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The best feel-good movies to stream on Netflix

Feeling down? The woes of the week finally catching up to you? We’ve all been down in the dumps with no sign of that pesky raincloud departing the region above our heads. Thankfully, though, there’s a great way to push that cumulonimbus away, and it’s a monthly subscription that many of us are regularly paying for. For a delightful pick-me-up, one must look no further than their Netflix subscription. The happy home to a bevy of films that will lift your spirits, there are films from every genre designed to brighten your day in ways both big and small. If you’ve got the blues, we’ve put together this roundup to highlight the best feel-good movies on Netflix right now. Here’s hoping these cinema gems will get you back on track.

Further reading:

Viggo Mortensen and his cast of offspring in Captain Fantastic.

Captain Fantastic (2016)

In Captain Fantastic, Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the patriarchal leader of a left-wing extremist family. Living life off the grid for years, Ben and his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) have reared their six children to think practically and critically and to live off the land. When Leslie passes away unexpectedly, Ben’s beliefs and moral compass are put to the test when the widower is forced to reintegrate his clan into the civilized world. A testament to the strengths that lay in familial numbers, Captain Fantastic wins big with its earnest performances and spirit-lifting narrative, a story buttressed most triumphantly by leading man Mortensen’s believable efforts as the first-in-command of his kin.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George Mackay
Director: Matt Ross
Rating:
 R
Runtime:
119 minutes

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Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction.

Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Will Ferrell rarely steps out of his larger-than-life comedic shoes, but when he does, the actor shows chops that many may not expect from the towering SNL alum. One such side-stepping performance is turned in with Marc Forster’s Stranger than Fiction. Ferrell is cast in the dramatic role of Harold Crick, a disillusioned IRS auditor who begins hearing an omnipotent woman’s voice (Emma Thompson) seemingly in his head, which sheds light on a number of Harold’s daily actions. This oddity grows increasingly dire when the voice begins alluding to Harold’s impending death. Discovering that he’s actually the protagonist of a doomed novel, Harold’s entire existence is thrown into total disarray as he attempts to grapple with his bleak fate. An ingenious story powered by knockout performances from its central cast, Stranger than Fiction will remind us to cherish what we have and love, for nothing truly lasts forever.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson
Director: Marc Forster
Rating:
 PG-13
Runtime:
105 minutes

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Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera in Superbad.

Superbad (2007)

Sometimes a PG feel-good flick simply won’t do. That’s where Superbad comes in, a shining totem of high school hijinks and plenty of bullish humor to keep you in the throes of gut-busting laughter all evening long. Starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as best friends Seth and Evan, the dynamic duo is approaching the end of their senior year, and they’re not looking forward to separating when it comes time for college. Pining for two girls in their class, Jules and Becca (Emma Stone and Martha MacIsaac), the boys are handed the opportunity of a lifetime when they’re invited to a party at Jules’ place. Promising to deliver booze, the underaged youths, with the help of their geeky friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), embark on a nightlong odyssey to procure the alcohol, a journey that will find them at odds with police, bullies, and each other.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen
Director: Greg Mottola
Rating: 
R
Runtime:
113 minutes

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A scene from The Artist.

The Artist (2011)

There aren’t many silent films or black and white movies anymore. But The Artist intentionally calls back to the early days of cinema by employing both techniques to tell the story of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). During the age of silent movies, George is a big movie star who elevates Peppy from an extra, thanks to their undeniable chemistry. Years later, their fortunes are reversed as “talkies” are introduced and George can barely find work while Peppy is a box office sensation. But Peppy won’t let George fall to despair, and she makes it her mission in life to lift him back up again.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
100 minutes

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Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

The Terminal (2004)

Steven Spielberg’s films tend to have high stakes and a large scale. The Terminal has neither, but it is a very effective tale about Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks). While traveling to New York to fulfill his father’s last wish, Viktor suddenly becomes stateless when his homeland, Krakozhia, falls into civil war. The Acting Field Commissioner of the airport, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), wants to force Viktor to leave. And yet Viktor not only manages to survive in the terminal, but he also makes friends with several people. Viktor even romantically pursues Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a flight attendant who takes a liking to him. Unfortunately for Viktor, he can’t fulfill all of his dreams while stranded in a country that isn’t his own.

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Stars: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
128 minutes

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Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up.

