Sometimes I have really bad days where I can’t focus on any work and just overall feel really down. In those moments, I have often found cinema to come to my rescue. Comfort watching your favorites for the 875th time is usually a good, tried and tested idea but if you seem to be getting the itch for something new, here are some excellent recommendations for 5 feel-good movies to lighten the weight on your chest.
1. Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022), dir Cooper Raiff
On the top of this list is Cooper Raiff’s latest coming of age about Andrew (Cooper himself), a 22-year-old recent college graduate trying to figure out what to do next. Now the coming-of-age trope has been done ad nauseam, but Cha Cha Real Smooth stands out in that it focuses on a college graduate, an ‘adult’ trying to figure out life instead of the usual teenage main protagonist, seems like a classic feel-good movie. Almost as if Raiff is reassuring us all that there’s no age limit to feeling lost and you’re never too old in trying and stumbling to find your way. Andrew starts working as a party starter at various bar mitzvahs, striking out some beautiful relationships with the people around him. The best part about this movie is how Raiff makes sure every single one of his characters is helped by each other in moving forward. Andrew loves and takes care of everyone: his mom, his little brother, his friends, the kids at the bar mitzvahs, and their parents. And they all get happy endings (beginnings).
2. Frances Ha (2012), dir Noah Baumbach
Now this movie is all black and white, but the way it will light up your heart with a thousand different colors is nothing short of magical, and it fits right in the feel-good genre. Greta Gerwig plays an aspiring dancer, Frances, who moves to New York with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Noah Baumbach weaves Frances’ life as she goes through the cycle of surface friends and career setbacks. The friendship between Frances and Sophie comes alive as it suffers the highs and lows of the so-called ‘responsible adult’ life. In the end, all Frances wants is a person she can be within a room full of people at a party, and look across at them and share a smile with them that communicates a presence of a shared inner life, a secret world only two of them have. The movie culminates with Sophie being that person for Frances.
3. Little Miss Sunshine (2006), dir Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
A family full of quirky, colorful characters load into a van to take little Olive to compete in a beauty pageant. A dysfunctional family that’s on the verge of falling apart: parents about to divorce, financial setbacks, a depressed uncle who’s just out of the hospital for trying to commit suicide, a brother having taken a vow of silence, quite a character of a grandfather with a drug problem; all brought together by little Olive (Abigail Breslin) belting out the best dance sequence ever shown in cinematic history. Their stories as they all come together in their messy, human ways to be a family. An absolute ray of sunshine that will fill you with so much hope, and will definitely make you feel good on the inside. Not to mention this is the hottest Steve Carell appearance.
4. Tune In For Love (2019), dir Jung Ji-Woo
A beautiful Korean drama set in the late 90s and early 2000s that brings together two people over the course of their lives, synced with the frequencies of a radio show that starts on the day they first meet. This film falls into the category of a feel-good movie just by the absolutely stunning cinematography, with shots of Korea as it slowly urbanizes, making it ethereal. Mi-su and Hyun-woo come together and fall apart as they tune into the radio show, in which Jung Ji-woo intersperses with events termed coincidences occurring throughout the movie. It ends with Coldplay’s Fix You playing, and do I really need to say more? Tune In For Love will fill you with light.
5. Pink Skies Ahead (2020), dir Kelly Oxford
Jessica Barden plays Winona, a college dropout with electric blue hair, who moves back to her parent’s house in L.A. Winona is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but is skeptical of the diagnosis as she has never experienced a panic attack. But as her life starts to unravel, Kelly Oxford in her directorial debut gives an authentic and genuine on-screen portrayal of anxiety combined with comedy. An easy coming-of-age dramedy that incorporates a heavy topic into a light movie and does a good job of it.