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40 Best Sad Movies on Netflix to Stream When You Need to Let It All Out

From tragic teen romances to historical dramas, there's every type of cry.

best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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1
The Lost Daughter (2021)
dakota johnson and olivia colman search a beach in a scene from the lost daughter, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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2
Fatherhood (2021)
kevin hart holds a baby in a scene from fatherhood, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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3
Pieces of a Woman (2021)
a close up of vanessa kirby in pieces of a woman, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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4
The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021)
shailene woodley and callum turner embrace in a scene from last letter from your lover, a good housekeeping pick for best romantic movies
Studiocanal

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.

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5
The Midnight Sky (2020)
an adult scientist stands with a child against the northern lights in a scene from the midnight sky, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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6
I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
a couple sits together on a couch, looking uncomfortable, in a scene from i'm thinking of ending things, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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7
All the Bright Places (2020)
elle fanning and justice smith embrace in a scene from all the bright places, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

Based on the bestselling book by Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places seems on the surface like a teen romance. But as the two main characters, played by Elle Fanning and Justice Smith, get to know each other better, they reveal truths about living with mental illness.

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8
Worth (2020)
a closeup of michael keaton in a scene from worth, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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9
Horse Girl (2020)
a close up of alison brie in a scene from horse girl, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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10
Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
amy adams leans against a car in a scene from hillbilly elegy, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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11
If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)
an animated image of parents hugging a baby from if anything happens i love you, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

This is a short animated film, only 12 minutes long, but it's probably the saddest thing on all of Netflix: It follows parents who have lost their daughter to a school shooting. It was made in close conjunction with Everytown for Gun Safety.

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12
Marriage Story (2019)
two parents share a kiss while a child cringes in a scene from marriage story, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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13
Five Feet Apart (2019)
a close up of haley lu richardson with a tube in her nose in a scene from five feet apart, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflixa close up of haley lu richardson with a tube in her nose in a scene from five feet apart, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
CBS Films

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.

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14
Irreplaceable You (2018)
the sun shines as a couple embraces in an image for irreplaceable you, a family embraces emotionally on the beach in a black and white scene from roma, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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15
Roma (2018)
a family embraces emotionally on the beach in a black and white scene from roma, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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RELATED: The Best Netflix Original Movies, Ranked

16
First Match (2018)
a close up of elvire emanuelle in a scene from first match, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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17
Mudbound (2017)
a close up of mary j blige in a scene from mudbound, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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RELATED: Classic Movies on Netflix That'll Make You Feel Extra Nostalgic

18
Our Souls at Night (2017)
robert redford and jane fonda walk with their arms around each other in a scene from our souls at night, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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19
The Zookeeper's Wife (2017)
a woman holds a lion cub in a scene from the zookeeper's wife, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Focus Features

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.

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20
To the Bone (2017)
an illustrated close up profile view of ellen for to the bone, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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21
Kodachrome (2017)
three people lean against a car in an image that has a rainbow tint from incorrect photo processing in an image for kodachrome, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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22
Brain on Fire (2016)
a close up of a young woman played by chloe grace moretz in a scene from brain on fire, two students stand in front of a crowd in an animated scene from a silent voice, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

Based on the memoir by Susannah Cahalan, this movie follows a young reporter who searches for a reason behind her seizures, psychosis and memory loss. It's a tearjerker that also acts like a medical mystery.

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RELATED: The Best Irish Movies on Netflix

23
A Silent Voice (2016)
two students stand in front of a crowd in an animated scene from a silent voice, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Shochiku

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?

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24
Collateral Beauty (2016)
will smith stands in a crowd in a scene from collateral beauty, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Warner Bros. Pictures

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.

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25
By the Sea (2015)
a couple sits on opposite ends of a bed in a scene from by the sea, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Universal Pictures

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.

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26
6 Years (2015)
young people laugh and sleep in a car in a scene from 6 years, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
The Orchard

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.

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27
Philomena (2013)
judi dench and steeve coogan ride a golf car through an airport in a scene from philomena, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Alex Bailey/20th Century Fox

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.

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28
Les Misérables (2012)
students get ready for rebellion in a scene from les miserables, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Universal Pictures

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.

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29
Dear John (2010)
amanda seyfried and channing tatum lean in close in a scene from dear john, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Screen Gems

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.

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30
Into the Wild (2007)
into the wild, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix, stars emilie hirsch as christopher mccandless, who lived out in the alaskan wilderness
Paramount Vantage

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.

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31
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
michelle yeoh and ziyi zhang star in a scene from memoirs of a geisha, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Sony Pictures Releasing

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.

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32
Big Fish (2003)
big fish is a gh pick for ultimate father's day movie or dad movie

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.

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33
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
winona ryder and angelina jolie sit with their backs to a wall in a scene from girl interrupted, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Columbia Pictures

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.

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34
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
a boat full of soldiers approaches the beach in a scene from saving private ryan, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
DreamWorks Pictures

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.

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35
Titanic (1997)
jack holds rose's hand as if he's about to kiss it in a scene from titanic, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Everett Collection

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.

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36
Little Women (1994)
four daughters gather around marmie in a scene from little women, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Netflix

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.

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37
A RIver Runs Through It (1992)
two brothers stand in front of an old timey car in a scene from a river runs through it, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Columbia Pictures

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.

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38
My Girl (1991)
vada and thomas j kiss in a scene from my girl, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Courtesy Everett Collection

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.

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39
Awakenings (1990)
a close up of robert deniro and robin williams in awakenings, a good housekeeping pick for best sad movies on netflix
Columbia Pictures

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.

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40
Steel Magnolias (1989)
steel magnolias, tcm big screen classics 2019
TriStar Pictures

"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.

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