A list of feel-good movies to watch when you are feeling a little unmotivated. These movies lift your spirits leaving your day a little brighter and your smile a little bigger.
25. PARIS, TEXAS (1984)
Paris, Texas is a powerful cinematic experience that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful! This life-affirming film will have a strong emotional impact and take you on an experience that you will never forget. It is a tale about battling the demons of the past – about regret and guilt and forgiveness and redemption. It is virtually one-of-a-kind!
It is a journey, and definitely an experience that you’ll never forget.
24. WHISPER OF THE HEART (1995)
Whisper of the Heart is a beautiful coming of age drama that traces the early moods of an amateur writer. This quite successfully establishes the little motivations the mind of a child experiences for his/her efforts.
One of the overlooked merits of all Studio Ghibli films is how they animate real-life locations and incorporate them into their films. This creates mature offerings whilst retaining the brilliant fantastical elements.
It is a film about fulfilment, about bettering yourself in search of your dreams. Despite dripping with sentiment, the film never feels trite or contrived. Its simplicity makes it an excellent and underrated instalment in the Ghibli canon.
23. COLUMBUS (2017)
Columbus is a transcendental experience of space, emotion, and composition experienced through modernist architecture. Kogonada’s debut is a hypnotising and minimalistic love story built upon three key pillars – subtlety, depth, and reflection. This spiritual style of filming pays homage to the works of Yasujirō Ozu in that it delivers an experience that spurs inward reflection. It helps us realise the significance of our time place and purpose on this earth.
22. PATERSON (2016)
This movie is so beautiful in its simplicity. It is a love letter to the mundane – a depiction of the bravery of a normal life. It shows just a week in the life of a bus driver but just like in life there is so much more to see. This minimalistic little film lures you into a meditative mood and takes you on a laid-back journey.
21. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011)
How could you not become enchanted with this adult fairy tale? It is got Owen Wilson and all his iconic faces, It is got Paris (in both rain AND shine!), It is got beautiful women a hundred years apart, and It is got a whole lot of history and comedy all mixed together. This film does a great job in making you fall head over heels in love with it! The soundtrack and famous faces entice you into Wilson’s understated bewilderment and joy. And at the end of it all, there is a great lesson in the risks of nostalgia and a warning to appreciate what you have.
20. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012)
A beautifully sad but brilliant coming of age story based on Stephen Chbosky successful novel. It is a powerful story about teens trying to navigate their way through high school whilst overcoming the emotion and stress that comes with it. Watch for the amazing soundtrack and timeless cinematography or for the moving story which will have you wanting to laugh and cry. The amazing cast of Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson elevate this film to perfection.
19. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006)
There are some movies that make the world a better place to stay in just by existing! This is one of them. This movie tugs at your heart strings and gives you that feel good sense, a simply incredible combo for any movie to pull off. Little Miss Sunshine does a great job portraying the complications that come with family and how despite all being different people manage to connect and come together.
The story is sweet and serves as great feel good summer movie.
18. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010)
I can’t think of any other director that could put together such an amazingly entertaining movie other than Edgar Wright. This movie is a love letter to all things nerdy. From videogames, to comic books and even music.
The technicality behind this film is also astounding. The editing, the sound design and even the music, whether it be the background or soundtrack, is a blast to listen to. This movie only gets better with repeated viewings, always finding some new detail you never noticed before.
The editing and camerawork especially lend to the overall comic book-like style of the movie. It honestly feels like you are watching a comic book come to life in movie form.
And if there was one word to describe the movie It would be “fun”.
17. KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989)
Rare are the films that never allow you to drop your smile even for a second. They don’t depend upon your immersion in the story, or mood, or the environment and they just have one motive and that is to make you happier than you are. Kiki’s Delivery Service does that while making sure that you learn an important lesson that going out of your element is inevitable and necessary. It is very calm and well paced, which allows you to take in all the beauty found in the town and especially in Kiki’s flying sequences. These make you feel at peace with the world and reflect upon life.
16. PADDINGTON 1 & 2 (2014 & 2017)
Paddington evokes such a genuine sense of warmth and happiness. The best description of the film that I’ve heard is that it “feels like a giant bear hug,” which is a spot-on depiction. Where this film really works is in its simplistic approach to the writing. It is not profound or thought-provoking, but it is chock full of clever setups/payoffs, heartfelt character moments, and realistic human portrayals that are easy to consume. Everything about this film is just bursting with creativity. From the impeccable visuals, to the surprisingly gripping action sequences, Kings’ fantastic directorial style continues to develop.
This franchise feels like a shining light in the film industry because of the unbridled purity it embodies. Paddington himself withholds such a distinct sense of innocence. His persistent, yet caring approach to the world is one that inspires characters around him to live a better life.
15. SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003)
Feel-good comedies are Richard Linklater’s field of expertise. School of Rock is an exuberant comedy sharply written and with confident direction – with cute kids and the dynamic performance of Jack Black what could be better? The movie will appeal to families and fans of Black! It will attract people tired of formula or those looking for a real feel-good film. School of Rock will lift up your spirits and make you want to dance in your seat.
14. BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY (1985-1990)
I think what makes Back to the Future so special is at its heart it is not about time travel but about a strong friendship between two misfits. Marty and Doc Brown make up one of the greatest film duos in cinema history and their antics play off each other so well. This film is also about a young man getting to see his parents when they were young, and it really got me involved in thinking what a thrill that would be to see. All kids have that thought of “were my parents ever young” but here Marty sees them at his age with similar problems and gains a whole new outlook because of it. The movie even side steps most paradoxes that come with time travel story’s an even the ones that slip in have little effect on how much of a joy this movie is to watch. The film is so amazing to get involved in that you do not suspect the artifice until after it is over. This remains one of those movie trilogies that will never age and never die.
13. FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986)
This film is a light-hearted fun adventure film with loveable characters and iconic moments. It is a cult classic for a reason. Mathew Broderick does a perfect job of embodying Ferris (in fact the role was made for him, literally!) Ferris is a relatable character who connects to audiences old and young. We have all come upon a day where we just do not want to get up and go into school. This is one of those movies that you wish it never ends.
12. CHEF (2014)
This is one of those movies that can make you hungry after you’ve just eaten a full meal. A Feel-good story about a chef trying to reconnect with both his young son and his passion for food. It is equal turns funny and heartwarming. A smidge too Hollywood with the neat tied off happy ending but an amazing watch and as with any great foodie flick you definitely do not want to watch on an empty stomach.
11. UP (2009)
Up is a hilarious and heartfelt adventure that is so much better than it deserves to be. This is one of the greatest animated films of all time. The characters are fantastic, the animation is wonderful, and the story is so, so sweet. The film of course can be quite heart-breaking but, in the end, it will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.
10. THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007)
It is always so much fun watching a Wes Anderson movie! The camera work is always fantastic helping join the story and it is super satisfying to watch as well. Wes Anderson takes you in with dreamlike colourful cinematography making this one of the most entertaining road-trip movies of all time. If you are having a bad day, then watching this movie will make a ton of difference. It is an amazing beautiful and heart-warming masterpiece.
9. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Bill Murray’s dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs. It is a classic! Smart and clever and heart-warming and completely irresistible. Bill Murray is at his best. His character arc is canon-worthy. The film has inspired countless other TV series and video games – a true testament to its success. It is a guaranteed incredible watch whether you are having a bad day or not.
8. SING STREET (2016)
John Carney’s Sing Street is not necessarily a film about music or musicians. The soundtrack helps build a narrative about people, their fractures lives and unfulfilled dreams! It has an incredibly simple plot with a boy starting a band to win over a girl. It contains a plethora of genres from musical to 80s and coming-of-age and it is funny and feel-good all at the same time. Its fantastic soundtrack will make you regret not watching it sooner.
7. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… (1989)
If you are looking for a single movie that embodies all other romantic films from the eighties with the songs and the big hairstyles and the adorable endings, then this is the one.
It is short, fun, and very cute. This movie is a must-watch for anyone really!! Everyone can learn a thing or two from this film which will show you different people with different genders and perspectives and opinions on relationships and humanity. Delightfully charming and with a feeling of familiarity like that of a sitcom I dare you not to love it.
6. THE GARDEN OF WORDS (2013)
The rainy ambiance of the movie itself feels magical. Developing a relationship with a stranger that you met by chance in some park while skipping school is a wild concept. This is one of those movies that is immersive drawing the viewer into its visually pleasing atmosphere. It will not leave the mind for months and years!!
5. ALMOST FAMOUS (2000)
Almost Famous is a stark depiction of the 70s rock fervour. It captures that wild vibe you get at a concert. Nobody expresses it but everybody is attracted by that pull from the gut that draws you in. We are all in it together as we groove and sing the lyrics. Everybody is experiencing a moment together.
This film ultimately communicates that one can find a sense of balance and harmony when enjoying the passions of others as much as they enjoy their own.
4. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988)
If kindness was a film, I think it would most definitely be My Neighbor Totoro.
In a world full of worry, My Neighbor Totoro is a beacon of joy. The resolution is just so beautiful that you cannot help but feel like the world is filled to the brim with happiness by the time that it is over. This is a simple movie and perfect for being so. It makes you feel something without having an elaborate plot or idea. In a world full of sad news this film will help you pause and make you forget all problems. The film does a great job in immersing you into its rollercoaster ride of childhood wonder. It is just two little girls living life with joy and some nature spirits.
3. BEFORE TRILOGY (1995-2013)
This is one of the best trilogies that has even been put to film. The film invests you into these two people’s lives so fast and before you know it you truly care about what is going to happen to them. It portrays the first feelings of falling in love so beautifully. Linklater lets the audience simply observe and though minimalistic in its approach, a creative force looms behind each decision as memory and love intertwine. It stimulates a plethora of emotions for the young at heart unsure of what life will make of them and facing a soon-to-be overwhelming future.
These films will make you want to fall in love.
2. FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
Field of Dreams is an emotional and magical fairy tale that offers so much more than baseball. It is about family, faith, regret, missed opportunities and the realization of long-forgotten ideals (or dreams). The film is undoubtedly sappy and characters’ decisions do not make much sense but none of that matters too much when a film is as tight and well-directed as this one. Nearly every scene earns its place in the film and the atmosphere exudes mystery and wonder. There’s nothing more quintessential and beautiful than the notion of a boy/man getting one last game of catch in with his dad.
This movie can definitely make anyone cry along with giving a warm fuzzy feeling.
1. BIG (1988)
This is one of those movies that someone can watch repeatedly and still wouldn’t get tired off.
It is so great when a film that is essentially a fantasy can draw in an audience from the outset, force us to suspend disbelief and take us on a magical cinematic journey. Big is not a laugh out loud movie but it has many very amusing moments and scenes. The movie works so well as a piece of pure and joyful entertainment primarily due to the excellent performances of its actors
It is a movie that will remind you of what it is like to be a kid again.
Head of Cinema