Feelgood movies on Netflix
Director: Danny DeVito
Cast: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Pam Ferris
Danny DeVito's snappy, kinetic visual adaptation of this Roald Dahl classic fits the cartoon feel of the source material, and the cast is great. It's a modern-day pantomime about childhood solidarity and self-empowerment: the real joy here is the view of generational war, the children's assumption of zero tolerance for injustices inflicted by absurd adults, and the recognition that the big meanies should be punished, by fair means or foul.
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal
This is a film where everything works: Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s just-this-side-of-smug central couple, the gorgeous photography of New York through the changing seasons, even Harry Connick Jr’s jazz-lite soundtrack. And it’s all rooted in Nora Ephron's flawless script.
Director: Claire Scanlon
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu
Director Claire Scanlon resurrects that tragically neglected genre, the romcom, with this amiable caper. The premise – two put-upon assistants (Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch) try to trick their bosses-from-hell as payback for their own stresses – is relatively well-trodden territory, but it’s executed deftly and boasts no little heart. There are even a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled among the romantic fare, with Lucy Liu proving that when it comes to comedy she knows how to deliver.
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Coolidge
With Ariana Grande paying homage to ‘Legally Blonde’ in her ’thank u, next’ music video and rumours of a third movie floating around, it seems only fitting that Reese Witherspoon's fabulously camp and ferociously feelgood classic gets its spot on this list. Whether it's the ‘bend and snap’, her neon orange Mac laptop or learning about the dangers of showering with a perm, sorority queen turned lawyer Elle Woods is not only inspirational but aspirational, too.
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters
What could be more feelgood than a trip to Greece soundtracked by ABBA. This film phenomenon might be naff (and the less said about Pierce Brosnan’s singing the better) but at its heart is a story about female friendship and creating your own family that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Perfect for when that encore of ‘Dancing Queen’ comes along.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Matthew McConaughey
Steven Soderbergh brings his commercial A-game to this butt ’n’ thrust extravaganza about a group of male strippers. Inspired by star (and producer) Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper, the film is a high-energy examination of the American Dream, the empty promises of capitalism and the joys of baby oil.
Director: Steven Antin
Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci
Okay, so the plot of this Christina Aguilera and Cher vehicle makes little-to-no sense, but when you have the former belting out bangers and the latter bouncing off of Stanley Tucci, somehow magic happens. Indeed, Tucci and Cher’s chemistry is wonderful, even when the pop diva struggles to get the lines out without stumbling. Camp, clichéd and totally gluttonous, this one is so bad that it’s good.
Director: P.J. Hogan
Cast: Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett
Not your usual the-best-friend-attempts-to-ruin-the-wedding film, this subverted romcom is genuinely funny. Julia Roberts is on the mark, although it’s Rupert Everett’s performance as George who clinches it. It’s proof that, just sometimes, love doesn’t conquer all.
Director Mark Osborne
Cast Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy (voices)
This sweet, faithful adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry much-loved ‘The Little Prince’ skipped the cinema and landed straight on Netflix. It’s a charming mix of animation and stop-motion, as it follows a young girl who is told the familiar tale by the book’s now elderly pilot, who recalls crashing in the desert where he meets the titular alien.
Director: Julian Jarrold
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley
On May 8, 1945, the day the Second World War ended, London threw the party to end all parties. The pubs ran out of beer and the Royal Parks filled with condoms. And unnoticed, into the crowd slipped two teenage girls: Princesses Elizabeth, 19, and Margaret, 14. What did they get up to? Gambling in Soho and partying in a ‘knocking shop’, according to this strictly fictional and very fluffy comedy.
Director Ari Sandel
Cast Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne
Mae Whitman has oodles of charm as the down-to-earth lead of this harmlessly predictable high school comedy. Realising she’s known as the ‘duff’, a Designated Ugly Fat Friend guys talk to to get to their hotter mates, she sets about reinventing herself. But a message of acceptance wins out in the end.
Director: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
Cast: (Voices) Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig
On a remote North Atlantic island, the Viking population is suffering harassment from swarms of marauding dragons, until geeky son-of-a-chief Hiccup finds an injured dragon in the woods and suspects this constant state of warfare may be unnecessary. This is a smart and muscular animated adventure, the script is sharp and well-paced, and it all wraps up with a breathtaking aerial battle sequence.
