We all have our comfort movies — those movies we turn to time and time again whether we want a mood boost, need a little cry, or just don’t know what else to watch. I watched a lot of my comfort movies over and over again during quarantine and I’m still not tired of them! Here are all the feel-good movies I watch when I need to get lost in another world for a bit.
1. Harry Potter Movies
Yeah, this is more than one movie, but if you don’t marathon them all as if they were one movie, you’re doing it wrong. This series makes me feel everything — happy, sad, nostalgic, comforted, the whole range of emotions. I turn to this series time and time again when I just don’t know what to watch and need a hug in movie form.
2. You’ve Got Mail
The dynamic duo of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks seriously shines in this movie. The nostalgia of the introduction of email lets me disappear into a time that was a bit simpler, albeit still full of digital drama. Ryan and Hanks’ chemistry is impossible to not fall in love with over the course of the film, and their love story always has me swooning.
3. Napoleon Dynamite
No matter how many times I’ve seen this movie, it always has me cracking up, even if I’m in a bad mood. My mom loves it, too — she says it’s just like her high school except with the addition of modern tech. This movie has so many ridiculous storylines, and though I’m not normally one for dumb humor, the humor in Napoleon Dynamite feels so real and off-the-cuff that it’s impossible not to enjoy.
4. The Parent Trap
Not gonna lie, this was my favorite movie as a kid, and it still holds up. Is it absolutely laughably ridiculous? Yes. But its sweetness keeps me coming back time and time again. It makes me remember my own summer camp experiences, and we get a double dose of adorably young Lindsay Lohan.
5. The Lizzie McGuire Movie
“You shine with the light from the sun.” Um, yes please? Italy is by far my favorite country, and Lizzie McGuire was by far my favorite show as a teenager, so it goes without saying that this movie is a huge feel-good movie for me. It’s ultimately about girl power and overcoming your fears, and we all could use a little more of that. Plus, the soundtrack is GOLD.
I love this movie so much. It’s absolutely ridiculous but also relatable — we’ve all been in Annie’s shoes at some point. So many big comedic names shine in this movie, like Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy, and their talent is on full display here. Plus, I love Chris O’Dowd, who honestly deserves more name recognition and always seems to show up in quirky comedies.
This is a year-round movie, IMO. Middle of July? Let’s watch Elf. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Will Ferrell fan, but Elf is a comedic masterpiece. Ferrell’s no stranger to playing juvenile characters, but while they usually make me cringe, Buddy is too lovably naive to possibly dislike. Plus, Zooey Deschanel sings.
8. 13 Going On 30
Every time I think about my 30’s, I can’t help but repeat the mantra “Thirty, flirty, and thriving,” over and over to myself. We all know how it feels to think you’re too unqualified, too young for adulthood, and this movie takes that sense of imposter syndrome to the extreme. Jenna’s journey to find herself and grow comfortable in her own skin is heartwarming, and I could watch this movie over and over again.
9. Mamma Mia
If you don’t sing along to all the songs in this film, you’re missing out. Honestly, this movie has everything I love — a Greek island, romance, adventure, mystery, and Meryl Streep. (In other news, in case you didn’t already know, Meryl Streep can do absolutely anything.) The cast of this film is incredible — Streep, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Julie Walters?! Hiring all these names must have cost a fortune, but it paid off. If you need a feel-good musical this definitely needs to be at the top of your list.
10. The Breakfast Club
Molly Ringwald fans, this one is already on your list. While the plot can be summed up succinctly — a group of diverse students spends a day in detention — the movie goes way deeper than it seems on the surface. It’s about crossing boundaries, throwing away stereotypes, being vulnerable and letting yourself be seen in your darkest moments. Don’t you forget about this one.
