If laughter is the best medicine, there's still something to be said for a good cry. We've rounded up 19 of the saddest movies on Netflix right now to help you make your next streaming selection. Some of these films run the gamut of emotions; some even end on a hopeful note. The primary requisite for inclusion here is that each movie is likely to make you cry. For this list, we've included Netflix originals and imports. Feature-length movies and tearjerking shorts are fair game.
What movies on Netflix make you cry? Here are sad movies on Netflix that are worth your selection. This list is updated regularly.
1. Pieces of a Woman (2020)
Previously best known as an action star, Vanessa Kirby received rapturous reviews, Venice's Volpi Cup and an Oscar nod for an astonishingly physical portrayal of a woman reeling with grief in Kornél Mundruczó's harrowing drama. The film peters out at some point, but the masterful opening stretches sear the mind; it's certainly worth the [uncomfortable] watch.
Related: Sad Christmas Songs
2. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
As brutal as it is sad—and it's both—Tom Ford's second feature twists the blade in the corpse of a toxic, failed relationship. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Golden Globe winner for his work here) and Michael Shannon (Oscar nominee for his work here) are uniformly sensational in dark, sumptuously realized parallel storylines (about half of the film is a fictional book within the narrative). Gobsmacking visually and disturbing thematically, Nocturnal Animals is something like a masterpiece.
3. All the Bright Places (2020)
Elle Fanning and Detective Pikachu star Justice Smith make for affable, sympathetic romantic leads in Brett Haley's teen romantic drama, co-adapted by Jennifer Niven from her own novel. This Netflix original was a hit upon release in Feb. 2020.
4. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)
The most electrifying, fully realized cinematic take on an August Wilson play to date, George C. Wolfe‘s 1927 Chicago-set drama depicts a fateful recording session of the “Mother of Blues” and her band. The powerhouse performances from Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman are among the year’s very best, making the picture’s fleeting stagey limitations mostly go unnoticed. The incomparable actors drive home Wilson’s enduring themes of race, religion, exploitation and the reality of the American Dream. Boseman is Oscar’s frontrunner for Best Actor. As ambitious, haunted trumpeter Levee, his work here has the weight of nothing less than great tragedy.
5. To the Bone (2017)
Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves and Lili Taylor star in this well-received Netflix movie about a young woman struggling with an eating disorder. It premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
6. Irreplaceable You (2018)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michiel Huisman star in Stephanie Laing's romantic dramedy, as childhood friends-turned-lovers reeling from a shocking terminal illness diagnosis.
7. Roma (2018)
Alfonso Cuarón‘s most personal film to date is a sprawling autobiographical saga set in 1970s Mexico City, a stunning, singular technical achievement. Yalitza Aparicio is vibrant as domestic worker Cleo, though the other characters aren't as compelling as she is. The ingenuity and skill on display in Roma make it a must-see for anyone who loves this medium.
8. Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
Ron Howard‘s vision of the small-town South—and of a family suffering through the cycle of addiction—is largely on point. Audiences perhaps are more keen than critics to notice this; Hillbilly Elegyis already a substantial hit for Netflix.
When the picture does occasionally swerve into caricature or soapiness—and it does—strong turns from Amy Adams and Glenn Closekeep the story’s emotional core alive. Close’s chameleonic and surprisingly understated performance is outstanding.
9. Awakenings (1990)
Robert De Niro and Robin Williams received high praise for their turns in Penny Marshall's Oscar-nominated drama from Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir, about the neurologist's work with catatonic patients in the 1960s.
10. Other People (2016)
A splendid tragicomic performance from Molly Shannon is the big draw in this dramedy, a semi-autobiographical look at writer/director Chris Kelly‘s family life. Shannon won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work here.
11. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Oscar-winning The Social Network and West Wing scribe Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this uncommonly entertaining legal drama, drawing parallels between 1968 and today. Strong performances from an ensemble cast including Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and more benefit a film that’s bound to garner Oscar attention.
12. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Terrific performances from Zac Efron, Lily Collins and especially Kaya Scodelario bring pathos to Joe Berlinger's hit Netflix original about serial killer Ted Bundy.
13. Les Misérables (2012)
Seven years before the infamy of Cats, Tom Hooper (fresh off the Oscar-sweeping success of The King's Speech) helmed this star-studded big-screen take on one of the longest-running musicals in history. Anne Hathaway won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and performed signature number "I Dreamed a Dream" in one take.
14. The Shack (2017)
Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer star in a faith-based drama based on the 2007 novel about a grief-stricken man's encounter with the divine. The Shack received mixed-to-negative critical notices, but was a substantial box-office success. Co-written by Destin Cretton, who went on to direct Shang-Chi.
15. Monster (2003)
A completely unrecognizable Charlize Theron won an Academy Award for playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Wonder Woman helmer Patty Jenkins' bruising, brilliant biopic. Christina Ricci stars in the film Roger Ebert named the very best picture of 2003.
16. Before I Fall (2017)
Based on Lauren Oliver's 2010 novel, Ry Russo-Young's teen drama stars Zoey Deutch as a promising young woman, seemingly killed in an accident, living the same day over in a time loop.
17. The Boys in the Band (2020)
Helmed by award-winning Broadway director Joe Mantello, Ryan Murphy's co-produced adaptation of Mart Crowley's iconic play stars an all-star cast of out gay actors including Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto. It's set on a gathering of gay friends in 1968 NYC.
18. Marriage Story (2019)
Noah Baumbach‘s emotional juggernaut showcases career-best work from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The rare kind of picture that can make you guffaw hysterically and ugly-cry within the same scene, this epic divorce saga is an instant classic. Laura Dern won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of an L.A. power-lawyer who wears pants so tight you can see bone, then fake-apologizes for looking like a slob. Perfect. Brilliant. Nailed it.
Related: 12 Best Movie Streaming Sites
19. If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)
This 12-minute short is pure heartbreak, and unforgettable. Will McCormack and Michael Govier's 2D-animated film is about two grieving parents, who lost their child in a school shooting. It'll be shocking if this doesn't compete for Best Animated Short at the Oscars.
In the mood for something more upbeat? Check out the most inspiring, uplifting movies on Netflix right now.