Real life dealt you one too many steaming plates of shit? This’ll help – stick your feet up, pour a bloody great big glass of wine and settle in with our countdown of the 25 movies streaming now on Netflix UK that are most guaranteed to cheer you up.
Feelgood movies on Netflix
Director Amy Heckerling
Cast Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd
A film so definitive in the teen-flick canon that it’s even inspired a recent feature-length documentary (‘Beyond Clueless’), this whip-smart, high-school-set adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ remains the gold standard for snarky teen romance.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Mean Girls’
Director John Carney
Cast Aiden Gillen, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
This foot-tapping, heart-strumming musical tale from the director of ‘Once’ and ‘Begin Again’ follows a boy dreaming of pop stardom in ’80s Dublin. When Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is pulled out of private school and sent to a rough local Catholic school, he decides rock ’n’ roll is the answer and sets up a band.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Once’
Director Frank Darabont
Cast Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
For the first couple of hours, this legendary audience-pleaser is anything but feelgood: a raw, gloomy prison movie sourced from a Stephen King novel. Then the truth is revealed, and suddenly we’re in one of modern cinema’s most inspiring tears-of-joy-jerkers.
Watch it if you liked... ‘The Green Mile’
Director Robert Luketic
Cast Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson
Reese Witherspoon takes on the male establishment – and creates an ultra-modern feminist heroine in the process. She plays Elle Woods, the seemingly airheaded California girl who gets dumped by her aristocratic boyfriend, enrols into Harvard Law School to impress him and ends up a high-flying legal eagle in her own right.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Election’
Director Steven Soderbergh
Cast Julia Roberts, Aaron Eckhart
We’re always ready to root for an underdog. Julia Roberts (in a career high) stars in the true story of Erin Brockovich, a gutsy single mum-of-three who took on a massive Californian corporation after she discovered they were polluting a city’s water supply.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Pretty Woman’
Director Morgan Matthews
Cast Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall
This tender British indie is a real gem. ‘X+Y’ follows autistic teen maths prodigy Nathan, played by Asa Butterfield, who travels to Taiwan to compete in a global competition, but it’s his relationship with his mother (Sally Hawkins) that leaves a lasting impression.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’
Director Adam McKay
Cast Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg
‘Anchorman’ writer-director McKay reunites with star Ferrell for this merrily idiotic comedy about a pair of hapless New York cops. There’s a running joke involving Michael Keaton and the songs of TLC that’ll have you on the floor.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’
Director Lasse Hallstrom
Cast Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri
A culture-clash foodie fable. Helen Mirren is Michelin star-seeking Madame Mallory, the owner of a fine-dining establishment in the south of France, who is less than impressed when an Indian family set up an eatery of their own across the road.Watch it if you liked… ‘Chocolat’
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.Watch it if you liked… ‘Inside Out’
Director Frank Capra
Cast Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable
This 1934 will-they-won’t-they road movie set the template for pretty much every romcom since – but few have managed to better it. Claudette Colbert stars as a runaway heiress and Clark Gable is the sharp-tongued reporter on her trail. ‘It Happened One Night’ deserved every one of its five Oscars.
Watch it if you liked… ‘The Philadelphia Story’
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.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Easy A’
Director Lasse Hallstrom
Cast Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp
A film about society, sex and the life-changing power of really good chocolate. Juliette Binoche plays Vianne, a young mother in 1950s rural France whose new chocolate shop shakes up the repressed community in this sweet-toothed movie.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Amélie’
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…
Watch it if you liked... ‘American Beauty’
Director John Hughes
Cast Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara
One of the most insanely quotable movies of all time (‘Rooney… you’re an asshole!’), Hughes’s full-of-heart rich-kid road movie shows no signs of losing its sheen almost four decades later.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Weird Science’
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.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Jerry Maguire’
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.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Role Models’
Director Nicholas Hytner
Cast Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd
As far as we know, this is the only Jennifer Aniston romcom directed by a peer of the realm. Eyebrows were raised when ‘Madness of King George’ director Sir Nicholas Hytner took on this mainstream multiplex romance, but the results are rather lovely, in an old-fashioned sort of way.
Watch it if you liked… ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’
Director Donald Petrie
Cast Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts was virtually unknown when she played second fiddle in this cosy coming-of-age comedy about three waitresses at the pizza parlour in Mystic, Connecticut. Best value of all is the great Lili Taylor as – you guessed it – the mouthy one of the bunch.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Say Anything’
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.
Watch it if you liked… ‘10 Things I Hate About You’
Director Rob Sitch
Cast Sam Neill, Billy Mitchell
Very loosely based on real events during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, ‘The Dish’ is a lovely culture-clash comedy about the construction of a radar relay station in the middle of the Australian outback, allowing Nasa to broadcast the moon landings live on TV.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Crocodile Dundee’
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.
Watch it if you liked… ‘Made in Dagenham’
Director Joe Dante
Cast River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke
Not just for kids, this giddy, goofy adventure about three science-obsessed high-schoolers who build their own spaceship is awestruck Spielbergian entertainment par excellence.
Watch it if you liked... ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial’
Director Melville Shavelson
Cast Cary Grant, Sophia Loren
A deliciously sweet comedy with just a hint of sharpness, this old-school Hollywood romance finds a dad (Cary Grant) struggling to reconnect with his kids when their mother dies, while at the same time falling for a runaway Italian heiress (Sophia Loren). When they’re all confined to a rickety houseboat, heartwarming mishaps ensue…
Watch it if you liked… ‘Some Like It Hot’
Director Woody Allen
Cast Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels
In the wake of recent gossip, it’s getting difficult to feel completely good while watching a Woody Allen movie – but he’s not in this one, which helps. The tale of a depressed housewife who meets her screen crush (literally), it’s pure, unadulterated joy.
Watch it if you liked... ‘Midnight in Paris’