Director Gus Van Sant
Cast Matt Damon, Robin Williams
The fairytale story of a kid from the mean streets of Boston who turns out to be a maths prodigy, this is silly, sweet and deeply moving in equal measure. If you need an extra mood-booster afterwards, check out writer-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Oscar speech. Ah, bless…
Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Cast Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen
The stakes are so low in this Reese Witherspoon vehicle that it’s practically soothing. Witherspoon plays a recently separated mother-of-two who accidentally finds herself living with three twentysomething filmmakers, one of whom she starts a relationship with. Michael Sheen shows up as her ex-husband to complicate things, but it’s all very soft, very kind and very L.A. This movie is basically a nice hug.
Director Ron Shelton
Cast Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
A former minor league baseball player himself, director Ron Shelton turned his insider eye over the fates of a hot young pitcher (Tim Robbins), a fading veteran (Kevin Costner) and the groupie (Susan Sarandon) from whom they both learn valuable life lessons. Any baseball film that folds in quantum physics and William Blake is fine by us.
Director John Hamburg
Cast Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones
Paul Rudd plays Peter, a friendless soon-to-be-married guy searching for a best man in this likeable bromcom. Jason Segel is Sydney, a mad rock-lover, who shakes Peter out of his premarital complacency.
Director: Peter Lord.
Cast: (Voices) Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant
A return to form for Aardman Animation, this film is a brilliant mish-mash of styles and genres, crammed with ideas and intelligence and carried off with a sense of rebellious fun and breathtaking invention not seen since, well, ‘The Wrong Trousers’. Kids will be enthralled by all the action, slapstick and yo-ho-ho-ing while the olds will get a kick out of the intricate visual detail, sparkling wit (there’s not a single ‘avast behind’ gag) and wild historical inaccuracies: find me another movie in which Jane Austen chucks a beer mug at the Elephant Man.
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens
It’s a tale as old as time, but this live-action version has been updated for the twenty-first century with plenty of CGI. Dan Stevens stars as the Beast, while Emma Watson tackles a new feminist slant on Belle. Throw in some musical numbers and you’ve got yourself a bundle of big-budget Disney magic.
Director: Chris and Paul Weitz
Cast: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz
This adaptation of Nick Hornby's 1998 novel about perpetual bachelor unable to commit sees Hugh Grant subvert his usual foppish approach as a romantic lead, giving us something altogether more acerbic. As Will, his dynamic with Marcus (played by a young Nicholas Hoult) becomes the film’s central relationship, as slowly but surely Will’s brickish exterior is chipped away to reveal a character suffering from intense loneliness. Add in a bucket full of romance and an incredible moment where Hoult’s character kills a duck with a loaf of bread, and you’ve got a winner.
Director Brian Helgeland
Cast Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany
A silly, corny medieval romp starring Heath Ledger as a thatcher’s son who dreams of being a knight. He reinvents himself as Ulrich von Liechtenstein of Gelderland and soon wins over the heart of his fair lady. This is the definition of a guilty pleasure.
Director Mike Newell
Cast Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell
Boy meets girl. Well, actually, boy meets several girls and, um, well, things, erm, get fairly awkward. Then boy meets the girl and after much flirting, some killer gags and Hugh Grant at his most charmingly bumbling and foppish… well, you know the rest. A strong supporting cast and a tear-jerking funeral scene give it all extra heart.
Director Phil Traill
Cast Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick
‘Rogue One’ star Felicity Jones is at the heart of this fluffy fun British romcom. She plays Kim, a working class skateboard champion who becomes a chalet girl after her mum’s death – and ends up falling for a wealthy (and taken) client.
Directors: Nick Park, Steve Box
Cast: (Voices) Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter
In a bid to help the village from a plague of rabbits who are destroying their vegetables and to lose weight, Wallace accidentally turns himself into the were-rabbit. Of course, havoc and mayhem ensues. This is a sprightly addition to Aardman’s ‘Wallace and Gromit’ series, especially if you’re into bunnies.
Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston
This entertaining and feelgood coming-of-age dramedy sees Jennifer Aniston excel as a former pageant queen whose plus-size, teenage daughter enters a pageant as a protest. Even better: it's all soundtracked by Dolly Parton.
Director: Wayne Wang
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson
A modern-day Cinderella story, Jennifer Lopez plays a maid in a hotel who, thanks to a case of mistaken identity, finds herself embroiled in a potential love affair with senatorial candidate played by Ralph Fiennes. Yes, this is about as saccharine as things get, but it has all the right ingredients for classic romcom confectionary that’ll leave you buzzing with a sugar high long after the credits roll.
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