With a little thought, I learned to identify myself somewhere in the middle of the introvert/extroverted spectrum. Although I love being with people, there is nothing better than spending a few quality hours with friends and retire to the comfort of my sofa, a good book in the hand. But sometimes, even better than an addictive read, there’s an arsenal of the best feel-good movies full of funny, happy vibes.
A few years ago, I learned something that would change my life. In times of heightened anxiety, fear, or when an uncomfortable emotion arose, instead of pushing the feeling away, I took it with me on a journey to my happiest places. The Oregon Coast, the Vermont Mountains and my favorite streets in Paris all made the list. But the place I would visit the most? Movies.
Image selected by Teal Thomsen.
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In the age of on-demand content, always available for streaming, just seeing a movie in theaters feels somehow new, almost revolutionary. While I love marathoning my favorite series, the temptation to reach for my phone or — gasp — multitask with a little work is very real. But when I’m sitting in the movies, a pot of popcorn included, I remind myself that there’s nowhere else I need to be and nothing else I need to do. Films as mindfulness? I’ll take it.
I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to get to know someone is to learn their favorite things. Books, podcasts, foods, places and yes, movies. The art we absorb and the things we consume when we need a little solace says a lot about who we are. What makes us laugh, smile or burst into an undeniable look of gratitude shapes our character in a way few others can.
With that in mind, I interviewed Camille Styles’ team to better understand the best feel-good movies — and trust me, this list does. not disappoint. As I offered my own picks (I’m a lifelong Nancy Meyers fan), I was inspired to see a variety of recommendations make the cut. Whether you’re a comedy queen, a Y2K pop culture buff, or just need something to satisfy your wanderlust, this list of the best feel-good movies has you covered.
This marked the end of the era of lit-inspired teen comedy. It’s Emma Stone solidifying as a star, Penn Badgley oozing effortlessly idol, and the weirdest and greatest parents ever filmed: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. It’s a California fever dream and absolute PG-13 perfection when you’re wondering what to watch on an airplane. — Caitlin, Editor-in-Chief
You know it’s one of the best feel-good movies when you still find yourself quoting it almost 20 years later. school of rock is one of those feel-good movies that takes you on an unexpected journey, and it’s one I turn to again and again for laughs and entertainment. — Michelle Nash, Executive Producer
Amanda Bynes at her peak. Colin Firth doing his Colin Firth-ing. Winning songs like “I Wanna Be Bad” and “What’s Your Flava.” It may be tapping into a bit of nostalgia for me, but between Bynes classics like what a girl wants and She is the man, that’s nearly four hours of bliss right there. (PS: The Popcast also went deep She is the man and its perfection.) — Brittany, Director of Content Marketing
Collectively, it’s my family’s favorite movie (yes, my dad too!). The chemistry between Meryl Streep and Steve Martin is unparalleled. Add the character of Streep having studied pastry in Paris and returning to open the most amazing (and perfectly Nancy Meyeres-esque) bakery – well, you know where I’m going with this one. It’s aesthetically pleasing, warm, and all the interiors will inspire you to completely redesign your home and hire Steve Martin as your architect.
As the title suggests, relationships are everywhere, but it’s fun to track and follow the changing feelings and developing romances. Pour a glass of wine, drape your comfiest cashmere blanket over you, and snuggle up to a loved one. When it comes to the best feel-good movies, this ranks at the top of the list. It’s a tearjerker, but in a way that will have you laughing immediately afterwards. — Isabelle, editor-in-chief
I like a movie that can transport you to another era and make you feel so immersed in the characters and the plot that you completely forget you’re watching a movie. almost known does it just for me, and is there anything more iconic than Kate Hudson’s character and outfits in this movie? Her character, Penny Lane, is the epitome of cool. Plus, this one has a soundtrack that’s always banging. — Michelle Nash, Executive Producer
I know it’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in animated movies or curious about them, then this is one of the best feel-good movies to start with. Whenever I feel like a feel-good movie, I watch anything from Studio Ghibli. Yes, it’s a cartoon, so you might be fooled into thinking it’s for kids, but these movies are enjoyable for all ages. There’s so much care put into these films: the imaginative storylines, strong characters, and beautiful artistry make me feel like I’m dreaming while awake. — Nihel, Social Media Manager
Incredible cinematography and gorgeous beaches, all seen through the eyes of a 6 year old as his gorgeous surfer parents take their family on a bohemian adventure around the world… What’s not to like? This documentary traces the travels of legendary surfers Aamion and Daize Goodwin and the story of their family’s connection to the natural world. There is a purity and sweetness that leaves me feeling inspired, with renewed hope in humanity. —Camille Styles, Editor-in-Chief
Let’s start here: I named my daughter after this movie. My husband and I put it on one night a few months after our wedding (a bit of begging on my part). Harrison Ford conquered it, not to mention the part of mystery and magic of the plot. Blake Lively is perfection, as is Michiel Huisman. Now we watch it every year in that week between Christmas and New Years. Blake says in the movie, “My name is Adaline but my friends call me Della.” It turns out that “Della” is also suitable for our little Adaline. — Brittany, Director of Content Marketing
You don’t have to wait for Christmas to watch Vacations. (My mom, sisters, and I collectively watch it at least five times before November even begins.) While some of the lines no longer hold (a lot has changed since 2006), is there really anything happier than watching Cameron Diaz and Jude Law’s love story unfold and savor every moment Kate Winslet shares her on-screen magic?
If you know me, you know that Nancy Meyers is the inspiration of my life (in terms of style, interior design, friends and relationships I want my life to contain). If you’re looking for something to inspire a little wanderlust (and get you ready for the cozy season ahead), put Vacations on your list of best feel-good movies to watch – you have my permission to do so ASAP. — Isabelle, editor-in-chief