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The best sad movies on Netflix (January 2022)

Dear John and My Girl
Dear John and My Girl. Pic credit: Columbia/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 January 2022: 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.

Stand by Me (1986)

Stand by Me
Stand by Me. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

One of the greatest Stephen King movies ever made wasn’t even a horror movie. While everyone knows about The Shawshank Redemption, more people need to seek out and rediscover Stand by Me.

Directed by Rob Reiner (Misery), Stand By Me tells the story of a group of young boys who set out on a great adventure when they learn there might be a dead body in the woods.

The cast was fantastic, with Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, and Wil Wheaton as the young boys and Keifer Sutherland as the dangerous older teen that threatened their lives.

This is one of the best coming-of-age movies of the 1980s and might be the most understated Stephen King adaptation of all time.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog. Pic credit: Netflix

A Netflix original movie hit in 2021 that has a chance to win a lot of awards when the Oscars comes around. This movie is a western drama called The Power of the Dog.

Directed by Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog tells the story of two brothers who meet a young woman who is raising her son alone. The brothers are Benedict Cumberbatch’s older, cruel Phil and Jesse Plemons younger, kind-hearted George.

While Phil tries to break down Rose (Kirsten Dunst), George really cares about her. This all leads to Rose’s son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) coming into the picture to do what he can to save his mother.

The Hand of God (2021)

The Hand of God
The Hand of God. Pic credit: Netflix

Released in 2021 as a Netflix original movie, The Hand of God is an Italian drama movie that won the Grand Jury Prize in competition at the Venice International Film Festival.

The movie tells the story of a young man named Fabietto, who lives with his parents in Naples. He doesn’t have friends and wants to go to college to study philosophy, but spends most of his time watching soccer.

When tragedy strikes his family, Fabietto comes of age in a brutal manner. The name of the movie comes from the nickname of soccer player Diego Maradona.

A River Runs Through It (1992)

A River Runs Through It
A River Runs Through It. Pic credit: Columbia

Directed by Robert Redford, A River Runs Through It is a 1992 drama movie based on the novel by the same name.

The movie stars Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer as the sons of a Presbyterian minister, played by Tom Skerritt.

They grew up, one rebellious and one studious, and the movie shows their lives from World War I through the Great Depression.

The movie is a tough one, as the minister struggles with his more rebellious son (Pitt’s Paul) and just when they get on the same page, Paul ends up dead at the hands of some rough individuals he got involved with.

A River Runs Through It won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and this is the movie that showed a young Brad Pitt’s promise in Hollywood.

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.

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.

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.

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