34 Saddest Movies on Netflix (April 2024)

Sad movies not only make you cry, but they also make us empathize with the characters in a way that we feel their pain ourselves. The thing about sad films is that they stick in our minds longer than any other type of film. Take, for instance, movies like ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ or ‘Never Let Me Go.’ These films are absolute tear-jerkers. However, not many movies manage to achieve such an emotional response from viewers. Netflix boasts a collection of some of the most devastatingly beautiful films you’ll ever see, watching which might be the cathartic experience you were looking for.

34. 18 Presents (2020)

This Francesco Amato directorial follows Anna (Benedetta Porcaroli), whose mother, Elisa (Vittoria Puccini), passed away from breast cancer shortly after giving birth to her. However, to ensure that Anna got to know her mother, Elisa prepared 18 gifts, each for one birthday till Anna turned 18. Anna finds out about her mother’s love and sacrifice through these gifts, which include letters. The film, which was released on Mother’s Day, is based on the real story of an Italian woman named Elisa Girotto, who passed away in 2017. She gave birth to her daughter in August 2016. You can watch the film here.

 33. Like Father (2018)

Kristen Bell is Rachel, a girl who is left at her altar. Given the workaholic and planner she’s always been, she had planned for her memorable honeymoon after her marriage, which is in cold water now. After a drunk night with her father, Harry, she somehow ends up on the cruise boat she had booked for her honeymoon with her father. While she despises the choice initially, she starts pondering over the differences she always had with her father, and soon, she realizes that she wasn’t very fair to her dad. After a few bonding, tear-jerking moments, all is well between Rachel and Harry, while the former is still trying to find her first true love. ‘Like Father’ is both funny and sad, albeit sporadically, but it makes for a watchable father-daughter tale. You can watch the movie here.

32. Alex Strangelove (2018)

Alex Truelove and Claire have always been best friends if not lovers. As they sail through their high school, Alex’s mother is diagnosed with cancer. Unable to find anyone to go to when Alex is feeling all alone and by himself, he resorts to his all-weather friend Claire. Soon after, they start dating and plan to have their first sexual encounter. Alex also meets Elliot, who is gay, and begins to have mixed feelings for Elliot, much to the disappointment of Claire. Alex and Claire decide to go to the prom together, even though Alex has mixed feelings about this whole relationship thing.

Secretly, Claire has asked Elliot to be Alex’s prom date, much to Alex’s surprise, and both Alex and Elliot share their first kiss. ‘Alex Strangelove’ focuses on a closeted gay teenager who has social anxiety, and his inner self is unable to accept the societal norms around him — everything that subtly forms a part of the narrative. You may watch the film here.

31. Irreplaceable You (2018)

Abbie and Sam have been in love since they were teenagers. Abbie is working for a publisher, while Sam is a teacher. As they both plan their wedding and their future together, Abbie finds out that she’s pregnant. When they pay a visit to the doctor, her world comes crashing down upon knowing that it wasn’t her pregnancy but a tumor that was causing her belly to swell. Abbie joins support groups and begins her chemotherapy, but she’s well aware of the fact that she won’t make it. She takes it upon herself to find another girl for Sam who can take care of him after her passing away. Feel free to check out the movie here.

30. Brain on Fire (2016)

A real-life story based on a novel, ‘Brain on Fire,’ is fascinating as far as the premise is concerned. The story begins with Susannah Cahalan, a real-life character, who is celebrating her 21st birthday with her now-separated parents and her boyfriend. As an intern reporter with the New York Post, Susannah’s life seems all sorted out. However, her world comes crashing down when she begins experiencing strange manic behavior, albeit involuntarily. This is followed by seizures, and there are constant voices in her head all the time. What doctors initially think of as schizophrenia turns out to be a rare brain condition called “Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis” that begins with a headache, followed by a deep state of psychosis. ‘Brain on Fire’ sets out to create something exceedingly brilliant but disappoints due to the incoherence in the premise. You can check out the film here.

29. Fatherhood (2021)

With ‘Fatherhood,’ Kevin Hart proved that there’s more to him than just humor. This isn’t to say that there is no comedy, but there’s a lot more, too. Directed by Paul Weitz, the movie centers on Matt (Hart) and how he is left to raise his daughter all by himself after losing his wife during childbirth. Based on ‘Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love’ by Matthew Logelin, the movie is a tear-exposing tale of fatherhood and love. You can watch ‘Fatherhood’ here.

