With shelter-in-place mandates still active, it’s not surprising to know that many people are having a difficult time coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody likes being cooped up for extended periods, but sadly, COVID-19 remains virulent. Fortunately there are ways for people’s minds busy in a lock down – such as watching one or more feel good movies. While movies can’t replace friends, family, outdoor activities or a FaceTime session, it can lift spirits and even bring out a smile.
Here are just 10 of the best feel good movies to watch while stuck at home.
Annie Hall (1977)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Annie Hall is considered one of the funniest romantic movies ever made. Set primarily in 1970s Manhattan and Long Island, the film stars and is directed by Woody Allen as Alvy Singer and Diane Keaton in the titular role.Also appearing in prominent roles were Carol Kane, Tony Roberts, Janet Margolin, Shelley Duvall, Christopher Walken and Paul Simon. Both Allen and Keaton won Oscars – respectively for Best Director and Best Actress. Annie Hall has since appeared on several lists from the American Film Institute (AFI).
Back To The Future (1985)
Largely filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood, Back to the Future appears on many leading Top 10 Movie lists. Set in the fictional town of Hill Valley, California, this sci-fi comedy made movie icons of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Lea Thompson as Lorraine-Baines-McFly. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future was financial success, spending nearly three consecutive months at the top of the box office. It also spawned two sequels, Back to the Future II and Back to the Future III, in addition to merchandise, a TV series and a short film – Doc Brown Saves the World (2015).
Best In Show (2000)
For those unfamiliar, Best in Show is a hilarious take on quirky owners competing against one another at a national dog show. Taking place at the fictional Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia, it stars Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey and Jennifer Coolidge. Co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy and directed by Guest, Best in Show appears on several Top 100 Best Comedies lists. Movie fans of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy may recall the cast in several additional recurring roles together, such as This is Spinal Tap (1984) and Waiting for Guffman. (1997)
E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)
One of the best feel good movies ever made, E.T. The Extraterrestrial is about an alien being who gets stranded on planet Earth. Set in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the Steven Spielberg film stars Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote and Henry Thomas as E.T.’s friend Elliott. A critical and financial success, E.T. went on to become the largest grossing movie ever, until surpassed by another Spielberg movie, Jurassic Park (1993). In 2007, the American Film Institute (AFI) selected E.T. The Extraterrestrial as 24th greatest film of all time. Although outdated for some, E.T. The Extraterrestrial remains one of the finest feel good movies of all time for families with children.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Some movies really don’t need much introduction and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of those. Set in 1980s Chicago, the teen comedy film stars Matthew Broderick in the titular role, along with Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Jennifer Grey and Jeffrey Jones. Ferris Bueller is a high school slacker who devises an ingenious way to skip out of classes while doing his best to elude his nemesis and high school Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney. Several iconic Chicago landmarks are featured, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Willis Tower and Wrigley Field. The hilarious comedy was directed by John Hughes, known for several other 1980s comedy classics including The Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Sixteen Candles.
The most successful musical of all time, Grease is about high school friends and teenage romance set in the summer of 1958 in California. A classic for all ages, the musical romantic comedy stars John Travolta as the iconic greaser Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton-John, as a shy transfer student from Australia. Directed by Randal Kleiser, “Grease” features a number of well known songs, whose sing-along lyrics are known all over the world. This includes the title track Grease, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Summer Nights and You’re the One That I Want. A new spinoff TV series – Grease: Rydell High will be released at a later date by HBO’s new HBO Max.
Mama Mia! (2008)
A romantic comedy musical featuring the music from the Swedish pop band ABBA, Mama Mia! tells the tale of a bride-to-be hoping to meet her real father before the marriage. Situated on two breathtaking Greek islands, the film was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and boasts an ensemble cast of several well known actors, including Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski and Meryl Streep. While the reaction from movie critics were lukewarm, the musical comedy was an enormous box office success – so much that it was the highest grossing live-action musical in history, until being surpassed by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017). The lively sequel – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again brought back most original cast members and did quite well critically and financially.
School Of Rock (2003)
For many millennials, rock and roll is a tired old music genre from another century – Something that parents and grandparents grew up with. But School of Rock is as fun as a movie can get. Directed by Richard Linklater, School of Rock stars Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White and Sarah Silverman, along with a host of talented child actors. The film was so financially successful, it was the highest grossing musical-themed comedy movie of all time until surpassed by Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). There’s also a stage adaptation with music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a 10-year reunion in Austin and TV series that ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon.
Toy Story (1995)
One of the most popular animated films of all time, Toy Story is one of those rare movies that has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by John Lassiter and starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Toy Story is about a young boy named Andy Davis whose toys magically come to life. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation, Toy Story was so successful, more feel good movies were released, including the most recent – Toy Story 4 (2019). The films’ most popular characters, like Woody and Buzz Lightyear can be seen in Walt Disney theme parks, video games, TV specials and merchandise.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
With one of the most iconic scenes in movie history, When Harry Met Sally is a delightful romantic comedy set primarily in New York City. Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, the film stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan and in the title roles. Easily one of the best feel good movies of the 20th century, the film portrays Harry and Sally as longtime friends and recent graduates from the University of Chicago. They drive to New York City to pursue their careers but keep bumping into each other, while building their friendship into a romance.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS Local websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles, CBS Chicago, CBS San Francisco and CBS Washington D.C. During his peak years with CBS, he reportedly had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than 5.5 million monthly visitors. His other stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com, among others. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.