There are so many days when we want to do nothing more than laugh, smile, and enjoy all the good things in life, but then there are others where we're just feeling a bit more moody. Maybe it's been a while since we've had a good cry, maybe we're frustrated about a plan gone to pieces, but whatever the cause of our blues may be, feeling sad can happen. When that mood hits you, you can always turn to one of the best sad movies on Netflix.
We scrolled through the Netflix library to zero in on the types of movies that meet this raw emotion. From long-standing classics to new favorites, as well as stories based on true events and tales rooted in fiction, these are the 30 sad movies on Netflix that you should watch when you're feeling blue. They won't exactly cheer you up, but they will let you stay in that melancholy space until you're ready for something new.
Here are our picks for the best sad movies on Netflix right now.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Looking at Ryan Gosling for two hours can't be too sad, right? That's the silver lining of this dramatic indie film, although you're likely to get swept up in his and Michelle Williams's strong performances, too. They play a struggling couple on the verge of divorce who decide to take a short vacation to get away from some stress at home. The story flashes back and forth between their initial courtship and present issues and shows how their hopes for the future eventually panned out. It's a story about love and expectations, as well as harsh realities and disappointments.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
There's a good chance that you might have heard about this movie, which won Matthew McConaughey an Oscar, but you should make time to see it. McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a man who is diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s when the disease lacked societal understanding, medical research, and viable treatments. After he is ostracized from his loved ones and loses his job and home—all while given 30 days to live—he tries to find medicine to save his life. He finds a promising drug with help from a disgraced doctor, but it's illegal in the U.S.,so he decides to smuggle and sell it to other HIV-positive people.
First They Killed My Father (2017)
This Angelina Jolie–directed film follows Loung Ung's 2000 memoir of the same name, which takes place as the Khmer Rouge captures the capital of Cambodia and rules it from 1975 to 1979. Loung and her family are forced to leave their home and go to a labor camp, where all of their possessions are confiscated from them, and they are told to build their own shelters and work without food. Soon after, Loung's family separates—she sees her father taken away by officials—and she's then recruited to be a soldier for the regime. There's obviously a lot to take in, and it's even more difficult to do so from a child's perspective.
Schindler's List (1993)
This true story, which is often referred to as a Steven Spielberg masterpiece, follows Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) as he eventually saves the lives of more than 1200 Jews during World War II. At the beginning of the movie, he's a businessman living in Krakow, Poland, and a member of the Nazi party. His connections allow him to open a factory, where he hires Jewish workers. But as the war escalates, he realizes that the factory can be a way to protect them. It's a difficult movie to watch, but its honest look at the horrors of the Holocaust is worth it.
Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in California, who helped to galvanize the activist movement in San Francisco during the 1970s. As the movie shows how Milk rose to his level of stature—doing so, in part, with archival footage—it also depicts the tenuous relationship he had with Dan White, the fellow politician who murders him in his office. It's a biopic that gives an accurate look at this electric yet difficult time period, while also showcasing the same human rights debates we're still having today.
It's not that hard to be sad at some point during a Pixar movie, but Coco might be the one that really turns on those emotions. The story centers around the revered Mexican holiday El Día de los Muertos, and a boy named Miguel who is trapped in the land of the dead when he decides to become a musician against his family's wishes. Of course, you won't be sad the entire time you watch this movie—the colorful 3D scenery is just one thing that will put a smile on your face—but there will be some details that make you misty.
Based on the 2010 novel of the same name, this movie centers around Brie Larson's character, a woman who has been held captive for seven years. She's had a son in that captivity, a 5-year-old boy, and together they live in a shed they call "room." She makes her son believe that the outside world only exists on TV, but one day the two find a way to escape. It's a story about resilience and imagination, and we won't be too surprised if you ugly cry.
The Imitation Game (2014)
There's a lot about this story that should fill you with pride, but there are also aspects to it that are more than sad. The movie focuses on a secret British intelligence team that's tasked with breaking the Enigma Nazi codes during World War II. At the helm of this seemingly insurmountable task is mathematician Alan Turing, who devises a plan to build a machine that eventually outwits the Enigma. But instead of returning to a quiet life after the war is over—with a few secretly knowing what he did to end it—Alan is arrested for being gay.
P.S. I Love You (2007)
This movie has it all: romance, beautiful Irish scenery, and Gerard Butler. But have tissues handy. Hilary Swank's character loses her husband (Butler) to a brain tumor, and revisits all the places they fell in love. It's impossible to watch with dry eyes.
