50 Best Feel-Good Movies to Increase Your Happiness
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Are you looking for the best movies that can make you feel good?
Or maybe you’re searching for a hobby that can help make you happy?
They say that watching movies is a reflective art. It can revitalize your senses, allowing you to disconnect and relax for a while. It has even been called a form of therapy, particularly for those who are feeling down at the moment.
In this post, we invite you to become a happier human and try film therapy. We have gathered the 50 best feel-good movies that can reduce your stress levels and increase your happiness.
Let’s get to it!
What You Will Learn
- 1. The Birdcage
- 2. School of Rock
- 3. Love Actually
- 4. The Princess Bride
- 5. Clueless
- 6. Matilda
- 7. The Devil Wears Prada
- 8. Elf
- 9. The Princess Diaries
- 10. Legally Blonde
- 11. Forrest Gump
- 12. The Wizard of Oz
- 13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- 14. Singin’ in the Rain
- 15. Amelie
- 16. When Harry Met Sally
- 17. Bring It On
- 18. The Help
- 19. The Parent Trap
- 20. Sister Act
- 21. Mrs. Doubtfire
- 22. The Pursuit of Happyness
- 23. Bridesmaids
- 24. Good Will Hunting
- 25. Toy Story
- 26. Big
- 27. Grease
- 28. Jumanji
- 29. Groundhog Day
- 30. Spirited Away
- 31. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- 32. My Cousin Vinny
- 33. 10 Things I Hate About You
- 34. 27 Dresses
- 35. Mamma Mia!
- 36. Sing Street
- 37. 50 First Dates
- 38. Home Alone
- 39. Hidden Figures
- 40. Annie
- 41. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
- 42. Howl’s Moving Castle
- 43. La La Land
- 44. The Breakfast Club
- 45. Harry Potter Series
- 46. Shakespeare in Love
- 47. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- 48. The Holiday
- 49. You’ve Got Mail
- 50. Mulan
1. The Birdcage
The Birdcage is a remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film entitled La Cage aux Folles. It stars Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest under the direction of Mike Nichols. Williams plays the role of a drag club owner and Lane plays his lover and the main attraction of the club.
The movie is about how the two gay partners agree to put up a false front and act like straight men so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s moralistic parents. The moral of the story is simple: You don’t have to be a woman to be a mother, and you don’t have to be a straight couple to be good parents.
If this is the first time you have heard of this movie (which we doubt), you’re in for a treat. The cast is full of stars that don’t disappoint.
Directed by Richard Linklater, this film stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, an aspiring and struggling rock guitarist who was kicked out of his band, went broke, and then disguised himself as his best friend Ned Schneebly to become a substitute teacher at a prestigious school for rich kids. He discovers that his students are musically gifted, forms a band of cool fifth-graders, and signs them up for an upcoming battle of the bands.
Black gives one of his best performances in this musically and cinematically perfect film.
Love Actually is an ensemble film with a star-studded cast. This 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy is probably one of the most loved films of the past 20 years. No matter what site you visit, Love Actually is always on the list of the best feel-good movies of all time. Although there were mixed reviews when it was first released in the United States, it is now a wildly popular classic.
Love Actually is a mixture of different stories. It follows the lives of eight couples dealing with different situations. However, as you watch, you see how their stories are interrelated with each other. The film was written and directed by Richard Curtis.
Even if you’re not fond of romantic comedies, this 1987 film might be able to change your mind. Directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, the film is based on the 1973 novel by William Goldman of the same title.
The story starts with a grandfather (Peter Falk) narrating the story of Westley/The Man in Black (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup/The Princess Bride (Robin Wright) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). The film follows a farmboy-turned-pirate who is in a quest to find his long lost love. What makes it extraordinary is the humor in practically every scene and the delivery of the stellar actors.
Clueless is loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, except that it is presented in a modern-day setting. Cher Horowitz, played by the ever-stunning Alicia Silverstone, decides to befriend a new student and give her a makeover. The film has gained positive reviews all over the world, and is now considered to be one of the best teen films of all time.
The movie is stuffed with charm and is easy to watch. There is no heavy drama, no action-packed violence, and no dark humor. It’s simply a movie filled with pure-hearted fun and goodness.
