Watching a great movie feels like borrowing feelings from someone else, trying them on, and (sometimes) returning them when we’re done. Some of those feelings are romantic, others are thrilling, and some are of the warm and fuzzy variety. These are not those movies. These are the movies we watch when the feeling we want to borrow is sadness, because a good, deliberate cry is a healthy and necessary part of anyone’s emotional toolbox.
Next time you feel like weeping about something you can actually turn off, grab a box of tissues and check out these sad movies on Netflix currently streaming.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fairy tale from 2014 is a Spanish language masterpiece that juxtaposes the innocence of childhood with the horror of Spain’s fascism in the 1940s. Its imaginative visuals have become iconic in pop culture, from the wide-eyed Faun to the Pale Man — a consumptive monster with long, bony fingers and eyes in the palms of its hands.The movie twists the fantasy of storybook tropes to generate a real life coming-of-age in its young protagonist Ofelia and leaves a lasting impression with its imagination and gut-punch ending.
Where to watch: Pan’s Labyrinth is streaming on Netflix.
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller star in this adaptation of writer and director Stephen Chbosky’s frequently challenged novel. Perks distills teen angst, trauma, and the slings and arrows of unrequited love into a story that celebrates misfits when they struggle to celebrate themselves. It also gets points for a very poignant use of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
Where to watch: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is streaming on Netflix.
Romance meets science fiction in About Time, a film about a young man who discovers the men in his family have the power to travel backwards in time at will. Tim, the protagonist, uses his power to find love and success but learns the hard way that not everything can be fixed with his power. About Time is a sweet kind of sad, with an ending that produces tears and a new appreciation for life.
Where to watch: About Time is streaming on Netflix.
4. A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls is a modern fable about loss, suffering, and childhood. In it, a young boy copes with the prospect of losing his mother by befriending a tree monster that tells him three illuminating stories in exchange for one story from the boy. The movie is based on the fantasy novel by Patrick Ness, who wrote the story based on idea from Siobhan Down, a writer who died of cancer before writing the book herself.
Where to watch: A Monster Calls is streaming on Netflix.
5. Other People
Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons star as mother and son in this semi-autobiographical movie about a young gay man who returns to his childhood home to help take care of his dying mother. Other People finds the humor and beauty in the moments that lead up to experiencing loss and features one of Plemons’ best performances.
Where to watch: Other People is streaming on Netflix.
6. The Sky is Pink
The Sky Is Pink is told from the perspective of Aisha, a girl who died young and narrates the story of her parents’ lives from the afterlife. So yeah, it’s pretty sad. This Hindi language film is one of many Indian gems on Netflix and is a sure tearjerker starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar.
Where to watch: The Sky is Pink is streaming on Netflix.
Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s tense tale of a couple ending their marriage divided audiences, with some viewers reporting they were surprised by whose “side” they ended up on. But critical reception for the film was almost universal in its praise of the story’s execution and impact, with leads Scarlett Johannson and Adam Driver singled out for their magnetic scene work. This artful depiction of intimacy remains a triumph of romantic storytelling, venturing far beyond the Happily Ever After audiences know so well. – Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
Where to watch: Marriage Story is streaming on Netflix.
8. Pieces of a Woman
The Crown‘s Vanessa Kirby stars in this heartbreaking movie about a woman whose life changed forever when her child, delivered at home, dies shortly after birth. Pieces of a Woman explores the emotional complexity of grief, marriage, and blame while telling a devastatingly real story of loss.
Where to watch: Pieces of a Woman is streaming on Netflix.
Fans of The Fault in Our Stars will like All the Bright Places, another tearjerker about teens who find love through their personal sufferings. Elle Fanning and Justice Smith deliver heartbreaking performances from a screenplay co-written by Jennifer Niven, who also wrote the novel upon which the movie is based.
Where to watch: All the Bright Places is streaming on Netflix.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based on the eponymous stage play by August Wilson. In it, Viola Davis plays real-life blues singer Ma Rainey over the course of one day of recording for her album, during which the personal relationships between her lover, her band, and her producers spill out into a poignant examination of race, betrayal, and ownership. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom also features the late Chadwick Boseman’s final performance, for which he won a posthumous Golden Globe award. In this
Where to watch: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is streaming on Netflix.