard of to win big. Just like in a sporting event, it’s going to be more entertaining if you have a vested interest in one of the teams. Aside from the films surgically designed to be nominated, more and more films the average moviegoer actually cares about are finding themselves on the red carpet. The better chance you’ve heard of the film, or better yet seen it, the more you’ll root for it to win. In case you’ve been movie-averse this year, here are five picks for excellent Oscar-nominated films that can make us cry:

1. The Martian

Shut up, we know it was a book and we don’t care about your opinions on which was better. This film by Ridley “Sorry about Prometheus” Scott is so fantastic it’s probably going to inspire a generation to actually be astronauts. Aside from being so beautiful that they’ll probably ship it with all new TVs just to show off the HD picture, you never leave the edge of your seat. Every decision the characters make is tense, humorous, hopeful and dreadful. Matt “Rescue Me” Damon finds himself stranded on Mars with today’s level technology and realistic conditions to deal with on a hostile planet. Retrieval is both geographically and financially doubtful, plus everything has a nasty tendency to explode. Fantastic, and one of my personal picks for best picture

Like Bane said in The Dark Knight Rises, killing someone isn’t as bad as giving them hope and then taking it away. Matt sciences the shit out of (and into) everything, and at times it seems like everything’s going his way. Then something goes wrong, and there are moments where he truly considers his mortality. These are somber moments and there are a few, so an individual can take their pick which moment hits them the hardest.

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2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Honestly I’m just glad this is here. A movie so awesome that the Blu-ray shoots flames, a movie so intense that it runs on nitro boosters, a movie so fat that yo mama looks thin by comparison. If The Martian kept me on the edge of my seat, this film had me humping the silver screen. Every character is the reason you watch this film. Furiosa, Immortan Joe, Max (I guess), the old ladies, R from Warm Bodies…it’s just perfect. The use of practical effects pushes it over the limit, and then the guy on bungee cords playing a flame-throwing guitar strapped to a truck full of drummers just ignites the TNT of our hearts. The fact that they had all that plus a compelling message of equality and self-respect is beyond comprehension. This is totally a heavy hitter for this year’s Oscar.

The hodge-podge religion of the villains is based on earning your place in the afterlife. Beast from X-men: First Class reveals that he’s dying and wants to earn his place quick, but when he borks his chance in front of his “God” all is lost in his mind. He’s known he was going to die, but for the first time there’s a finality to that death. It’s a made up religion, but he believes it so dearly that you can’t help but feel for him.

3. Ex Machina

Not nominated for best picture but it did score a lesser nomination. This film currently is free to stream on Amazon Prime, and if you are in the mood to not trust your household appliances anymore I would highly recommend a viewing. It’s a small story, not needing to be huge or flashy to get it’s point across. In a very deceptive way, both the film and the robot within trick the audience as to what the purpose of the narrative is about. Is it a commentary on humanity’s quest for A.I., is it a cautionary tale of isolated genius, or is it a slow-burning horror movie about the abuses of science? You have to watch it to find out, but you definitely should.

Hard to point out the moment of sadness without revealing too much of a recent movie’s plot, but there’s a point that the main character realizes he’s being played. I mean played hard. Again with the wisdom of Bane, his hope of being special is dashed by ulterior motives. What he does with that realization is key to the plot, but it’s very somber to watch.

4. Creed

On paper, this could have gone either way. Sylvester Stallone is old and weird, and the amount of Rocky movies at this point is somewhat a joke. Yet somehow the last two have been fantastic, defying all odds and past patterns of sequel quality. In this one, Apollo Creed’s son wants to be trained by his dad’s old sack of meat/friend Rocky. This film is pure guy cry concentrate: take a manly icon from years past, kill all his friends, give him cancer, and make him train the son of his best friend from the first film. The action is intense, the acting is somehow amazing despite the main actor also being in the horrible Fant4stic debacle, and the mixture of nostalgia and modern cinema is intense.

That ending, with Rocky going up the Philly steps…oh man. Do it Rocky, do it for America.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Speaking of nostalgia mixed with modern, how about a hand for this little gem? The collective sigh let loose by the world’s fandom when this turned out to be just as good as we hoped it would be pushed the Earth a few inches to the left. Practical effects, characters that weren’t stereotypical insults on legs, and the perfect mix of old and new made for a film that fans and newcomers alike could enjoy. It also made all the money ever, so that’s nice. If you haven’t seen it yet, then do so. If you have, then see it again. If you’ve seen it several times, then me too, and wasn’t it great?!

Many might think that a particular character’s death would be the cause for crying in this installment, but it wasn’t really played for tears. The real misty-eyed moment is when Rey, the first independent and powerful woman to grace Star Wars since Princess Leia, uses the force to grab Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. When the music swells and she ignites the blade, with it’s blue glow lighting up her determined face….I did tear up and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

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Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.