By Kate Ward
July 26, 2011 at 11:45 PM EDT
Everett Collection

The Champ might feature the saddest scene in movie history. That is, according to science. In a fascinating article from, we’ve learned that a scene from the 1979 film starring Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight is used in several psychological tests as a benchmark to determine when someone is responding to sad content. The clip in question (and SPOILER ALERT for those who care): Schroder’s young character watches his father (Voight) win in the boxing ring, only to die in front of him a few minutes later. It’s interesting: The scene from the film, which Smithsonian notes only received middling reviews and is embedded below, would certainly appear to succeed in evoking emotion even from the hardest individual. A 9-year-old watching his own parent die? Cue the ugly cry.

The study, however, has me reflecting on my own go-to sob scenes. When I really need a good cry, which movie scenes will always, always work? For me, it depends. If I’m craving a “I will most certainly die alone” cry, I’ll turn to the scene in Love Actually when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) arrives at Juliet’s (Keira Knightley) door on Christmas with poster boards declaring his unrequited love. If I want a happy cry, I’ll turn on the scene in The Wedding Singer when Robbie (Adam Sandler) serenades Juliet (Drew Barrymore) on the plane. (I know. I don’t know why. I judge myself.) But if I want a disgusting, snot-filled I-cannot-leave-the-theater-and-or-the-house-in-this-condition cry, I go to either The Return of the King — the scene in which Sam (Sean Astin) carries Frodo (Elijah Wood) up Mount Doom — or Big Fish, when when Will (Billy Crudup) carries his dying father (Albert Finney) to the lake. Oh god, I’m even tearing up right now. Which means I cannot leave my office in this condition. Problem!

Your turn, PopWatchers: What are your go-to crying scenes? And do you, like me, have different ones for different emotions?

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