Life is too stressful to waste time watching sad movies. Here are 10 suggestions we guarantee will make you smile.
Everyone loves a feel-good film. Sure, sometimes we all could use a nice cathartic cry, or a good scare, or even a really messed up true-crime documentary that’ll cause us to lose entire nights of sleep. But after a long, hard day of work, after you’ve gotten up to speed on all of the latest devastating news of the day, or after you’ve made yourself a healthy yet unsatisfying dinner, or put your screaming kids to bed, or suffered an awkward run-in at the grocery store with an old high school classmate whose name you forgot, you deserve two, uninterrupted hours of happy, Hollywood bliss. For these two hours, you know that everything will work out in the end. You know that even if things seem like they’re going a little bit off the rails, they’ll get back on track. You know that no matter what, everyone is going to get what they deserve, and the good guy (or gal) is going to win.
We know that when you’re feeling brain dead at the end of the day and all you want to do is put your feet up and fire up a feel-good flick, the worst thing ever is having to scroll through endless pages of films to choose one. You have to make sure it’s something that you haven’t seen, maybe you have to cross-reference with Rotten Tomatoes to make sure it has at least a 65 percent certified fresh score, or maybe you need to phone a friend who loves movies to ask what they suggest. Well, we’ve got good news: no need to phone a friend tonight! We’re your friend, and we’re here for you.
We’ve put together this list of ten movies that we 100 percent guarantee will make you feel warm and cuddly inside. And the best part is: they’re all available on Netflix. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the well-deserved escape.
Feel-Good Movies on Netflix Right Now
A movie about teen pageant queens set to the sweet soundtrack of Dolly Parton? Don’t mind if we do! If you saw Patti Cake$, a gritty drama about a young white girl who decides to pursue her dream of becoming a rapper (which we highly recommend, but is not exactly in the feel-good category) then you’ll know that actress Danielle Macdonald is a star in the making. In Dumplin’, Danielle is Willowdean Dixon, the self-conscious, slightly awkward, and Dolly Parton-obsessed daughter of aging beauty queen Rosie Dixon, played by none other than real-life beauty queen Jennifer Aniston. Every year, Rosie relives her glory days by helping to host and coordinate the town pageant, much to the mortification of her daughter. When Willowdean realizes that her mother thinks she’s not “pageant material,” she and her friends decide to compete just to spite Rosie. Not to give you too many spoilers here, but let’s just say that confidence is gained, voices are found, and fun is had by all.
This documentary, which follows three adopted teen girls who learn they are cousins, packs more heart into an hour and a half than most feel-good series’ do in an entire season. Between 1980 and 2015, China enforced a strict one-child policy to limit population growth. Since sons were considered more valuable than daughters, millions of baby girls were placed in Chinese orphanages, and thousands of them ended up being adopted and raised in other countries. In the film, three teenage girls, all born in China and adopted into American families, learn that they are biological cousins through an ancestry DNA site. After connecting online, the girls decide to take a trip together to China to meet in person for the first time and try to learn more about their family history. As the girls visit the orphanages they were adopted from and consider searching for their birth parents, they begin to understand how vastly different their lives could have been. It is emotional, touching, and will pull at your heartstrings to watch these young women grapple with who they are, where they come from, and what it means to belong.
Lady Bird (2017)
By now, Saoirse Ronan is a bonafide A-lister, but it was her role as Lady Bird, the stubborn yet disarmingly self-assured teen trying desperately to escape her dull life in Sacramento, that really put her on the map. This film is a beautiful portrait of how complicated mother-daughter relationships can be: one minute Lady Bird is literally jumping out of a moving car to escape her nagging mom (played brilliantly by Laurie Metcalf), the next she’s crying on the phone telling her mom how much she loves her. This movie is funny, sweet, and totally relatable to anyone who ever felt a little bit out of place growing up. It’s also the film that first introduced the world to now mega-hunk Timothée Chalamet, who plays a cool kid from a nearby all-boys school that Lady Bird obviously has a huge crush on.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
This is one of those movies that’s so bad, it’s good. In the film, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams are members of a (terrible) two-person Icelandic band called Fire Saga, who end up winning a spot as contestants in the famed singing competition Eurovision. This is yet another film that showcases Ferrell’s magical ability to transform into characters who are totally and completely serious about utterly ridiculous passions. And whoever the casting director was who decided to cast Rachel McAdams as a woman head over heels in love with a totally uninterested Ferrell deserves a medal. The best part is, the song that Fire Saga ultimately performs in the contest is actually a pretty good jam (and earned the film both a Grammy and an Oscar nomination!)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
No matter your age, where you’re from, or even your general level of cynicism toward “feel good” movies…there is not a single person that we know of who hasn’t loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Our only criticism of this cinematic masterpiece is that the title implies it’s some sort of fantasy monster flick, which it is most certainly not. In reality, the story follows a little boy named Ricky Baker, whose cheeks you will be tempted to squeeze through your TV, as he is taken in by a pair of older foster parents in a remote part of New Zealand. That’s all we’ll tell you because you deserve to experience every surprise and delight that this movie has to offer with fresh eyes. Every time someone basks in the warm glow of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and then recommends it to someone else, it is an act of kindness.
