The Best Sad Movies on Netflix

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Not really sure who is out there looking for a cry right now, but everyone hurts and heals in their own way. Be it the middle of a break up or just a hair of existential dread, for some the solution to a bad day (week, month, or even a year) is to sit down and have a good cathartic cry over a coffee table of two pizzas, an order of garlic knots, a small order of french fries, a heavy pour of whiskey, and some Oreos. Not that we’re speaking from any kind of experience.

None of that smorgasbord of sad is really complete without a movie designed to bring you to your metaphorical knees. This is not the time for heart pumping action or spine tingling terror. Nope, you need a good old fashioned weeper. It’s like there’s a special kind of sadness pressure that builds up in your face, only really able to be released when those tear ducts open up. So check out the list below and get you a sob fest. Let it out. We’ll bring the whiskey.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of this A24 film about a six-year-old who lives in a shoddy motel in the shadow of Disney World is that she doesn’t see the sadness in it. With an incredible performance from Willem Dafoe, the story of Moonee is a heartbreaking look into the sadness of poverty and struggle.

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Mudbound is one of those films that will stick with your for days to come. The Dee Rees-directed film is one of Netflix’s originals, following two World War II veterans who return back to Mississippi. Their realities couldn’t be any more different. One family owns the land; the other has spent years working it, and as you can imagine in post-WWII America, the effects of racism and PTSD are a complex and heart-wrenching mix.

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The story of Chris McCandless is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. Emile Hirsch stars as a young man who set out on a journey to discover himself in the Alaskan wilderness, whose nomadic existence bore the name Alexander Supertramp and launched him into a world he was never fully prepared to tackle.

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Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and his wife, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), are getting a divorce, but Nicole wants to raise their son in her hometown, Los Angeles. Charlie is a Broadway director whose career requires that he stay in New York City. They both get lawyers and what was originally an amicable split suddenly involves a lot of emotions and hurt feelings. This Noah Baumbach film, which was nominated for a 2020 Oscar for Best Picture, also stars Laura Dern (Best Supporting Actress nomination), Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and more.

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Alfonso Cuarón’s 2019 Oscar winner is about Cleo, a live-in maid in Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in Mexico City in 1970. She helps Antonio and Sofía take care of their four children. Suddenly, Antonio runs off with his mistress and Cleo finds out she’s pregnant. She goes with Sofía on a trip with the kids to clear their minds.

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First They Killed My Father

This historical thriller film directed and co-written by Angelina Jolie is based on Loung Ung’s memoir of the same name. It tells the story of Ung, who at five years old was trained to be a child soldier in Cambodia while her siblings were sent to labor camps during the Khmer Rouge regime.

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When war breaks out in West Africa, a warlord (Idris Elba) trains a young orphan, Agu (Abraham Attah), to join his group of guerrilla soldiers.

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The Marti Noxon written-and-directed movie stars Lily Collins as a 20-year-old anorexic woman who spent her life as a teenager in recovery programs, where she didn’t make any progress. She finally lands in a group home, where she starts on the path of accepting herself.

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Yes, this movie may be a musical. Yes, some of the songs have an almost-gleeful quality to them. But no one can deny the heroic swansong of a young Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) as he struggles to complete his lifelong work (which, as Broadway fans know, would not be his famous musical Rent) all with the idea of running out of time playing on a continuous loop. FWIW: Garfield’s turn as the playwright recently earned him an Oscar nomination. And judging from the performance, we can see why.

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It’s a story about grief, heartbreak and how a devastating home birth affects a young couple post-devastation. While Vanessa Kirby’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, it’s Shia LaBeouf’s subtle acting which will capture you…all while you’re in the middle of bawling your tears out.

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Based on Jennifer Niven’s best-selling novel, the 2020 film depicts the joys of young love between two outcasts with traumatic pasts in their small Indiana town. But with mental health taking a heavy toll, the end will not only shock you, but it should definitely come with a trigger warning. (No, really—it should).

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Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco take on the roles of siblings in this Netflix original. Franco’s character is addicted to heroin, and all Jacobson’s character wants to do is to get her brother into a detox center. While their blistering dynamic is compelling to watch, it’s watching the story unfold for Franco’s character’s two-year-old daughter which will rip your heart out.

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

In the world of Hollywood, not every shed of tears has to be bad! In fact, this movie based on the true story of a young boy woh uses his smarts to help end the famine in his Malawi village may just give you hope for future generations of the world. We know it did that for us.

