232 Best Uplifting Movies to Watch (Page 15)

Staff & contributors

Nothing cures the blues like a feel-good movie. If you need a pick me up, the following list will be sure to turn that frown upside down. Here are the happiest movies and shows to stream now.

, 2013

Chadwick Boseman who you might now know as the Black Panther had his break out role in 42, the true story of the first Black major league player Jackie Robinson. A story of expected struggle but also a humbling and humane account that is full of warmth. Jackie Robinson's coach is played by Dustin Hoffman, adding to the caliber of amazing performances in this movie, all put together by Oscar-winning writer/director Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, L.A. Confidential). From the baseball sequences to the personal life of Jackie Robinson, and of course his confrontation with racism, this is a powerful and uplifting movie.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aaron Farb, Alan Tudyk, André Holland, Andre Holland, Andrew C. Mullins, Anthony S. Goolsby, Ari Blinder, Barry Suttle, Brad Beyer, Brett Cullen, Chadwick Boseman, Cherise Boothe, Christopher Meloni, Colman Domingo, Danny Vinson, Dax Griffin, Derek Phillips, Dusan Brown, Gino Anthony Pesi, Hamish Linklater, Harrison Ford, Hunter Clowdus, Jackson Walker, James Pickens Jr., James Rackley, Jamie Ruehling, Jayson Warner Smith, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jesse Luken, Joe Inscoe, Joe Knezevich, John C. McGinley, Jon Kohler, Jud Tylor, Karole Foreman, Kelley Jakle, Kenny Cook, Linc Hand, Lou Criscuolo, Lucas Black, Marc Gowan, Mark Harelik, Matt Clark, Maury Covington, Max Gail, Michael H. Cole, Monnae Michaell, Nicole Beharie, Peter Jurasik, Peter MacKenzie, Rhoda Griffis, Ryan Merriman, T.R. Knight, Tobias Michael Finn, Toby Huss, William Flaman

Director: Brian Helgeland

Rating: PG-13

Read also:

Two months after its premiere in TIFF, Quiz Lady arrived on streaming this November. The comedy film has a sort-of buddy cop dynamic, with an anxiety-ridden, tightly-wound Awkwafina as Anne, and a chaotic Sandra Oh that lets loose with free-spirited Jenny. The film does take its time to get to the good part, and in certain scenes, it feels like it’s torn between the heartfelt and the humorous, but the leads’ acting smooths over some of the awkward writing. Quiz Lady still leads up to a fun watch, though better pacing and writing could have made this charming comedy a classic.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Al Bayan, Alan Heitz, Ammie Masterson, Amy Tolsky, Angela Trimbur, Annie Boon Karstens, Atul Singh, Awkwafina, Betsy Holt, Camrus Johnson, Charles Green, Charlie Talbert, Choppy Guillotte, Christine Lin, Davina Reid, Derek Roberts, Eddy Lee, Holland Taylor, Jane Yubin Kim, Jason Schwartzman, Joe Chrest, Jonathan Park, Jophielle Love, Justiin A. Davis, Larry Weissman, Maria Bamford, Martin Yu, Matt Cordova, Ned Yousef, Nicole Marie Appleby, Paul Reubens, Phil LaMarr, Sandra Oh, Shirley Chen, Summer Selby, Tawny Newsome, Tony Hale, Will Ferrell

Director: Jessica Yu

Rating: R

After Nimona's long journey to the big screen (involving the shutdown of animation studio Blue Sky, and Disney's resistance to LGTBQ+ themes), the fact that the movie has been completed and allowed to tell its story at all is something to be celebrated. The film itself is pretty standard fare for American children's animation, with a script that spends far too much time on quips, and visuals that don't take advantage of the movie's science-fantasy world. But if you can get beyond its more ordinary aspects, Nimona becomes a surprisingly thorough metaphor of Otherness and queerness—best represented in the title character's shapeshifting abilities, and how people fear and become violent with her before even trying to understand her. It's a film that's sadly become more relevant than ever now, addressing how prejudice is something that's taught and passed down, packaged in an easy, entertaining manner for younger audiences.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Beck Bennett, Chloë Grace Moretz, Cindy Slattery, Eugene Lee Yang, Frances Conroy, Indya Moore, Jarrett Bruno, Julio Torres, Karen Ryan, Lorraine Toussaint, Matthew J. Munn, ND Stevenson, Nick Bruno, Riz Ahmed, RuPaul, Sarah Sherman, Tim Nordquist, Troy Quane

Director: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

Rating: PG

Read also:

 As glad as I am to see a film celebrating the complex joys of interracial love and debunking the stigma of arranged marriages, I can’t help but wonder how and why a film about love got to be so dry and passionless. Is dating really this painfully awkward? Is marriage really this burdensome? Realistically, yes, but when you’re trying to make a point about true love supposedly trumping it all, including cultural differences and age-old traditions, then you should at least make it seem like the winner. The movie tries to have its cake and eat it too by serving us heaps of realism and fantasy on one plate, failing to understand that you only have to pick one to be palatable. “Love Contractually” is the title of Zoe’s documentary, but it’s also the name this movie should’ve gone with, seeing as how everyone acts like they’re obligated to be here. 

