Sometimes, you just need a good cry. And if a sad song doesn’t do the job, maybe you need an even sadder movie. If so, we’ve got some solutions, via the following emotionally charged flicks currently streaming on Netflix in the UK. Just BEWARE OF TEAR-JERKING SPOILERS AHEAD.
Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep both won Oscars for their powerful performances as Ted and Joanna Kramer, a married couple who split up at the start of the film. Ted is left with their young son Billy, and some of the movie’s most moving scenes revolve around father and son slowly bonding. But just when they figure out how to live together in harmony, Joanna returns, and what follows is a painful court case that pits husband against wife; a heartbreaking battle where there really is no winner.
My Girl (1991)
My Girl would be a cute coming-of-age flick were it not for the fact that the film KILLS MACAULAY CULKIN. Anna Chlumsky plays an 11-year-old who lives in a funeral home and is obsessed with death. Mac plays a loner with lots of allergies. Over the course of a summer, the pair grow closer, and eventually share a kiss. Soon after that kiss, however, bees swarm all over Culkin, and the allergic reaction kills him. Making My Girl both traumatic and deeply upsetting. Unless you feel like the kid that tortured ‘the Wet Bandits‘ deserved such a fate.
Pride is a beautiful, thought-provoking story, made all-the-more powerful by being true. Set in England in the mid-1980s, the film focusses on a group of gay and lesbian activists who decided to throw their support behind the miners who were striking at the time. They set up ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ but the National Union of Mineworkers refuses their help due to concerns about being associated with the gay community. Slowly but surely, however, the two groups discover they aren’t so very different, and the most wonderful connections occur. The film builds towards a moving climax, followed by an explanation of what happened to the characters after the events of the film, which makes for devastating reading.
The Notebook (2004)
If you like your romance filled with sentiment and melodrama, period piece The Notebook is the movie for you. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling deliver star-making turns as Allie and Noah, who fall for each other in spite of coming from different sides of the tracks. But Allie’s mother — and the outbreak of WWII — conspire to keep them apart. With Noah enlisting, and Allie meeting a handsome lawyer while he is away. But their bond is too strong, the couple reconnecting and living a long and happy life together. Which would be a joyous ending, were it not for The Notebook presenting elderly versions of both characters dying in a nursing home at the end of the movie.
If you can look beyond the incredible visual effects — quite a challenge when they are this good — Gravity is the deceptively simple story of one woman’s will to survive. Sandra Bullock plays astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone, who becomes untethered from her spacecraft when debris hits. What follows is a race-against-time to get back to earth, during which Stone loses both George Clooney and the will to live, and slowly comes to terms with the death of her daughter. But against all odds, she makes it home, in a celebratory scene that triggers tears of emotion and joy.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
True-life drama can make for the most moving drama, and that’s very much the case with Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a tough Texan who was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s, who then launched a business smuggling unapproved experimental drugs into the state to help fellow sufferers. McConaughey delivers an Oscar-winning performance as the remarkable Ron, while Jared Leto tugs on the heartstrings as Rayon, an HIV trans woman who didn’t exist in real-life — being more a composite character designed to reflect the experiences of that community — but who lends the film true humanity.
A Ghost Story (2017)
The weirdest film on this list is also very possibly the most poignant, being an examination of love and loss, told in the most unexpected way. Casey Affleck plays a married man who is killed in a car crash. But when his body is taken to hospital, we witness dead Affleck wake up, leave the hospital wearing the sheet that has been draped over him, and return home to watch his wife grieve. And it seems he’s stuck there, the ghostly figure witnessing his wife eventually move out and another family move in. Time progresses, and Affleck journeys into the future, then the past, and eventually returns to the original house to witness him and his wife moving in. Making for a profound and consistently sad viewing experience.