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When a music journalist (Gina Rodriguez) gets unexpectedly dumped by her long-term partner just days before leaving for her dream job, it’s easy to say her weekend becomes full of self-exploration, healing…and a whole lot of tears being shed.

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Wow—it’s a young Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried! Taking place over the course of seven years, this romance between civilian and soldier lives exclusively through the two writing love letters to one another. Tell us: Who wouldn’t cry from watching the way they speak about one another?

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The Lighthouse of the Orcas

A mother’s love knows no bounds in this film, where we see a young woman trek with her autistic son across Argentina to see the one thing he shows any emotion towards: a small pod of orcas. Trust us when we say you’ll want to call your own mom after watching this.

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When two teens are both diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, they’re told they need to be at least five feet apart to avoid getting sick. But will love prevail? You’ll have to watch to find out.

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If you’ve ever had to experience dealing with a loved one who has a mental illness, this may resonate with you. Even with all the quirky quips, the heartstrings get pulled.

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What happens when a woman learns she has cancer and has little time left to live? The only logical thing, of course: Find her fiancé a new girlfriend. It’s poignant, funny, and also a moment for you to get emotional thinking about your own loved ones.

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This movie features two parallel love stories. One breathes in the trials and errors of young love, while the other features a long-standing relationship that is about to be tested. When the two stories intertwine, well…you’ll definitely start to feel something.

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Inspired by a true story, Kevin Hart plays a widowed dad who’s trying to figure out how to raise his young daughter without his partner. If it’s not the moments of doubt, fear or heartache you relate to, you’ll definitely cry from the sheer love Hart’s character feels for his child.

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Zac Efron stars as a young Marine who finds the photo of an unknown woman while on leave. When he comes home, there’s only one thing he needs to do: find the woman who he credits for saving his life. It’s a tale full of love, romance, and the importance of belief when you feel like there’s nothing left.

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Yet another take on the classic Romeo and Juliet trope. Will it make you cry? Maybe. But be sure to read the English subtitles before you start doing so.

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Kids of the 1990s, prepare to cry from nostalgia. Or maybe from the inevitable ending that we all somehow can’t get out of our minds. Either way, we all know this coming-of-age story of a young girl experiencing love and loss for the first time.

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This movie is not just about a high school girl who’s had to live a tough life in the foster system. She wants to reconnect with her ex-con father the only way she knows how: by joining a boys wrestling team. This movie has a lot of grit, but there’s an overwhelming feeling of love that will make you maybe shed the tear you weren’t expecting.

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In the 1980s, Alex Lewis wakes up from a coma with his memory gone. With the help of his twin brother, Marcus, he starts relearning who he was before—but not before Marcus chooses to hide serious news that could change how Alex looks at his family forever…

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Michael B. Jordan stars as Oscar, a young man trying to take care of his girlfriend and daughter after spending time in prison. While he’s at first unsuccessful, his life eventually takes a turn nobody sees coming.

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Starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet (yup, an iconic duo), a young woman is just trying to figure out her life before going to college. But when her dad loses his job, well…the stress may be too much for anyone (including the viewer) to bear.

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This movie is both trippy and incredibly sad. When two parents adopt a young boy following the death of their first child, they notice strange things begin to happen. They eventually realize their adopted son’s dreams are becoming reality, and that there’s nothing stopping the family from making their new child feel like he was always one of their own.

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This movie is not just the story of a woman spending the night at a local police station to find out where her missing son is. It’s also a nuanced story about racial tensions, and how they could surface at any second, at any place.

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Talk about the perfect rom-com. When Tim (Domhnall Gleason) learns that every man in his family can travel in time and change their own lives, he decides to go back and win the woman of his dreams. Which, given how it’s Rachel McAdams, we could see why he chooses to do so.

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You’ve read the story as a child. Now it’s time to see the story of a young girl who’s trying to learn how to be a grown up play out on screen.

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Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a young New York Post reporter who starts getting stricken with seizures, psychosis, and memory loss. While she looks for a diagnosis and cure, it’s up to doctors to figure out what caused this. If it makes you question how the brain truly works, then this movie has done its job.

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The Fundamentals of Caring

After suffering a personal loss, a retired writer decides to take on a job as a caregiver to a disabled teen. When the two embark on a road trip in search of national landmarks, they discover what the true meaning of hope and friendship is about.

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