No doubt, one of the best reasons to watch good movies is the rush of emotion they give you. But, while romantic movies get your heart fluttering and scary movies make your pulse pound, tearjerker fans know that, when you really need a catharsis, sad movies are the way to go. And science backs it up: Crying is a form of stress relief, the American Psychological Association noted in a recent journal article.
And, if you're looking for a good cry, Netflix has a whole library of weepies at your disposal. The best sad movies on Netflix cross genre boundaries. Some are romantic movies, following star-crossed loves that are never meant to be. Others are historical dramas, trying to put our pasts into perspectives. And then we have teen movies, since emotions are never rawer than when you're in your adolescent years. Many are based on true-life stories, and knowing they're about real people just makes the emotions hit even harder. And a few are a little of everything, those movies that have you in stitches in one moment, sobbing the next and clutching your warmed heart at the end. When you fire up one of those films, just make sure you have the box of tissues close at hand.
In The Lost Daughter, Olivia Colman plays an academic on a solo vacation when an incident at the beach gets her thinking about all the decision's she'd made in her life, and how things might've been different. It dwells in the sadness of missed possibilities.
Kevin Hart is known for being a comedian, but Fatherhood is a movie that strives to give audiences all the feels. It's based on the book Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin, a man who, after his wife dies soon after childbirth, has to learn how to raise his daughter alone.
Director Kornél Mundruczó and writer Kata Wéber based this movie on their own experiences with infant loss, so it's intensely personal as well as powerful. In the film, Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf play a couple who figure out if it's possible to move on after their baby does not survive childbirth.
Nothing brings up the waterworks faster than tales of lost love. This movie recounts a romance unfolding in the '60s, and a reporter in the present day who uncovers their correspondence and goes searching for what happened to all the parties involved.
This movie begins as humans are evacuating Earth as the result of a global catastrophe, so there's a lot of end-of-the-world sadness right off the bat. George Clooney plays a scientist who is one of the few who stays behind, and he forges an emotional bond with the crew of a spaceship as he tries to warn them not to return to the planet.
This movie is ostensibly a break-up film, but since its from director Charlie Kaufman — who also wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — it's anything but straightforward. It's sad, confusing, cerebral, disturbing and surreal, all at the same time.
All movies about 9/11 are, on some level, harrowing — the events were just too horrific. Worth is about answering an impossible question: How much is a life worth, and who gets to be compensated when one is lost? The film stars Michael Keaton as Kenneth Feinberg, the man who must figure it out for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
If you only know actress Alison Brie from comedies like Community or Glow, you won't believe she's the same actress in this movie. In it she plays Sarah, a seemingly shy woman who enjoys crafts and visiting her old horse. As the movie goes on, she starts to experience lost time and other strange coincidences, and her life suffers when no one believes her explanations for everything that's happening to her.
Ron Howard directed this movie, based on a memoir by J.D. Vance, who chronicled how poverty, drugs and other forces affect his family and community in his rural hometown. It hops around in time, from his childhood to adulthood, but mostly take place over a period when Vance has to leave Yale Law School, where he's a fish out of water, to help with his mother, who struggles with addiction.
Noah Baumbach's Best Picture-nominated film takes close, unflinching look at a family going through divorce. From tender moments to blow-out fights, the movie really makes you feel for everyone involved.
Contrivances often keep couples apart in movies, but in Five Feet Apart, the obstacle between the two leads is deadly serious: Both have cystic fibrosis, which means they can't get within five feet of each other or else it could cause medical complications. And yet, they still manage to change each other's lives.
Another sad romance: From childhood through their engagement, Abbie and Sam have known they're a perfect match. But when Abbie is diagnosed with cancer, it changes the course of their entire future. Now, she's figuring out whether she should plan her partner's future without her or try her best to live in the present.
This Oscar-nominated film follows a year in the life of Cleo, a maid for a middle class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Dealing with the break-up of the family that employs her and an unexpected pregnancy, she and the family adapt to their new normal.
First Match has a toughness behind its sadness: After years in foster care, Mo finds her home in the wrestling ring. On a mission to reconnect with her estranged biological father, Mo tells a story of a fight that's as emotional as it is physical.
This film follows two families from different backgrounds, yet live on the same plot of land. But when son from each family returns from World War II, they develop an unexpected friendship that contradicts (and rejects) their Mississippi homeland's racist roots.
Our Souls at Night is a movie about loneliness, and what people do to push back against it. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda play two people who, after losing their spouses, start sleeping in the same bed platonically as a form of companionship.
