Top 10 Best Feel-Good Films

by Kali Tuttle

Maybe I’m just dramatic or a tad too involved in my news timeline, but I find it hard to not get depressed in this crazy world. It seems like there’s just too much hate and not enough love. Everyone is able to find fault in one another, but not find the good in one another. What happened to the days of lending a helping hand to those in need? When dreams came true and people supported you?

I know a surefire way to regain those happy feelings: through the golden world of film. Sure, it’s only a temporary release from the world we live in, but it’s a release, and that’s all I need. While I’m sure you all have your own feel-good films, here are some of the best movies to watch when you need a pick-me-up!

Honorable Mentions

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

The Notebook (2004)

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Aladdin (1992)

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Clueless (1995)

Big (1988)

Elf (2003)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

#10: Groundhog Day (1993)

I don’t often think of Bill Murray when I think of feel-good films. In fact, I usually think of films that slightly irk me, like Ghostbusters (1984) or What About Bob? (1991). However, Groundhog Day is a different case. Bill Murray plays a sulking meteorologist stuck in the small town of Punxsutawney during the infamous holiday. Unless he can truly turn his life around and become the person he’s meant to be, he is doomed to repeat the day over and over. The gags are hilarious and there are lots of groundhog fun, but it’s also a movie to remind us that we get to try everyday to become better. Just because we have a bad day doesn’t mean the world is over. We can always try again.


Image via Parade

#9: Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting is one of those movies that will put you through the whole spectrum of emotions. I believe what truly draws me to this film is Robin Williams’ performance. He’s firm yet gentle in his mannerisms; to be perfectly honest, he does drama much better than he does comedy sometimes (though I’m a sucker for his Good Morning, Vietnam improvisation). Matt Damon’s character can be irritating at times, but he’s also relatable — even though he’s smarter than most normal people, he has the same problems as us. He faces heartbreak, jealousy, and even feelings of inadequacy. This movie makes me happy purely because of Robin Williams, but it also has a profound message — we can’t face life alone, no matter how hard we try.


Image via Metrograph

#8: The Princess Bride (1987)

I have never known someone who has never seen this movie or who doesn’t know at least one quote from it. Possibly one of the greatest love stories ever, it stands the test of time. I’ve always appreciated the fact that The Princess Bride didn’t waste time on pointless exposition or dialogue. The movie jumps right into the action and humor and never looks back. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright are perfect in their roles and lend an air of quiet wit mixed with their passion for one another. However, the quotes from this movie are absolutely what make it such a feel-good film.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


They’re kissing again. Do we have to read the kissing parts?


Image via Entertainment Weekly

#7: School of Rock (2003)

I always think that I am above Jack Black’s humor, that it’s crude and infantile, but then I laugh so hard at this movie that I realize that Jack Black is one of my favorite comedians. Plus, School of Rock has some awesome music in it from artists like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and The Who. There’s no bad parts to School of Rock — everything is funny. The kids are hilarious, Jack Black is riotously funny, and even the principal has some great one-liners (especially when she gets drunk and sings Stevie Nicks). You want to know what makes this such a feel-good film? It doesn’t take itself seriously and it shows us that we can all be ourselves and still be happy.


Image via Independent

#6: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Okay, so The Shawshank Redemption is pretty depressing throughout. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is falsely accused of murder and is sentenced to life in jail. He makes friends with Red (Morgan Freeman), but he’s still in a bland, gray jail where the guards and the warden are more crooked than the inmates. However, there are two things that qualify this movie to be on my feel-good film list: the score and the redemption arc. Let’s start with the redemption arc; it’s the most obvious part of the movie — the inspirational story of a man overcoming all odds to gain his freedom and live the life he wants. But the score is what reinforces this theme. It has a lilting, strong refrain that motivates the audience to become strong like Andy. If you didn’t already know, Thomas Newman — the composer — is my hero and he deserves so much more credit than he gets.


Image via Nerdist

#5: Forrest Gump (1994)

If this were a list of films I believe deserved their Oscars, this would not be on there because I believe it should not have won above better films like Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Shawshank Redemption. However, Forrest Gump is a beautiful film starring the best actor that ever lived, Tom Hanks (which is my completely objective opinion). I wouldn’t necessarily call it an innocent family movie, as there are some pretty adult themes in it, but it does show the world through innocent eyes, which is something we don’t get to see as much in our jaded society. Forrest’s journey from a young crippled boy to a man who’s done everything to a man in love to a father is magnificent. This film deals with difficult subjects in a sensitive way and it will never fail to be a heartwarming film.


