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24 Feel-Good Movies to Lift Your Spirits

Sometimes you're just not in the mood for a super-serious film.

If you watch the Oscars, you might have noticed that the movies that get nominated for Best Picture tend not to be especially upbeat. Sure, there are exceptions—like Barbie—but for the most part, the nominees tend to be dominated by more somber stuff. And those are fine films, but sometimes you just want to put on a feel-good movie that'll give you a mood boost and lighten your spirits.

Maybe what you need to watch at the end of a long day at work is a simple, sweet story. Or maybe you want to sit back and enjoy something a little more current, full of fun pop culture references. Maybe you want to do a throwback to the halcyon days of childhood and rewatch a Disney film. Whatever it is that will help you unwind, we've got a bunch of recommendations of good, light movies to choose from.

Read on to see which 24 feel-good movies are the best and most uplifting. Whether you're in the mood for an '80s rom-com, an animated delight, an upbeat action romp, or a little bit of music, we've got you covered.

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1. Crazy Rich Asians

In Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu stars as Rachel, a pretty normal young woman in New York City who is invited by her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to travel to his home of Singapore for his best friend's wedding. Once there, she discovers that Nick's family isn't just rich but… crazy rich. And Nick's mother, played by Michelle Yeoh, doesn't think that Rachel is a worthy match for her son, leading to all sorts of glamorous drama.

Based on the 2013 novel of the same title, this comedy-drama was a sensation when it came out in 2018, also drawing praise for being such a high-profile blockbuster with an all-Asian main cast. Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, and Ken Jeong co-star.

2. Little Miss Sunshine

Abigail Breslin stars as the youngest child in a charmingly dysfunctional family that sets out on an 800-mile road trip in their iconic yellow Volkswagen van so she can compete in the titular "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant in this 2006 dramedy. Although the family has plenty of conflict along the journey, it's ultimately a lovely, heartwarming story about togetherness and being proud of who you are. Little Miss Sunshine was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two, including a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Alan Arkin, part of a star-studded cast which also includes Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, and Greg Kinnear.

3. The Devil Wears Prada

A whip-smart and hilarious riff on the high fashion and New York publishing world, 2006's The Devil Wears Prada stars Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine and a clear riff on Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Anne Hathaway is Andy, a young journalist who gets a job as Miranda's assistant despite having no experience with—or even appreciation for—the fashion industry. However, as Andy becomes more enmeshed in the glamorous fashion world, she gains respect for what Miranda does (even if she's quite difficult). Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci deliver hall-of-fame supporting roles as Andy's fashion-forward new co-workers.

4. Toy Story

Pixar's first movie and also the first full-length computer-generated animated film changed cinema forever. But, 1995's Toy Story is also a delightful romp for all ages. Tom Hanks voices Woody, a toy cowboy and the favorite of Andy's playthings. He's the top dog of the toy box until a new Space Age-action figure, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) shows up. Although Woody's initial jealousy puts him and Buzz in danger, they're able to overcome their differences and become best buds.

It's no wonder why Toy Story started a beloved franchise (not to mention helped make Pixar the cultural force it is today), so the good news is that there are three more Toy Story films to watch if you're not done playing once the credits roll.

5. When Harry Met Sally…

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan star as the title characters in this 1989 film, which might be the greatest rom-com ever made. Written by the great Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally… is about two people who don't especially like each other when they first meet, but after a few chance encounters years later in New York City, finally become close friends. But, as the movie asks, "Can men and women ever just be friends?"

Will romantic tension spoil Harry and Sally's friendship or will they become something more? As heartfelt as it is hilarious, When Harry Met Sally… is perhaps best known for an iconic scene in Katz's Deli and the famous quote "I'll have what she's having"—the context of which we wouldn't dare spoil in the event you don't already know it.

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6. The Princess Bride

Another Rob Reiner-directed movie, The Princess Bride is perhaps the best fairy tale ever put to film. Cary Elwes stars as Westley, a farmhand-turned-pirate who embarks on an epic quest to rescue his love, Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) from the rascals who have kidnapped her. Along the way he'll have to overcome obstacles like the Fire Swamp and foes like the swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and the hulking Fezzik (André the Giant). The movie's framing device establishes it as a fable that a Grandpa (Peter Falk) is reading to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). The story lifts his spirits—it's sure to lift yours, too.

