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Emotional Movies on Netflix: 10 Titles to Watch When You Want a Good Cry

These stories of doomed love and harrowing personal journeys are sure to captivate


Sometimes we watch movies to unwind with a good laugh, but other times — maybe when we’ve just been through a rough patch and need to really lean into the drama of it all — we want a movie to give us a cathartic cry. Netflix has plenty of hilarious comedies, but they also have an excellent selection of tearjerkers. Next time you feel the urge to pour yourself a glass of wine and get out the tissues, check out one of the many gorgeously emotional movies on Netflix — from classic ’80s romances to powerful real-life stories, we’ve gathered 10 favorites.

Click through for more of our Netflix favorites!

Emotional movies on Netflix

1. Places in the Heart (1984)

Sally Field won her second Best Actress Oscar (and gave a famous acceptance speech — yep, we really like her!) for her role as a Texas mother coping with the sudden death of her husband during the Great Depression. As she attempts to rebuild her life and revive the family farm, she learns valuable lessons about chosen family, race and how we stay strong and find community during times of hardship.

Click through to watch Places in the Heart.

Sally Field in 'Places in the Heart' 1984
Sally Field in Places in the Heart (1984)FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty

MUST-READ: 14 Must-See Photos of Young Sally Field that Prove She Was Born to Be a Star

2. Falling in Love (1984)

When it comes to onscreen emotion, nobody can top Meryl Streep (in fact, she’s so good that she’s on this list twice!). In Falling in Love, Streep and Robert De Niro play married strangers who find themselves drawn to each other and get into a classic will-they-or-won’t-they affair that takes us on a melodramatic journey. While the film was a box office bomb, we can’t argue with seeing Streep and De Niro go through all the highs and lows of forbidden romance.

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Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep in 'Falling in Love' 1984
Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep in Falling in Love (1984)@robertdenirodaily/Instagram

3. Out of Africa (1985)

Sometimes you just want to lose yourself in a sweeping historical epic. The swoon-inducing blockbuster Out of Africa, also starring — you guessed it! — Meryl Streep is made for those moments. The film, which takes place in the early 20th century, stars Streep as a Danish baroness who gets into a marriage of convenience and journeys to Africa, where she meets a handsome big-game hunter (Robert Redford) and embarks on a tragically fated romance.

Click through to watch Out of Africa.

Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in 'Out of Africa' 1985
Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in Out of Africa (1985)Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

MUST-READ: Robert Redford Young: 20 Rare Photos of The Handsome Icon Who Stole Our Hearts

4. A Walk to Remember (2002)

Any movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book is guaranteed to make us tear up, and A Walk to Remember is no exception. Teen queen Mandy Moore plays a good girl who’s the daughter of a minister. She catches the attention of a bad boy (Shane West) and they start a tentative relationship — but things become complicated when she reveals a heartbreaking diagnosis.

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Mandy Moore is comforted by Shane West in a scene from the film 'A Walk To Remember', 2002
Mandy Moore and Shane West in A Walk To Remember (2002)Warner Brothers/Getty

MUST-READ: Nicholas Sparks Movies That Are the Perfect ‘Choice’ For Your Next Movie Night — Ranked!

5. The Vow (2012)

The Vow, based on a true story, tells the tale of a young couple who get into a horrific car accident. While one of them (Rachel McAdams) suffers a severe injury and loses all her memories, the other (Channing Tatum) does not, and husband and wife are left to pick up the pieces of a relationship that’s been put through the wringer.

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Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in 'The Vow' 2012
Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in The Vow (2012)@rachelmcadams1/Instagram

6. The Impossible (2012)

What would you do if your family’s vacation was hit by a natural disaster? The Impossible, adapted from the true story of a family that lived through the massive trauma of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand, features powerhouse performances from Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as parents who, along with their three sons, manage to survive the unthinkable. The film will have your heart pounding and your emotions running high with its stunning story of resilience.

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Naomi Watts in 'The Impossible' 2012
Naomi Watts in The Impossible (2012)@naomiwatts/Instagram

7. Roma (2018)

This beautifully shot black-and-white film draws heavily from acclaimed director Alfonso Cuarón‘s childhood to tell the poignant story of a young maid (Yalitza Aparicio) in ’70s Mexico City. Using both personal and political elements, the film, one of the most critically praised emotional movies on Netflix, shines a light on the struggles of a character who is overlooked and misunderstood by much of the world around her.

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Yalitza Aparicio in 'Roma' 2018
Yalitza Aparicio in Roma (2018)Alfonso Cuarón/Netflix

8. All the Bright Places (2020)

All the Bright Places is a sensitive romance following two outsiders (Elle Fanning and Justice Smith) who are both dealing with personal traumas. They strike up a romance, but find they can’t escape their demons, and the film brings back all the grand emotions of one’s teen years.

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Elle Fanning and Justice Smith in 'All the Bright Places' 2020 emotional movies on Netflix
Elle Fanning and Justice Smith in All the Bright Places (2020)Michele K. Short/Netflix

9. Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman paints an unsparing portrait of a woman (Vanessa Kirby) who loses her baby just after giving birth. The film is a tough watch and one of the most deeply emotional movies on Netflix, but it stands out for its transporting performances and potent portrayal of grief and the physical and emotional toll of motherhood.

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Vanessa Kirby in 'Pieces of a Woman' 2020 emotional movies on Netflix
Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman (2020)Benjamin Loeb/Netflix

10. American Symphony (2023)

Jon Batiste is a wildly talented and popular musician who projects positive energy, but outside of the celebrity spotlight, he spends much of his time in the hospital tending to his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad, who’s battling leukemia. This documentary is a tender portrait of spouses faced with suffering no one should have to endure, and finding it in their hearts to love and support one another through all the devastation.

Click through to watch American Symphony.

Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste in 'American Symphony' 2023 emotional movies on Netflix
Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste in American Symphony (2023)Netflix
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