As we know pretty well by now, real life and current affairs can really get you down. For many of us, Netflix is the antidote and escapism we need from daily life. However, with so many titles to choose from, it can be hard to know which films will leave your spirits high.
Well, we’re here to help. From wild action comedies such as ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and classic romcoms like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral to Reese Witherspoon’s iconic turn as Elle Woods in ‘Legally Blonde’, movie musicals like ‘La La Land’ and ‘Burlesque’ and Netflix Originals such as ‘Dumplin’’ and ‘Always Be My Maybe’, here’s our guide to the 25 best feelgood movies streaming on Netflix UK right now that are guaranteed to cheer you up. (Updated 20 Jan 2020.)
Recommended: Not a Netflix fan? Here are the 30 best films streaming on Amazon Prime UK right now.
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: Susan Johnson
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo
To deal with her intense crushes, Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes secret love letters to the boys she lusts after, which no one is ever meant to see. Of course, these letters end up being sent out and Lara Jean must deal with her feelings, and the implications of the letters, head on.
This Netflix Original movie, based on the book of the same name by Jenny Han, has been praised by all corners of the internet, especially for the performances of Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, who plays love interest Peter Kavinsky. It looks like the romcom is officially back.
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: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, DeWanda Wise
This romcom might not be the most original or groundbreaking addition to the genre, but sometimes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, focus on friendship and the chemistry that this film’s three female leads have in abundance.
Director: Roger Kumble
Cast: Christina Milian, Adam Demos, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
The concept of this film is preposterous: an American woman loses everything but then happens to win a New Zealand inn (?!) which she attempts to renovate and flip with the help of her hunky contractor. Naturally, their relationship gets complicated. Essentially it’s a hit of sugar and who can complain about that?
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair
Reese Witherspoon stars in this early ’00s classic about sorority girl Elle Woods and her mission to get her ex-boyfriend back, which involves, incredibly, getting into Harvard Law School and subsequently becoming a badass lawyer. Camp, romantic and inspirational (we still remember that you can’t wash your hair 48 hours after getting a perm), this film is funny and fabulous.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
What could be more feelgood than a musical that pays homage to the classic movie musicals of Hollywood? While not completely free from fraught romance and moments of melancholy, it captures the go-getter spirit of LA and the wonder of those old-fashioned big musical numbers, while telling a story about going out and achieving your dream.
Director Mark Osborne
Cast Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy (voices)
This sweet, faithful adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s much-loved book skipped the cinema and landed straight on Netflix. It’s a charming mix of computer 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: Nahnatchka Khan
Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park
Netflix continues its romcom reign with this touching and funny film about childhood friends Sasha and Marcus (played by Ali Wong and Randall Park) who have a falling out and don’t speak for 15 years. Brought back together when Sasha, now a celebrity chef, returns to her hometown of San Francisco to open a new restaurant, she finds her former friend to be a happily complacent musician still living at home and working for his dad. Naturally, things become complicated.
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: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Cast: (Voices) Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
Who doesn’t love that age-old tale about an outcast ogre, a talking donkey and a princess locked in a tower guarded by a dragon? Of course, this animation totally subverts all the fairytale tropes with delightful results, while promoting the message that true beauty is subjective.
Director: Ryan Murphy
Cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, James Franco, Viola Davis
Julia Roberts stars in this soul-searching bildungsroman that follows an unhappy Manhattanite on her journey of self-discovery, spirituality, food and love. It’s cheesy at times, emotional at others, and filled with some fabulous shots of pasta. It’ll make you want to take an extended gap year.
Director: Nora Ephron
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams
The last feature film from writer, director and producer Nora Ephron, this comedy-drama about a famous chef Julia Childs (played by a eccentric Meryl Streep) and home cook Julie Powell, who attempts to cook all 524 recipes in one of Child's recipe books in 365 days, is a throwback to the films of old, where dreams become reality.
Director Ron Shelton
Cast Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Former minor league baseball player, director Ron Shelton turned his insider eye over the fates of a hot young pitcher (Tim Robbins) and 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: Will Gluck
Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badley, Stanley Tuccci
Will Gluck’s twenty-first-century take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’ is a film that brings the spunk back to the teen comedy. Stone plays Olive, a straight-A student who taps into her school’s rumour mill for social clout and financial gain. If you like your teen comedies with real jokes and skewed morals, this one is for you.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts
While not critically adored at the time of release, this rejigged tale about an all-grown-up Peter Pan and his ongoing feud with Captain Hook has become a cult classic. Robin Williams is great, as is a campy Dustin Hoffman, and we challenge you not to want to run away with the Lost Boys. Yes it’s sweet and sentimental, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Director: Michael Patrick King
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
Unlike the highly problematic sequel, the first ‘Sex and the City’ movie is a total romp. Just like a two-hour episode of the beloved HBO dramedy, the film tells the story of Carrie Bradshaw and her cabal of friends as she navigates love and life in New York City. This time, however, the budget is higher, the clothes even more glamorous and the sex slightly less in your face.
Director: Emile Ardolino
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey
Nobody puts Baby in the corner; they put her on Netflix instead. Revisit this 1987 classic for ‘the lift’, Patrick Swayze’s hips, ‘(I've Had) The Time of My Life’ and more romance than you can shake a feather boa at.
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.
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake
Normally we’d say avoid any films starring pop stars pivoting to acting (aside from Cher). However, former boybander Justin Timberlake is surprisingly convincing as a metrosexual man embroiled in a no-strings sex pact with Mila Kunis that, obviously, finds itself strung up with complications. Kunis is the real star here, though, as she solidifies her stance as a brilliant comedic actor, and there are some wonderfully dated references to flashmobs that aren’t to be missed.
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.
Cast: Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore
Very much a product of its time, this sequel to the early ’00s reboot of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ is weird, wild and wonderful. From the generous liberties taken with earthly physics to the brilliant chemistry between the film’s three leads, there’s just so much to love (and laugh about).