7. Spider-Man

Perhaps the first great superhero film of the modern era (give or take an X-Men), director Sam Raimi's 2002 take on the iconic web-slinger stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, a down-on-his-luck teen who gains superpowers when he's bit by a genetically modified spider. After tragically learning how "great responsibility" must come with "great power," Spider-Man must battle with the Green Goblin (a delightfully unhinged Willem Dafoe) and save his childhood crush, Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst). Though some aspects of it might seem a bit corny or dated compared to the more recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Spider-Man is so earnest that it's impossible not to get caught up in its wonderful web.

8. The Breakfast Club

John Hughes directs this 1985 classic about five high schoolers from different cliques—a Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), an Athlete (Emilio Estevez), a Basket Case (Ally Sheedy), a Princess (Molly Ringwald), and a Criminal (Judd Nelson)—who all end up in all-day detention under the begrudging supervision of Vice Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason). Although the five of them think they couldn't have any less to do with one another, their detainment in the school library ends up being very revealing, as they learn a lot more about themselves, defying those reductive labels. Don't You (Forget About How Good This Movie Is).

9. To All the Boys I've Loved Before

A new teenage rom-com classic, Netflix's 2018 adaptation of the YA novel of the same name stars Lana Condor as a shy but romantic high schooler who deals with her crushes by writing them letters that she'll never send… until her precocious younger sister actually drops them all in the mail. Soon, Lara Jean is approached by the titular boys she's loved before, leading to a comedy of errors where she "pretends" to actually be with one of them (played by Noah Centineo) to dissuade another. However, their act just might turn into something real.

10. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams star in this 2020 Netflix comedy that's too bonkers to not put a smile on your face. The pair play Icelandic musicians who dream of winning the famous (and real) Eurovision Song Contest. As one might hope and expect from a comedy about a musical competition that can already be pretty outlandish, The Story of Fire Saga's tunes are a rollicking highlight.

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11. Dirty Dancing

Nobody puts Baby in a corner, but nobody should leave 1987's  Dirty Dancing off a list of feel-good movies, either. Jennifer Grey stars as Frances Houseman (a.k.a. Baby), a young woman who falls in love with a dashing dance instructor (Patrick Swayze, looking incredible) while on vacation at a Catskills resort with her family. Full of laughs, melodrama and, yes, dancing, you'll have the time of your life watching Dirty Dancing.

12. Coming to America

Eddie Murphy plays a crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda who heads to the States in an attempt to find a wife for himself rather than settle for an arranged marriage to a bride who is only interested in his royal status. Cultural miscommunications and romantic hijinks ensue when Prince Akeem heads to Queens, New York. James Earl Jones co-stars in this 1988 classic as King Jaffe Joffer, as does Arsenio Hall, who plays multiple characters, same as Murphy.

13. Bring It On

If you're feeling down, what better way to get some cheer than a movie about cheerleaders? However, the cheerleading in Bring It On is intense, invigorating, and very funny! Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union star in this 2000 teen comedy as rival team captains for two high school cheerleading teams preparing for a high-stakes national contest. Eliza Dushku and Jesse Bradford co-star.

14. Hook

Looking to feel good by reconnecting with your childhood? Why not watch 1991's Hook, a Steven Spielberg film that Millennials especially love. Robin Williams plays a grown-up Peter Pan who has long since left Neverland (and forgotten it entirely) to become a boring corporate lawyer. When Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) invades the real world to kidnap his two children, Peter must return to Neverland and remember the boy he was. Julia Roberts plays Tinker Bell, and the great John Williams provides a score that's quietly one of the best of his illustrious career.

15. Superbad

Before she was a two-time Best Actress Oscar-winner, Emma Stone made her film debut in 2007's Superbad, a teen coming-of-age romp that was one of the highlights of the mid-'00s Judd Apatow-associated comedy boom. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera play two high schoolers on the eve of graduating who make it their mission to actually go to a party and get laid before heading off to college. Stone plays Hill's crush; Seth Rogen (who co-wrote the screenplay when he was still in high school himself) and Bill Hader feature as well.