Get on Up (2014)

The late Chadwick Boseman left us last year, but Get on Up is one of the films that cemented his legacy. Boseman stars as the iconic singer James Brown in a biopic about his life. This movie tracks several pivotal events that shaped James, from his parents abandoning him to his meteoric rise to stardom after a brief stint in prison. James’ relationship with Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) is also explored, as their collaboration took James to his greatest heights. However James proves to be his own worst enemy, and his self-destructive tendencies nearly cost him everything.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer
Director: Tate Taylor
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
139 minutes

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Rachel McAdams in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

American fans may find this hard to believe, but the Eurovision Song Contest is very real … and it’s also a pretty big deal across the Atlantic. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a very silly movie, but it is also a loving tribute to the annual competition. Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams co-headline the film as Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir. The duo’s band, Fire Saga, has only a limited amount of success together. Yet through a freak occurrence, Fire Saga is chosen to represent Iceland in Eurovision. Unbeknownst to Lars, Sigrit is deeply in love with him. But the pressure of the contest may doom their personal and professional relationships.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Melissanthi Mahut, Mikael Persbrandt, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Director: David Dobkin
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
123 minutes

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Idris Elba in Concrete Cowboy.

Concrete Cowboy (2021)

If you want the feel-good vibes from Concrete Cowboy, you’re gonna have to be patient. It’s a family drama first and foremost. Caleb McLaughlin stars as Cole, a troubled 15-year-old boy who is sent to live with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba). As it turns out, Harp is really into the local horse riding subculture, and he clearly loves his horses more than most of the people in his life. Although Cole has an affinity for one of the more difficult horses, he’s more drawn to his cousin, Smush (Jharrel Jerome). Smush was once a rider himself, but he turned to dealing drugs in order to fund his escape from the city. Ultimately, Cole will have to choose between following his father’s example or his cousin’s darker path.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Stars: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, Clifford “Method Man” Smith
Director: Ricky Staub
Rating:
R
Runtime:
111 minutes

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Claire Danes in Stardust.

Stardust (2007)

Stardust is one of those fantasy movies that seems designed to lift your spirits from start to finish. Charlie Cox stars as Tristan Thorn, a young man who vows to present a falling star to the woman he loves, Victoria Forester (Sienna Miller). What he finds instead is Yvaine (Claire Danes), the fallen star in a pleasing human form. Tristan and Yvaine soon realize that they’re meant for each other, even as the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her sisters pursue the duo so they can eat the heart of a star and recover their youth. Meanwhile, Tristan and Yvaine encounter and befriend Captain Shakespeare of the Caspartine (Robert De Niro), a flamboyant sky pirate who is in need of some affirmation as well.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
128 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Aq scene from The Fundamentals of Caring.

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

When Ben (Paul Rudd) becomes a registered caregiver, nothing prepares him for the once-in-a-lifetime road trip he takes with 18-year-old Trevor (Craig Roberts), a boy with muscular dystrophy. Convincing Trevor’s mother, Elsa (Jennifer Ehle), to allow him and Trevor to leave Seattle on a quest to visit roadside oddities, including the world’s deepest pit, Ben and Trevor form an undeniable bond that weathers a number of emotional events on their journey. In this adaptation of Jonathan Evison’s 2012 novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Paul Rudd delivers a stirring and grounded performance as Ben, helping this rather by-the-books road comedy become something much greater than just another buddy comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, Craig Roberts
Director: Rob Burnett
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
93 minutes

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Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird.

Lady Bird (2017)

It’s senior year for Christine McPherson — or “Lady Bird,” as she prefers to be called. Eager to escape the confines of Catholic school education and her stifling hometown of Sacramento, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of a culture-filled life on the East Coast. Over the course of one year, she weathers school, romances, friendships, family hardships, and college applications, growing increasingly bitter and standoffish as graduation edges closer and closer. A mosaic of Lady Bird’s day-in-the-life experiences, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s stunning directorial debut is a mesmerizing, humorous, and heartwarming coming-of-age tale that reminds us to be thankful for the people in our lives who have never left our sides — no matter how many times we jump out of their passenger seat.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
Director: Greta Gerwig
Rating:
R
Runtime:
94 minutes

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A scene from Chef.

