20 Of The Best Sad Movies On Netflix For When You Need A Good Cry

Here’s a bunch of sad movies on Netflix that’ll make you sob so hard into your pillow, you’ll need a new one. Might I suggest chucking on “Cellophane” by FKA Twigs to amp up the sadness?

Do you ever just yearn to feel something? Yearn to cry and just roll around in your sheets out of sadness? Well, I’ve got a bunch of material that’ll truly feed into that – erm – yearning, I guess. 

This time around, it’s not a playlist packed with sad songs – DM me if you’d like some recommendation that’s NOT Sam Smith – but it’s a bunch of all the saddest, tear-jerking, emotional movies on Netflix. 

So, if you’re in need of a big boohoo, here are all the sad movies on Netflix right now. 

The Best Sad Movies On Netflix

1. I Am Sam (2002)

(Image source: Netflix)

I’m not going to lie to you. Every time I see a slither of this movie on TikTok, I either quickly swipe up to skip it or purposely press “I’m not interested” so that I’ll never see it again, it’s that sad. 

I Am Sam follows the story of Sam (Sean Penn), a man with special needs, and his fight for the custody of his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning) with the help of a powerful lawyer (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Throughout the film, viewers get to explore Sam’s relationship with the world, his daughter and his struggles. It’s truly a brutal watch, but it’s kinda one of those flicks you need to see at least once in your life. 

2. Once Were Warriors (1994)

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Just like I Am Sam, everytime I see a single second of this flick during my daily doomscroll, I immediately skip because of how heavy it is.

Once We Warriors is a brutal story that takes place in the Aotearora and follows a poverty stricken Maori family. A lot of the subjects Once Were Warriors touches are extremely dark and raw. 

Just a heads up before you watch this one: it does contain portrayals of domestic violence, mentions of rape and suicide. 

3. Canvas (2020) 

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I feel like I sob the most to short animated films more than I do to full-length blockbusters that star ‘yuge names.

Well, if you’re looking for a quick cry, look no further than Netflix’s Canvas. A nine minute film where a grandfather grapples with heartbreak and emotions after a massive loss in his life. As he battles these difficult emotions, he attempts to find passion for painting again. 

It’s quick, it’s straightforward and you will cry buckets. 

4. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

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I remember the first time I watched this film. It was in Year 4 and I had to be ushered out of class because I was crying so uncontrollably that they had to call my mother to calm me down. 

I’ve since been able to watch the movie, but it still just hurts knowing that it’s real, especially seeing the terrible impacts of the Stolen Generation.

Rabbit-Proof Fence follows the story of three Aboriginal girls who were ripped away from their mothers during the Stolen Generation. The girls managed to escape and return home by walking beside a rabbit-proof fence. 

It’s a sad but truly important movie to watch. 

5. The Unforgivable (2020)

The Unforgivable – starring Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis – follows the life of a convicted murderer, her attempt to rejoin society and her quest to locate her little sister, who she left when she was sent to prison. 

Sandra Bullock absolutely nails her performance in this flick (doesn’t she always?), which was made evident by my gasps and silent sobs.

6. The Impossible (2012)

Unlike I Am Sam and Once Were Warriors, I actually always stop to watch the clips of The Impossible when it comes up on my feed.

The flick follows a family, who are enjoying a vacation in Thailand before being brutally torn apart when a devastating tsunami hits. 

What I find really sad is seeing the aftermath of the tsunami and all the death and destruction the wave brought to Thailand. 

7. End Game (2018) 

Being completely candid here, but death scares me. I hate the uncertainty, as well as the FOMO that comes with dying, because you miss out on what happens on earth. 

Although the topic is extremely daunting, Netflix documentary End Game tackles the subject by following terminally ill patients, their family and medical practitioners on how they approach death. 

It’s straightforward, raw and interesting – a good watch if you want to feel something. But I must warn you, the emotional moments stay with you for a while after you’ve watched it.

8. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

This one – overall – is definitely not a “sad movie” but it has its sad moments, so I’m adding to the moody mix.

Slumdog Millionaire follows the story of Jamal Malik (played by my boyfriend Dev Patel) who’s accused of cheating on a game show. As he reveals the stories behind his answers, we’re treated to flashbacks of Jamal’s life which have influenced his answers and life choices.

It’s a bittersweet tale, but on the plus side it birthed “Jai Ho” by the Pussycat Dolls and A. R. Rahman. A true gift to us all.

9. If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)

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This animated film is just 12 minutes long and not a single word is said in it. And yet here I am sobbing.

If Anything Happens I Love You won the Oscar for best animated short film at the 2021 Academy Awards.

10. All The Bright Places (2020)

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Based on the internationally bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven, All The Bright Places tells the story of Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith), who meet and change each other’s lives.