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16. 13 Going on 30

In this 2004 rom-com, Jennifer Garner plays Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old girl who is tired of the ordeals and embarrassments of middle school and makes a birthday wish to be 30. Magically, she wakes up to find that her wish has come true, but being 30 might not be all it's cracked up to be—and she might not actually be all that great of an adult. Mark Ruffalo co-stars as Matty, Jenna's childhood bestie who she learns her alternate self started shunning back in high school. 13 Going on 30 can be called a '00s take on Big, which is both high praise and not at all inaccurate. (For what it's worth, Big is a great feel-good movie, too.)

17. The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl

This absolutely charming 2017 anime from Masaaki Yuasa follows two college students over the course of one crazy, fantastical, and hilarious night. One of them wants to say yes to everything the night throws at her, drinking copious amounts and making all sorts of strange new friends. The other is trying to woo the young woman, but his night doesn't go quite as smoothly as hers. The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl perfectly encapsulates the magic of being young and beautifully naive.

18. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Playing Dungeons & Dragons is a very fun activity, but if you can't gather a few other players and a Dungeon Master to roll some dice (scheduling is a tougher foe than any fire-breathing drake), you could do a lot worse than watching 2023's Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Starring Chris Pine as a charismatic bard and Michelle Rodriguez as his terse barbarian friend, Honor Among Thieves miraculously captures the lively spirit of tabletop play and boasts plenty of side-splitting jokes and legitimately thrilling action sequences. Hugh Grant is incredible as the con artist villain, Forge Fitzwilliam.

19. A Hard Day's Night

If you're looking for a feel-good movie because it's been a hard day, why not watch A Hard Day's Night, the Beatles' beloved 1964 musical comedy? John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr appear as lightly fictionalized versions of themselves as the Fab Four get into various shenanigans and play some of their early hits. A Hard Day's Night is a pure delight, even if you're not the world's biggest Beatlemaniac.

20. Ocean's Eleven

Does anything beat the feeling of watching a good heist movie? And is there a better heist movie than Ocean's Eleven, Steven Soderbergh's supremely, effortlessly cool 2001 remake of the Rat Pack original? George Clooney leads an all-star cast as Danny Ocean, a con man who wants to do the impossible and rob a Vegas casino, not just because of all the riches inside the vault but because the casino's owner, Terry Benedict (Andy García) happens to be dating his ex-wife (Julia Roberts). Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, and Bernie Mac help make up Danny's crew of 11 thieves in this perfect movie—and I don't say that lightly.

RELATED: The 15 Movies That Won the Most Oscars.

21. Galaxy Quest

The best parodies are the ones that have a loving reverence and understanding of their source material. That's how they're able to really skewer 'em. That's especially true of 1999's Galaxy Quest, a fantastic spoof of Star Trek that stars Tim Allen as a William Shatner stand-in, the former star of a canceled sci-fi series with a cult following. When he and his old co-stars, played by Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tony Shalhoub (plus Sam Rockwell), are recruited to fight in an alien war by a race of extraterrestrials who thought their small-screen exploits were real, the stakes become much higher—and much funnier.

22. The Emperor's New Groove

Of all the Disney animated movies, 2000's The Emperor's New Groove might just be the House of Mouse's best pure comedy. David Spade stars as the voice of Kuzco, the self-centered ruler of an Incan empire who finds himself transformed into a llama thanks to the machinations of his sorcerous adviser, Yzma (Eartha Kitt). John Goodman voices Pacha, a lowly commoner that the llama-fied Kuzco must rely on, and Patrick Warburton steals the show as Yzma's himbo henchman, Kronk. The Emperor's New Groove is not part of the pantheon of the Greatest Disney Movies Ever Made, but it's certainly the one that will make you laugh the most—and that counts for a lot.

23. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

By far the most shagadelic movie on this list, the 1997 comedy Austin Powers is a loving spoof of the James Bond movies of the '60s. Mike Myers plays the titular super-spy, a British secret agent from the peace and "free love" era who is frozen and then awoken in the then-present of the '90s so he can stop his nemesis, Dr. Evil (also played by Myers). Smartly silly with an especially groovy soundtrack, Austin Powers might be just the feel-good film you need, baby.

24. Josie and the Pussycats

This 2001 musical comedy, starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson as the band from Archie Comics, is a much stranger and much more fun adaptation than you might initially expect from the source material. A shockingly cutting parody of early '00s music, celebrity, and consumer culture, Josie and the Pussycats is downright subversive in addition to being a fantastic time with some great, original bops. Alan Cumming and Parker Posey co-star, with the latter delivering a truly memorable performance.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more