Sometimes it's really cathartic to sit on your couch, pull a fuzzy blanket up over your lap, put on a tearjerker, and cry. The right movie can give you all the feels and almost cleanse you. Since sitting in a movie theatre, sobbing, and coming out with a honking red nose can be a little embarrassing, it's nice to be able to watch in the privacy of your own home. Thankfully, there are plenty of movies on Netflix that will make you ugly cry.
Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), 9/11, the Holocaust, teen suicide, cancer — these are all the terribly depressing topics that fuel the saddest of the weepies. Even in heartwarming movies, there's often enough heartbreak for the tears to flow. Which in a weird way, is kind of healthy. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist on staff at UCLA, wrote in Psychology Today that crying, "feels cleansing, a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain." It's good to cry. Healthy, even.
So consider it doctor's orders: Grab some tissues and use this guide to find the perfect film for getting your ugly cry on.
Lion had me crying from start to finish. From adorable 5-year-old Saroo losing his brother in the train station to his loving adoption to his reunion with his birth mother, it was all the feels, all the time.
If you are willing to be sucked in by the magical power of music and the story of an orphaned boy finding his birth parents through it, then this is the perfect way to spend a winter afternoon or evening.
I cried on the first page, the last, and all the tear-soaked sheets in between when I read The Lovely Bones. In movie form, the pain feels even more real.
4The Diary Of Anne Frank
Whether or not you come to the movie knowing Anne Frank's story of hiding in an attic with her family in Amsterdam to avoid the Nazis, you can't help but be emotionally drawn in by young Anne's optimism, and wrecked by her horrific fate.
5Field Of Dreams
"If you build it, he will come." I can't give away the ending to this, but it had me bawling. Like the main character, Ray Kinsella, you just need to suspend disbelief and lean into this wonderful story.
Maybe it's too easy to put another Holocaust movie on this list because the majority of them have me crying before they even start, but here goes. This is one of director Steven Spielberg's finest and most emotional movies, drawing you into the lives of these people from the first frame.
7Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
The underlying unfortunate backdrop of this movie — of an aching boy who lost his dad in the 9/11 terrorist attack and tries to stay close to his father through a scavenger hunt incited by a key he finds in his dad's things — is enough to crush you emotionally.
8A Boy Called Po
Take a young boy who loses his mom to cancer and add the everyday heartbreak and frustration that autism can bring, and you have this very heartfelt, realistic movie.
9You're Not You
Because a story about ALS is never going to have a happy ending, make sure you have extra tissues for this one.
10Playing For Time
I know I keep dragging this list back to the Holocaust, but these movies are just always the saddest. This one centers on two female musicians who are sent to perform at a concentration camp.
This movie is based on the true story of the last day of Oscar Grant III's life, before he was gunned down by an officer at the Fruitvale BART station. Michael B. Jordan, who was so great as Haddie's boyfriend in Parenthood and in Black Panther, gives an incredible performance as the film's lead.
12Dead Poets Society
Watching Robin Williams as the inspiring teacher in this movie about an elite boarding school is 100 times more heartbreaking knowing about Robin Williams' death. Watching Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, and Robert Sean Leonard as impressionable young students is joyous until tragedy strikes and then the ugly crying begins.
It's a love story with intertwining storylines, some with happy endings, some less so. The part that gets me tearing up is the airport scene. There's something about all of those hellos and goodbyes (even when I'm at the airport in real life) that just kills me.
Once you become a parent, your whole perspective shifts and things can affect you in a whole different way. Watching Eric "Hoovey" Elliot receive a brain tumor diagnosis digs really deep into the parental pain well. This is a Christian-themed film, but the story of a teen athlete who receives a cancer diagnosis and has to battle his way back, is pretty universal.
15The Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith and his real life son, Jaden, play a father and son duo in this movie that is based on the life of Chris Gardner, a man whose wife abandons him as he struggles with homelessness and financial ruin and tries to carve his way back.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.