This is a drama about the experience of mental illness, its impact on relationships, and young love.

So yeah, it’s gonna be devastating.

11. Someone Great (2019)

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Because we’re deep in “sad movies on Netflix” territory, I’ve got to chuck in a break-up movie.

Someone Great stars Gina Rodriguez as Jenny, a newly dumped music journalist struggling to get over her ex-boyfriend Nate (my husband LaKeith Stanfield). She recruits her two best mates Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) to go on one last bender before she leaves New York City to start a new chapter.

I just thought Someone Great was really relatable in a sad, awful way. My single mate said this movie made her feel like she just got dumped, so there’s that.

12. Marriage Story (2019)

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From Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story tracks the crumbling marriage and subsequent divorce between Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson).

I watched this one just to see what the fuss was about. I made it all the way through without crying, and then the last few scenes just caused an absolute waterfall of tears.

13. Irreplaceable You (2018)

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Irreplaceable You is the story of Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman), best friends since childhood who are engaged to be married. Their lives come crashing down when Abbie receives an unexpected diagnosis, totally upending their lives as they know it.

Okay, I know this is definitely supposed to be a typical sad movie, but I haven’t watched it yet and the reviews aren’t great. In saying that, I can’t think of a film or TV show with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in it that I didn’t like, so I’m going to tentatively put it on the list and hope for the best.

14. First They Killed My Father (2017)

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From director/actor Angelina Jolie, First They Killed My Father is a film based on the 2000 memoir of the same name by Loung Ung.

Ung, an author and human rights activist, recounts the horrors she suffered as a child under the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

15. To The Bone (2017)

(Image source: Netflix)

To The Bone follows Ellen (Lily Collins), a 20-year-old anorexic young woman who spent the better part of her teen years being shepherded through different recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time.

Determined to help her, her dysfunctional family agrees to send her to a group home for youths, led by a non-traditional doctor played by Keanu Reeves.

This is not an easy watch, let me just say that.

16. Blue Jay (2016)

(Image source: Netflix)

Blue Jay is an indie film starring Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass as former high school sweethearts Amanda and Jim. As the classic romance trope goes, they run into each other at a grocery store after 20 years.

A cup of coffee turns into beer and then suddenly Amanda and Jim are spiralling back into their past and what could’ve been.

I remember watching this and thinking it was just so bittersweet.

17. Beasts of No Nation (2015)

(Image source: Netflix)

From director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), and set in West Africa, Beasts of No Nation follows Agu (Abraham Attah), a young villager whose days consisted of playing with his older brother, making mischief with his mates at a nearby refugee camp and eating lots of dinners.

But that all changed when army troops from the capital city arrive to squelch a rebellion against the country’s corrupt regime.

Beasts of No Nation is a very, very heavy watch.

17. Red Dog (2012)

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Oh dear lord, the amount of tears I’ve shed over dog movies. They’re just SO. PURE.

Red Dog isn’t a sad movie the entire time. In fact, it’s actually a blooming good time until the last third of it, where you’ll be sobbing into your blankies while you watch a dog search high and low for his owner.

Would my dog do that for me? Absolutely not. But Red Dog would, and that’s all that matters.

Name him as the mayor! Make him the Prime Minister! Give him jewels! Anything for Red Dog!

18. Boy (2010)

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If you’ve got daddy issues, look away now. Or if you’re anything like me and love torturing yourself incessantly, settle in, babe!

Directed by Taika Waititi (who I would love to be my daddy), it’s the perfect blend between belly laughs so hard you’ll get an ab workout and soul-crushing disappointment and devastation that’ll have you crawled up in a ball for days.

Despite the peachy exterior, you’ll want to get your tissues ready.

19. Room (2015)

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Oh boy, do NOT enter into this film lightly.

It follows a woman (played by Brie Larson) and her young son (Jacob Tremblay) who are held captive in a small room for years. The movie is often told through the eyes of the young boy, making for a very emotional and gripping story.

It’s a complete and utter nightmare and honestly, you’d be tempted to turn off your TV at many intervals during it.

Now that’s my kind of sad movie!

20. A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

(Image source: Netflix)

ANOTHER sad dog movie? Yes sirreee!

If you’ve ever looked at your pup and wanted to spontaneously burst into tears (same), then A Dog’s Purpose is the sad movie of your dreams.

It follows the journey of one very good dog who discovers that his meaning in life is to make his humans happy and laugh and love. A VERY GOOD DOG, INDEED.

It sounds happy and peachy but don’t be fooled, you’ll be giddy one moment and bawling your eyes out the next. The most cooked emotional rollercoaster of your life.

If your eyes are still in your head after weeping over all these movies, maybe you feel like tackling a different genre next?

Try our list of the best horror movies on Netflix HERE, or for more variety, our roundup of the best movies on Netflix HERE.