The best sad movies on Netflix (October 2021)

Titanic and Dear John. Pic credit: Paramount/Screen Gems

If you’re looking for the best sad movies to watch on Netflix, you’ve come to the right place.

From relationship dramas that don’t always end up right to tearjerkers featuring the death of a loved one, there is plenty on the streaming giant to choose from.

While there’s a time and place for funny movies, sometimes we just need to let ourselves cry as we get swept into a story that — whether or not it has a happy ending — always leaves a mark in your heart.

We also have lists of Netflix’s best thriller movies, comedy movies, drama movies, and crime drama series, but for now, here is a look at the best sad movies on Netflix, as of this month.

Updated in October 2021: Every month, Netflix makes major changes to its platform, removing several movies and adding numerous new ones to replace them.

Luckily, we are here every month to check the lists and update them by removing movies that have left the streaming service and replacing them with other options.

Titanic (1997)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic. Pic credit: Paramount Pictures

Based on the true story of the sinking of the Titanic, James Cameron took the diaster and put a face on the story, making it a very sad movie.

The romantic drama starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a poor man on the doomed ship who falls in love with a wealthy woman. However, their love affair comes to a tragic end when the Titanic sinks and DiCaprio’s character sacrifices his life so she can make it to safety.

When the movie came out, it was the first to ever surpass $1 billion at the box office and then passed $2 billion years later when it was re-released in theaters for an anniversary edition.

Titanic also tied for the most ever Oscar nominations and Oscar victories.

Dear John (2010)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in Dear John. Pic credit: Screen Gems

Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried star in the Nicolas Sparks’ adaptation Dear John.

The 2010 movie, directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules), follows the template of most Sparks’ novels, with a love story and a tragic ending.

Dear John has Tatum as a military man shot in Afghanistan whose last memories before blacking out was of “you.”

The movie then flashes back two years to show the love story between John and Savannah in South Carolina. However, the movie has a smart twist, and the tragedy here is not what the viewer might expect.

Five Feet Apart (2019)

Five Feet Apart
Five Feet Apart. Pic credit: CBS Films

Released in 2019, Five Feet Apart was a movie about a woman named Stella, who has cystic fibrosis and struggles to live a normal life.

When she meets another person with cystic fibrosis named Will, the two start to get to know each other, although they are told to keep six feet apart to prevent cross-contamination. The two decide to only keep five feet apart, to take the foot for themselves.

However, an accident forces Will to attempt to save Stella’s life, but at a high cost.

My Girl (1991)

My Girl's first kiss
My Girl’s first kiss. Pic credit: Columbia

Fans know Macaulay Culkin from the Christmas movie Home Alone, but he was in another movie that might be the best one he starred in as a child actor.

This was My Girl in 1991.

In this movie, Culkin starred as Thomas, and he became best friends with a young girl named Vada, played by Anna Chlumsky.

Vada is a young girl who is a hypochondriac and believes she was responsible for her mother’s death because her mom died days after giving birth to her. Her father (Dan Akyroyd) does not understand her and avoids her as a response.

Shortly after Thomas and Vada share their first kiss, tragedy strikes and it changes everyone’s lives forever.

What Dreams May Come (1998)

Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come
Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come. Pic credit: PolyGram

What Dreams May Come is a very sad movie that also has very uplifting and touching moments.

Robin Williams stars as pediatrician Chris Nielsen. He meets a woman named Annie and they marry and have two children. However, both of their kids die in a car accident, which sends Annie to a sanitarium for a short time.

Four years later, Chris also dies in a car accident. He has no idea he is dead, though, and wanders through the afterlife before deciding to move on when he realizes trying to contact Annie causes her more pain.

While Chris goes to Heaven, but when Annie takes her own life because of survivor’s guilt after losing her husband and children, she ends up in Hell. Chris then has to find a way to save her soul so they can finally reunite on the other side.

The Lovely Bones (2009)

The Lovely Bones
Saoirse Ronan in The Lovely Bones. Pic credit: Paramount

Peter Jackson directed one of the saddest movies, based on an equally sad novel, about a young girl who is raped and murdered, her body left unfound.

Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz plays the grieving parents, with Wahlberg’s Jack Salmon unable to go on with his life without his obsession in finding the truth about what happened to his daughter.

Meanwhile, the killer, George Harvey, is moving on with his life, a serial killer who has never been caught.

The twist here is that the dead girl, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is unable to move to the other side as long as the emotions surrounding her death are so strong and she tries to find a way, as a ghost, to help her loved ones move on.

Kiss & Cry (2017)

Carley Allison
Kiss & Cry tells the story of Carley Allison. Pic credit: Netflix

Kiss & Cry tells the true-life story of Carley Allison, a teenager who developed an extremely rare form of cancer.

