40 Films That Will Lift Your Mood During Lockdown 3.0

Katie O'Malley
·16-min read
Photo credit: YouTube - Getty Images
Photo credit: YouTube - Getty Images

From ELLE

It’s important to watch a feel-good, happy film once in a while, whether it's to cheer you up from the grey weather outside, a stressful day at work or just because you're in need of a good, old giggle.

Whether it's a romantic comedy like Jerry Maguire or La La Land to watch while tucked up in bed, or animated films like Up, Soul and Enchanted to accompany you while you sit with a takeaway in your pyjamas, there's nothing quite like a film to lift your spirits.

As we all know, life is better with cheer, laughter and a bit of a singalong.

In need of a mood booster? Here's our top picks of happy films that'll do just the ticket:

1) Clueless, 1995

Photo credit: Archive Photos - Getty Images
Photo credit: Archive Photos - Getty Images

Cher Horowitz, a privileged high school student from Beverly Hills, and her friend Dion tackle teenage life – friendship, boys, sex and how to accessorise a plaid skirt – while trying to makeover new girl at school Tai, before realising they might need a lifestyle makeover themselves.

From the pure optimism of Cher, laugh out line one liners, and that happy making wardrobe - everything about Clueless will make you feel good.

2) La La Land, 2016

Damien Chazelle's romantic musical comedy-drama sees coffee shop girl/aspiring actress Mia and die-hard jazz pianist Seb struggle to make their dreams a reality in Hollywood. Cue tap dancing, singing, musical numbers and Los Angeles shot at magic hour. The most beautiful film, ever.

Sun-drenched Hollywood cinema at it's best - anyone who doesn't feel happy watching Emma and The Gos together is the grinch personified.'

3) Up!, 2009

Right, let's get it out of the way. Yes, you will be weeping buckets after that scene early on in the Pixar film but you'll soon feel inspired by Carl, a septuagenarian balloon salesman, who has always dreamed of traveling South America. Little does he know his life is about to be changed by an eight-year-old wilderness explorer named Russell. Oh, and a talking dog. This film is sure to turn that frown upside down.

4) Mamma Mia!, 2008

Call us cheesy but the cast alone of the romcom-cum-musical has us smiling. Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Julie Walters steal the show in this adapted-from-Broadway story. Non-stop ABBA tunes, the glorious sights of a Greek island and Colin Firth in platform boots. Enough said. Oh, and now you've got 2018's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again to watch once you've finished the first.

5) Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961

Step back in time to this 1960s classic; a story that tells the life of eccentric socialite Holly Golightly who reluctantly falls for her neighbour, struggling writer Paul Varjak. The music alone will have leave you feeling nostalgic and with the urge to throw on a black dress and fetch a croissant. Pure perfection.

6) Pitch Perfect, 2012

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp and Brittany Snow are but a handful of stellar comedic actresses that star in this musical comedy film. The plot follows all-girl a cappella group, The Barden Bellas, as they compete to win Nationals. Sarcasm, self-deprecation and music at its finest. Sure, they're now working on the forth Pitch Perfect film (and you should definitely watch the other two), but this is still our favourite.

7) Toy Story, 1995

Needs no explaining, really, does it? While you might need to grab the tissues at the end of this one, this comedy adventure film will have you reminiscing about your childhood and toys as you watch Woody and Buzz defeat the odds to become firm friends and devoted toys for Andy. As Woody says: 'Reach for the sky'. Has there ever been a more inspirational phrase?

8) Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The high school boy who bunked off school for the day to hang out with his best friends Cameron and Sloane before graduation is one of the most inspiring and touching films of the century, teaching us all that there's more to life than rules and conformity.

9) It's a Wonderful Life, 1946

Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection - Getty Images
Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection - Getty Images

Many make the mistake of reserving this film for Christmas and New Year but we think it's a timeless classic, perfect for all occasions. Watch as George Bailey learns how different his town would've been if he wasn't there - it's a story to warm the coldest of hearts and encourages us all to appreciate life that bit more.

10) Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994

Richard Curtis perfectly straddles the reality of humour and tragedy in life, depicting a group of friends who appear to be unlucky in love, until their luck changes. Rowan Atkinson's part as Father Gerald alone will have you chuckling along with the cast. Genius.

11) Little Miss Sunshine, 2006

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. Starring Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, Toni Collette and Steve Carell, this film is about dreams and illusions and the beauty of a dysfunctional family. Pure joy. Abigail Breslin literally brings sun in to the rainiest cold days in this heart walking family drama.

12) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 2001

One line of that iconic music and you'll be in your pyjamas, sat down on the sofa gorging on a Terry's Chocolate orange and wondering what life would've been like if you'd attended Hogwarts.

Take a journey with Harry, Ron and Hermione and relive your childhood once more. And no, we don't care if you prefer the books. It's essential viewing for improved happiness.