About Time (2013)
Even though this is most certainly a feel-good movie, it might leave you a little misty-eyed…but they’ll be happy tears. About Time stars lovable Irish ginger Domhnall Gleeson as Tim Lake, whose father (played by equally lovable English silver fox Bill Nighy) casually informs him on his 21st birthday that all of the men in his family are time travelers. Once he’s gotten over the initial shock of this revelation, Tim uses his power to do what any heterosexual red-blooded 21-year-old boy would do — find a girlfriend. And find a girlfriend he does, in the practically perfect Mary, played by Rachel McAdams. Despite the whole time travel thing, this movie is really a simple story about family, falling in love, and what makes life worth living.
The Half of It (2020)
We love this movie for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it’s allowed us to use the term “Cyrano de Bergerac” as a verb. In a classic cinematic trope, a shy yet silver-tongued nerd Cyrano de Bergerac’s the heck out of Aster, the cutest girl in school, when a handsome, bumbling football player enlists our nerdy hero to ghostwrite love letters to her. So what makes this movie different from any other classic Cyrano tale? This time, our shy protagonist, who is also head over heels for Aster, is a young woman named Ellie. It’s a sweet, funny story about the passion, drama, and awkwardness of teen love. Ellie is an adorably insecure, brilliant, empathetic kid, and her blossoming sexuality is just one part of what makes her the magnificent young character she is.
Set It Up (2018)
Although the plot of this movie might seem worthy of an eye roll, it’s actually one of the funniest Netflix original movies to date. Set It Up follows two young, overworked assistants living in The Big City who hatch a wacky plan to make their work lives easier by setting up their mean bosses (played by Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs). Hilarity ensues — and we mean that genuinely! Lucy and Taye are as hot as ever, as are Zoey Deutch and Glenn Powell, who play the two assistants. This film gave birth to the concept of “over-dicking around” — when you have too much time before you have to be somewhere so you dick around, and then realize that you’re late. For that, we are forever grateful.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Even if you decide to watch this movie when you’re in the worst mood ever, high school overachiever Lara Jean Covey will melt your angry heart. Lara Jean has never told a boy she has a crush on him. Instead, she writes him a secret love letter that he’s never meant to read (and for some reason puts these letters in addressed envelopes in a box in her closet). Well, you guessed where this is going friends — the letters get mysteriously mailed, and one of them is sent to none other than Lara Jean’s sister’s boyfriend! Naturally, the only recourse Lara Jean has in this situation is to start a fake relationship with the cutest boy in school, Peter Kavinsky. But what if the fake feelings start to become real feelings? Your heart will flutter in time with Lara Jean’s as her innermost fantasies start to become reality. When you’re done, guess what: There are two sequels to TATB waiting for you!
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Even if it takes a lot for you to laugh out loud when you watch a movie alone, there’s something about Keanu Reeves at a ridiculously pretentious restaurant asking the waiter if they have “any dishes that play with the concept of time” that will make you spit out your soup. Actors Randall Park and Ali Wong co-wrote and star in the film, and they absolutely sparkle. Wong plays a highly successful celebrity chef who reconnects with her high school sweetheart, played by Park, 15 years later. As Wong’s star continues to rise, Park is still half-heartedly pursuing a rap career while working for his dad’s HVAC company. They still have feelings for each other, but he can’t let go of his ego and appreciate her success and she’s embarrassed by his total lack of drive, yadda yadda yadda. The brilliance of this film lies in both the character development and the one-off jokes, which will have you cackling like a happy witch.