Like many World War II stories, The Zookeeper's Wife is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It tells the true story of the couple who ran the Warsaw zoo, and used its tunnels to help Jewish families evade and escape Nazis.
Lily Collins stars as Ellen, a 20-year-old dropout struggling with anorexia. She's convinced to join an in-patient treatment program, where she bonds with the other residents but still continues to lose weight and struggles to gain control.
While many of these films were based on real-life stories that were turned into books, this one has its roots in a New York Times article. It focuses on Matt Ryder, a man who must take his estranged father, a famous photographer, on a road trip to the last photo processing place that can develop Kodachrome film.
Animated films from Japan have included some of the most critically acclaimed tearjeakers in recent years, like Your Name, Weathering With You and this one. It follows a high school student and former bully who tries to track down the deaf girl he once tormented. But is it too late for redemption?
There's a magical, almost Dickensian quality to Collateral Beauty. It stars Will Smith as a man who is grieving after a personal tragedy. Only instead of being visited by the spirits of the past, present and future, he tries to cope by writing letters to Love, Time, and Death.
A stylish couple heads to a fancy hotel on a beautiful coast — what could be sad about that? As they befriend the couple in the next room, it becomes clear that they're there to try and get through a rocky patch in their relationship, and things get (much) worse before they could even begin to think about getting better. The movie was directed by Angelina Jolie, and co-stars her then-real-life husband Brad Pitt.
Melanie and Dan have been together for six years, but a new job (and new lust) threatens to tear them apart. With intimacy, volatility and heartbreak, it'll make you nostalgic about your first love.
Philomena is based around a real-life tragic circumstance: Philomena Lee, as an older woman, is searching for the child she was coerced into giving up for adoption when she was younger. But, in the hands of stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, there are many lighthearted moments.
Adapted from the Broadway smash, this sung-through musical is set against the backdrop of France's 1832 June Rebellion, and how the events affect a group of intersecting lives in Paris. Anne Hathaway won her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for this film, for a solo song that definitely moved many to tears.
This movie is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the same author who wrote The Notebook, so you know it's going to be a tearjerker. It tells the story of John (Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), a couple whose relationship unfolds through letters after John is deployed.
Into the Wild tells the sad, true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who decided to leave civilization and try and live on his own in the wilds of Alaska. The film was directed by Sean Penn based on the book by John Krakauer.
This epic follows the life of Chiyo Sakamoto, from her poor beginnings to her successful career as a geisha, and the several setbacks and heartbreaks in between. It has an all-star cast that includes Michelel Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe.
The premise of Big Fish is indeed a sad one: It's about a man, Will Bloom, who returns to his home in Alabama to see his dying father. But his dad has a knack for telling tall tales, and Will listening to his father regale him of stories of his youth brings the emotions to another level.
Girl, Interrupted is a story of female friendship and personal discovery, all set inside the walls of a psychiatric hospital. At first, Susanna (Winona Ryder) rebels against her stay there, but discovers more about herself when she befriends the other patients, especially Lisa (Angelina Jolie). The role earned Jolie her only Oscar win to date.
From the opening minutes of this movie, which thrust viewers into the chaos and destruction of Omaha Beach on D-Day, you know you're going to be in for an emotional ride. The mission of the film is to rescue Private Ryan and send him back to his mother, who lost all her other children to the war, and it spends a lot of time on the question on the true cost of war's casualties.
Is Titanic a sad movie, or is it the sad movie? The film follows a tragic love story set against the backdrop of the historic shipwreck, which means there's plenty of opportunities to cry.
Little Women is nothing if not a story of perseverance through sadness. The coming-of-age story follows a family living through the Civil War, and all the tragedies that brings. And yet, even in dark times, they're able to find some joy in their togetherness.
Fathers and sons — do they ever really see eye to eye? This film, directed by Robert Redford, tells the story of the Maclean family of rural Montana. The family patriarch is a stern reverend, and his two sons rebel in different ways, but they still manage to bond over fishing.
For people of a certain age (ahem), this coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old girl growing up with a single father in a small town might've been the first truly devastating movie you've ever watched. And yet, if you were to put it on again, the heartbreak feels fresh.
There's something about Robin Williams's performances: Sure, he can make you laugh at the wiggle of a finger. But once he gets into serious mode, the waterworks turns on full blast. In Awakenings, he plays the real-life Dr. Malcolm Sayer, who uses an experimental drug to awaken people from a catatonic state. Robert DeNiro co-stars as the first patient to receive the drug.
"You'll laugh, you'll cry," is a cliche that's often used to describe movies, but for Steel Magnolias, it happens to be true. A story about the strong bonds between women, it's the perfect pick when you want to have a girls' night in.