13) Matilda, 1996

Danny DeVito, Roald Dahl, Mara Wilson – can you really get a better combination? This fantasy comedy is sure to cheer you up, with genius girl Matilda beating the odds (her horrid parents and Miss Trunchball) to find happiness with Miss Honey. The chocolate cake scene alone will make you feel inspired. Everyone together now: 'Bruce, Bruce, Bruce…'

14) One Fine Day, 1996

After viewing this film you'll immediately be in search of a partner willing to pick you up and carry you through a puddle so not to damage your heels. It's inevitable.

Single Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and (Jack) George Clooney are forced to take care of their children on the most important days of their careers and juggle looking after each other's sprogs amid deadlines and pressures from their bosses. Proof that work isn't your top priority.

15) Mary Poppins, 1964

A spoonful of sugar really does help the hangover, a temperature or the grumps go down, and is perfect if you're feeling a bit under the weather. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are an essential pairing for a mood lifter.

16) Mary Poppins Returns, 2018

Decades after her first visit to the Banks family, Mary Poppins (this time played by Emily Blunt), returns to help young Michael’s (Ben Whishaw) children through a pretty scary point in their lives. With tunes and acting courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda (who plays chimney-sweeper Jack) and appearances from Julie Walters, you know this is a good’un.

17) Forrest Gump, 1994

Overly sentimental? Perhaps. Heart-warming to the level it will make you want to hug a puppy? Definitely. This Award-winning film sees the astonishing life of Forrest Gump, a man who lives charmed life of success and love. A stunning film about overcoming adversity and the cards you were dealt with. 'Stupid is as stupid does,' says Forrest. Don't be stupid, watch the film.

18) Legally Blonde, 2001

'Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands,' says Elle Woods. Well, happy people also watch Legally Blonde, the story of an innocent Beverly Hills sorority girl who defies judgement and heartbreak to become Harvard's top lawyer. She's a one girl revolution, after all.

19) Pride, 2014

Based on a true story, this LGBT-related comedy-drama depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised funds to help those affected by the British miners' strike in 1984. Tackling subjects of prejudice, homophobia and community spirit, this is essential viewing to restore your faith in humanity.

20) Bridget Jones' Diary, 2001

This wanton sex goddess is a woman's life-long friend and confident who makes sense of life, love and London with a group of mismatched friends in the Big Smoke. Big knickers aside, this film will have you cheering for the underdog and debating who is hotter, Daniele Cleaver or Mark Darcy.

21) Sister Act (1 and 2), 1992 and 1993

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face is Whoopi Goldberg, we believe. And if that won't do it, then surely the angelic tones of Lauryn Hill's voice will. So both the original and sequel of the Sister Act franchise makes this list. Deloris (Goldberg) ends up in witness protection and is reluctantly placed as a nun in a convent in a deprived area of San Francisco. But Deloris, with her singing credentials, soon invigorates the convent's choir and in the second film takes this same energy to a struggling school. The final performance of the schoolkids is a rendition of 'Joyful, Joyful' - need we explain again why this film makes the list?

22) Sing Street, 2016

The film that will make you wish you'd formed a music band as a teenager, Sing Street is about a boy called Conor growing up in Dublin during the 1980s and starts a band to distract himself from his troubled schooling and strained family life, in order to get the girl. The fashion and music references to Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet are enough to get you dancing. Available now on Netflix.

23) Rush Hour, 1998

Photo credit: ARNAL - Getty Images
Photo credit: ARNAL - Getty Images

Mismatched cops are on a mission to rescue the Chinese consul's kidnapped daughter. The perfect police pairing. There's no better classic comedy duo than Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Broken up with the boyfriend? Bad grade at school? Crippling anxiety? Disconnect yourself from the world and switch this on.

24) The Blues Brothers, 1980

In the mood for a pick-me up? Look no further than The Blues Brothers.

Aretha Franklin, Carrie Fisher, Twiggy, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi star in this hilarious musical crime comedy. Jake and his brother Elwood are on a 'mission from God' to reunite their old band to play at a fundraiser to save their childhood orphanage.

25) Despicable Me, 2010

Nothing defines happiness like a minion - fact. With the help of Gru, the world's most evil/adorable super villain/father and a group of yellow, denim dungaree-clad friends, you'll find it hard not to smile at this heartwarming animated comedy.

26) Julie and Julia, 2009

If you love cooking, Nora Ephron, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Amy Adams, then this is the film for you. Adams plays Julie Powell, a young blogger who is desperate to emulate Julia Child's cooking skills. With a shared passion for food, this Ephron-written plot is sure to warm the cockles of your heart and feed your appetite for comedy and drama. Just make sure you have snacks at the ready.

27) Enchanted, 2007

Never heard of a land called Andalasia? Neither had we until Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) stepped onto the scene in this adorable live action musical fantasy rom-com after she was banished by her evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). Despite being set to wed Prince Edward (James Marsden), the princess finds herself falling for New York-based businessman Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey). With tunes like ‘Ever Ever After’ and ‘That’s How You Know’, this is a film you'll want playing all day long.

