The Best Tearjerkers on Netflix for When You Need a Good Cry

Have you recently gone through a breakup? Did your best friend move out of town? Are you feeling defeated at work? Whether you have an underlying reason or not, sometimes it’s healthy to turn on a a heartwrenching drama and get a good cry in. At the least, it will probably be a bit cathartic!

Good Will Hunting Set
Actor Robin Williams and director Gus Van Sant on the set ‘Good Will Hunting’ | Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

While there may be better ways to express your emotions, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV with Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, this approach always feels right. This approach always satisfies that devil on your shoulder that keeps telling you to grab the blanket and the spoon. So, let’s fulfill this need for a tearjerker with a list of some of the saddest movies on Netflix, those that seem designed to rip your heart out and leave it on the floor.

‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)

While it’s likely that any tearjerker enthusiast has already seen this classic, this article will remain spoiler-free. All you need to know about Good Will Hunting is that it’s a tearjerker on two separate levels: the somber one and the inspirational one. If you’re a sucker for heartfelt movies with an inspiring message, you will need a second box of tissues for this movie.

Good Will Hunting – starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and the incomparable Robin Williams – follows Will Hunting, who has a genius level IQ and works as a janitor at MIT. When a professor discovers Hunting’s math genius, he commits to helping the young custodian reach his full potential. However, when Will Hunting is charged for attacking a police officer, the professor promises to help him get leniency only if he works with a therapist (Williams). Ben Affleck stars as the supportive best friend.

While the narrative may be a bit predictable, the performances in this movie are stellar, and they work to heighten the source material to a grand level, as the film boasts a 97% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

‘The Impossible’ (2012)

Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as two loving parents, The Impossible follows a close-knit family the day after Christmas. While on vacation in Thailand, a tsunami comes to disrupt what was supposed to be a peaceful vacation. Naomi Watts and Ewan Mcgregor give harrowing performances, and it’s impossible (pun intended) to not find yourself invested in their journey and wholly encompassed by the varying emotions running through them.

If you wish to cry over the determination a single family can retain, this is the tearjerker most likely to satisfy your needs. The Impossible, placing loss and fear in juxtaposition with compassion and courage, is equal parts a thriller and a drama.

‘Room’ (2015)

Brie Larson gives a tour de force performance in her breakout role as a young girl, kidnapped and raped, who now lives in a small shed with her son (the child of she and her rapist). On a mission to gain their freedom, the mother and son duo must deal with captivation, as the idea of escape seems nearly futile.

Watching the son (Jacob Tremblay) portray a young boy who has no conception of the outside world is heartbreaking on its own. Follow this up by his fear and hesitation upon entering society, and you’re on the floor in the fetal position. A true-to-life story and insightful journey through the minds of those held captive, beware that this movie will stick with you for a few days.

‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ (2008)

While this film was not a huge critical success, audiences were very receptive to its unique portrayal of The Holocaust, focusing on the relationship between two young boys. One is a Jewish prisoner trapped inside a concentration camp; the other is the son of a Nazi. Once they form a bond – despite existing on opposite sides of an electrical fence – you will never be the same.

While accused of being melodramatic and “out to get you” (to cry), this is precisely what you’re looking for. Thus, considering its downfall will likely be its greatest asset to your current mission, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the perfect tearjerker.

Other must-see Netflix tearjerkers

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Lion (2016)

Schindler’s List (1993)