28. To the Bone (2017)

20-year-old Ellen is struggling with anorexia nervosa. After an appointment with an unorthodox doctor, Ellen is placed in a group home with people suffering from other eating disorders. She is then confronted with the truth of her disease, and her life perspective changes. ‘To the Bone’ is a fantastic drama that raises awareness for eating disorders and other diseases often ignored by society. This Netflix original is an absolute gem of a film, with several memorable performances. You may watch it here.

27. First They Killed My Father (2017)

Straight from the kitty of actor-director Angelina Jolie, ‘First They Killed My Father’ is set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and revolves around the Ung family. As the soldiers of the Khmer Rouge advance upon the city, members of the Ung family, Pa and his little girl Loung, have very little time to evacuate their comfortable homes. As they head out into the city and end up in a refugee camp, the members of the Ung family are wary about not revealing Pa’s true identity, which would otherwise land them in trouble.

Meanwhile, Loung is recruited and indoctrinated as a child soldier while Pa is executed for being associated with the government. Although Loung doesn’t like the circumstances, she still tries to find ways to hope for a better future. Vietnamese bombing follows, destroying their army and freeing Loung and many other children, who are then sent to another comfortable, safe house. ‘First They Killed My Father’ is a triumphant tale of Loung and her braving the odds. It is also one of the saddest movies on this list. You may watch ‘First They Killed My Father’ here.

26. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Lucy (Jessie Buckley), a young woman, arrives at her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) home, where she meets his parents for the first time. However, the meeting doesn’t go as planned as she begins to perceive everything around her differently, herself included. As she thinks of ending things, we, the viewers, are provided with an in-depth exploration of life and what it means to be human. The movie is written and directed by Charlie Kaufman (‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’). You can stream the film here.

25. Kodachrome (2017)

Directed by Mark Raso, this film stars Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bruce Greenwood. It is based on A.G. Sulzberger’s 2010 New York Times article titled “For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas.” The film shows the emotional road trip of a terminally ill father and his son, accompanied by the father’s nurse, to Kansas, where the father shall have his last Kodachrome rolls processed before the lab, the last of its kind, closes down forever. An emotional film from multiple angles, ‘Kodachrome’ showcases how, with time, everything grows old and perishes. You can stream it here.

24. Worth (2020)

‘Worth’ is a biographical drama set in the aftermath of the US September 11 attacks. It shows how attorney Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) is faced with the daunting task of analyzing and allocating financial resources to the families of the victims as a part of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He has to measure the cost of life and get the payment cleared. Is this even possible? ‘Worth’ shows how Feinberg planned the processing of $7.375 billion. But even if the government pays an amount, will the grieving families accept it? The movie is bound to hit you hard. You can stream it here.

23. The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

The invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, during World War II, makes a Polish couple, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh), director of the Warsaw Zoo, Poland, and her wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain), turn their zoo into a hiding place for the Jews. They saved approximately 300 Jews in total. ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ is based on a true story adapted from Diane Ackerman’s book of the same name. The sheer brutality of the period and the risks that came with saving the Jews, though not akin to Spielberg’s magnum opus ‘Schindler’s List,’ doesn’t manage to horrify us as well as brood over all the souls that couldn’t be saved. The movie is directed by Niki Caro. You can watch it here.

22. Roma (2018)

The Mexican film is the first of its kind to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, ‘Roma’ is set in 1970s Mexico City and tells the story of Cleo, a maid who works for a middle-bourgeoisie family and the mistress Sofia, and how both their lives intertwine unexpectedly. Sofia suspects her husband of having an affair, while Cleo suspects that she is pregnant, and when she tells her boyfriend about it, the guy leaves her. If you want to explore something feminine and deeply personal, ‘Roma’ is what you should go for. You may watch the film here.

21. 6 Balloons (2018)

Drug addiction is something that can tear a family apart and make the person affected do things he/she otherwise would never have dreamt of. In this 2018 film, we follow the story of a woman called Katie who has decided to throw a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. While she heads out to pick up the cake, Katie visits the home of her brother Jack to take him and his daughter to her house for the celebrations. Jack is a heroin addict who has not been able to quit even after several visits to rehab centers.

