Feel-good films to watch when feeling low.
Feelgood films to watch when feeling low.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Tagline: They’re making memories tonight!
Frank Capra’s masterwork is the ultimate in feel-good movies. James Stewart plays George Bailey, who is saved from a suicide attempt by a heavenly messenger, Clarence (Henry Travers), who arrives to show George what the world would have been like if he had never been born.
If ever you think things are pretty bad, then viewing this may at first reduce you to tears, but then leave you with that warm glow each and every time you watch it. The performances by the actors are outstanding, and it all adds up to a classic movie that is essential feel-good viewing.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tagline: Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.
Andy Dufresne, is sent to Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and secret lover. He is very isolated and lonely at first, but realises there is something deep inside your body, that people can’t touch and get to….’HOPE’. Andy becomes friends with prison ‘fixer’ Red (Morgan Freeman), and Andy epitomises why it is crucial to have dreams. His spirit and determination, leads us into a world full of imagination, filled with courage and desire. Will Andy ever realise his dreams…?
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Tagline: He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary.
An inspirational and thought-provoking film that stands up to repeated viewings. Dead Poets Society tells the story of a class of 1950s disillusioned schoolkids who are encouraged to rediscover their thirst for life and creativity by Professor Keating (Robin Williams), their new and unconventional English teacher.
Robin Williams is brilliant in his role and is guaranteed to give you the motivational push you need – especially when he uses the motto ‘carpe diem’ (‘seize the day’) to inspire the schoolboys. Although you won’t get the feel-good ending you hope for, there are more than enough moments in the film to make you feel inspired to do all the things you ever wanted to do.
Billy Elliot (2000)
Tagline: Inside every one of us is a special talent waiting to come out. The trick is finding it.
The story of an 11-year-old schoolboy aspiring to be a ballet dancer in the face of his father’s macho displeasure provides as inspiring a movie as you’ll ever see. Set against the backdrop of the mid-1980s miners’ strike, it is a gritty and believable portrayal of that time – but has an uplifting story at its heart.
Billy Elliot has a witty script, as well as wonderful characters – who help to deliver a film that’s typically British in feel. The soundtrack, using largely British acts such as The Jam and The Clash, works so well that the songs provide some of the movie’s exceptional high points.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Tagline: The world will never be the same once you’ve seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump.
A man with a low IQ has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events – in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. Yet, despite all the things he has attained, his one true love eludes him. “Forrest Gump” is the story of a man who rose above his challenges, and who proved that determination, courage, and love are more important than ability.
The Green Mile (1999)
Tagline: Miracles do happen
Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a slightly cynical veteran prison guard on Death row in the 1930’s. His faith, and sanity, deteriorated by watching men live and die, Edgecomb is about to have a complete turn around in attitude. Enter John Coffey, He’s eight feet tall. He has hands the size of waffle irons. He’s been accused of the murder of two children… and he’s afraid to sleep in a cell without a night-light. And Edgecomb, as well as the other prison guards – Brutus, a sympathetic guard, and Percy, a stuck up, perverse, and violent person, are in for a strange experience that involves intelligent mice, brutal executions, and the revelation about Coffey’s innocence and his true identity.
The Hurricane (1999)
Tagline: Never lose HOPE – even in your darkest hour it will glimmer and shine.
This film tells the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, an African-American man who rose above his troubled youth to become a top contender for the middle-weight boxing title. However, his dreams are shattered when he is accused of a triple murder, and is convicted to three natural-life terms. Despite becoming a cause celebre and his dogged efforts to prove his innocence through his autobiography, the years of fruitless efforts have left him discouraged. This changes when an African-American boy and his Canadian mentors read his book and are convinced of his innocence enough to work for his exoneration. However, what Hurricane and his friends learn is that this fight puts them against a racist establishment that profited from this travesty and have no intention of seeing it reversed. Bob Dylan famously took up the cause with his wonderful track in support of Rubin titled “Hurricane”.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Tagline: Can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning?
Highly influential romantic comedy that spawned many more of this ilk. It sees Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) – who have been good friends for years – struggling to come to terms with the fear that a sexual relationship would ruin their friendship.
The movie is cleverly spread over a period of more than a decade, and allows the characters to develop over time. It features one of the most memorable moments in movie history – with Ryan’s two minutes of heavy breathing giving cinema one of its most talked about moments. If you’ve had a bad day then watch this, as it’s unlikely you’ll stop smiling throughout the film.
About a Boy (2002)
Tagline: Growing up has nothing to do with age.
Based on Nick Hornby’s best-selling novel, About a Boy is the story of the rich, hip, single and immature thirtysomething Will (Hugh Grant), who makes an unlikely friendship with an isolated 12-year-old boy Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), who has problems at home and school. The two learn a significant amount from one another: Will teaches Marcus how to be cool, and Marcus teaches Will how to be responsible.
Grant gives his best performance in this film, and is ably backed up by the supporting cast. There are some humorous moments along the way – and also some melodramatic ones brought on by the condition of one of the characters. The interplay and developing friendship between the two leads is what makes this film a great feel-good movie.