Top 10 Best Feel-Good Movies

Heading into this particularly long-awaited weekend, I’ve decided to cue up a list of my favorite “Feel-Good” movies for you. Apologies in advance to fans of The Notebook and every Garry Marshall movie on the planet (God rest his kind soul), but I just. Couldn’t. Do it.

Categorical preferences aside, by now the appeal for something more joyously substantive might feel appropriate considering the crippling divisions of our post-political convention existence. As movie-lovers, we find a source of strength in the collective stories we tell. These stories connect us with other humans, subvert the false ideals of those in power, and offer us a vision of good health and virtue.

So without further delay, allow me to offer the following list for your consideration:

1. The Big Lebowski (1998)

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Guaranteed a place at the top of nearly every movie list I can think up, let me just tell you this is the greatest comedy ever made. You don’t have to love (or quote) it as much as I do. But if you don’t at least watch it, you’re being very un-Dude.

2. Ikiru (1954)

Ikiru

My first exposure to Japanese master filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. Such a vulnerable, inspiring performance by Kurosawa regular, Takashi Shimura. The birthday party scene was the moment I decided to make movies.

3. Waking Ned Devine (1998)

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After their friend dies of a heart attack while simultaneously winning the lottery, two old Irish dudes scheme to collect the money on his behalf — eventually roping the whole town in on the ruse. You can’t lose with this one.

4. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove

During one of the most contentious election cycles in our history, here’s a fitting and masterful political satire — 0ne of Kubrick’s best and a brilliant largely improvisational performance by Peter Sellers. Remember, there’s no fighting in the war room.

5. Life is Beautiful (1997)

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Because sometimes tears make you feel better. Also, I’m a sucker for father/son stories.   

6. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

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One bored summer, my grandmother forced me to watch this. Her persistence paid off as she now takes credit for my comedic sensibility. This film features a cast of all-time comedy greats and a personal favorite, Jonathan Winters.

7. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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Some of the best screenwriting on the planet. Great cast. So much goodness.

8. Galaxy Quest (1999)

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David Mamet called it one of the most structurally perfect films he’d seen. I also call it one of the funniest. This one has more rewatch-ability than puppies on Youtube.

9. Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

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A technical mess, but this John Patrick Shanley written/directed film is a spiritual and philosophical gem.

10. Chef (2014)

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The always likable Jon Favreau gives us some of his best work in this one. I wrote about it for grad school so it must be good.   

Have some to add? Tell us some of your feel-good favorites.

*Cover photo: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Author: Joshua Morris

Joshua is a worship arts pastor at Catalyst Community Church in Rowlett, TX, a liturgical artist, and independent filmmaker.

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