10 Movies Like The Unforgivable To Watch Next

Looking for a good drama that dives face-first into a complicated plot laced with themes of morality and dreary melodrama? Look no further than Netflix's "The Unforgivable," an emotional — and often overtly theatrical — character study starring Sandra Bullock, Jon Bernthal, Vincent D'Onofrio, Viola Davis, and Richard Thomas.

The film, based on the British miniseries "Unforgiven," follows a woman named Ruth (Bullock) who sets out to find her sister Katie after being released from prison. Ruth was incarcerated for killing a police officer who had tried to evict the two women from their property. Katie, who was five then, was adopted by Michael and Rachel Malcolm (Richard Thomas and Linda Emond), with whom she lives a happy, prosperous life. When news of Ruth's release reaches the Malcolms, they try to protect their adopted daughter — played as an adult by Aisling Franciosi — from her sister. Not everything is as it seems, you see? The truth about Ruth's past is far more complicated, leading to an intense struggle between the former inmate and Katie's newfound family.

While critics were harsh towards "The Unforgivable," audiences embraced Sandra Bullock's latest enough to rank it amongst the most streamed films on the platform. As such, we thought it would be fun to offer a list of followup movies to watch in case there were any viewers longing for another massive cup of dark drama.

Here are ten movies fans of "The Unforgivable" should check out next, in no particular order. Let's do this!

Losing Isaiah

Though critically panned, Stephen Gyllenhaal's 1993 drama "Losing Isaiah" still packs an emotional punch and provides several ethical questions for audiences to ponder. Halle Berry stars as Khaila Richards, a drug addict who accidentally leaves her child in a dumpster during a binge. By the time she comes to her sense and rushes to retrieve the infant, the boy has vanished. Thinking her child is dead, Khaila spends the next three years cleaning herself up. By luck, she learns her child survived the ordeal and was adopted by Margaret and Charles Lewin (Jessica Lange and David Strathairn), who raised him as their own. Eventually, the two sides converge in a bitter court battle to determine which mother will ultimately claim the child.

"Losing Isaiah" is certainly melodramatic and a tad overblown, but fans of "The Unforgivable" will find the material captivating and thought-provoking. Costarring Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr.


Like "The Unforgivable," Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" is difficult to watch due to some extremely heavy content. Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a mother living in 1928 Los Angeles whose life turns upside down when her nine-year-old son goes missing. Christine searches for her son and eventually grows frustrated by the LAPD's incompetence. With the aid of Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), she begins publicly scolding them for their sullied efforts. In turn, the LAPD plants a boy they claim to be Christine's son in her home... and then labels her insane when she refuses to accept the lie.

Based on real-life events, the powerful story is as harrowing as it is captivating. Jolie delivers an Academy Award-nominated performance, and Eastwood's direction is as solid as ever. While the film failed to find an audience when it was released in 2008, there is plenty for audiences to find in "Changeling" if they're in the mood for more harsh drama.

In the Bedroom

Todd Field's "In the Bedroom" is a both masterclass in filmmaking and a melancholy tale about loss, grief, and the lengths one goes to for revenge. Starring Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl, and Marissa Tomei, this 2001 drama grabs your attention from the opening frame and does not let go. Like Sandra Bullock's character in "The Unforgivable," our main protagonists, Ruth and Matt Fowler (Spacek and Wilkinson), are beset by a personal tragedy that dramatically impacts their lives. When the opportunity strikes to exact revenge, they do so to attain some measure of peace and closure.

Here we have a fascinating character study about people trying and failing to come to terms with a painful, devastating loss. As a result, they exact their brand of justice in a manner that some felt eerily evoked the United States reaction to 9/11. "In the Bedroom" is an astonishingly well-made and well-acted motion picture. Just don't expect a happy ending.

Gone Baby Gone

Ben Affleck turned heads with his superb directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone," a haunting thriller that tackles complex subject matter en route to a stunning conclusion. The film follows P.I. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner/lover Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) as they attempt to locate the missing daughter of a drug addict named Helene (Amy Ryan). Without revealing any of the intricate twists and turns in this dark exploration of morality, the specific plot beats mirror those found in "The Unforgivable."

Affleck, who wrote the screenplay alongside Aaron Stockard, explores at length the ethical problem presented by the film's premise. Even if Patrick and Angie find and return the child home, she's now stuck in a dead-end situation with a mother who can't take care of her. "The Unforgivable" likewise questions whether Katie, Ruth's sister, is better off with her adopted parents. In both films, everyone wants to do the right thing, but each party dutifully places personal principles ahead of the child's best interest, for better or worse. 