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Alexander Owen, Alice Orr-Ewing, Asim Chaudhry, Ben Ashenden, Emma Thompson, Haqi Ali, Jamal Andreas, Jeff Mirza, Lily James, Michael Marcus, Mim Shaikh, Munir Khairdin, Nikkita Chadha, Nosheen Phoenix, Oliver Chris, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Ravi Aujla, Sajal Ali, Shabana Azmi, Shaheen Khan, Shazad Latif, Sindhu Vee, Taj Atwal, Wasim Zakir

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Rating: PG-13

With whole franchises dedicated to cars and motorcycles, cinema has often regarded these individually-piloted machines as intrinsically linked with masculinity. Ustaad is the latest Telugu love letter to motorcycles and planes, as these have shaped protagonist Surya Sivakumar’s life. In debut writer-director Phanideep’s hands, Surya’s journey to becoming a commercial airline pilot is a long one, as Ustaad details Surya’s first motorbike, first romantic relationship, and the way he overcame his fear of heights. It’s a fun drive, and there’s plenty of moments where Phanideep’s style feels free and unrestrained. However, it’s a drive that takes too long, with predictable beats that have been seen before.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance

Actor: Anu Hasan, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Kavya Kalyanram, Ravi Shiva Teja, Ravindra Vijay, Sri Simha Koduri, Venkatesh Maha

Director: Phanideep

Read also:

The concept of Maaveeran is downright brilliant. As the timid comic strip writer is forced to be as brave as the hero he created, there’s something here that encourages its audience to listen to the yearnings already inside them. It allows for some cartoonish comedy that comes across as earnest. However, there's a certain hesitancy in the writing that makes the film’s second half a letdown. The film sticks too long to its protagonist’s cowardice that there’s so little time to wrap everything up. It’s still entertaining till the end, but a better sense of pacing would have kept the first half’s riveting comedy, and would have made a better case for being a hero.

Genre: Action, Drama

Actor: 'Jeeva' Ravi, Aditi Shankar, Balaji Sakthivel, Dhileban, Madhan Kumar Dhakshinamoorthy, Mysskin, Ravi Teja, Saritha, Semmalar Annam, Sivakarthikeyan, Sunil Varma, Suresh Chakravarthy, Vijay Sethupathi, Yogi Babu

Director: Madonne Ashwin

Composed of archival footage of the titular musical legend and testimonials from those who worked with him or whose lives were profoundly impacted by his courage, Little Richard: I Am Everything feels comprehensive but is also oddly lacking. The documentary makes a bold, confident claim: that all popular music today can be directly traced to his work. And when the film lets itself get into full music nerd mode, it's easy to be convinced. But after you accept that perspective on Little Richard, the rest of the movie seems like it's just spinning its wheels, covering key moments in the artist's life and career without really challenging or substantiating long-held ideas about him.

Chief among these is Little Richard's shifting feelings toward his own queerness—proudly expressing his true self one year, then openly denouncing his own homosexuality the next. This subject matter is ripe for difficult but insightful analysis, which the film just never gets around to. It begins to feel like the believes there is no more discussion to be had about him. And that may very well be true; he deserves the flowers that were denied him for so long. But this attitude doesn't necessarily make for the best documentary.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Alan Freed, Billy Porter, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, John Waters, Little Richard, Mick Jagger, Nile Rodgers, Nona Hendryx, Pat Boone, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Valerie June

Director: Lisa Cortés

Read also:

A Million Miles Away sticks so closely to the Hollywood biopic template that it threatens to be less about José Hernández as a person with his own complexities and more about the idea of him as a one-size-fits-all inspirational figure. This isn't to say the film isn't effective when it really counts; Hernández is worth admiring not necessarily because of his ultimate success, but because how much he failed and got back up again. Director Alejandra Márquez Abella keeps the film's tone light and bouncy, flattening some of its more serious moments, but also helping make Hernández's long, hard road to space more of a process of discovery. It's easy, inspiring viewing that quietly tiptoes past harder questions about poverty and NASA's potentially discriminatory practices.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Ashley Ciarra, Blake Webb, Bobby Soto, Dylan Hall, Emma Fassler, Eric Johnson, Francisco Barreiro, Garret Dillahunt, Gerardo Trejoluna, Isaac Arellanes, Isabel Aerenlund, Jordan Dean, Jorge Briseño, Julio Cedillo, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Marilyn Uribe, Mercedes Hernández, Michael Adler, Michael Peña, Michelle Krusiec, Rosa Salazar, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcón

