Feel-good films - Which of these 26 great movies is your favourite?

The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman - Credit: Archant

With the festive season approaching, we’ve chosen 26 all-time great feel-good movies. Vote for your favourite in our poll.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Megan Aldous of Ipswich writes: “This is a film I could watch over and over again, because there is so much to love and enjoy. The storyline is great and shows a poor family going from struggling to find money to living in their dream house and owning a successful circus . The attention to detail is superb, taking you back to how PT Barnum met Charity and the divide it created for Charity and her family. The way the circus cast is filled with people who are often made to feel like they should be ashamed of their differences, but are then given this boast of confidence and belonging, is heart-warming. The songs are beautifully written and are ones you can sing along to a daily basis, not just when you are watching the film. They are great to listen to in the car and while doing chores.

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz - Credit: Archant

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Ross Bentley of Sudbury writes: “We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” sings Judy Garland’s Dorothy as she heads down the Yellow Brick Road with her companions in one of the best films ever made. By her side are Toto the dog, the scarecrow without a brain, the tin man who has no heart and the cowardly lion, who have overcome their fears to fight off the attentions of the Wicked Witch of the West and her evil underlings to get to Oz and help Dorothy return to Kansas. Moving from black and white film to glorious Technicolour, the movie is a fairytale fantasy, complete with Munchkins, about friendship, loyalty, and the realisation that there is ‘no place like home’.”

Notting Hill

Notting Hill - Credit: Archant

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Notting Hill (1999)

Paul Geater of Ipswich writes: “This is Richard Curtis’ best film, with real chemistry between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts (unlike the wooden performance of Andie McDowell in Four Weddings). Every performance hits the mark perfectly – and the final scene in the hotel press conference finishes with a real high. The definition of a feel-good movie!”

The Sound of Music (1965)

The Sound of Music (1965) - Credit: Archant

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The Sound of Music (1965)

Sarah Ravencroft of Norwich writes: “Adored by five-year-olds as well as the older generations, there is a definite charm about Roger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. Set in the mountains of Austria as war looms, a nun Maria (Julia Andrews) becomes a governess for the seven children of a strict father, Captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Timeless stories of family, romance and hope are woven together with a delightful and catchy soundtrack, drawing audiences back to watch it and sing along time and time again.”

Toy Story

Toy Story - Credit: Archant

Toy Story (1995)

David Hannant of Norwich writes: “There are not many films as close to perfect in every way as Toy Story. Pixar’s full-length debut was so ahead of its time when it was released as is still one of the company’s finest films. What makes it so special, though, is that it is pitched to all levels – I enjoy it as much now as an adult as I did as a child, but for completely different reasons. Like so many Pixar films do, it tugs at the heart strings, makes you laugh to the belly and is a real treat on the eyes.”


Grease - Credit: Archant

Grease (1978)

Emily Cashen of Ipswich writes: “When I need a film to lift my spirits, Grease is undoubtedly the One That I Want. The 1978 musical ticks all of the feel-good boxes – a whirlwind summer romance, a celebration of teenage friendship and a selection of endlessly quotable one-liners, all set to an irresistibly catchy soundtrack. Danny and Sandy’s high school romance is complemented by a sugary-sweet dose of 50s’ nostalgia, with diners, drive-ins and drag racing all adding to the film’s whimsy. Some 40 years after its release, there is still no greater mood-booster than spending two hours with the T-Birds and Pink Ladies of Rydell High.”

The Holiday

The Holiday - Credit: Archant

The Holiday (2006)

Marc Betts of Norwich writes: The Holiday is able to take everything that is great about a British romantic comedy and an American rom-com and combine them together. The wonderfully British Kate Winslet, who plays Iris, matches perfectly with the humour of Jack Black, who plays Miles. Twinned with the American charm of Amanda, played by Cameron Diaz, and the English gentleman Graham, played by Jude Law, it makes the perfect feel-good film for whichever side of the pond you’re from.”

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins - Credit: Archant

Mary Poppins (1964)

Jake Foxford of Ipswich writes: “A film that’s practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins brought cartoon magic and brilliant visual tricks onto cinema screens in the 60s and became a mainstay of feel-good films. It’s full of songs you forgot you knew the words to, and has some amazing dancing from one-man-band Dick Van Dyke in his heyday – didn’t we all wish we could jump into our drawings and enjoy afternoon tea with a penguin? Just me?”

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Judy Rimmer of Ipswich writes: “This is an endlessly quotable film, with so many of Richard Curtis’s finest lines. It’s also the film where the world fell under the spell of Hugh Grant, here so charming, so scatty and utterly irresistible. It’s easy to see how he became typecast as the perfect rom-com Mr Right, or Mr Wrong! There are so many highlights at all the weddings, but perhaps the funeral, with John Hannah reading out Auden’s Funeral Blues, is even more memorable. It’s an endlessly enjoyable film, only let down by its famously cheesy ending.”