Manchester by the Sea

Another Casey Affleck vehicle, "Manchester by the Sea," tells the heartbreaking story of a man named Lee Chandler (Affleck) who lives as a recluse in Quincy, Massachusetts, following a tragedy that left him broken and isolated. Upon learning that his brother (Kyle Chandler) has died, Lee returns home to watch over his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). As the two men come to grips with their tragedies, they form an unlikely bond and support one another through their grieving process.

Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, "Manchester by the Sea" explores grief, heartbreak, and forgiveness themes with warmth, intelligence, and humor. Like "The Unforgivable," this is a dark film about people beset by tragedy who slowly come to terms with their past mistakes. Each picture features tremendous acting and directing and leans on intricate plots that unveil in a manner that holds your attention until the surprising conclusion.

A Time to Kill

The most prominent aspect of "A Time to Kill" to point out in regards to its similarities with "The Unforgivable" is the appearance of Sandra Bullock, fresh off her breakout roles in "Demolition Man" and "Speed." Yet, this Joel Schumacher drama — which is based on the book by John Grisham — has much more in common with "The Unforgivable" than you might expect.

For starters, "A Time to Kill" focuses on enraged father Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), who murders the men who sexually assaulted his daughter and must ultimately face the consequences of his actions.To make matters worse, Hailey is a Black man living in the deep south and his "victims" are white, which makes the ensuing trial all the more difficult for fresh-faced lawyer Jake Tyler Brigance (Matthew McConaughey).

What follows is an exceptionally well-acted morality tale that delves deep into the intricacies of law and order. While decidedly heavy-handed and a tad theatrical, "A Time to Kill" nonetheless informs, inspires, and ultimately delivers a powerful story about love and acceptance.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

If you're in the mood for another emotional journey revolving around family and murder, you should give "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri" a whirl. Directed by Martin McDonagh (of "In Bruges" and "Seven Psychopaths" fame), the film tells the tale of a distraught mother named Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) seeking justice for the rape and murder of her daughter. She purchases three billboards outside the fictional town of Ebbing and uses them to pressure the local police chief (Woody Harrelson) into putting more effort into her case. Mildred must contend with everything from a disgruntled town to a problematic (and racist) police officer (Sam Rockwell) while dealing with her family and personal guilt.

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri" deftly balances drama, dark comedy, and pathos to spin its emotional tale about grief. While McDonagh's style may not befit everyone's taste, this Academy Award-winning drama remains one of the more unique films you'll ever see.


Dark, brooding, and powerful, Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" explores the lengths a father will go to rescue his daughters and the ramifications of his quest for justice. Hugh Jackman stars as Keller Dover, an ordinary man living in a typical town whose life takes an unexpected turn when his daughter and her friend suddenly disappear. Angered by the failure of local authorities to find his daughter, Keller relies on his instincts to solve the case and find his missing child.

Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bellow, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and a deeply unsettling Paul Dano, "Prisoners" is drenched in the same murky atmosphere as "The Unforgivable" and adheres to the same twisty, pot boiler-styled plot. Villeneuve's picture also explores the nature of revenge and the dangers inherent in taking the law into your own hands to achieve justice. Captivating, beautifully acted, and chock full of Villeneuve's signature directorial flourishes, "Prisoners" is an unforgettable motion picture experience that should satisfy those seeking the same slow-burn drama found in "The Unforgivable."

Mystic River

Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" is an absorbing, superbly acted drama. Albeit one draped heavily in despair, you'll likely need to buy a kitten afterward to bring you back to the light. Starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney, "Mystic River" centers on the disappearance of a young woman (Emmy Rossum) in a tightly-knit Boston neighborhood. The event dramatically impacts the community and reopens past wounds that never fully healed.

Penn is magnificent in an Oscar-winning performance as the volatile Jimmy Markum, who presides over the neighborhood like a king, while Tim Robbins (who also won an Oscar) offers support as Dave Boyle, a broken man haunted by his past. As written by Brian Helgeland, based on the novel "Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane, the film slowly peels back the layers to reveal darker truths about our characters. It's a fascinating dramatic exercise and a powerful motion picture experience.

The Reader

Kate Winslet won an Oscar for her performance in this powerful story about the relationship between a young boy named Michael Berg (David Kross) and an older train operator named Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). Following a chance encounter, the pair engage in a summer affair before she randomly packs her things and disappears. Years later, Michael, now a divorced father, happens upon Hanna again, this time in a trial designed to punish former German SS guards. Hanna stands among those facing judgment and must recall her horrendous actions during World War II.

Like "The Unforgivable," "The Reader" functions as an engrossing tale about morality, with each moment introducing fascinating elements about the characters that leave the audience questioning their beliefs. Hanna appears genuinely sorry for her actions but can't shake the demons of her past, while Michael must contend with his feelings for a woman he fell in love with years ago and his code of ethics. Beautifully acted and wonderfully written, "The Reader" oozes drama, pathos, and emotion.