Let’s face it. Sometimes, life isn’t easy. Sometimes, there isn’t an easy solution. Sometimes, elections, referendums or other global events seem completely beyond your control. And sometimes, you just need something to distract you, cheer you up and make you feel that bit better about the world.
The great Roger Ebert once wrote that the movies are “like a machine that generates empathy”. At a time when politics seems increasingly driven by division, empathy is something we could all do with a little more of. As chocolate boxy as it sounds, the moment you begin to lose sight of the good stuff about humans, that’s the moment humanity loses. So rather than despair, give up or switch off in anger, see if some of the below can help get the old empathy drive back up and running again – and maybe even make you smile in the process.
For any emergency you may encounter, here are the best feel-good movies on Netflix UK:
Every now and then, a film comes along that is so uplifting, so inspiring, so sincerely, unabashedly positive that it makes you smile with every inch of your being. Sing Street, from Once director John Carney, follows a group of teenagers forming their own band. It is one of those films.
Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy are on top form in this likeable comedy-drama about a former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, who joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them.
When Harry Met Sally
You can never enough of what she’s having.
La La Land
“City of stars…” Damien Chazelle’s bittersweet Hollywood romance, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is a toe-tapping delight.
Back to the Future
This sci-fi adventure, starring Martin J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd as the young man and the old inventor who sends him back in time, is at once a fish-out-of-water comedy and a cute romance, as he makes sure his parents get together. Witty, funny, sweet and stylish, this is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Harold Ramis’ comedy about a weatherman who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again is funny, sweet, profound and features a superb central turn from Bill Murray. A verifiable classic.
The Incredible Jessica James
“I’m tall. I’m pretty. I’m smart. Obviously, I will have many great loves in my life.” That’s Jessica James in Netflix’s original film, The Incredible Jessica James. And spoiler alert: she really is.
Lesbians and gays support the miners in this heartwarming take on a true story, which sees one group of social outcasts stand side-by-side with another during the 1984 miners strike. Simply lovely.
Aardman’s animated take on The Great Escape is full of the stop-motion studio’s trademark wit and humour, as Mel Gibson voices a bird leading the flight to freedom from the tyranny of Tweedy’s farm.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Canadian heavy-metal band Anvil delivered a highly influential 1982 album that would inspire the likes of Anthrax and Metallica, and then dropped off the map to begin what would become decades of toiling in obscurity. This cute documentary about them is a rallying tale of underdog talent.
Eddie the Eagle
Dexter Fletcher’s film about the real life British skier who became an unlikely sporting legend is irresistibly feel-good stuff. Irresistibly, we say.
Kung Fu Panda
Because sometimes, life needs its ass kicked by a giant panda.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Taika Waititi’s comedy is a charmingly offbeat affair, as Sam Neill plays a weary, grumpy bloke in the New Zealand bush, who finds himself lumbered with a young city kid Ricky. Stranded in the wilderness, they become the subjects of a nationwide manhunt. The result is daftly over-the-top and undoubtedly majestical.
A Knight’s Tale
Heath Ledger on a horse. Rufus Sewell as a bad guy. Paul Bettany as a naked Geoffrey Chaucer. A Knight’s Tale has everything. Also, jousting!
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
Pirates! Ham! Scientists! Aardman’s stop-motion sea-faring outing is as good as “Wallace and Gromit meets pirates” would suggest. (We highly recommend Gideon Defoe’s original books.)
The hilarious Woody Harrelson makes this zombie comedy a delightfully depraved bit of cinema. Movies are a machine for empathy, but also, they’re great for watching the undead being slaughtered with a banjo.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb
Too soon after Trump winning the 2016 US election? Shut out the alarming plausibility and revel in Peter Sellers’ manic triple-performance in Stanley Kubrick’s wickedly good war satire.