15 Best Sad Movies on Netflix for When You Need a Good Cry
Get the tissues ready!
No matter what’s going on in your life—a bad breakup, a stressful day at work, or absolutely nothing at all—sometimes you just need a good cry. And it turns out, crying has a ton of health benefits, from helping to soothe physical pain to triggering the feel-good hormones that will get your mood back on track ASAP. Seriously, whoever said laughter is the best medicine was wrong. Crying is the best. And thankfully, if you need help triggering your own sob fest, the world of cinema is here to help. So whatever your motivation, grab a box of tissues and check out one of these sad movies on Netflix. They’re practically guaranteed to cue the waterworks.
Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, 2018’s Roma is a semi-autobiographical retelling of Cuarón’s own life and the lives of those around him while he was growing up in Mexico City. Shot completely in black and white, the film follows a live-in maid who works for a middle-class family during the political unrest of the early 1970s. As the story unfolds, you’ll be moved to tears by the trials and tragedies the characters suffer while also managing to endure and triumph.
2. P.S. I Love You
Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler made audiences believe in love again—while simultaneously breaking their hearts—in 2007’s P.S. I Love You. Swank plays Holly Kennedy, a woman who discovers that her husband, Gerry (Butler), has left behind a series of letters to help her cope with his death after he passes away from a brain tumor. P.S., be prepared for a bout of uncontrollable weeping while you watch this movie.
Brie Larson won the 2016 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a woman held in captivity who is determined to create a happy life for her five-year-old son in the shed where they’re held. When the two finally escape and try to adjust to the outside world, the bond between mother and child is what will get you through this incredibly emotional movie.
Based on the novel of the same name by author Hillary Jordan and directed by Dee Rees, 2017’s Mudbound brought together Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, and Mary J. Blige to tell a story that takes an unflinching look at the issues of race and class in rural Mississippi following World War II. While it’s not always easy to face the realities of injustice and intolerance in our recent history, this film addresses it in such a stirring way that it helps you understand the past and spark hope for a better future.
5. Schindler’s List
In 1993, Steven Spielberg brought the world Schindler’s List, the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during World War II by employing them as workers in his factories. It’s certainly not easy to watch this movie, but sometimes it’s important to face the atrocities that occurred in the past so that we can prevent them from happening again. Not only is it one of the saddest movies on Netflix, but it’s also probably one of the saddest movies ever made.
Disney has a history of making fans cry with incredible kid’s movies that hit you with at least one heartbreaking moment (remember Bambi’s mom, Simba’s dad, and Moana’s grandmother?). Coco is no different. In the 2017 film, we meet Miguel, who enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather and discovers how important family—and music—really is. You’re going to want to give your loved ones a big hug after watching this one.
7. A Beautiful Mind
The 2002 Best Picture Oscar-winner, A Beautiful Mind was inspired by the life of John Nash, a mathematical genius and Nobel Laureate in Economics who deciphered encrypted enemy telecommunications for the U.S. government in the late 1940s. In the film, Russell Crowe takes on the role of Nash as he becomes one of the country’s most respected mathematicians before his life is forever changed by severe mental illness.
Crowe’s performance will bring you to tears more than once, as will Jennifer Connelly as Nash’s wife. The role earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. It’s one of the best sad movies on Netflix that’s also just an amazing film on all accounts.
8. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Another film that deals with the horrifying realities of the Holocaust, 2008’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of two young boys who form a friendship despite the fact that one is the son of a concentration camp officer and the other is a Jewish prisoner. Before we see their bond form from opposite sides of a barbed wire fence, the film begins with a stark quote from John Betjeman, which tells viewers, “Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” *Cue all of the tears.*
If you love your pets and consider them a part of the family, then you’ll definitely get more than a little emotional while watching Okja. The stunning story follows Mija, a child who cares for and loves a giant super pig named Okja. But when an evil CEO (Tilda Swinton) captures the creature for her own nefarious plans, Mija must rescue her beloved friend before it’s too late. But beware: This probably isn’t one of the best sad movies on Netflix to watch if you’re mourning a pet.
10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Some relationships are easily forgettable and others are almost impossible to get over. In 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play a couple that undergoes a medical procedure in order to erase each other from their memories after a particularly painful split. Ranked #6 on the BBC’s list of the 21st century’s 100 greatest films, this story will twist your heart as it delves into both the wonder and torment of love.
11. The English Patient
As a nurse cares for a badly injured man at the end of World War II, his past is revealed through flashbacks that unveil a passionate yet doomed love affair. Both the patient’s fate and his heartbreaking past will bring you to tears in this movie that won nine Academy Awards in 1997 and features captivating performances by Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Sean Penn took home his second Academy Award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, an American activist who fought for gay rights in the 1970s and became the first openly homosexual person to be elected to office in the state of California. Although Milk’s story is one of the most moving and inspiring sad movies on Netflix, the end will leave you a teary mess.
13. The Green Mile
Fans of Stephen King are used to being scared out of their minds by his terrifying stories, but every once in a while he proves that he can also write something that moves audiences to tears. Adapted from the novel of the same name, 1999’s The Green Mile stars Tom Hanks as a death row guard who meets a prisoner (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) with a special gift who has been accused of a horrible crime.
14. Blue Valentine
Not all relationships can stand the test of time. In 2010’s Blue Valentine, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling play a couple caught up in a deteriorating marriage. As you watch the two fall in love and then witness the issues that eventually threaten to tear them apart, you’ll be struck by how precious love can be—especially when it starts to slip away. It’s one of the best sad movies on Netflix to watch if it’s your own love life that’s bringing you down.
15. Avengers: Infinity War
Yes, it’s a comic-book movie. As the 2018 installment in the epic Avengers franchise—and the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—Infinity War brought together a team of everyone’s favorite superheroes to battle the powerful Thanos before he can carry out his evil plan. And while we won’t spoil the story if you haven’t seen it yet (how have you not seen it yet?!), just be prepared to get surprisingly emotional before the credits roll. You should also know that you won’t witness the resolution to this action-packed tear-jerker until its sequel, Avengers: Endgame.