Ranking All the Best Picture Nominees — By How Hard They'll Make You Cry

Wondering which Oscar contenders will have you reaching for tissues? We'll tell you

When it comes to the Oscar-nominated films that make up the ceremony's Best Picture category, it's more than likely every contender will fit at least one of these four groups: Biopics, devastating true life stories of people overcoming adversity, soaring movie-musicals, and the type of film with one scene that will leave you shamelessly ugly-crying in the theater.

Of course, not all of this year's Best Picture nominees are guaranteed to make you sob in public (and if you do, we're not judging) but if you've got a limited amount of tissues at your disposal, consult this list — guaranteed to test your crying limits.

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Oscars preshow on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!


Though it's far from the lightest film on this list, Hell Or High Water is less a tear-jerker than it is a thriller about two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) — who embark on a series of bank robberies in order to keep the bank from foreclosing on their farm — and the crotchety old Sheriff (Jeff Bridges) who is chasing them down. You'll leave with a new appreciation for Pine's acting ability (and his impressive mustache), but your eyes will most likely stay dry.


The true story of the African-American mathematicians who helped NASA send a man to orbit the earth a whopping three times in the 1950s is guaranteed to overwhelm you with an array of feelings — jealousy over Janelle Monáe's gorgeous costumes, inspired by the stories of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, a big, fat crush on Mahershala Ali — but if any of those feelings cause some tears, they'll be outweighed by the need to run to the library and learn everything you possibly can about these amazing women.


La La Land is by far the lightest film in the Best Picture race, but we challenge anyone with a soul to watch the dream ballet sequence and not be moved to shed a few tears. Come to think of it, the world should start using Emma Stone's big audition number as a way to prove one's capable of feeling emotions …


Hacksaw Ridge is a gritty, intense, harrowing story about a single man who saves the lives of many of his fellow soldiers in one of World War II's biggest bloodbaths — and who also managed to stay true to his beliefs of nonviolence in the midst of devastating horror. In other words: There's no way you won't cry while watching Hacksaw Ridge.


You might not think a movie about Amy Adams communicating with aliens is the kind of movie that will make you sob in public, but trust us, it will. After all, if the scenes featuring Adams' character and her young daughter don't cause you to run through your entire supply of tissues, you might as well be dead inside.


Here's the thing about Manchester By the Sea: It's not so much a tear-jerker as it is a slow burn of depression. It's a gray cloud in cinematic form — one that just happens to feature incredible (and incredibly heartbreaking) performances. Even if you don't cry during this one, you'll still want to spend the rest of the day curled up on your bed, staring aimlessly at the wall and contemplating the unfairness of the world, so it earns a top spot nonetheless.


When Viola Davis cries, we all cry. It's really as simple as that. We started tearing up the first time we saw the trailer, if we're being honest with you.


You won't just cry during Lion — you'll have a total breakdown. Maybe it'll first hit you when adorable, charismatic young Saroo (played by everyone's new favorite child actor, Sunny Pawar) wakes up alone on a train. Maybe the sight of him wandering around Calcutta, looking for his family, will ruin you. Perhaps you'll stay dry-eyed until grown-up Saroo — played by Dev Patel — remembers his traumatic childhood experience. No matter when the tears begin to flow, we guarantee you will cry so hard during Lion you'll probably have to borrow tissues from the person next to you. That is, if they haven't used them all up themselves.


Moonlight is gorgeous, beautifully shot, emotionally complex — and will completely and utterly ruin you. And while we mean that in the best possible way, we do feel it's important you emotionally prepare yourself to cry off all your mascara in public. Better yet, don't even wear makeup — but maybe tote a rain poncho to handle all of those tears just in case.

The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony.

Related Articles