Every ’90s baby has seen this film, and they can surely attest to its wonderful feels. Based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, Matilda is directed by Danny DeVito and stars Mara Wilson as the lead actress. It is the story of a young girl who has been gifted with extraordinary intelligence and psychokinetic abilities.
There is so much positive energy in this children’s film that even adults find it endearing. It has a little naughtiness on the side, but that actually makes the storyline more exciting. One hundred percent pure and lovable, Matilda is a feel-good movie to watch with your kids or younger siblings.
The Devil Wears Prada is a comedy-drama based on a novel of the same name. Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a smart, aspiring writer who lands a critically demanding job as Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) assistant. The film portrays Hathaway’s job as one that many would die for.
Although the movie has a touch of drama, it is still light-hearted and enjoyable. One review claims that it even surpassed the quality of the novel, mainly because of Streep and Hathaway’s performance.
Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) is a human who was adopted and raised by Santa’s elves. From the North Pole, he travels to New York City to find his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan). During his quest, he spreads the love that Christmas brings to a world full of cynical and unbelieving people.
Elf received a lot of praise and commercial success. Most film critics agree that Ferrell’s performance as Buddy is one of his best. Although it is a holiday film, you can enjoy watching it any time of year.
The Princess Diaries Parts 1 and 2 represent another wonderful performance by Anne Hathaway with another multi-talented and award-winning actress, Julie Andrews. While the first film is based on a novel of the same name by Meg Cabot, the second one is simply a sequel, and is not based on any book.
The first film is a modern-day fairy tale, complete with huge castles, friendly animals, and a loving mother. But instead of a prince on a white horse, there is a queen grandmother looking for her long-lost, nerdy-turned-princess granddaughter. The second film, The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement, tells the story of a princess after the happy ending had come and gone, which is more realistic, because she now has to learn how to run a country.
Both movies set an enchanting and uplifting mood. If you want a light, humorous, feel-good Friday night movie with your daughters, this is a good one to choose!
10. Legally Blonde
You don’t want to mess around with Elle Woods. Based on a novel of the same name, Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film that tackles the adventures of Elle as she works her way through Harvard Law School while fighting for the love of her life.
We can’t imagine any other actress playing Elle except Reese Witherspoon. Her splendid performance in this movie is really a hit, and perhaps one of the main reasons the film makes you feel good. But just as importantly, the film has teaches a great lesson—never judge a person by her pink, scented resume!
11. Forrest Gump
“Run, Forrest, Run!” Forrest Gump teaches viewers that you don’t have to be super smart to meet and shake hands with the president, be a football star, save your commander during war, and be a good person. Tom Hanks was spectacular as Forrest Gump, a slow-witted yet kind-hearted man who believed in nothing but love and compassion.
This story features a bit of heavy drama, but is still a feel-good movie. As the film suggests, “The world will never seem the same once you have seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
12. The Wizard of Oz
This 1939 musical fantasy is considered to be one of the best films in the history of American cinema. An adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy novel entitled “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” The movie was directed by Victor Fleming and stars Judy Garland as the young and bright Dorothy Gale who finds her way to the wonderful Land of Oz.
One of the best things about this movie is that it maintains its magic and fascination to this day. It never loses its shine, no matter how many versions of Oz come out.
How would you spend a day off? Well, Ferris Bueller surely knows how to rock a day off from school. Starring Matthew Broderick, this movie is about a young guy who skips class to take his best friend’s dad’s Ferrari on a joyride. Written and directed by John Hughes, it has been reported that this screenplay was created in less than a week.
This is truly a feel-good movie for those who are spending a day off watching flicks. It’s pure fun and laughter, filled with entertainment and humor.
Singin’ in the Rain is a 1952 musical with a romantic comedy twist, set in the 1920s. It was directed by Gene Kelly, and also starred him, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. The story revolves around the transition from silent films to talkies of Hollywood musicals.
This timely classic has been regarded as one of the best musical films ever made.
Amelie has an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the website describes it as “feel-good, lively, and fanciful.”
The film is about a shy waitress played by Audrey Tautou who wants to make an impact on the lives of people around her. While struggling to overcome isolation, she decides to help others through her own sense of justice and happiness. As the movie progresses, she discovers love.
It has been said that Nora Ephron was the best screenwriter of her time. When combined with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal delivering charming, classic performances, her screenplay has become one of the most loved movies in history.
