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The best sad movies on Netflix (October 2020)

sad movies on Netflix
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Notebook. Pic credit: Focus Features/Summit

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 October 2020.

Updated on October 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.

Her (2013)

Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Pic credit: Warner Bros

Spike Jonze’s Her is back on Netflix, one of the director’s more interesting films.

The movie takes place in the near future where people are able to develop their computer AI to relate directly to them, over time able to connect and help them with anything they need.

This leads to the opportunity for a new kind of cyberdating, where a person can “date” their computer AI, something that really helps a person who is socially isolated and unable to socialize in the real world.

Joaquin Phoneix stars as a Los Angeles writer whose wife left him. Now alone, he starts a relationship with “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), his computer AI.

Amy Adams also co-stars as a woman who has a similar relationship with her AI, but what happens when even their computers choose to end things?

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.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Pic credit: Focus Features

One of the best movies of the last 20 years hit Netflix in August 2020 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Directed by French auteur Michel Gondry, this might be the best movie of Jim Carrey’s entire career.

Based on a script by mastermind Charlie Kaufman, Carrey is Joel, a soft-spoken man who falls in love with a free-spirited woman named Clementine (Kate Winslet). However, after a fight, Clementine used sci-fi technology to erase him from her memory.

Now depressed, Joel goes in to have the same procedure done to erase the pain from his mind, and the movie takes place as his memories of her dissipate.

Nights in Rodanthe (2008)

Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Richard Gere and Diane Lane in Nights in Rodanthe. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

For a sad movie night, look no further than Nicholas Sparks adaptations.

The guy has made a fortune writing books that have strong romantic plots, but almost always end up a tragedy, with some glimmer of hope for one of the people in love.

In Nights in Rodanthe, Diane Lane is a wife in a marriage that is falling apart. with her daughter rebelling against her mother for the possible divorce and her husband wanting a second chance, she heads off to Rodanthe to watch over her friend’s bed and breakfast where she meets another man (Richard Gere).

This story does not have a happy ending.

An Education (2009)

An Education
Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in An Education. Pic credit: Sony Pictures Classics

An Education is a 2009 coming-of-age movie about a smart student who falls in love with a charming con man.

Carey Mulligan stars as the student, picking up an Oscar nomination for her role, while Peter Sarsgaard is the con man in the film.

Based on the memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber, David wins over Jenny and ends up convincing her to drop out of school and give up her dreams of the future.

However, when she learns that David is married with a son and is a serial adulterer, and realizes he cost her the education she should have received.

The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook (2004)
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. Pic credit: New Line Cinema

The Notebook is another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, so expect another sad ending.

The movie, based on the 1996 novel, tells the story of an elderly couple in a nursing home, with the man reading a story from his notebook to a fellow patient.

The movie then tells the story of a young couple (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) falling in love. This contrasts with the elderly couple (James Garner and Gena Rowlands), who are the young couple in the modern-day.

The movie is sweet, with a sad ending but a complete love story.

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 throughout that hits 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.

Anna Karenina (2012)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina. Pic credit: Universal

In 2012, Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) directed an adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel Anna Karenina.

As anyone who knows the source material will already realize going in, this was not a happily ever after story. However, Wright, a brilliant auteur, created the entire movie to feel like a play with one set leading to another in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images.

However, all the style and flair did little to take away from the shocking ending where socialite Anna Karenina (Kiera Knightley) finds her life falling apart and meets a tragic end.

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 has been a freelance writer for 25 years, starting with magazines and newspapers before moving to the internet. He has been published... read more

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