An analysis of Someone Like You and how it jerks tears. I think this analysis might be transferable to tearjerking scenes, which are a special interest of mine. This analysis says that the song has a lot of repetition in the beginning, and then a sudden breakout of voice (an octave change), which very much goes with my thoughts that emotional scenes depend usually on a three-part structure (three similar parts) which suspend the emotion and then a sudden "punch" or change of tenor which releases it.
The comments are pretty funny, especially from the loser guys who complain that she's fat and thus can't possibly be worth anything, because, you know, they would like totally have a chance to date her and refuse to do so. Where DO all those guys come from, and if you've seen them, tell me-- do they look like David Beckham in that Super Bowl commercial that they're just too good for most women? They are sort of amusing, but more pitiable, I guess.
Anyway, what makes a scene (or song) yank tears from you? I have a weakness for scenes where the character is bravely fending off emotion. No, no, seeing his childhood sweetheart get married isn't so bad. Well, maybe a little bit bad. But he still has to dance with her, and tell her he's happy for her. Sob!!!
Brave characters, stiff upper (Trembling) lip gets me every time.
I also sniffle at happy memories remembered in very sad times, like the heroine remembering her little sister dancing like Beyonce in front of the mirror, when she gets word that the sister is missing in Afghanistan.