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

Andrew Clarke of Felixstowe writes: The most entertaining and enjoyable history lesson you’ll ever have. Set in Hollywood during the transition from silents to talkies during the roaring ‘20s, it stars Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor as two friends who set out to make it big in Hollywood. Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a stunt man who becomes a star, while O’Connor’s Cosmo Brown is a mood-music piano player on set. Debbie Reynolds is an aloof cabaret dancer pursued by Lockwood. The songs, including the iconic title track, were all existing numbers which producer Arthur Freed revived in new arrangements. It’s fast and fun, the songs are genuinely catchy and it shows exactly how Hollywood thought talkies were a gimmick when they first arrived. Timeless.”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Taz Ali of Norwich writes: “This film tops nearly everybody’s favourite Christmas movie list. You’d have to be cold-hearted to Antarctic proportions not to fall for its charm. It has all the makings of a feel –good movie, from guardian angels to villainous capitalists that must be thwarted. While some people become a slave to consumerism over the festive period, this film reminds us of what Christmas should be about – that life is always worth living, even in difficult circumstances and especially when we appreciate all that we have.”

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Jessica Frank-Keyes of Cromer writes: “While major plot points may occur around Christmas tree shopping and countdowns to New Year’s kisses, whether it’s the enviably chunky jumpers or the beautifully crisp New York days, I will always think of When Harry Met Sally as the perfect autumn movie. It’s the ideal film for a sick day, for watching while you’re snuggled up under a blanket with a bowl of tomato soup. It’s endlessly quotable: “I’ll have what she’s having”, “But baby fish mouth is sweeping the nation?!” and “Someone is staring at you in personal growth.”And, mostly thanks to Carrie Fisher, it always stays on just the right side of heartwarming.”

Back to the Future (1985)

Dominic Moffitt of Ipswich writes: “What is there not to like about a dog with a stopwatch around his neck? It’s the perfect time-travelling film, that puts the fusty Tardis into a flash sports car, wrangles out any plot holes and maintains a moral undertone of standing up to your bullies. Star Wars references and the best soundtrack since Elvis picked up his guitar are a bonus that takes this film into the stratosphere. Undoubtedly, Einstein the dog steals the show, as he becomes the first being to time-travel but we can doff our caps to the outstanding work of Michael J Fox as Marty McFly. No one does pint-size heroes quite like him.”

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

Ross Bentley writes: “Fresh-faced Richard Gere plays raw naval recruit Zack Mayo – a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who has aspirations to become a pilot, despite the doubts of his hard-drinking father. Standing in his way is drill sergeant Emil Foley, who takes a dislike to Zack, and is determined to break him and make him drop out of the selection process through a brutal regime of assault courses and latrine cleaning duties. To complicate matters, Zack falls for local factory girl Paula (played by Debra Winger) – does she love him or does she just want to marry a pilot? When Zack sweeps her off her feet and literally carries her to a better future while Up Where We Belong plays in the background, there’s not a dry eye in the house…

The Princess Bride (1987)

Lynne Mortimer of Ipswich writes: “The Princess Bride was one of my teenage daughter’s summer holiday films. That is to say, she watched it almost every day of her six-week summer break. As well as the splendid swashbuckling of Mandy Patinkin, it has romance, comedy, magic and even a plot. The scene in which Peter Cook plays the officiating minister at a forced wedding (a bit like the one in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves) is just one of the delicious moments, although, perhaps, the greatest moment of all is Patinkin as Inigo Montoya’s, drawing his sword to avenge his father with the words: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Happy ending? Yes, of course.”

Love Actually (2003)

Judy Rimmer writes: “This is a Christmas present to savour every year. It’s a film simply packed with quirky Richard Curtis moments, and featuring a wonderful cast. There are countless highlights, from Rowan Atkinson wrapping up that illicit parcel to Hugh Grant’s amazing dance scene. Then there’s the music - including little Olivia Olson singing All I Want for Christmas is You, and Bill Nighy’s gloriously awful Christmas is All Around. Some of the love stories also have a bitter edge to them, particularly that of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, to stop the film as a whole being just too sweet. Since its launch, Love Actually has become ever more popular. There was even a mini-sequel to it in 2017’s Comic Relief, to let us know what had happened to some of the beloved characters.”

Paddington (2014)

Andrew Clarke writes: “A real, heart-warming family film. It’s a movie which kids and adults can enjoy at different levels. Although the animation is dazzlingly life-like, it’s the witty script that makes this movie a must-see event and one which rewards frequent re-watching. Add to this some fantastic acting performances from the likes of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman as a diabolical villain and the pitch-perfect voice of Ben Whishaw as Paddington. Then you have something that is a piece of film-making perfection. You really do believe that Paddington is a well-intentioned, rather naïve, walking-talking bear from Peru, and you too could see him camping out in the attic of your house.”

