18 Uplifting Movies That Will Make You Feel Good
Recently we looked at the best mind bending movies and films based on true crime. Well, it’s time to move away from these bleak and dark genres to a more upbeat type of flick. The uplifting film is a staple of Hollywood. These heart-warming and inspirational stories give viewers a feeling of hope. They’re the perfect movie for when you feel down and need motivation.
When times get tough, pop on one of these sweet and touching classics to make you smile. They’re not only uplifting but critically acclaimed classics that transcend time. Several inspirational movies have won numerous awards and set worldwide records, but most importantly, they will make you feel good.
18 Uplifting Movies That Will Make You Feel Good
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a Wonderful Life is an uplifting, inspiring, and heartwarming classic Christmas movie. It’s wise to watch this iconic movie with a box of tissues.
In Bedford Falls, New York, George Bailey (portrayed by James Stewart) contemplates committing suicide when his guardian angel, Clarence, shows up. Bailey is the type of man who gave up his dreams to help his family and community. Clarence shows Bailey the life of his family and friends if George wasn’t born.
Despite receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, It’s A Wonderful Life got mixed reviews in 1946. In the 70s, it reached a broader audience, becoming a critically acclaimed, uplifting Christmas movie.Watch on Plex
2. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
To get an uplifting ending, characters often go on an intense journey full of pain and heartbreak. Nobody knows that better than Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins). In the critically acclaimed Shawshank Redemption, Dufresne receives a life sentence at Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover. Despite claiming his innocence, he spends over 20 years behind bars forming a close friendship with Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman).
Dufresne spends his days and nights staring at a Rita Hayworth poster, laundering money for the cruel warden, and digging a tunnel to his freedom. Shawshank Redemption hit theatres to rave reviews but bombed at the box office. It received several Academy Award nominations but failed to make an impact. It wasn’t until a few years later that the movie gained a cult following before gaining widespread praise.Watch on Netflix
3. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Good Will Hunting proves that falling in love is sometimes the best path in life. Set in South Boston, the plot revolves around a recently paroled, self-taught genius, Will Hunting, who works as a janitor at MIT. He catches the attention of one of the professors after he solves a complex math problem left for the graduates. Given a chance to succeed, Hunting begins attending mandatory therapy sessions with Dr. Sean Maguire (portrayed by Robin Williams).
Resistant at first, Maguire breaks through Hunting’s tough exterior to uncover his pain, heartbreak, and fear of love. Forced to choose between the woman of his dreams and staying in Boston with his friends and living a simple life, Hunting follows his heart to California.
This uplifting movie will have you laughing and crying, with Daman and Affleck winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Williams the award for Best Supporting Actor.Watch on Pluto
4. Black Panther (2018)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a massive franchise full of superheroes, with Black Panther being one of the most loved. Appearing in the solo movie Black Panther, this movie was the first in the MCU to feature an African-American director and a predominantly black cast.
Starring Chadwick Boseman, the plot’s inspirational story revolved around T’Challa becoming king of Wakanda after his father’s death. T’Challa faces a challenger to his throne, Killmonger, but with the support of his family, friends, and loved ones, T’Challa finds the strength to unite the tribes of Wakanda to protect the nation.
Fans and critics praised the uplifting superhero movie, resulting in a Best Picture nomination. A sequel, Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, hit theatres in 2022. Sadly, Chadwick Boseman died from cancer and wasn’t able to feature in the sequel, but his memory lives on forever.Watch on Disney+
5. The Apartment (1960)
The beloved classic The Apartment proves that nothing’s more uplifting than true love. Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine, the plot follows an insurance clerk, C.C. “Bud” Baxter, who is eager to climb the corporate ladder. He allows several managers to use his apartment for their affairs as a way to get in their good books.
Baxter soon finds himself falling for his apartment’s elevator operator, Fran, who just so happens to be having an affair with Bud’s immediate boss. Despite all the obstacles, Bud and Fran end up together. The Apartment was an instant hit upon its release and remains one of the greatest and most heart-warming love stories.Watch on Tubi
6. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
In 2018, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before debuted on Netflix to universal praise. The uplifting teen drama revolves around the timid Lara Jean. She writes deep and personal love letters to her various crushes over the years.
Her social life nearly unravels when her little sister mails out the letters to each crush. To avoid further humiliation, she poses in a relationship with a former crush, Peter. The sweet and romantic film led to two sequels, To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and To All The Boys: Always and Forever.Watch on Netflix
7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
Fred Rogers became a household name as the host of the children’s show Mister Rogers Neighborhood. It’s only fitting that his biopic be equally as uplifting as his series.
Starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows a journalist from Esquire, Lloyd Vogel, who interviews Rogers for an article. While this is going on, Vogel is struggling to forgive his ill father for the way he treated him during his youth. Rogers teaches the journalist and viewer to practice forgiveness, love, and letting go of hate. The charming flick captured the big heart and sweet nature of Mister Rogers.Watch on Hulu
8. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Little Miss Sunshine perfectly captures the journey and heartbreak of a dysfunctional family that supports each other. The 2006 independent feature follows the Hoover family as they drive a broken-down Volkswagen van from New Mexico to California so the youngest can compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.
