With a little reflection, I’ve learned to self-identify somewhere in the middle on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. While I love being with people, there’s nothing more blissful than spending a couple of quality hours with friends and retreating to the comfort of my couch, a good book in hand. But sometimes, even better than an addicting read is an arsenal of the best feel good movies full of funny, blissful vibes.
A few years ago, I learned a trick that would change my life. In moments of heightened anxiety, fear, or when an uncomfortable emotion would crop up, instead of pushing the feeling away, I’d take it with me on a journey to my happiest places. The Oregon coast, the mountains of Vermont, and my favorite streets in Paris all made the list. But the place I would visit the most? The movies.
Featured image by Teal Thomsen.
In an era of on-demand, always-available-to-stream content, the simple act of seeing a film in the theater somehow feels novel—almost revolutionary. While I love marathoning my favorite series, the temptation to reach for my phone or—gasp—multitask with a little work is very real. But when I’m seated at the movies, a tub of popcorn included, I’m reminded that there’s nowhere else I need to be and nothing else I need to do. Movies as mindfulness? I’ll take it.
I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to get to know someone is by learning their favorite things. Books, podcasts, foods, places, and yes—movies. The art we take in and the things we consume when we’re in need of a little comfort say a lot about who we are. What makes us laugh, crack a smile, or brim with the undeniable look of gratitude gives shape to our character in a way little else can.
With that in mind, I polled the Camille Styles team to get a clearer understanding of the best feel good movies—and trust me, this list does not disappoint. While I offered up my own go-to’s (I’m a Nancy Meyers fan for life), I was inspired to see a variety of recommendations make the cut. Whether you’re a comedy queen, a Y2K pop-culture enthusiast, or in need of something to satisfy your wanderlust, this list of the best feel good movies has you covered.
It marked the end of the lit-inspired teen comedy era. It’s Emma Stone solidifying herself as a star, Penn Badgley oozing effortless heartthrob, and the weirdest-slash-greatest parents ever be put on film: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. It’s a feel-good California fever dream, and absolute PG-13 perfection when you’re wondering what to watch on a plane. — Caitlin, Contributing Editor
School of Rock
You know it’s one of the best feel good movies when you still find yourself quoting it almost 20 years later. School of Rock is one of those feel-good films that takes you on an unexpected ride, and it’s one that I turn to again and again for laughs and entertainment. — Michelle Nash, Executive Producer
What a Girl Wants
Amanda Bynes in her prime. Colin Firth doing his Colin Firth-ing. Winning songs like “I Wanna Be Bad” and “What’s Your Flava.” Maybe it’s about tapping into a little nostalgia for me, but between Bynes’ classics like What a Girl Wants and She’s The Man, that’s nearly four hours of happiness right there. (PS: The Popcast also deep-dived She’s The Man and its perfection.) — Brittany, Content Marketing Director
Collectively, this is my family’s favorite movie (yes, my dad’s, too!). The chemistry between Meryl Streep and Steve Martin is unparalleled. Add in Streep’s character having studied pastry in Paris and coming back to open the most stunning (and perfectly Nancy Meyeres-esque) bakery—well, you know where I’m going with this one. It’s aesthetically pleasing, heart-warming, and all the interiors will inspire you to completely redesign your home—and hire Steve Martin as your architect.
As the title suggests, the relationships are all over the place, but it’s fun to follow and track the shifting feelings and developing romances. Pour a glass of wine, drape your coziest cashmere blanket over you, and cuddle up with someone close. When it comes to the best feel good movies, this ranks at the top of the list. It’s a tear-jerker—but in a way that’ll make you laugh immediately thereafter. — Isabelle, Managing Editor
I love a film that can transport you to a different era and make you feel so immersed in the characters and plot that you completely forget you’re watching a movie. Almost Famous just does it for me, and is there anything more iconic than Kate Hudson’s character and outfits in this movie? Her character, Penny Lane, is the epitome of cool. Plus, this one has a soundtrack that always hits. — Michelle Nash, Executive Producer
Kiki’s Delivery Service
I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in anime films, or curious about them, then this is one of the best feel good movies to start with. Whenever I’m craving a feel-good movie, I’ll watching anything from Studio Ghibli. Yes it’s a cartoon, so you might be fooled into thinking it’s for children, but these movies are enjoyable for all ages. There is so much care put into these films: the imaginative storylines, strong characters, and beautiful artistry makes me feel like I’m dreaming while awake. — Nihel, Social Media Manager
Incredible cinematography and stunning beaches, all seen through the eyes of a 6-year-old as his gorgeous surfer parents take their family on a bohemian adventure around the world… what’s not to love? This documentary traces the travels of legendary surfers Aamion and Daize Goodwin and the story of their family’s connection to the natural world. There’s a purity and sweetness that leaves me feeling inspired, with a renewed hope in humanity. — Camille Styles, Editor-in-Chief
The Age of Adaline
Let’s start here: I named my daughter after this film. My husband and I put it on one night a few months into our marriage (a little begging on my part). Harrison Ford won him over, not to mention the bit of mystery and magic of the plot. Blake Lively is perfection and so is Michiel Huisman. Now, we watch it every year in that week between Christmas and New Year’s. Blake says in the film, “My name’s Adaline but my friends call me Della.” Just so happens that “Della” suits our little Adaline, as well. — Brittany, Content Marketing Director
You don’t need to wait for Christmas to come around to watch The Holiday. (My mom, my sisters, and I collectively watch it at least five times before November even begins.) While certain lines no longer hold up (a lot has changed since 2006), is there really anything more joyful than watching Cameron Diaz and Jude Law’s love story unfold—and savoring every moment Kate Winslet shares her magic on screen?
If you know me, you know that Nancy Meyers is my life’s inspiration (in style, interior design, and the friends and relationships I want my life to contain). If you’re looking for something to inspire a little wanderlust (and prep you for the cozy season to come), put The Holiday on your best feel good movies to watch list—you have my permission to do it ASAP. — Isabelle, Managing Editor