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The best sad movies on Netflix (January 2021)

The best sad movies on Netflix
Remember Me and Marriage Story. Pic credit: Summit / Netflix

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 January 2021.

Updated on January 2: 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.

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.

The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project
The kids from The Florida Project. Pic credit: A24

The Florida Project was an Oscar-contending movie from 2017 about a single mother’s struggles to make ends meet.

The movie follows a six-year-old girl who lives with her unemployed mother in a motel in Florida. They do everything they can to stay out of trouble and make ends meet.

What is strong is that their hardships and lack of suitable living conditions are contrasted with Disney World, which is nearby. When they find jobs hard to come by, and things take a turn for the worse, it threatens to destroy their entire family.

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.

Remember Me (2010)

NETFLIX: Remember Me
Robert Pattinson in Remember Me. Pic credit: Summit

Released in 2010, Remember Me starred Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin as two young people who fall in love.

They both have rough pasts, with Ally’s mother murdered by muggers while she was a child and Tyler’s brother who died by suicide. Both are lost and then they find happiness with each other.

There is one big problem.

This movie takes place in New York City and it culminates in a significant event on September 11, 2001, which causes this movie to have a very real, very tragic end.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook. Pic credit: The Weinstein Company

Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a movie with a sad ending, although it has moments that hit a person in the feels.

The characters in this David O. Russell movie are all broken.

Bradley Cooper is Pat, a man with bipolar disorder who caught his wife cheating on him and ended up in a mental asylum after brutally beating the man. Jennifer Lawrence is Tiffany, a young widow who has suffered a mental breakdown due to her depression.

Even the supporting cast is broken, with Pat’s dad (Robert De Niro) dealing with undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder and his mother dealing with emotional problems as well.

The good news is that Pat and Tiffany seem to fill in what the other is missing.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to Remember
Shane West and Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

A Walk to Remember is yet another Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation.

Directed by Adam Shankman, Shane West is Landon Carter is a bad boy who gets into trouble one too many times and is told he has one choice. He can be expelled or help out with the upcoming school play.

He chooses the school play where he meets the local minister’s daughter, Jamie (Mandy Moore), and the two fall in love.

However, as with all Sparks’ movies, there is a tragedy. Jamie has leukemia and is dying.

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.

Moonlight (2016)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
The Oscar-winning Moonlight. Pic credit: A24

The 2016 drama film Moonlight was the first movie with a predominantly African-American cast and LGBTQ+ storylines to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

It tells the story of a man called Chiron through three parts of his life. He goes through his childhood, where he discovers his sexuality while also learning that he can’t count on those people he loves.

The film moves on to his teenage years and then finally to his adult years as he has drifted from a hopeful child into the same kind of person he used to fear.

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.

Lady Bird (2017)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Saoirse Ronan and Tracy Letts in Lady Bird. Pic credit: A24

In much the same way that director Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) mastered realistic dialogue and making everyday situations seem extraordinary, Greta Gerwig has done the same for female-centric movies.

In Lady Bird, Gerwig found two great actresses to tell the story of a mother and daughter who just can’t seem to connect. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf both picked up Oscar nominations for their roles.

This sad movie, currently available to stream on Netflix, also picked up nominations for Best Picture, and Gerwig became only the fifth female film director in history to pick up a Best Director nomination.

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.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
The cast of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Pic credit: Summit Entertainment

Anyone who thought The Perks of Being a Wallflower was just another teen coming-of-age movie missed out on one of the best young adult films of 2012.

Logan Lerman stars in the movie as Charlie, a young man with no friends and clinical depression. He started his freshman year of school and met new friends in Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller).

However, the struggles with high school life, relationships, and keeping friends all remain secondary to the battles that Charlie has with his depression issues, and which almost caused him to drown despite those around him.

Shawn S. Lealos

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