My Sister's Keeper (2009)
This movie covers terminal illness, emancipation, and familial strife, so it'll definitely tug at your heartstrings. Based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, it follows a 13-year-old girl suing her parents for medical emancipation. She learns she was genetically designed (via in vitro fertilization) to donate body parts to her older sister, who is dying from cancer.
The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (2008)
Taking place in Poland during World War II, this film follows a young boy who befriends another boy on the other side of the fence. Unbeknownst to him, he's a Jewish prisoner. It's based on John Boyne's 2006 novel of the same name.
To The Bone (2017)
Lily Collins stars in this 2017 Netflix original drama, following a 20-year-old girl with anorexia nervosa. She enters various recovery programs, but only gets lighter each time. It's a journey of self-discovery that's oftentimes painful to watch, but so poignant.
Seven Pounds (2008)
This classic Will Smith movie is always a good choice when you just need a good cry. Smith's character, an IRS agent, tries to improve the lives of seven strangers in need of a second chance. Smith delivers a powerful and emotional performance.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
There's no better choice for a girl's night than this chick flick, starring Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel. Expect plenty of coming of age struggles, heartbreak, and family drama. (Plus some Blake Lively hair envy).
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
You won't cry throughout the whole movie, but the Disney flick will definitely pull at your heartstrings at times. A young girl travels through time, using the power of love as well as science to find her dad. The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Oprah, Chris Pine, and more, giving it an all-star cast.
Brain on Fire (2016)
This movie follows a young New York reporter, played by Chloe Moretz, in search of a diagnosis for her recurring seizures and memory loss. Though doctors are baffled, she's determined to find an answer. It's heartbreaking to watch as this mystery illness devastates her mind and body.
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
It wouldn't be a sad movies list without a Nicholas Sparks adapted flick on it. This one follows Diane Lane and Richard Gere, who are stranded in coastal North Carolina following a hurricane. Expect romance—and lots of tears.
Now and Then (1995)
Your favorite 90's film has finally come to Netflix, and it's just as good as you remember it. The coming of age film is a hefty dose of nostalgia as four girlfriends recall a past summer they spent together in 1970. Get ready for the best of seventies music, fashion, and definitely a few tears.
Little Women (1994)
The classic novel is just as tear-jerking as a movie as it was as a book. Before Greta Gerwig's new adaptation, starring Emma Watson and Saorsie Ronan, hits theaters in 2019, revisit the classic flick on Netflix. The original version even earned Winona Ryder an Oscar nomination for her performance.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
This film is the story of how Walt Disney obtained the rights to the book, Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks delivers another flawless performance, while Emma Thompson is touching as author P.L. Travers. Expect nostalgia and heartwarming Disney magic—the kind that always stirs up a tear or two.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
A Netflix original film, this movie follows a London writer, Lily James, who travels to the island of Guernsey, learning about the book club a few friends there formed during the WWII German occupation. It's a story of romance, friendship, and history, and you'll definitely be shedding some tears.
What a Girl Wants (2003)
This Amanda Bynes film is a typical chick flick, but that doesn't mean you won't get emotional, particularly towards the end. The coming of age film follows a young girl getting to know the father she's never met. There's also Colin Firth, and plenty of London scenery to inspire your wanderlust.
Irreplaceable You (2018)
When a girl is diagnosed with cancer, she decides to find a new love for her fiancé and best friend since childhood. She finds that focusing on what comes next makes her miss out on the "now." It's a little bit humorous in parts, but for the most part: Cue the waterworks.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
This film, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, is about a high school romance between an unlikely couple. He's hard-partying, she's driven and focused. It the story of a first love, and is heartfelt, emotional, and inspiring.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
There's plenty to laugh about in this Julia Roberts movie, in addition to major food and travel envy, but the real-life tale will also spur on some tears. It's a movie about finding yourself, spirituality, and love, set in Rome, India, and Bali.
Then Came You (2019)
See Maisie Williams step outside of Game of Thrones in this quirky comedy about a terminally ill teen girl (Wiliams) enlisting the help of a hypochondriac to help her complete her bucket list. You'll cry, you'll laugh—basically, you'll feel all the feels.
The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
Paul Rudd takes on a heavier role, starring in this dark comedy with Selena Gomez. Rudd stars as a caregiver to a young boy suffering from muscular dystrophy, and the two take a road trip together. It's an inspirational story of friendship, and it'll have you weeping.
Mamma Mia (2008)
When you want to laugh, cry, sing, and dance—go with Mamma Mia. It's filled with music, gorgeous Greek scenery, some of your favorite actors (Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, and Pierce Brosnan, among others), and there will definitely be a few tears by the end. Warning: It'll make you want to hug your mom.
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