Tears of Joy
The weepy granted many actresses star-making turns — and Oscar-winning performances. The list of those who have cradled Best Actress statuettes thanks to a weepy is a veritable roll call of Hollywood legends: Janet Gaynor in 1927's Seventh Heaven and Sunrise and 1928's Street Angel; Vivien Leigh in 1939's Gone With the Wind; Olivia de Havilland in 1946's To Each His Own; Joan Crawford in 1945's Mildred Pierce; Bette Davis in 1935's Dangerous and 1938's Jezebel.
However, with the advent of soap operas and the television movie-of-the-week, the last 30 years have cried fewer weepies, with the exception of such ensemble works as 1983's Terms of Endearment and 1989's Steel Magnolias.
"Once a woman could have sex without being married or have a child without a husband things changed," explained Basinger. "The plots went out the window when the social rules relaxed. These films were about women's restricted place in society, the grief it caused and how they dealt with it. There's really only one category left — fatal diseases and trouble with men."