Chef (2014)

Jon Favreau writes, directs, and stars in this culinary comedy-drama. Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) holds an esteemed position as head chef of a high-class Los Angeles restaurant. After a string of disenchanting incidents tank his career, Carl returns to Miami with his ex-wife Inez (Sofía Vergara) and teenage son Percy (Emjay Anthony), where he decides to begin a food truck business that taps into the local Cuban cuisine that Carl admires. Chef is a feast for the eyes and mouth, filled with humor, family moments, and a great cast.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Jon Favreau
Rating:
R
Runtime:
114 minutes

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A scene from Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a foster child, is taken in by Bella Faulkner and her husband Hec. Living on a remote farm with the couple, city-raised Ricky isn’t warming up to their goodwill, and his standoffishness is further challenged when Bella passes away unexpectedly. Emotionally distraught, Ricky takes off into the nearby woods with his dog, Tupac. Hec tracks the pair down but suffers a broken ankle in the process. Together, the trio must contend with the New Zealand wilderness as a search party tries to find the farmer and his foster son. Taiki Waititi brings a breath of fantastical fresh air to the typical childhood adoption sub-genre, giving us one of the most delightful feel-good flicks of this roundup.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
101 minutes

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A scene from Set It Up.

Set It Up (2018)

Charlie (Glenn Powell) and Harper (Zoey Deutch) are the dedicated assistants to two highly-demanding bosses, Kirsten (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs). Tiring of their lives as overworked go-getters, Charlie and Harper take it upon themselves to set their bosses up with the hope that once the two begin dating, their assistants will have more time to enjoy their lives. What ensues is a series of missteps and hijinks that hits all the major beats of the tried-and-true rom-com formula, but in a way that still feels fresh and authentic.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Glenn Powell, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Pete Davidson
Director: Claire Scanlon
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime:
105 minutes

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A scene from Work It.

Work It (2020)

Dance competition films tend to have a formula, and Work It is no exception. The key difference between Work It and other movies in its genre is that it executes the formula extremely well. Sabrina Carpenter stars as Quinn Ackerman, a high school senior who is desperate to build up her resume with some extra-curricular activities so she can get into the college of her dreams. When Julliard Pembroke (Keiynan Lonsdale) denies Quinn a place on the dance team, she joins forces with Jake Taylor (Jordan Fisher) and forms her own team. However, the demands of Quinn’s ambitions and her mother’s plans threaten to end Quinn’s burgeoning romance with Jake as well as her team’s chances to go all the way.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Keiynan Lonsdale
Director: Laura Terruso
Rating:
TV-14
Runtime:
93 minutes

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A scene from The Princess Switch.

The Princess Switch (2018)

Vanessa Hudgens has a very charming dual turn in The Princess Switch as both an ordinary young woman named Stacy DeNovo and the Duchess of Montenegro, Margaret Delacourt. Because Stacy and Margaret feel trapped in their respective lives, they agree to pull a Prince and the Pauper-style caper and temporarily trade places. However, complications ensue when both women start having romantic feelings for the men in each other’s lives. But don’t worry folks, there are no broken hearts in this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Stars: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar
Director: Mike Rohl
Rating:
TV-G
Runtime:
102 minutes

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A scene from Always Be My Maybe.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Ali Wong and Randall Park co-star in this clever 2019 romantic comedy about a pair of childhood friends who rekindle their romantic relationship after their paths cross as adults. The pair co-wrote with Michael Golamco, and the story has the two lead characters deal with the stresses that fame, fear, and old memories can have on a new relationship. While the pair’s experiences are funny enough on their own, the film also includes a cameo role for Keanu Reeves that ranks right up there among the actor’s most memorable performances of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
 102 minutes

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A scene from To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014)

A teenage girl, content to spend her days with her nose in a romance novel, discovers that several secret letters she’d written to her crushes over the years were mysteriously mailed to them. This causes a domino-effect of hilarious hi-jinks and heartwarming moments and leads this teen in a direction she never expected. This 2018 romantic comedy is based on Jenny Han’s novel of the same name; it featured Lana Condor (X-Men: Apocalypse) and became an overnight hit on Netflix. Two sequels were filmed; the first of those sequels, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, was shared on Netflix in February of 2020.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
Director: Susan Johnson
Rating:
TV-14
Runtime:
99 minutes

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A scene from Wine Country.

Wine Country (2019)

Amy Poehler made her feature directorial debut with this 2019 comedy about a group of middle-aged women who descend the hills of Napa Valley to reunite and celebrate one group member’s 50th birthday. Throughout a series of wine-tasting tours, the women joke, bond, and test their friendships. The ensemble cast for this Netflix film is jam-packed. Poehler and fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey, as well as Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, and Emily Spivey, round out the stars. The movie is raunchy, funny, and tender. Wine Country plays like a coming-of-age movie for the middle-aged crowd and teaches us that our friends really do make all the difference in our lives.

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Stars: Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler
Director: Amy Poehler
Rating:
R
Runtime:
103 minutes

Watch on Netflix

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