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7 best comfort movies ever, ranked

Frodo looking at Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
New Line Cinema

There’s no shortage of complex, deeply emotional, and even unpredictable films out there that can captivate cinephiles for hours. While such perplexing and challenging movies can be intriguing, everyone needs a soothing break every now and then. For these moments, there are specific films that can provide cozy viewing experiences that don’t require much from audiences. These comfort movies are often familiar, nostalgic, and a source of joy, allowing fans to escape for just a little while with stories that don’t take much to enjoy and appreciate.

From beloved animated classics like Toy Story to magical adventures within The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s no shortage of great comfort movies for anyone looking to unwind and be entertained by cinematic treasures. These are the perfect picks for nights when you need a warm blanket and some hot cocoa to go along with a timeless film that’s guaranteed to be a good one.

7. The Parent Trap (1998)

Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap (1998)
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Lindsay Lohan takes on a dual role as identical twins Annie James and Hallie Parker in The Parent Trap. The remake of the 1961 film is centered on the girls who were separated at birth when their parents divorced. By a twist of fate, they are reunited at a summer camp, where they hatch a plan to reunite their parents. They decide to swap identities and live each other’s starkly different lives while orchestrating a series of events that will bring their mom and dad back together.

The Parent Trap is a delightful and humorous romantic comedy that’s fun to revisit as an adult. While the nostalgic Disney film for kids may have had viewers focused on Lohan’s enjoyable performance as the twins back then, rewatching it today may offer a different perspective that sheds more light on the parents’ relationship. Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid are convincing as the separated couple who give love and family a second chance, with all roads leading to a satisfying happy ending.

6. Paddington (2014)

Paddington Bear in Paddington.
StudioCanal

A contemporary feel-good flick that introduced the lovable titular character, Paddington is a charming adaptation of the children’s book series by Michael Bond. The family film follows the adventures of a young Peruvian bear named Paddington (Passages star Ben Whishaw), who travels to London in search of a new home. The polite and well-mannered, but naive bear is taken in by the kind-hearted Brown family, who soon help protect him from an evil taxidermist, Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman).

Paddington soars thanks to the adorable main character, whose boundless optimism and endless curiosity are contrasted with London’s gray skies and jaded citizens. Everywhere the protagonist goes, he brings laughter, kindness, and generosity, ultimately transforming those around him and reminding them of the good things in life. This infectious warmth makes it the ideal film for audiences who need a comforting and uplifting cinematic experience, with the added bonus that the sweet bear’s story continues in the even better sequel titled Paddington 2.

5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

The main characters from My Neighbor Totoro sitting on a tree branch over a river.
Toho

For any fan of Japanese animation, particularly those of Studio Ghibli, My Neighbor Totoro is the obvious choice for a snug night in. The heartwarming tale follows two young sisters, Satsuki (Noriko Hidaka) and Mei (Chika Sakamoto), who move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their ailing mother. As they settle into their new environment, the sisters soon meet magical creatures who take them on enchanting adventures in the nearby forest. The most memorable of these quirky characters is Totoro, a gentle forest spirit who becomes the sisters’ closest companion.

My Neighbor Totoro is among the best movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is also among his more lighthearted works. The 1988 film may be set in post-war Japan, but its heavy focus on escapism and the incorporation of friendly wood spirits give it a lasting legacy as a whimsical and imaginative movie. The Ghibli film invites audiences to immerse themselves in a daydream, inspiring anyone to reconnect with their childlike sense of wonder.

4. Back to the Future (1985)

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.
Universal Pictures

Back to the Future offers a throwback to simpler times, when Doc Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) time-traveling DeLorean dominated pop culture. The 1980s sci-fi classic revolves around teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), who accidentally travels back in time to 1955 in that DeLorean time machine. While there, Marty inadvertently stops his parents from falling in love as teenagers, endangering his own life in the process. As he races against the clock, Marty has to fix what he broke and find his way back to his own year.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future is a widely celebrated time travel movie that makes the most out of the genre’s recognizable tropes to create a simple, yet entertaining film that can be enjoyed over and over again. Marty’s high-stakes journey is exciting and entertaining, and knowing that it all works out alright in the end ensures that fans can stay positive throughout its 116-minute runtime, making it a great comfort watch.

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones staring at a golden idol in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Paramount Pictures

The first Indiana Jones movie is still the ideal one to keep coming back to on days when fans just need to de-stress through a tried-and-tested adventure. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced the world to the intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who is on a quest to find the mythical Ark of the Covenant before it falls into the hands of the Nazis. He must overcome several obstacles, deadly traps, and dangerous locations to find the Ark before the bad guys do.

The 1981 film is full of exhilarating action sequences that made excellent use of practical effects and Ford’s talent and charm. It may be a risky mission for him, but fans already know how it will end, making each twist and turn an enjoyable one. Raiders of the Lost Ark would spawn a somewhat uneven franchise, with the first entry still serving as the best example of an action-adventure film done right and delivering entertainment for the entire family.

2. Toy Story (1995)

Buzz flashes his wrist laser at Woody in Toy Story (1995)
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Several fan-favorite Pixar movies can transport viewers to some of the brightest days of their childhoods, but most people would likely gravitate toward the Toy Story franchise. The first entry in the film series, 1995’s Toy Story, started it all by introducing viewers to a group of talking toys led by the cowboy doll Woody (Tom Hanks). Once secure in his place as Andy’s (John Morris) favorite toy, Woody is threatened by the arrival of a space ranger action figure, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Their rivalry soon leads to trouble for the duo, who end up lost and reluctantly working together to find their way home.

As the first entirely computer-animated feature film, Toy Story was a landmark achievement in animation. It amazed with its innovative visuals, but captured hearts through a moving story that showcased Pixar’s knack for creating touching narratives. The film remains a rewatchable ode to friendship and imagination, transporting audiences back to a time when anything felt possible.

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003)

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins reaching out for the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings- The Fellowship of the Ring
New Line Cinema

Director Peter Jackson achieved what was thought to be impossible when he adapted J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books and created a trilogy that would become a cultural phenomenon. The monumental films bring the magical world of Middle-earth to life as a conflict between good and evil rages. Change comes from an unexpected place, with the humble hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) entrusted with carrying the Ring that could turn the tide. Alongside a fellowship of brave companions, the movies chronicle his epic journey and the battles and schemes around him.

The best fantasy movie franchise ever made is already part of countless viewers’ annual traditions, not just because it’s a technical marvel or an excellent adaptation of a great story, but because it’s extremely comforting and satisfying to revisit. Fans are familiar with the highs and lows of the masterpiece, so it’s easy to completely surrender to the immersive and vivid world the trilogy offers. Whether it’s to cheer for the courageous Frodo or hear Gandalf’s wise words once again, there are many reasons to choose Jackson’s acclaimed work for a particularly cozy weekend spent indoors.

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Hannah Saab
Saab whips up SEO-optimized articles as a writer for Digital Trends and updates top-performing articles on Collider.
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