When Harry Met Sally is a typical friends turned into lovers story. However, it also has a touch of Ephron’s personal experience, because it was the first film she wrote after her divorce.
17. Bring It On
If you are a cheerleader or a cheerleading fanatic, then the Bring It On is the perfect movie for you. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, and Gabrielle Union, and directed by Peyton Reed, the movie has become a cult classic of cheerleading movies.
The film is full of infectious energy, delightful cheering, and romantic side scenes. But at its core it revolves around the experiences of a cheering squad preparing for a national competition. It is a feel-good movie that gets you excited about what’s going to happen next.
18. The Help
The Help touches on the heavy issues of racism and segregation during the 1960s, but its lead characters, played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, are wonderful despite the context. Directed by Tate Taylor, The Help is an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name.
This movie is the story of an aspiring journalist named Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) and her relationship with two black maids, Minny Jackson (Spencer) and Aibileen Clark (Davis).
19. The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap is a remake of the 1961 film of the same name. It is also an adaptation of the novel Lottie and Lisa, a story of two young twin girls who were separated at birth but eventually meet during a summer camp.
This movie was the film debut of singer and actress Lindsay Lohan, and she’s just too adorable while playing both Hallie and Annie, who come up with a plan to swap places and reunite their parents.
20. Sister Act
Directed by Emile Ardolino, with Whoopi Goldberg as the main star, Sister Act is the movie to watch if you are looking for a musical comedy film. Goldberg plays the role of Deloris Wilson, a lounge singer who witnesses her boyfriend killing an informant. She us placed under the witness protection program and brought to a convent in San Francisco. There, she reinvigorates the church and community while also learning important lessons about herself.
21. Mrs. Doubtfire
A classic Robin Williams movie, Mrs. Doubtfire is the story of a voice actor who is recently divorced and disguises himself as a female housekeeper in an attempt to win back his wife and children. This movie won the best picture and best actor (Williams) awards during the 51st Golden Globe Awards.
Mrs. Doubtfire received mixed reviews. Some say that it’s too critical, tackling the issues of separation, divorce, and deception. But others disagree and insist that its humor transcends these heavy themes. At the end of the day, it is one of the most memorable films from one of Hollywood’s most popular (and missed) comedy actors.
The Pursuit of Happyness is an autobiographical drama film based on the best-selling memoir of Chris Gardner that bears the same name. Will Smith plays Gardner, a homeless salesman who struggles for a year to make ends meet for him and his son.
If you are wondering about the unusual spelling of happiness, it comes from a mural that Gardner sees on the wall of the daycare center where his son goes.
Bridesmaids is a star-studded film filled with nonstop humor. It is the story of Annie (Kirsten Wiig) and her series of misfortunes after asked to be a bridesmade for her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. She is accompanied by Lillian’s other bridesmaids, played by Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
Reviews have said that Bridesmaids sets the standard for women in comedy. If you want to hang out and laugh with your best friend on a cold, rainy, Friday night, this movie is a good place to start.
This award-winning film by director Gus Van Sant stars Matt Damon and Robin Williams in timeless roles. The story was written by Matt Damon himself, as well as his friend Ben Affleck. It is about a 20-year-old whose name is Will Hunting (Damon), and who works as a janitor at MIT. He is, however, an undiscovered math genius.
As part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer, Will agrees to undergo therapy with a psychologist (Williams) and do advanced studies with a renowned professor (Stellan Skarsgard). He ends up discovering a new community and world, and his own potential
25. Toy Story
Produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, Toy Story is about a young boy (Andy) and his relationship with his toys. The film has four installments to date, the last being released very recently. Toy Story is considered to be one of the best animated films ever made.
Another Tom Hanks classic, this movie has a similar premise to Jennifer Garner’s 13 Going on 30 (which is another feel-good movie, by the way). Young Josh Baskin (David Moscow) dreams of becoming “big,” and then wakes up one day in the body of a grown man.
The film shares with us two life lessons. First, be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. Second, sometimes you need to see the world through the innocent eyes of a child to be able to fully appreciate it.
When it was released, Grease was the highest-grossing musical film ever made. It is based on a 1971 musical play bearing the same title, created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. The film stars John Travolta as greaser Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton-John as transfer student Sandy Olsson.
According to Mirror, Grease is the top feel-good film of all time, followed by Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, and Mamma Mia.