28) Crazy Rich Asians, 2018

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

There’s a reason why we’re all obsessed with this rom com. Based on the 2013 novel of the same title by Kevin Kwan, the film has a stellar cast including Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu and Awkwafina. It follows New Yorker Rachel Chu (Wu) as she accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in China and soon realises he’s wealthy beyond comprehension. With Sex and the City and Mean Girls vibes, we can’t get enough of this film.

29) Singing In The Rain, 1952

Great dance moves. Check. Gene Kelly. Check. Matching yellow macs. Triple Check. Lifting the lid on the Golden Age of Hollywood during the transition from silent films to ‘talkies’, this award-winning film stars Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen and Debbie Reynolds as three friends bringing new life to the screen. With tunes like ‘Make ‘em Laugh’, ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, this is one of our favourite feel-good films.

30) School of Rock, 2003

Class in in session with this corker of a film. After Dewey Finn (Jack Black) gets kicked out of his rock band, he decides to pose as his friend Ned Schneebly and take a job as a teacher at Horace. It is there that he finds a group of students perfect to make up a band to compete in the Battle of the Bands. If only you watch this film for the line ‘you’re tacky and I hate you’ then it’s worth it.

31) Space Jam, 1996

For those who found happiness with the nostalgic escapism The Last Dance - Netflix's deep dive into the phenomenal Chicago Bulls team and their three star players Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman - provided, Space Jam should be next on your list.

Actually referenced in the docu-series, in between court practices Jordan entered the world of Looney Tunes, starring as himself and re-imagining what he did during his high-profile break from the sport in the mid-90s (joining forces with Bugs Bunny and co. to play basketball, of course).

32) Big, 1988

If ever there was a lesson in the dangers of wanting to grown up too soon, this is it. Starring Tom Hanks as adult John Baskin, the film sees a young boy wish ‘to be big’ and his dreams come true, forcing him to learn the intricacies of life as a grown up, what it’s like to find love and make us all desperate to by a big piano in the process.

33) The Lego Movie, 2014

While it might not be your usual choice of film, this 3D animated film is adorable and funny. It follows Emmet – a normal LEGO figurine – save the world and embark on an epic journey with his pals to stop the evil Lord Business. With a 96 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, it’s sure to be a good option.

34) Jerry Maguire, 1996

Starring Renée Zellweger, Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr, the film sees sports agent Jerry (Cruise) undergo a crisis of conscience and go independent from his company and set up his own business representing just one athlete. With lines like ‘show me the money!’ and ‘you had me at "hello"’, you’ll be quoting this film for weeks after watching.

35) Some Like It Hot, 1959

Saxophone player Joe (Tony Curtis) and his friend Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a Mafia murder and escape from Chicago by disguising themselves as women and join an all-female jazz band to head to Florida. Joe falls for Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) while Jerry finds himself chased by a millionaire and his mobsters. This is a good old-fashioned romantic comedy worth watching.

36) Paddington 1 and 2 (2014, 2017)

Make a marmalade sandwich, grab your duffel coat and sit down to watch Paddington Bear explore his new hometown of London with the Brown family and escape evil museum taxidermists, prison and thieves. With a cast including Jim Broadbent, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Wishaw, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, this is one for all the family.

37) Hidden Figures, 2017

If you want to feel inspired, learn and ultimately come away with a big smile on your face this film is an ideal viewing choice. Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monaé are phenomenal as three NASA scientists in the 1960s. At a time when segregation was still practiced in the US, these three African-American women defied the odds to successfully contribute to the Space Race with Henson's character Katherine Johnson devising the co-ordinates for astronaut John Glenn to orbit the earth and land safely (becoming the first American to do so). Oh, and it's a true story so you'll be left happy that these three brilliant women existed and paved the way for others.

38.) 13 Going On 30, 2004


We can't believe this movie is 17 years old either. Jennifer Garner's gives infectious energy as Jenna, a teenager who wishes to become 'thirty, flirty and thriving' when she's tricked and teased by the mean girls at school on her 13th birthday. What do you know? Her wish comes true and she's catapulted to the future where she has a dream job in fashion magazine 'Poise' in New York but... is best friends with the aforementioned mean girl and has lost touch with her best friend Matty and her parents. You'll want to watch Garner's 'Thriller' routine on repeat, eat 'razzles' and marry Mark Ruffalo after watching this film.

39.) Soul, 2019

This Pixar gem arrived on Disney + shortly after Christmas and soon enough it was all anyone was talking about, regardless of age. The film follows Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) an ambitious jazz artist who is disappointed with the way his career has turned out. After encountering a very intense life lesson - and little creature called 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) - his priorities and understanding of himself soon start to shift. Soul is honestly very good for the soul despite the underlying subject matter.

40.) Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

While Julia Roberts' signature smile alone might encourage one from you, it helps when the film the Oscar winner is starring in is just as smile-inducing. Based on the bestselling memoir, Roberts plays the author Elizabeth Gilbert who after finding herself in an unhappy and unfulfilled rut - and trying to process her divorce - takes time off work to travel. Where does she go? Italy to eat, India to pray and Bali where she realises she is finally ready to love. The film starts with heartbreak and ends in happiness, what more could you want?

Happy viewing!

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