Seeing Jack in poor condition, Katie forgets about the party and gets busy trying to find a rehab center that would take him in. We see the siblings struggle for help, and the psychological damage it causes both of them is just harrowing to watch. The film shows us in very clear terms that no matter how much you care for someone and want that person to get rid of something as harmful as drug addiction, nothing will work if the eagerness for improvement does not come from within. Feel free to check out the movie here.

20. Passing (2021)

Based in 1920s New York, we have two light-skinned Black women, Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), who are childhood friends whose lives intertwine in the most dramatic of ways. Irene runs into Clare and finds out that she is married to a white racist guy, passing herself off as white. However, now that Clare has met Irene, she is ready to risk revealing the truth just so that she can spend time in her community after so long. We have set the premise for you, but revealing anything more would be ruining it. But to add to your urge, we assure you that it has a climax that will take you aback. The movie, shot in black and white, is directed by Rebecca Hall. You can check it out here.

19. 22 July (2018)

Domestic terrorism seems to be becoming one of the growing concerns of the Western world of late, as we have already seen in countries like the United States, New Zealand, and Norway. This Netflix original film centers around the devastating attacks that happened in Norway in 2011. The film follows the story of the far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who first kills several members of Norway’s Labour Party by planting a car bomb and then proceeds to an island where several teenagers have gathered together for a summer camp. Dressed as a policeman, he opens fire at the teenagers and ends up killing a number of them. After his capture by a tactical team, Breivik is brought to Oslo, and the film follows his court trial. The film offers us a rather close look at the 2011 events that shook Norway to its very core and made us aware of the growing levels of intolerance around the world. You can watch ’22 July’ here.

18. Cargo (2017)

‘Cargo’ is set in an alternate timeline where a pandemic is leading people to transform into zombies within 48 hours of getting exposed or bitten. Andy (Martin Freeman) couldn’t save his wife, but he has to protect his baby Rosie and find a way to get her to safety. The only problem is that he, too, has been bitten and thus will have to hurry. How he survives the journey across the dangerous terrain and ensures that his daughter will live is what the movie chronicles. A story of love, sacrifice, and goodbye, this movie is deeply effective at many levels. You may watch it here.

17. Pieces of a Woman (2021)

A very personal and saddening yet powerful drama directed by Kornél Mundruczó and written by Kata Wéber, ‘Pieces of a Woman’ uses an unfathomable tragedy, leading to a personal loss, to show how an expecting couple’s life changes drastically. As they struggle to cope with the loss, they are also subjected to a roller-coaster of negative emotions that come their way. To tell you more would be wrong, so we request you to watch it, but be warned, it’s very saddening. You may watch ‘Pieces of a Woman’ here.

16. A Jazzman’s Blues (2022)

From Academy Award winner Tyler Perry comes a deeply emotional tale of forbidden love that spans 40 years’ worth of lies, secrets, and deceit. The year is 1937. A Black girl and a Black boy fall in love but are pulled apart, and the girl’s mother marries her to another guy, passing her off as white. Ten years later, they meet again, but this time, too, fate intervenes, and the girl’s mother tries to get the boy killed, due to which the boy escapes to the North. We do not want to reveal what happens further and let Perry himself show you the mastery of his craft. If you are looking for some taste of melancholy, ‘A Jazzman’s Blues’ is the perfect dish. You can stream the film here.

15. Paddleton (2019)

‘Paddleton,’ directed by Alexandre Lehmann, is undoubtedly one of the saddest films available on Netflix. Starring Ray Romano as Andy and Mark Duplass as Michael, it tells the story of two neighbors/close friends who set off on a road trip to the nearest pharmacy to get the medication for Michael, who is diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and he chooses to not go with a whimper. Andy doesn’t want to let Michael bring his life to an end but has no choice but to agree to his plan. The six-hour drive is replete with experiences of the two guys that are bound to bring sad smiles to your face since you know what’s coming. We all know what the destination is, but what matters is the journey. To be a part of Michael and Andy’s friendship, you shall experience ‘Paddleton’ here.

14. My Best Friend Anne Frank (2021)

Most of us know who Anne Frank is. For those living under a rock, she was a German-born Jewish girl who maintained a diary while hiding under an office on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with her family for two years (from 1942 to 1944) before they were discovered by the Nazi troops in 1944 (World War II) and brought to a concentration camp where Frank died of typhus at the age of 15 in 1945. Her diary, first published in 1947, titled ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ aka ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ is one of the most famous books of all time.