While the latest versions of Jumanji are entertaining and magnificently made, we are talking about the 1995 version that stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier, and Bonnie Hunt. The story revolves around a young boy trapped inside a supernatural board game, who is found by two siblings after 26 years.
Movie fanatics agree that Jumanji is a smash hit and a true feel-good movie. It’s not just for kids, but also for those who are kids at heart.
29. Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is the story of Phil Connors (Bill Murray), a TV weatherman who gets caught in a time loop while covering the annual Groundhog Day event. As a result, he relives the same day over and over, and ends up doing things a thousand different ways.
This movie was called “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States National Film Registry in 2006, and is regarded as one of the best comedies of all time.
30. Spirited Away
Another wonderfully made cartoon, Spirited Away is one of the many successes of award-winning animator and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. It is the story of a young girl named Chihiro and her adventures in the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore.
Spirited Away brings out the magic in its viewers. And if you are a Studio Ghibli fan, you probably know that it’s not the only feel-good movie the studio has on offer!
Surprisingly mainstream, this movie is an independent romantic comedy written by Nia Vardalos and directed by Joel Zwick. Vardalos also plays the leading lady named Toula, a Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man played by John Corbett. The story is about Toula defying all challenges, including her family’s apprehensions, to pursue the love of her life.
32. My Cousin Vinny
Two young men from New York traveled through Alabama. On their way back to college, they got caught up in a murder case that they know nothing about. Vincent Gambini (Vinny) comes to the rescue, a cousin of one of the accused who just recently passed the bar after several unsuccessful attempts. Coupled with the fact that Vinny is not accustomed to Southern rules, and that this is his first case, the two men’s fate looks dicey.
This movie is based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, except that it is filmed in a modern high school setting. Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) is not allowed to go out on a date and have fun until and unless her older sister, Katarina Stratford (Julia Stiles), goes out on a date. But the fact that Katarina is ill-tempered and very hard to please makes this seem unlikely.
In order to be able to date Bianca, Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) comes up with a plan and asks Patrick (Heath Ledger) to persuade Katarina to go on a single date with him. But fate gets involved, and Patrick and Katarina end up falling in love with each other.
34. 27 Dresses
Starring Katherine Heigl and James Marden, this romantic comedy directed by Anne Fletcher are about a girl named Jane (Heigl) who has been a bridesmaid in 27 weddings. She is in love with her boss, George (Edward Burns), but her sister Tess (Malin Akerman) gets in the way when she comes home from Europe.
Jane meets Kevin Doyle (Marden), who has a dismissive view about marriage. They start to build a contentious relationship, arguing over a lot of things, particularly love. But in the end, Jane finds out the Kevin is actually her favorite columnist in the local newspaper, who often talks about the happiness of love and marriage.
The film garnered mixed reviews from viewers all over the world, but many people agree that it is a feel-good romantic comedy.
35. Mamma Mia!
If you are an ABBA fan, Mamma Mia! The Movie is mandatory viewing. It is a star-studded film filled with the best of the best in the film industry—Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, and Dominic Cooper. It was followed up by a sequel entitled “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” adding Lily James as a younger version of Donna (Meryl Streep’s character).
What makes this movie extra inspiring and entertaining are the songs of ABBA. While watching, you won’t be able to keep yourself from singing along to every song.
36. Sing Street
Sing Street is about a boy who runs away from home to form a band and impress the girl he likes. It is a very simple musical comedy-drama, and that is perhaps what makes it such a feel-good film. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an approval rating of 95%, which is just about as good as any movie reviewed on the site.
37. 50 First Dates
Why wouldn’t you fall in love with an Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore movie? The two actors have proven chemistry, and have collaborated on numerous films together.
50 First Dates is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a marine veterinarian named Henry (Sandler) who falls in love with a teacher named Lucy (Barrymore) who has anterograde amnesia. Despite the fact that she keeps forgetting him every day, Harry persists in pursuing Lucy until he finally succeeds.
Interestingly, this movie actually inspired an experimental program in Riverdale, the Bronx, for people with dementia. Just like in the movie, the patients are shown comforting messages and reminders from their families and loved ones so they can remember who they are.
38. Home Alone
Home Alone is a holiday classic, and often regarded as one of the best Christmas films of all time. It follows the story of a boy named Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) who is mistakenly left behind by his family when they fly to Paris for a Christmas vacation. While alone in their home, Kevin encounters two burglars who he has to protect the house from.
39. Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures is based on the biographical book by Margot Lee Shetterly. It is the story of three women, all with extraordinary mathematical intelligence, who thrived in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) department during the Space Race. It also tackles the issues of racism and segregation.
Critics call this film heart-warming and crowd-pleasing, but above all it has a touch of comedic fun and an uplifting spirit, despite the inherent drama in the story.
It doesn’t matter whether you watch the 1982 version or the 2014 one, Annie is Annie, and her story will lift anyone’s mood, no matter how down and lonely they might be.
The movie tells the story of an orphan from New York City named Annie who is taken in by a rich billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, to promote his image. Although Annie gets to enjoy many wonderful things due to Warbucks’ wealth, she still longs for her biological parents.
Directed by Jud Apatow, this movie is about 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) who is on a quest to lose his virginity. Scoring 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has garnered hundreds of positive reviews from viewers, indicating that it is indeed a feel-good movie for adults looking for a generally fun and entertaining time.
This is another Hayao Miyazaki film, but it is based on a 1986 novel written by British author Diana Wynne Jones. It is set in a fictional kingdom where magic and technology are used in war. The main protagonist, Sophie, gets caught up in the strife between Howl and the Witch of the Waste.
According to Miyazaki, this is his favorite creation because of the life lessons it provides to the audience.
43. La La Land
This 2016 musical romantic comedy is about a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who meet and fell in love with each other while striving the achieve their dreams in Los Angeles. The movie was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who initially had a hard time looking for a studio to produce it. Eventually, the film was picked up by Summit Entertainment, which agreed to make no changes to the screenplay.
La La Land has received a lot of positive reviews. Critics say that it is the total package—the screenplay and direction, the actors’ performances, the cinematography, and the musical score are all excellent. In fact, the movie was named one of the top 10 films of 2016, and garnered seven awards from its seven nominations during the 74th Golden Globes.
John Hughes is the writer, producer, and director of this remarkable teen comedy-drama, which has been highly praised by several movie critics throughout the industry. The film was even selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
It is indeed significant because it serves a reminder to adults that teenagers should be understood and loved for who they are.
An entire generation watched Harry, Hermione, and Ron grow up to become great wizards and defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. If you are up for a movie marathon that provides a feel-good vibe full of wonder and unbreakable friendships, we recommend the eight Harry Potter installments.
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola de Lesseps and Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare, this movie is a fictional story about the great English writer and dramatist. It depicts Shakespeare falling in love with Viola while writing Romeo and Juliet. Many of the lines and characters allude to Shakespeare’s plays.
Surprisingly classic and beautiful, this movie garnered seven Oscars during the 71st Academy Awards. It also won several other awards from various competitions, such as the British Academy Film Awards and Berlin International Film Festival.
Although it is not the real story behind how Shakespeare wrote the classic Romeo and Juliet, most movie critics still praise the film for being subtly enchanting, and one that can make you really feel the love.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty features a powerhouse cast consisting of Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, and Kathryn Hahn. It is the second film adaptation of the 1939 short story by James Thurber, which carries the same title.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is an employee at Life Magazine. Every day, he spends his time daydreaming to escape the tedious work of developing publication photos. Then, one day, he is tasked by the magazine’s owner to complete a mission that will finalize the mag’s final print issue. His adventures begin.
48. The Holiday
Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) meet each other on a home exchange website. Both devastated in love, they agree to swap homes in each other’s countries to escape their respective heartbreaks. Little do they know that they will both meet local guys (Jude Law and Jack Black) and fall in love with them.
49. You’ve Got Mail
You’ve Got Mail is a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It is another Nora Ephron movie, so it is unsurprisingly an uplifting, lovable one. The plot revolves around two people engaged in an online romance who do not realize that they are actually business rivals.
Mulan is an animated film based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a legendary female warrior in Chinese history who disguised herself as a man and then took her father’s place in the army. It is the 9th animated film released by Disney, and earned tons of awards and nominations from various film competitions.
Feel-good movies can make us feel light and happy. They put smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts
With the list we provided above, we hope you were able to find the perfect films for your movie marathon. Gather your family or friends and invite them to experience a pure, good-hearted movie that will leave everyone with a warm feeling inside.