10 “Unexpected” Feel Good Films:
Inspiration Overlooked, Until Now

How a feel good film story affects your inner sensibilities usually determines it’s lasting power. I think we can all agree that there is a certain type of magic that happens when we view a film that rises above run of the mill like mercury in a thermometer when heated.

It’s the kind of cinematic magic that, for two glorious hours, whisks you away into a world where anything is possible and the only reality you feel is taking place onscreen. A powerful film can motivate, inspire, and reenergize our spirit to the fullest.

If I had to recall 10 times in my life that I’ve cried like a baby, I must concede that five to six of those times have been in a movie theatre or on a couch watching a great film. I no longer try to explain my emotional responses—I just embrace the moment and try to remember not to wipe my teary eyes with my butter soaked napkin.

Today, thousands of feel good films are just one click away thanks to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, where there are plenty of movies that could change your day, or perhaps even your life.

Through dedicated days and nights of binge watching and movie marathons, we’ve compiled a list of 10 awe-inspiring, feel good films that we guarantee will skyrocket your spirit.

Ten Uplifting Movies

10.  Marty (1955)

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Cast & Crew: Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair (Actors); Paddy Chayefsky (Writer); Delbert Mann (Director)

What’s It About: Marty, a good natured, socially awkward, single 34-year-old Italian-American butcher, is hounded by his overbearing mother to find a wife and settle down—but on her terms.

Why We Recommend It: An oldie can often surprise us with how it actually remain relevant with it’s timeless message. Many people have issues with self-confidence, lack of romantic prospects, or a past filled with heartbreak. Marty is one of the most perfect feel good films to get you back in the game of love, because after all, to be happy in life…love is all we need! This film sweetly affirms that there truly is somebody for everybody. The script, directing, and Ernest Borgnine’s masterful performance was rewarded with Oscars in 1955 for Best Actor and Best Picture

9.  Frances Ha (2013)

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Cast & Crew: Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner (Actors); Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (Writers); Noah Baumbach (Director)

What’s It About: A young woman bounces from place to place, chasing her dream of becoming a professional dancer. The only problem is she’s hopelessly talentless; but that doesn’t deter her iron will and laser focused pursuit of her dreams

Why We Recommend It: Some people allow their disposition or outlook on life to deter them from pursuing their dreams. But the true measure of success is having the courage to pursue what you love regardless of the outcome. This movie sends a resounding vote of “Yes!” to that timeless and proverbial pursuit.

8.  The Wood (1999)

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Cast & Crew: Elayn J. Taylor, Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones (Actors); Rick Famuyiwa and Todd Boyd (Writers); Rick Famuyima (Director)

What’s It About: Three childhood friends come together for the wedding of one of them and as the groom staves off wedding day jitters, they reminisce about the vibrant and magical days of their youth.

Why We Recommend It: You may not remember this one, which in and of itself creates it’s unexpected presence on our list. It’s a poignant (and sometimes comical) journey of friendship, love, and the mistakes we all make growing up. You may find yourself re-visiting your own past—which just might help you better understand and appreciate your life today.

7.   Clerks (1994)

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Cast & Crew: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson and Marilyn Ghigliotti (Actors); Kevin Smith (Writer); Kevin Smith (Director)

What’s It About: The quirky and comedic day in the life of two convenience store clerks.

Why We Recommend It: When you think feel good films, you might take a double-take on Clerks. But if you’ve ever had (or currently have) a sucky internship, dead-end 9 to 5, or run of the mill mundane job that you absolutely hate, this film will make you feel loads better about yourself and any horrible job that you may currently hold. It reinforces the fact that no matter how bad your job or position may be, as long as you’ve got your friends and family by your side, you’re never truly alone.

6.  The Station Agent (2003)

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Cast & Crew: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Cannavale (Actors); Tom McCarthy (Writer); Tom McCarthy (Director)

What’s It About: After his best friend dies, a man born with dwarfism deals with his grief by moving to rural New Jersey to live a life in solitude at an abandoned train depot that he has inherited. But the universe has a different plan when his solace is disrupted by an annoying hot dog vendor and an eccentric artist dealing with her own loss.

Why We Recommend It: This most unlikely of feel good films reaffirms my own personal belief that the best of life is lived as part of a community. And that holds true when these three characters from completely different backgrounds help one another face (and defeat) their personal demons—which will leave you believing in the power of friendship.

