My top 10 feel-good movies

love actually

I’m going completely off-script in this post to talk about something unrelated to happiness at work but still close to my heart: Feel-good movies.

I have a weakness for feel-good films and I’m not ashamed to admit it :)

I love the fact that these movies show the world as a warm and happy place where good things happen to nice people, where everything eventually has a happy ending, where people can be themselves and are accepted for who they are and where second chances can be found by those who don’t succeed at first.

This may even be a more accurate portrayal of how the world actually is. I know it’s more common to see the world as hard, unfair and dog-eat-dog but there are equally compelling arguments that show that the world favors those who are nice and cooperate. And feel-good films reflect that.

So here is my top 10 list of feel-good films – in no particular order.

The Fisher King (1991)

Terry Gilliam’s visually stunning film has Robin Williams in one of his most challenging and touching roles. It is a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness and of love and madness.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“There’s three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”

Down by Law (1986)

A black and white minimalist masterpiece from Jim Jarmusch with an incredibly unlikely main cast of Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni. This is quite simply one of the most beautiful movies ever made. You could blow up pretty much any single frame of this movie and hang it as a poster.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“It’s a sad and beautiful world.”

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

The fascinating thing about this Baz Luhrman movie is that it is both a tremendous parody of a dance movie AND a tremendous dance movie. It’s about not being afraid of being different and not living in fear.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias!”

(Living in fear, is only half-living.)

Love Actually (2003)

The ultimate romantic comedy, feel-good movie and Christmas movie rolled into one. The all-star cast includes Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Billy Bob Thornton. At our house, we have friends over every year in early December and watch it together.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“Okay, Dad. Let’s do it. Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”

Amélie (2001)

This movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet leans slightly into the magical realism genre without becoming too weird.

Favorite quote:

Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”

[scenes of various orgasms taking place]

Amélie: Fifteen.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

3 leading actors known mainly for being in action movies play drag queens and while Hugo Weaving and Terrence Stamp are both fanastic Guy Pearce especially takes to the role as a duck to water. A wonderful movie about being different. Look out for the scene where they walk out of theie bus in small-town Australia in full drag – it was shot on an actual street in Australia and the reactions you see are genuine.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.”


Sure this is ostensibly a screwball comedy (and it is really, really funny) but it’s also a heartwarming story of friendship and being yourself.

My rating: 9/10

Favorite quote:

“Here at Globo Gym we’re better than you, and we know it.”

Stardust (2007)

Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer whether he works in comics (his Sandman series is the very best of the genre) or in novels. This beautiful movie is a classic fairy tale with some cool twists.

My rating: 9/10

Favorite quote:

[the pirates have just discovered Captain Shakespeare in drag]
Skinny Pirate: What’s the problem?
Captain Shakespeare: It’s my reputation.
Skinny Pirate: No. No. Don’t be silly. Nonsense.
Old Pirate: It’s all right, Captain. We always knew you were a whoopsie.

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

While filming his big-budget superhero movie The Avengers, Joss Whedon needed to relax. So he got some friends over to his house for a couple of weeks where they shot Much Ado About Nothing in black and white and with modern costumes but with the original Shakespeare text. It is hilarious, it’s a feel-good love story and you can just tell that everyone there had a great time making it.

My rating: 10/10

Favorite quote:

“I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue.”

Field of Dreams (1989)

The ultimate movie of second chances. Goes directly into magical realism but without losing its sense of fun and humanity.

My rating: 9/10

Favorite quote:

“Is this heaven?”

“It’s Iowa.”

More feel-good films

Honorable mention goes to these movies:

A wonderful life
Slumdog millionaire
Russian pizza blues
Eat drink man woman
Pane e tulipani
Out of Rosenheim (Bagdad Cafe)
The Intouchables
Good Will Hunting
The snapper
Hable con ella
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Mitt liv som hund
Royal Tenenbaums
Shawshank redemption
La vita e bella
What’s eating Gilbert Grape
Moulin Rouge
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Oceans eleven

Your take

Have you seen any of these list? Did I forget your favorite feel-good movie? Write a comment and let me know what you think.

9 thoughts on “My top 10 feel-good movies”

  1. Great idea to publish such a list! Many of my favorite movies are the same. I would add Juno, all Jane Austen movies such as Pride and Prejudice, The Budapest Grand hotel, Happy Go Lucky, The full monty, are the ones that come to mind…

  2. My recommendation:

    • “Chef” with Jon Favreau. It’s a Quit-Your-Crappy-Job AND feel-good movie.

    • The masterpiece “Cinema Paradiso” by Giuseppe Tornatore.

  3. August Rush
    When the Game stands Tall
    For the Love of the Game
    The Blind Side
    We are Marshall
    The Bucket List
    Sweet Home Alabama

  4. “50 to 1” – a great underdog story about Kentucky Derby racehorse Mine That Bird. Lots of heart, laughter, excitement and tears of joy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.