17 of the Best Sad Movies to Watch When You Need a Good Cry

Emma Specter

It's—to say the least—a stressful time right now, with self-isolation occasionally leading to tears over the smallest things. If you're not into crying no matter how tough things get, may I just extol the practice's virtues for a second? Shedding emotional tears is scientifically proven to release oxytocin and endorphins (that's why you sometimes feel refreshed or more calm after a good cry).

Below, find a list of our all-time favorite sad movies that are all but guaranteed to induce a cathartic crying jag.

The Notebook (2004)

I mean, can we even talk about sad movies without talking about The Notebook? This Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams-led romantic drama that tracks a couple from youthful intoxication to old age is emotionally potent enough to make you tear up anytime you hear the phrase "It's not over." (Watch it on Amazon.)

Bambi (1942)

Nobody gets the tears flowing freely like Walt Disney, with this animated classic about a baby deer who gets tragically separated from his mother. Yes, he makes forest friends, but that scene with the hunter traumatized generations of kids. (Watch it on Amazon.)

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

This movie about a teenage cancer patient who falls in love with a boy in her support group is guaranteed to destroy you, every time. Damn you, John Green! (Watch it on Amazon.)

Titanic (1997)

Our hearts will go on, as will our love for this ocean-set classic that sees Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in career-defining roles as a pair of star-crossed lovers who—spoiler alert—meet an epically tragic end. (Watch it on Amazon.)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Okay, all the Harry Potter movies contain some element of sob-worthiness, but this one stands apart because it's the one where—well, a certain beloved character dies. Are we just supposed to get through that scene without weeping? (Watch it on Amazon.)

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Nobody jogs a tear like Meryl Streep, who plays a housewife engaged in a brief and tumultuous affair with traveling photographer Clint Eastwood in this sobfest of a romantic drama. (Watch on Amazon or Hulu with HBO.)

My Girl (1991)

Long before she stole scenes as Amy Brookheimer on Veep, Anna Chlumsky was an apple-cheeked kid hanging out with her nerdy best friend Macaulay Culkin, before he's taken from the world in a freak accident that will have you mildly afraid of the outdoors for the rest of your life. (Watch it on Amazon or Netflix.)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The all-too-real heartbreak of forgetting is explored metaphorically in this Michel Gondry-directed, Charlie Kaufman-penned movie about an estranged couple who opt to erase one another from their memories (but at what cost?). (Watch it on Amazon or Hulu with a Starz subscription.)

The Color Purple (1985)

This coming-of-age period drama is carried by Whoopi Goldberg, who gives the emotional performance of a lifetime in embodying abuse survivor Celie. (Watch it on Amazon.)

Terms of Endearment (1983)

What is it with '80s movies and tearjerking plots? This James L. Brooks comedy-drama about a young woman diagnosed with cancer is almost impossible to get through without welling up. (Watch it on Amazon or Hulu with a Showtime subscription.)

Marriage Story (2019)

Children of divorce may have a particularly hard time watching this Oscar nominee about a split-up couple fighting over custody of their young son. (Watch it on Netflix.)

Sophie's Choice (1982)

Meryl Streep delivers once again as a young Polish woman forced to make a morally impossible decision at Auschwitz, and to live with the consequences for the rest of her life. (Watch it on Amazon or Hulu with an HBO subscription.)

Atonement (2007)

It may be famous for that green-dress sex scene, but this movie—which focuses on the doomed love affair between a wealthy young woman and her housekeeper's son, kept apart by circumstances beyond their control—is also heart-wrenching. (Watch it on Amazon or Hulu with a STARZ subscription.)

What Maisie Knew (2012)

Based on the 1897 novel by Henry James, this modern adaptation expertly captures the quiet heartbreak of a neglected young girl whose parents are too busy fighting to put her needs first. (Watch it on Amazon.)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Everyone's favorite actor, Tom Hanks, is majorly tear-inducing as the lovable hero of this film, who navigates his way through an escalating series of wild situations only to find himself losing the love of his life. (Watch it on Hulu or Amazon with a STARZ subscription.)

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

This film about the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda in the mid-1990s is guaranteed to have you full-on sobbing (when you're not marveling at Don Cheadle's acting chops, that is). (Watch it on Hulu or Amazon with a STARZ subscription.)

Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

A young woman in the former Soviet Union is consistently neglected and ultimately forced into survival sex in this painful-to-watch film that concludes ambiguously with a pair of parallel endings. (Buy it on DVD via Amazon.)

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Originally Appeared on Vogue