11. Pitch Perfect
Well, the natural follow-up to The Breakfast Club is obviously Pitch Perfect (if you know, you know). When this movie came out I watched it every day for a week. It’s a nearly flawless portrayal of the IRL almost cult-like a cappella culture, with fun easter eggs hidden throughout (did you know that the other a cappella groups performing at the end of the film are actual collegiate a cappella groups?). This movie is hilarious and features my favorite of Rebel Wilson’s roles, and Anna Kendrick’s lovably cynical Beca just shines.
12. Legally Blonde
What, like it’s hard? Reese Witherspoon’s performance in this film is absolutely flawless. I watch this movie over and over when I need another little dose of girl power, and when I need to be reminded to believe in myself. Elle Woods’ growth and maturity in this movie is notable because she strikes the delicate balance of transforming while still remaining unapologetically true to herself — something I honestly strive for every day.
13. Ocean’s 8
I’m a longtime fan of the Ocean’s movies, so when I heard they were making one with WOMEN (about damn time!), I was elated. Then I saw the cast and I got even more excited. In case you somehow missed this, here are the badass women who take center stage in this film: Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rihanna, and Cate Blanchett. Just…wow. Watch it.
14. The Princess Bride
As you wish — I had to put this one on the list. It’s heartwarming, ridiculous, funny, and dramatically tragic. Watching it as a kid felt like a rite of passage. This family-friendly film is a can’t-miss for everyone and will be timeless for ages.
15. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
The first time I saw this movie, I walked away from it wondering, what on Earth did I just watch? I thought it was weird and I never really planned to watch it again. But one day I found myself singing the soundtrack and wanting to see Ben Stiller skateboard through Iceland, so I turned it on — and I totally fell in love. My adventurous spirit absolutely soars when I see Life Magazine’s motto: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to. To see behind walls. To draw closer. To find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
16. Lady Bird
Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet are the next (edgy) Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks — don’t try to change my mind, please. I was first introduced to this duo in Lady Bird (though Chalamet didn’t have much screen time), and I was fortunate enough to see this movie for the first time in a theater with a fabulous audience. We were all laughing at the funny moments and crying at the heart-wrenching ones. This coming-of-age story beautifully portrays the hardships and joys of a mother-daughter relationship. Oh, and Lucas Hedges is in it — another young actor who can do absolutely anything.
17. Eat Pray Love
Italy, India, and Indonesia — oh my! Again, my adventure-loving self cannot get enough of this one. It takes me right back to eating all of the pasta in Italy, and makes me hunger for the heat of India and the lush greenery of Bali. While the movie obviously didn’t do complete justice to the book (movies rarely do), the film adaptation was nevertheless fantastic, and I come back to it time and time again when I need to go to another country for a bit but can’t (thanks, pandemic).
18. Miss Congeniality
Another timeless Sandra Bullock film! I love everything about this movie (except for the misogyny, which absolutely would not fly were this film made today). Bullock absolutely shines as Gracie Hart/Gracie Lou Freebush, a no-nonsense FBI agent undercover as a Miss America contestant. Not only is this film hilarious, but it also shows the power of friendship (in a not-cheesy way, I promise).
I was fairly late to the game with this movie — I only saw it for the first time about a month or two ago. I was sobbing 10 minutes in, and it’s now my go-to cry movie. Frances McDormand’s performance is flawless, and the film does an insanely good job at just portraying raw life in all its beauty. I cry even when nothing particularly sad is happening, and this movie has really become a safe outlet for me — a place where I can feel whatever I’m feeling, even if I’m not sure what it is. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on Hulu, but bring a box of tissues.
If you don’t like Shrek, I probably don’t trust you. This family-friendly film is chock-full of tame adult humor, making it perfect for literally everybody. It’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (yes, sorry for making you feel old) and remains just as good as it was back in 2001. This was one of the first movies that I can remember really eschewing the Disney-style expected happily-ever-after endings — who expected that Fiona would remain an ogre forever? Not me, but I love it.
What do you think of my list of feel-good movies? Is there anything you’d add/take away? Let me know in the comments!
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