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Here come the waterworks.
We all need a good cry sometimes. After a long day of work, a bad breakup, or simply because you’re feeling blue, tearjerkers are a good way to decompress—and you’ll find plenty of sad movies on Hulu when you just need to let it all out.
10 sad movies on Hulu
1) Me Before You
Me Before You has one of the most absurd, borderline offensive premises of any romance film to come out in recent years. But if there’s one thing you have to admit about this movie, which is based on Jojo Moyes’ novel, it’s that it’s definitely meant to be a tearjerker. Whether this story of a paralyzed playboy (Sam Claflin) and the caretaker who falls in love with him (Emilia Clarke) and the turn it takes towards the end makes you cry or not will probably depend on how willing you are to buy into the film’s ridiculous conceit, but there’s no question that Me Before You is one of the saddest movies on Hulu.
2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Although frequently maligned as one of David Fincher’s lesser films and an over-stuffed retread of Forrest Gump (both of which are fair criticisms), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does nevertheless contain many lovely moments. This adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story stars Brad Pitt as the titular hero who ages in reverse, and Cate Blanchett as the love interest he “meets in the middle” of his life. The two leads both deliver fine performances, as does the film’s strong supporting cast, which includes Elias Koteas, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng, Jared Harris, Elle Fanning, Tilda Swinton, Mahershala Ali, and an Oscar-nominated Taraji P. Henson. The aging effects are also a technical marvel, even 10 years later.
3) The Hero
The Hero is primarily a showcase for veteran actor Sam Elliott (The Big Lebowski, We Were Soldiers), who plays an aging Western star coming to terms with his own mortality. As movies about people coming to terms with mortality tend to be, it’s pretty wrenching. Elliot is excellent, and the rest of the ensemble—Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, and Katherine Ross—do a great job too.
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Have you seen Viola Davis cry? You have, right? Then you already know she cries like no one else. And she’s such a great actor, when she cries, you tend to cry too. Hence the power of Fences, Denzel Washington’s adaptation of the August Wilson play about a working-class Black family in Pittsburgh and their patriarch who’s constantly trying to rise able his circumstances. Washington plays Troy Maxson, the flawed husband and father at the center of the story, and Davis plays Rose, his caring but oft-neglected wife. The film isn’t particularly cinematic; you can tell it was originally a play. But the performances are complex, nuanced, and powerful. Washington was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role and Davis won a much-overdue Best Supporting Actress trophy for hers. It’s one of the best sad movies on Hulu.
The twist at the end of Arrival packs such an emotional gut-punch, it makes the movie hard to re-watch, knowing what’s coming. But the film, about a linguist played by Amy Adams trying to communicate with a mysterious group of aliens who have landed on Earth, is so good you may want to revisit it anyway. Adams is sublime in a difficult role, and director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) proves again that he approaches genre in a more interesting way than nearly every filmmaker working today.
Alejandro González Iñárritu has never been a subtle director. Nowhere is this more evident than in Babel, his Best Picture-nominee from 2006. Spanning multiple continents and languages, the sprawling drama connects the lives of a couple vacationing in Morocco (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), with different sets of characters around the world. Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza both received Oscar nods for their revelatory supporting performances in this narrative of interlocking stories (think of a global Crash, with all the loaded connotations that carries with it). Iñárritu haters, beware: Babel is similar to many of his other films and just as polarizing. But perhaps even more that the rest of Iñárritu’s catalogue, Babel is really trying to leave you emotionally wrecked.
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7) City of God
This 2002 Brazilian film about growing up under corruption, poverty, and violence in Rio de Janeiro moves as fast as a Martin Scorsese gangster movie despite containing enough tragedy for 10 depressing documentaries. Director Fernando Meirelles (with help from co-director Kátia Lund) imbues the film with such a sense of gritty realism, it could only be based on real-life experiences. At the same time, the film is so highly stylized, it’s also a uniquely cinematic experience, whether you watch it at home or in a theater. Instead of being buried under the weight of these contradictions, City of God thrives on them. For anyone interested in doing a deep dive, check out City of God: 10 Years Later, a documentary about the lives of the film’s young actors, which is also on Netflix. Beware though, the follow-up is almost as emotionally draining as the first go-around.
8) Let the Right One In
Can a horror movie also be a tearjerker? The existence of Let the Right One In would suggest so. Director Tomas Alfredson’s love story about a young boy named Oscar and his vampire crush, Eli, is as beautiful and emotional as it is deeply frightening. Let Me In, the American remake from 2010, is also surprisingly good, but purists should start with this Swedish gem.
Stronger stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Directed by indie darling David Gordon Green, the film is better than your average inspirational true story. A lot of that is thanks to Gyllenhaal, but just as much of it has to do with Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, who delivers a powerhouse performance as Bauman’s love interest, Erin Hurley.
10) I Am Love
Where do you even start with I Am Love? There’s director Luca Guadagnino’s luscious visual palette, obviously. There’s Tilda Swinton doing classic Tilda Swinton (right before the chameleonic actor became a household name). Receiving a much-deserved Oscar nod for best costume design, everything about this 2010 Italian stunner is gorgeously over the top. Like the very clothes she lives her life in, the story of Swinton’s Emma Recchi, who experiences love and loss amidst Italy’s upper crust, is fabulous, gorgeous, sumptuous, and completely unsubtle. But it also never blinks, and it’s that blind commitment to its own self-importance that makes I Am Love such a unique watch.
Bonus: Sad movies on Hulu
Terms of Endearment (*with Showtime add-on)
For those of you who don’t know much about Terms of Endearment, the less said the better. James L. Brooks’ 1983 Oscar-winner follows the relationship between a mother and daughter (Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger,) exploring their various struggles with each other and in their personal lives. The movie eventually gets… emotional. You should still watch it, but just know there will be tears. Like, lots and lots of tears.
Still not sure what to watch on Hulu? Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.
Here are the best thrillers and action movies to get your heart racing, classic movies when you want a blast from the past, sad movies when you need a good cry, and funny movies on Hulu when you need a good laugh.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Chris Osterndorf is an entertainment reporter and movie critic based in Los Angeles. He holds a degree in cinema from Chicago’s DePaul University. His work has appeared on the Daily Dot, Mic, the Script Lab, Salon, the Week, xoJane, and more.