Reality sucks. That’s the prevailing attitude toward the longest year in recent memory. But don’t you want to put the past behind you? Shouldn’t the rotten days fade away in favor of something brighter? Netflix can help with that. The world’s foremost streaming service can’t make your life choices for you, but Netflix does have a wide selection of feel-good movies that can reach that warm place in your heart and make it glow. These are the life-affirming movies that make you say “It’s gonna be alright,” no matter how dark it gets before the dawn. If you need a little cinematic emotional boost, check out the best feel-good movies on Netflix that you can stream right now.
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
Runtime: 139 minutes
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
Runtime: 123 minutes
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
Runtime: 111 minutes
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
Runtime: 128 minutes
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
Runtime: 93 minutes
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
Runtime: 94 minutes
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Cal Weaver (Steve Carrell) has it all: A picturesque home and family, a rewarding career, and a life of security and comfort. That is until his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) blindsides him with a divorce. When Cal discovers his wife had been unfaithful for years, the estranged father-of-two airs his grievances at a local bar. Here, he meets Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a dashing womanizer who agrees to teach Cal the ways of scoring a portfolio of one-night stands. Light on its feet and filled with laughs, Crazy, Stupid, Love hinges heavily on the chemistry between Carrell and Gosling — an entertaining dramedy duo that goes together as well ketchup and soy sauce (much better than you’d think).
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Stars: Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Runtime: 118 minutes
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
Runtime: 114 minutes
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
Runtime: 101 minutes
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
Runtime: 105 minutes
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
Runtime: 93 minutes
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
Runtime: 102 minutes
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
Runtime: 102 minutes
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
Runtime: 99 minutes
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
Runtime: 103 minutes