Carley was only the second documented case which made her one in 3.5 billion to be diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma of the trachea.

However, she refused to just give up and die and she started posting videos on YouTube playing the piano with a trachea-tube and picked up attention from celebs like Selena Gomez and Hilary Duff.

Sarah Fisher stars as Carley in Kiss & Cry.

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman
Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf in Pieces of a Woman. Pic credit: Netflix

Pieces of a Woman stars Shia LeBeouf and Vanessa Kirby as a couple preparing to deliver their first child.

However, when a substitute midwife arrives after the baby starts to arrive early, everything goes horribly wrong. The result is a story about the tragedy of losing a child and how it affects her, her husband, and the negligent midwife.

This should carry a trigger warning for anyone who has lost a child, but it is a powerful and moving film with Kirby delivering one of the best acting performances of 2020.

A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls. Pic credit: Lionsgate

A Monster Calls is a fantastic drama movie on Netflix, but it is also a very sad movie.

The movie stars Lewis MacDougall as Conor, a 13-year-old whose mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill. He ends up living with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) while his mother is taken into a care facility.

A giant monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) visits the boy and offers to tell him three stories, and Conor has to tell him a story at the end.

The monster, and its stories, are allegories for what Conor is going through as a child and his story at the end is equally poignant yet hopeful.

All the Bright Places (2020)

All the Bright Places
Justice Smith and Elle Fanning in All the Bright Places. Pic credit: Netflix

All the Bright Places was a 2017 Netflix movie about death and its effects on teenagers.

Violet (Elle Fanning) is struggling to get past her sister’s death and is almost suicidal due to survivor’s guilt. Theodore (Justice Smith) has bipolar disorder and finds Violet standing on the edge of a bridge.

When he learns this was the bridge where her sister died in a car accident, he tries everything he can to get her to focus on other things, mostly a school project he partners with her on.

However, as he helps her recover from her pain, his disorder starts to overwhelm him, and Violet realizes she might not be able to help him the way he did her.

Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michiel Huisman in Irreplaceable You. Pic credit: Netflix

Irreplaceable You is another movie about death and how it affects those it leaves behind. The movie also shows how it affects the person dying, knowing they are leaving a hole in the heart of those they love.

Abbie and Sam are engaged to be married when she receives a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Abbie loves Sam and doesn’t want him to be alone when she dies, so she sets out to find someone for him to love and move on with after she passes.

However, when she becomes friends with other terminal patients who want to focus on living, she questions how she wants to spend her last days.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station
Michael B. Jordan and Kevin Durand in Fruitvale Station. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler have teamed up for some great movies, including Creed, where Jordan played Apollo Creed’s son in the Rocky franchise, and Black Panther, where Jordan was the villain Killmonger.

However, what might be their most important movie was their first together and Coogler’s directorial debut, Fruitvale Station.

The movie tells the true story of the murder of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer in 2009. Chad Michael Murray stars as the cop who shot Oscar in the back and claimed he thought his gun was a taser.

The movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and picked up the Best First Film award at Cannes.

Marriage Story (2019)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story. Pic credit: Netflix

The Netflix original Marriage Story was one of the saddest movies of 2019.

Many people call the film a modern-day Kramer vs. Kramer, as Marriage Story showed a deteriorating marriage and the effects it not only had on the couple but on their young son who was caught in the middle.

Director Noah Baumbach partially based the film’s story on his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh, as well as the separation of his parents when he was young, which was also the basis for his 2005 movie The Squid and the Whale.

Tallulah (2016)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Ellen Page in Tallulah. Pic credit: Netflix

Tallulah was a Netflix original movie that premiered at Sundance in 2016.

Ellen Page stars as the eponymous Tallulah, a street hustler who has survived by stealing credit cards with her boyfriend, Nico. However, when Nico leaves her and says he is going back home to his mom, she is left alone.

Tallulah then sets out to find him, but instead finds Nico’s mom (Margo) and, more importantly, kidnaps a baby from a mother who admitted she does not care about the child.

Tallulah then strikes up a relationship with Margo as the police start to close in, searching for the missing child.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Pic credit: Picturehouse

It might be easy to look at the scary-looking monsters and creatures in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and think it is just another horror movie.

This fantasy tale is much more than a horror film. Having more in common with fairy tales than horror, this is a movie that looks at the real fear based in the real world and sees the world of creatures as a place to escape.

Ofelia is a 10-year-old girl whose mother marries Captain Vidal of the Francoist Spanish military, hunting down rebels. He takes his new family to a remote destination to live, as the war rages around them.

It is here that Ofelia finds a way into the underworld and discovers her destiny.


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