Mamma Mia (2008)

Will Jefford of Ipswich writes: “For me, Mamma Mia is the ultimate feel-good film. It incorporates superb Swedish pop music with the brilliant Meryl Streep, funny Pierce Brosnan and angelic Amanda Seyfried to form a hilarious singalong classic. Abba are legends, and it was a master-stroke to use their power ballads to create such a fun-filled film. It sits at the top of the tree when it comes to musical cinema, alongside some of the greats.”

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Katrina Hopkinson-Brown of Norwich writes: “Sleepless in Seattle” is shamelessly romantic, but also somehow still manages to include the realities of ‘real life’. This is a movie with characters and performances which are appealing and believable. It is a truly old-fashioned, feel-good love story. Heart-breaking early on, as it opens with a sad, emotional wreck in the form of Sam Baldwin (Hanks) and his son Jonah, both devastated by the loss of a wife and mother. They move to Seattle for a fresh start and to try and forget. Whilst there, one night Jonah happens upon a late night radio show and decides to call in on behalf of his father. Sam reluctantly takes the phone from Jonah and somehow finds the strength to open up his heart to the millions of listeners, one of which is Annie (Ryan). This creates the first and unique cinematic case of “love at first hearing.”

The Quiet Man (1952)

Judy Rimmer writes: “John Ford and John Wayne made many great movies together, but none so sweet as this slice of outrageous Irish whimsy, in the most glorious of Technicolor. Wayne plays an Irish-born American, Sean, who returns home to reclaim his birthplace, and meets up with fiery Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara). That’s just the starting-point for a wildly romantic story loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. You have to be in the right mood for this film, so just put reality on hold, pour yourself a pint of Guinness, and fall in love with the idealised version of Ireland it portrays.”

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Greta Levy of Norwich writes: “Something so pure emanates from Dirty Dancing, starring the dashing entertainer from the wrong side of town Johnny (Patrick Swayze) and the protected doctor’s daughter Baby (Jennifer Grey). Set in the midst of summer, during the 1960s, the star-crossed lovers ooze pure romance, love and sex appeal. For me, Dirty Dancing replicates that feeling of falling in love. The film also boasts one of the greatest soundtracks of all time - Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia is a personal favourite.“

Groundhog Day (1993)

Daniel Hickey of Norwich writes: “For a feel-good movie, Groundhog Day sometimes feels pretty bad. Part of the film’s attraction is probably its darker parts. Phil Connors, the cynical TV weatherman played by Bill Murray, is stuck in a time loop. He’s been assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day festival in Punxutawney, a small town he despises, but when he wakes up the next day, it’s not the next day – it’s the same day. How do you live with that? My favourite line? It’s when, already deep in the time-loop, Phil is wasted in a bar and says to his drinking buddy, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing really mattered?” And his buddy replies, “That about sums it up for me.”

Amélie (2001)

Andrew Clarke writes: “It’s not often that a French language film breaks out of the confines of the art-house circuit and makes a big splash in mainstream cinema, but Amélie did just that and made a star of elfin French actress Audrey Tautou. Amélie followed the story of a romantic, young girl living in Paris, searching for the ideal boyfriend, and helping out those she comes into contact with through random acts of kindness. Quirky and heartwarming, this was a film which had audiences enveloped in a warm-glow, laughing while forgetting they were reading sub-titles. Famously, she sent her father’s gnome on a world tour and watched the complex romantic entanglements of Paris’ citizens from the corner café where she worked as a waitress.”

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Judy Rimmer writes: “Sometimes hailed as the best comedy film ever, this brilliant Billy Wilder farce has an underlying sweetness. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are both hilarious as the wisecracking musicians who witness the St Valentine’s Day massacre and have to make a sharp exit. They end up in an all-female jazz band, wearing extremely unconvincing disguises. Here, they meet singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe). A lovelorn Curtis takes on a second disguise to woo her, as a millionaire with an accent borrowed from Cary Grant. Monroe gives the film its heart, because Sugar is so genuine and kindhearted, even though she claims to be a gold-digger.”

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Paul Geater writes: “Helen Fielding’s take on Pride and Prejudice is supposed to be a chick-flick, but I still loved it, thanks to Richard Curtis’ script and Renee Zellweger’s brilliant performance (and English accent). The final scene is a real heart-warmer. What a pity the makers tried to re-do it with the disappointing Age of Reason. At least the third instalment - Bridget Jones’ Baby - was a welcome return to form.”

Scrooge (1951)

Judy Rimmer writes: “There have been endless cinematic versions of A Christmas Carol, from the traditional to the completely reworked, and from silent films through to The Muppet Christmas Carol. But, for my money, still the best adaptation is this 1950s classic with Alastair Sim as Scrooge - he is just so perfectly cast. It also stars a wonderful line-up of British character actors, including Michael Hordern as Marley’s ghost, Kathleen Harrison as charwoman Mrs Dilber, and George Cole as the young Ebenezer. Just a shame that TV companies frequently insist on showing a badly-colourised print instead of black-and-white.”

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