Each family member struggles personally but as the journey continues they start to grow closer to each other. Little Miss Sunshine features an all-star cast including Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano, and Abigail Breslin. It won Best Adapted Screenplay, while Arkin won Best Supporting actor.Watch on HBOMax
9. Hidden Figures (2017)
Nothing is more inspirational than the true story behind Hidden Figures. Based on the novel of the same name, the plot follows three African-American mathematicians who played a vital role in the space race and the Moon landing.
The biographical drama brought worldwide attention to NASA employees Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson. The three brilliant women finally gained recognition for the critical roles they played in the real-life space race, with this movie a celebration of their achievements.Watch on Disney+
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Few movies compare to the classic romantic sports drama Jerry Maguire. Starring Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger. and Cuba Gooding Jr., the plot follows an ambitious sports agent, Jerry Maguire (Cruise), whose firm fires him after he has an epiphany.
The only person willing to leave with him is office employee Dorothy (Zellweger), who has a crush on Maguire. The sports agent loses all his clients bar one, loudmouth NFL player Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr.). Over the course of the movie Maguire learns who he is as he becomes closer to both Dorothy and Rod.
Jerry Maguire is an uplifting movie that’s both a tearjerker and an inspiration and is packed with iconic scenes and tremendous acting. Gooding Jr. even won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.Watch on Netflix
11. Clueless (1995)
Clueless is a beloved coming-of-age comedy considered one of the greatest teen comedies of all time. With a positive and chipper attitude, the uber-popular Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a fashion trendsetter with a big heart.
The story focuses on Cher as she gives a friend a makeover and helps her teacher find love while her easygoing attitude has her falling for her ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd). Without a doubt, Clueless is the ultimate feel-good teen movie.Watch on Pluto
12. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Nothing is better than an inspirational movie full of classic musical numbers. Choreographed and starring Gene Kelly, Singin’ in the Rain is easily the greatest and most uplifting musical of all time. Set in the 1920s, Singin’ in the Rain follows three movie stars who struggle to transition from the silent film era to talkies.
At first, the lighthearted movie didn’t gain much attention, but over time audiences began to appreciate the film, helping it attain iconic status. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected Singin’ in the Rain as one of the first 25 movies for preservation.Watch on Prime
13. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Based on the memoir of the same name, The Pursuit of Happyness follows Chris Gardner and his son, Christopher, as they navigate life on the street. Set in San Francisco in the early 80s, Gardner suffers a series of setbacks, including his wife leaving him, the IRS seizing his bank account, and struggling to sell the last of his bone density scanners.
Gardner and his son are homeless for one year while he works hard to land a high-paying position at a brokerage firm. This true and inspirational story stars Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith, making his film debut. The uplifting movie’s a reminder to never give up on yourself.Watch on Netflix
14. Billy Elliot (2000)
Set in North East England during the mid-80s miner’s strike, the beloved Billy Elliot is an inspirational movie about chasing your dreams and accepting people for who they are. The story follows a working-class boy, Billy Elliot, who falls in love with ballet.
Initially, his father doesn’t support him until he realizes Billy’s exceptional talent. Billy Elliot quickly became one of the most popular and uplifting movies of 2000 and was a box office smash. The success led to a Broadway musical co-written by Elton John that won ten Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical.Watch on Prime
15. Chaplin (1992)
Robert Downey Jr. portrays the iconic silent era film star Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 film Chaplin. The movie tells the true and uplifting story of Chaplin’s career, from his childhood to creating the Tramp character and his exile from the United States.
Like many stars of the past, Chaplin assumes that American fans have forgotten about him and his movies. He returns in the 70s to discover he’s now a Hollywood movie icon. Critics praised Robert Downey Jr. for bringing the complex artist and his iconic characters to life.Watch on Prime
16. Coach Carter (2005)
Sports dramas have a reputation for being uplifting and inspiring. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Coach Carter recounts the true story of high school basketball coach, Ken Carter.
The real-life Carter stirred up controversy when he suspended his unbeaten team due to low grades. The movie follows Carter as he attempts to whip the team into shape while teaching them the importance of education, team unity, and respect.Watch on Paramount+
17. Forrest Gump (1994)
The classic film Forrest Gump follows the simple and sweet Forrest as he relives his many adventures and heartbreak spanning from the 50s to the 80s. In 1994, the film hit theatres to rave reviews, becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. Furthermore, it dominated the Academy Awards, including winning Best Picture and Best Actor.
The cast received universal praise for their performances, notably Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Sally Field. Modern reevaluation of the movie divides fans and critics. One half still sees the movie as an uplifting and touching classic. Others point out the movie’s strong conservative political message while avoiding essential issues, such as PTSD, the Aids epidemic, and racism. Either way, it’s an uplifting movie that will give you that warm fuzzy feeling when watching.Watch on Netflix
18. Eat Pray Love (2010)
There comes a time in life when some people end up on a path they didn’t intend to take. They end up making huge life changes, such as starting a new job, touring the world, or getting divorced. Based on the memoirs of the same name, Eat Pray Love follows Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert (Julia Roberts) as she goes on a journey of self-discovery after ending her marriage.
Gilbert travels to Italy where she enjoys delicious and mouth-watering food. Then she goes to India for deep reflection and prayers. Finally, Gilbert journeys to Indonesia and falls in love. While it received mixed reviews, Eat Pray Love did well at the box office and was another success for Roberts.Watcfh on Netflix
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