Director: Alejandra Márquez Abella

Rating: PG

Read also:

With the tried-and-tested music and lyrics of Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, this film adaptation of the Color Purple musical was practically guaranteed to have power in its key moments. And with a cast that includes tremendous vocalists like Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks (both of whom had previously played their respective characters on stage), the film's most important sections possess an energy and soul that allow its protagonist to dream of something beyond her dire personal circumstances. However, after a while, this movie begins to feel like it's only ever made up of isolated scenes without the proper build-up nor the right pacing to earn the movement from one episodic moment to the next. Even with the dynamite chemistry between cast and score, the film's odd staging and blocking constantly get in the way of what should be something incredibly emotional.

Genre: Drama, Music

Actor: Aba Arthur, Adetinpo Thomas, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Charles Green, Chase Steven Anderson, Ciara, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Danielle Brooks, David Alan Grier, David Vaughn, Deon Cole, Elizabeth Marvel, Emana Rachelle, Fantasia Barrino, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Jamaal Avery Jr., Jeffrey Marcus, John L. Adams, Jon Batiste, L. Warren Young, Louis Gossett Jr., MaCai Arrington Griffin, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Stephen Hill, Tamela Mann, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J. Smith, Tiffany Elle Burgess, Whoopi Goldberg

Director: Blitz Bazawule

Rating: PG-13

Sometimes, to get to know one’s self, one has to get out of their usual life. This is what makes the idea of travel so alluring, and Dhak Dhak is one such movie that portrays that idea, with some twists. Instead of a car, four women ride with motorcycles, and instead of flat plains, the leads go through one of the highest mountain passes in the world. That being said, we don’t really get to know the women beyond the common issues that women in India go through. The cast tries to make the best of it, and Sanjana Sanghi, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Ratna Pathak Shah portray their characters excellently, but instead of learning who they are, we mostly receive more product placement instead. It’s still a pleasant ride, though Dhak Dhak takes predictable and well-trodden routes in their approach.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Kallirroi Tziafeta, Nishank Verma, Poonam Gurung, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sanjana Sanghi

Director: Tarun Dudeja

Read also:

What Black Ice lacks in comprehensive research about the structures that maintain institutionalized racism inside major hockey leagues, it partly makes up for with one painful testimonial after another. This is a documentary that aims for the personal and the emotional over the intellectual—still an effective strategy as the film makes its point through repetition, to show just how commonplace racism is within hockey culture. And though it begins to feel somewhat plain in its execution (and without as much momentum leading into its concluding statements), Black Ice makes for a fiery, impassioned wake-up call especially to Canada's own seemingly "progressive" racial politics.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Sarah Nurse

Director: Hubert Davis

Beat for beat, word for word, Love is in the Air moves just like any other romantic comedy. Within that genre, it slots easily into the category of romcoms that follow a city guy who falls in love with a country girl, eventually learning and preferring the ways of small-town living. But Love in Air is even more improbable than usual because of how eerily perfect the two leads are. Goodrem, in particular, is always manicured to perfection, which makes her role as a down-to-earth no-nonsense go-getter very hard to believe. Still, the movie isn’t entirely unwatchable. There are pockets of humor to be found, and the stunning visuals almost make it worth the watch. Almost.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Craig Walker, Delta Goodrem, Hugh Parker, Joshua Sasse, Mia Grunwald, Roy Billing, Simon McLachlan, Steph Tisdell

Director: Adrian Powers

Rating: PG-13

Read also:

In a world when women are sexualized and objectified, but also judged and excluded under the guise of religious righteousness, Adire seeks a middle ground. It dares to explore how women’s beauty can be a force for good, rather than a source of shame, even within the religion that traditionally excludes women from its leadership. That being said, Adire focuses on this to the detriment of all other ideas loosely stitched to the narrative, such as the cultural heritage in using the adire fabric for modern lingerie, sex and desire as an impetus for art, and the need for intimacy, not just sex, in relationships. Adire has the ideas, but not the execution, especially when it loses its way in the second half of the film.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Femi Branch, Funlola Aofiyebi, Kehinde Bankole, Mike Afolarin, Yvonne Jegede

Director: Adeoluwa Owu