5.  Marley (2012)

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Cast & Crew: Family & Friends of Bob Marley (Cast); Steve Bing, Chris Blackwell and Geraldine Hawkins (Producers); Kevin Macdonald (Director)

What’s It About: A captivating documentary about the life of human rights activist and reggae pioneer and legend, Bob Marley.

Why We Recommend It: When most people think of Bob Marley, they think of reggae music and the marijuana culture, but the man himself was so much more. He was a prolific songwriter and social activist who never gave up on the vision for the betterment of his people, children and his own life. His early years were wrought with heartache and challenges as he was disowned by his white father and briefly halted his music career; abruptly moving to Delaware to work in a factory. Eventually, the music inside of him led him back to his beloved Jamaica where he helped curb racial tension through his music. This documentary chronicles the life of a music icon who used his gift of music to heal the world. Embrace your own inner-light so that you too can learn how to make a positive difference.

4.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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Cast & Crew: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gerry Robert Byrne (Actors); Georges Bermann, Anthony Bregman, David L. Bushell (Producers); Michel Gondry (Director)

What’s It About: After a failed relationship, a couple has a procedure to erase their memory of one another.

Why We Recommend It: Initial thoughts of this movie may bring to mind pictures of sadness and torment. Feel good, huh? Even though this couple has their memories erased, the universe steps in to make sure they rediscover the magic they never really lost. This classic made our list of feel good films, as it’s  both powerful and inspiring. It will illuminate why we can never forget or change the past; and that’s always an important lesson to remember in order to keep moving forward.

3.  Inside Out (2015)

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Cast & Crew: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Lewis Black (Actors); Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen (Writers & Directors)

What It’s About: A young girl feels her life is ruined when her family moves from the Midwest to San Francisco. Her volatile emotions are characterized as they help her navigate this new and confusing time in her life.

Why We Recommend It: How unexpected that an animated movie could provide us with such wisdom. We all have those little voices in our head that determine which way we go in life and that voice can come in many forms: Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, or Sadness. But, the movie so clearly shows us that it’s at that moment of indecision and angst that we can find our inner-strength and voice to not only face our demons, but also conquer them. It’s a must see for both kids and adults and it won’t disappoint either audience.

2.  Good Will Hunting (1997)

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Cast & Crew: Robin Williams, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Actors); Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Writers); Gus Van Sant (Director)

What’s It About: A young genius who is a janitor at MIT seeks help from a troubled psychologist to find his path in life.

Why We Recommend It: No list would be complete without this king of feel good films.  Aside from the story’s premise, this movie literally ignited the careers of real-life childhood friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, launching them to unexpected, superstardom overnight.

Good Will Hunting shows us that it’s not always what’s in your head that gets you where you need to be, it’s also what’s in your heart.  Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won Oscars for their searing script and the late Robin Williams took home an Oscar as well for his masterful Supporting Actor role.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

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Cast & Crew: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly (Actors); Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald (Producers); Benh Zeitlin (Director)

What’s It About: As a storm floods her ramshackle bayou home, a six-year-old girl must learn about survival and courage as her hot-tempered father’s health threatens both of their lives.

Why We Recommend It: As our #1, top spot holder of feel good films, this raw and captivating film embodies everything this blog is about. It will give you the inspiration and courage to face your own personal battles in life and realize your destined for greatness. The film centers around a six-year old girl named Hushpuppy, who literally must make it through the fight of her own young life after her father Wink becomes mysteriously ill and prepares his daughter for the end of the world.  But perhaps the real danger lies in that as Wink becomes sick, all of nature falls ill with him.  This is where the sheer brilliance of the movie shines through as Beasts of the Southern Wild blurs the line between the fantastical and raw, gut-wrenching emotion.  The film is an apocalyptic epic as it draws parallels to Hurricane Katrina as their community Bathtub faces extinction because of such violent storms and massive flooding. The stunning realism and vividness of the film, hits home as Wink and Hushpuppy have a strained relationship (to say the least), yet Wink does love his daughter and thus, must prepare her for not being just a survivor but a hero to their community.  Watching this beautiful, tough and sometimes frightened little girl face Aurochs (giant horned beasts) compounded with the themes of  loss and survival along with adventure is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

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