Image via The Gallery of Heroes

#4: Love Actually (2003)

I’ve always appreciated this movie for showing love in a more realistic light (as basically spelled out in the title). Love isn’t candy and roses everyday at your door. Love doesn’t even have to be when a man and a woman love each other. Sometimes it’s realizing that your best friend is your love and you don’t need anyone else. Other times you realize that you love your family and you would be nowhere without them. And sometimes you have to go to America to find the love because British girls just don’t dig you. Love Actually is probably one of the greatest romantic comedies I’ve ever seen, as it isn’t afraid to pour on the comedy while also making a very touching film.


Image via AARP

#3: Remember the Titans (2000)

This is quite possibly one of my favorite live-action Disney films. It teaches a lesson that never fails to be relevant — treating everyone with respect and learning to love one another. Not to mention it’s got some great music to jam out to from artists like Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival. As we watch the Titans fight for each victory alongside their brothers, we feel that same motivation and love in our hearts. It makes us feel good and perhaps a bit hopeful; maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t so bad. Maybe, just like the Titans, we can realize that we are not so different from one another. We can all get along with each other if we just try a little harder.


Image via Hero Sports

#2: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

This is my sick/sad movie. Whenever I’m not feeling well or maybe just feeling a little down, I watch Singin’ in the Rain. The bubbly musical numbers and vibrant colors always put me in a good mood. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor are each perfect in their roles and they bring such a spirit of joy and laughter to their performance that I can’t help but smile. The dance numbers are absolutely mesmerizing and perfectly choreographed to a tee. I often find myself whistling the soundtrack because of the joy it brings me. This excellent musical will never fail to be on my feel-good films list.


Image via Alternate Ending

#1: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Need I say more? The title says it all — it really is a wonderful life. There’s always something to be happy about and the world will never be better off without us. James Stewart just fits so well in this role; he tries to be the perfect man, but life doesn’t work out his way. Yet, he does everything he can to make sure that others around him are happy — the definition of selfless. Sure, this movie may be a Christmas favorite, but I will watch it anytime of the year. I love watching the character development of George Bailey from depressed, stressed father and husband to a fun-loving, positive man who realizes what life is all about. It goes to show that you are loved and needed by so many more people than you know. Just because things look bad right now doesn’t mean they can’t get better.


Image via The Belcourt

Thank you for reading! What are you thoughts on my top 10 feel-good films? What are your favorite feel-good films? Comment down below!

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Stephen Finlay July 24, 2018 - 6:01 pm

I enjoyed your article a lot! But… The Notebook as a feel-good movie!? Lol, I want to crawl into my grave after watching that ending.

P.M. Henderson July 24, 2018 - 5:08 pm

Thank you for this post. I’m currently having a hard time, emotionally, and I love being reminded of how much movies help!

Brizzy Mays Books and Bruschetta July 23, 2018 - 4:59 pm

I always find PS I Love You a pick me up movie. Three good looking lads always warms this old heart.:)

Lance Heard July 23, 2018 - 4:53 pm

Great list!. It’s a Wonderful life tops my list too. Good Will Hunting is in my top 10 and Remember the Titans is a worthy choice. The Holiday is definitely #2 on my list and The Greatest Showman is my most recent candidate that should hopefully earn more support over time.

raistlin0903 July 23, 2018 - 4:26 pm

Wonderful list with numbers 10, 9, 6 and 5 being some of my favorites as well. One movie I would add myself is the original Karate Kid movie, ET and the Goonies. Yes I love the 80’s where I think some of the best ones were made.

Pearl July 23, 2018 - 4:02 pm

Gotta put a plug in for “Field of Dreams”. I know it is basically (okay, totally) a guy’s film. But I love the music and the supernatural sentiment. Any guy with daddy issues can relate. Oh, and I have walked into that corn field in Iowa. Unfortunately, nothing happened. I guess the time was just not right.

Olaf Lesniak July 23, 2018 - 3:04 pm

All wonderful choices. I think It’s a Wonderful Life is a bit too long IMO but some of these are spot on. I can never say no to Lina Lamont.

Carly (message in stanza) July 23, 2018 - 2:48 pm

Nice! I have seen most of those movies, except for Singing in the Rain! Not a big Pride and Prejudice fan but I love The Princess Bride, Cluess and Good Will Hunting. There is Something about Mary is another feel-good movie! 😀

Nick Kush July 23, 2018 - 2:33 pm

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