‘My Best Friend Anne Frank,’ directed by Ben Sombogaart, is based on the memoir ‘Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend’ by American author Alison Leslie Gold. It explores the real-life friendship between Anne and Hannah Goslar from their Amsterdam hometown to a Nazi concentration camp where they both ended up. Goslar was rescued from a train in 1945. She died in 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. The film stars Aiko Beemsterboer as Anne Frank and Josephine Arendsen as Hanneli Goslar. You can watch the film here.

13. Blonde (2022)

‘Blonde,’ directed by Andrew Dominik, is a fictional drama that centers on Norma Jeane Baker, who is better known as Marilyn Monroe. While Joyce Carol Oates, author of the book ‘Blonde: A Novel’ on which the film is based, makes it clear that the matter is fictional, the tragic life of the protagonist and what all she had to give up on the way to immortal fame as shown in the film is tough to watch. The way Ana de Armas breathes life into the character is commendable and heart-wrenching at the same time. You can stream ‘Blonde’ here.

12. tick, tick…BOOM! (2021)

Based on the life of playwright Jonathan Larson (played by Andrew Garfield), who didn’t live to see his plays ‘Rent’ and ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ make it to Broadway; the movie is painful inside out. To be able to see the popularity the plays achieved and at the same time know that the person who wrote them didn’t get to see the success is saddening. Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (also a Broadway playwright), ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ takes us through the parts of Larson’s life wherein he reconsidered his choices in life, including in his career, love, and friendship. You can stream it here.

11. Society of the Snow (2023)

In ‘Society of the Snow,’ J. A. Bayona masterfully brings to life the gripping saga of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight tragedy, inspired by Pablo Vierci’s poignant book. Through vivid storytelling, the film intimately explores the harrowing journey of the 16 survivors, drawing from Vierci’s personal connections with them. Featuring a talented ensemble primarily from Uruguay and Argentina, ‘Society of the Snow’ delves into the indomitable human spirit’s resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity. This immersive cinematic experience leaves a lasting impact, inviting audiences to contemplate the depths of human endurance and solidarity long after the final scene fades. You can watch the movie here.

10. Beasts Of No Nation (2015)

A Netflix original film, ‘Beasts Of No Nation‘ is written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Set in a fictional West African country, the story of this film revolves around the life of a child called Agu, whose country is shattered when the government falls and violence ensues. Agu is recruited by a rebel army and trained to be a killer without an iota of remorse. This army is led by a man who is simply known as the Commandant. A rather sadistic individual, he does not even hesitate from raping the new child recruits. This film shows us how the lives of many children in these African countries are destroyed as they are taught to fire a rifle and take drugs as a part of their daily routine. Abraham Atta as Agu and Idris Elba as Commandant are the two stars of the film, and their performances give the story a great degree of authenticity. You can watch the movie here.

9. Joker (2019)

While Batman’s arch nemesis is known for his psychopathic nature, this film shows how the character became so. Years and years of abuse, both mental and physical, accompanied by an impoverished lifestyle and a city that looks down upon him and continuously reminds him that he and all that he does amount to nothing, are bound to take a heavy toll. Director Todd Phillips brilliantly showcased the trauma of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) and how it ultimately turned him into the clown prince of Gotham as we know him today. Underneath all that maniacal rage and chaos, there is perpetual sadness that the character will never run out of, and a blood-smeared smile is enough proof of that. ‘Joker’ can be streamed here.

8. If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)

This is a 12-minute short 2-D animation film, but it deserves to be on this list. The overwhelming waterfall of emotions that this small film brings about is unprecedented. Written and directed by Will McCormack and Michael Govier, it is about a mother and a father who have lost their little daughter in a school shooting. The only reason that we can use to convince you to watch this is that it won the Best Animated Short Oscar in 2021, and rightfully so. You can check out the film here.

7. All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

There isn’t anything happy about a war film, is there? It’s all about the different ways the makers are able to portray the harsh reality of war and how it affects humans. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is a German movie that received nine nominations, including a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars 2023 for its portrayal of World War I. It tells the story of four boys who enlist in the German army, pumped up by patriotism, only to be exposed to the horrors of the Western Front, one of the hotspots of the war. As dreams and hopes are crushed and friends are lost, we are reminded that there is nothing good that comes out of a war, and nothing ever will. The movie is directed by Edward Berger. You can watch ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ here.

6. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)

Acclaimed actor Chiwetel Ejiofor takes the director’s chair in this film set in the African nation of Malawi. When Malawi is hit with drought, it takes a toll on William’s father (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is a farmer in an impoverished place. However, William (Maxwell Simba) dreams of big things, and what he achieves using his innovative mind, even after being forced to leave school, is bound to have you in awe of what the human spirit is capable of. The movie throws light on the drought and the tragedy it can cause while exploring William’s relationship with his father and their mutual trust. You may watch it here.

5. A Man Called Otto (2022)

‘A Man Called Otto’ tells the story of Otto (Tom Hanks), a grumpy old man who has lived alone since his wife passed away. But when a new family moves in next door, they usher Otto into their world, something that Otto has trouble comprehending. How he starts to see the world differently is what follows in this Marc Forster directorial. The sadness that comes with wondering how he must be on the inside, alone and without the one person he loves the most, only multiplies when we see how he is unable to reciprocate the feelings that his new neighbors have for him. He isn’t a bad man or a wretched man. He has just been alone for a long time. The story is based on the 2012 novel ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman. You may watch ‘A Man Called Otto’ here.

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Based on the play of the same name written by August Wilson, based on the life of influential blues singer Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ tells the story of Ma Rainey’s band while showcasing the racial issues prevalent during the time, i.e., the 1920s. The film subjects you to an authentic portrayal of the treatment of black people as the sound of the early blues music comes floating to your ears, giving you a sense of pain and nostalgia that is further complemented by the brilliant acting. The stellar cast includes Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts. It will surely have a pull at your heart, especially since you know that it is Boseman’s last performance. You can stream the film here.

3. Marriage Story (2019)

Noah Baumbach is a filmmaker who deals with the problems and nuances of marriage unlike any other. His 2005 movie ‘The Squid And The Whale’ and his 2019 masterpiece ‘Marriage Story‘ are both films on divorce and its after-effects, but while the former story is told from the perspective of the couple’s children, this time, the adults are the center of attention. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play a couple called Charlie and Nicole Baker, who are going through a divorce. They do want to settle it amicably, but lawyers come into the picture and make the process dirtier than they ever wanted it to be.

The performances by Johansson and Driver are some of the best screen-acting you will ever come across. Both of them portray their characters with such authenticity that you don’t even realize who you are supposed to root for. In trying to paint a picture of separation, Baumbach has weaved a tale of love where a lot of things remain unsaid no matter how hard one tries. You can stream ‘Marriage Story’ here.

2. Taare Zameen Par (2007)

This brilliant Bollywood drama is directed by Aamir Khan, who also stars in it as Ram Shankar Nikumbh, an art teacher. When Ram encounters an 8-year-old dyslexic kid named Ishaan Awasthi, played beautifully by Darsheel Safary, he decides to understand Ishaan and compassionately encourage him both emotionally and academically, thereby allowing him to grow at his own pace and in a manner that suits him. While this is one angle, another angle is of Ishaan, who is forcefully admitted into the boarding school by his father, who believes that Ishaan, unlike his brother, who is a very good student, is good for nothing. The way Ishan’s loneliness and ache for his family, especially his mother, have been portrayed in the film is bound to bring tears to your eyes. ‘Taare Zameen Par’ was India’s entry to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. You can watch it here.

1. Barfi! (2012)

A brilliant Indian Hindi language drama directed by Anurag Basu, ‘Barfi!’ stars Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Ileana D’Cruz and Ashish Vidyarthi. Set in the 1970s, it explores the unlikely love story of deaf and mute Murphy Chhetri, aka Barfi (Kapoor), and an autistic girl named Jhilmil (Chopra Jonas). After Barfi’s first love, Shruti (D’Cruz), leaves him and gets married to a “normal” guy, Barfi finds love in Jhilmil, who is inadvertently involved in a conspiracy that involves Jhilmil’s father, Durjoy Chatterjee (Vidyarthi). While Barfi and Jhilmil are on the run, with authorities searching for them, Shruti comes across Barfi once again, only to realize that she never stopped loving him. What the conspiracy is and how the makers intertwine it with a moving love story make this film a must-watch. It was India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 2013 Oscars. You can watch the film right here.