20 Best Netflix Feel-Good Movies Right Now

20 Best Netflix Feel-Good Movies Right Now

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Sometimes, all you need is a good movie to feel the warm fuzzies. And what better way to watch than in the comfort of your own home, with snacks aplenty and no one to give you the look when you laugh or cry or swoon to your heart’s content? 

To that end, we’ve rounded up the best feel-good movies you can watch right now on Netflix. Some are centered on love, some on family, and even others on best-friendship, but whether you’re out to seek new favorites or rewatch time-tested classics, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for below. 

 

20. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

7.2

Country

Netherlands, United States, United States of America

Director

Richard Linklater

Actors

Bill Wise, Brian Villalobos, Buzz Aldrin, David DeLao

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

Narrated by the familiar voice of Jack Black, Apollo 10 ½ is a throwback story told with admirable specificity and imagination. Black plays a grown-up Stan, who looks back on his younger years with a mix of fondness and wonder: how did they get away with the things they did then? American suburbia in the 1960s was both loose and conservative, caught between a generation holding on to the reins of the earlier century and one eager to launch into the next. 

Stan, as the youngest child of a big, rowdy family, gives us a charming look into the times, as well as a projection of his own fascination: Apollo 11 and the space age. He inserts himself in this monumental narrative and generously brings us along in his fantasy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Stan’s recruitment by NASA is actually fact or fiction, but that’s part of the fun, especially since Stan himself doesn’t seem to mind at all.

19. The African Doctor

7.2

Country

Belgium, France

Director

Julien Rambaldi

Actors

Aissa Maiga, Bayron Lebli, Bernard Eylenbosch, Bwanga Pilipili

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

In this French movie based on a true story, a med-school graduate from Congo is offered a job as the doctor to the president of Zaire. He refuses and chooses instead to move to a small town in France in hopes of getting French citizenship and securing a better future for his children.

The story, which starts in 1975, is set in a village where people had never seen a Black person. To that, Seyolo, the doctor, says: “so what? Now they will.”

The culture clash is both villagers-to-new-arrivals and the other way. Seyolo tells his family that he was hired in a village “north of Paris”, but all they hear is “Paris”, only to be shocked by the state of the rainy and muddy countryside village.

18. The Half of It (2020)

7.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Alice Wu, Female director

Actors

Alec Tincher, Alexxis Lemire, Becky Ann Baker, Billy Thomas Myott

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

This lovely romance is about Ellie, a straight-A student who takes money from a classmate, Paul, to write love letters for him. Ellie does this to help with the household bills but there is one big problem: the girl Paul is in love with is also the girl Ellie has a crush on.

This might seem like the set-up for a standard Netflix comedy (and if you’re thinking Bergerac, you’re right, it is based on the famous play) but as the introduction of the film reads: “This is not a love story … not one where anyone gets what they want.”

It is in fact, personal work from a brilliant and quality-focused director, Alice Wu. Her last movie, Saving Face, a pioneering lesbian romance set in an Asian American context, was released a long 15 years ago.

17. The Grizzlies (2020)

7.4

Country

Canada

Director

Female director, Miranda de Pencier

Actors

Anna Lambe, Ben Schnetzer, Booboo Stewart, Brad Fraser

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Feel-Good

This uplifting Canadian sports drama is based on a true story set in the remote Nunavut town of Kugluktuk. The small community has the highest teen suicide rate in North America, as it suffers from intergenerational trauma, and the resulting alcohol and drug abuse. A new young history teacher who is sent by the government is shocked by the state of the school and the lives of the teenagers. He realizes that he can’t engage the kids with history, and turns to his passion for Lacrosse to try to ignite change.

The teacher and director of the movie are both white, which, added to the story, raise red flags about white savior tropes. But thanks to First Nation producers who made sure the kids had time to develop their characters, The Grizzlies narrowly misses disaster. Instead, it gives a voice to communities that are rarely heard from. 

16. Cloudburst (2011)

7.4

Country

Canada, United States of America

Director

Thom Fitzgerald

Actors

Brenda Fricker, Jeremy Akerman, John Dunsworth, Juanita Peters

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Sunday

Cloudburst is the very funny and heartwarming story of two old ladies, Stella (played by Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis) and Dotty (played by another Academy Award winner, Brenda Fricker) who escape their nursing home and drive to Nova Scotia, Canada to get married. Along the way, they meet Prentice, a hitchhiker on his way home to Nova Scotia as well. Cloudburst is the story of their road trip. Dotty is lascivious and loving. Expect to be shocked by Stella’s potty mouth. The whole film is a great love story about devotion, acceptance and living life to the fullest.

15. Bathtubs Over Broadway (2018)

7.8

Director

Dava Whisenant, Female director

Actors

Chita Rivera, David Letterman, Florence Henderson, Martin Short

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Instructive

Even if you’re a huge Broadway fan, you’ve probably never heard of the “industrial musical.” While it no longer exists in practice, in the 1970s industrial musicals were shows that corporations commissioned for some of the biggest Broadway names to produce. The script would be based on the company’s offerings and history, and privately performed by real Broadway actors to audiences made up exclusively of company and factory staff.

Now, a documentary about industrial shows doesn’t scream “entertaining,” but to describe Bathtubs Over Broadway in such a manner would be selling it way short. It’s really about Steve Young, a comedy writer for David Letterman, and how his life changed when he found his first industrial musical LP when leafing through a crate of old records for a Late Night segment he was working on.

Ultimately, what makes this such an enjoyable watch is the protagonist’s enduring passion over what at first appears to be nothing but a niche obsession. But with time, as he connects with other collectors and the people who were involved in the original industrial musical productions, his passion breeds community and lifelong bonds. Even if you’re no fan of Broadway, this makes for a great pop culture documentary and an unexpectedly touching story of human connection.

14. Stutz (2022)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Jonah Hill

Actors

Jonah Hill

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Feel-Good

Stutz is Jonah Hill’s loving tribute to his therapist Phil Stutz, a smart and empathetic man who’s dedicated his entire life to helping people. The conversations between them, deeply personal and vulnerable, are meaningful in themselves, but Stutz also works as a helpful instruction on how to be your best self and as a metanarrative on telling honest stories on a medium as seemingly artificial as film (it is similar to Bo Burnham’s Inside in that way).

Stutz is at once experimental and comforting, a real gem especially for people with an interest in psychoanalysis and alternative psychiatry. It’s at its best when the two men deal with uncomfortable truths in the kindest of ways, and it’s sure to be something people will return to often for advice and solace. Fun fact: the documentary was co-produced by Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara.

13. Love Jones (1997)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Theodore Witcher

Actors

Bernadette Speakes, Bill Bellamy, Isaiah Washington, Khalil Kain

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Feel-Good

In this romance from 1997, a photographer and a poet meet in an upscale nightclub in Chicago.

They quickly get together and connect on music, poetry, and photography, but Nina, the photographer, decides to go to New York to mend her relationship with her ex-fiance.

It’s so well-acted, funny, and because it’s been enough time that this has become noticeable, a great depiction of big-city life in the 90s. There is smoking inside, riding a motorcycle without helmets, and top-notch fashion.

The producers said they wanted to make “a contemporary film about African-American life that did not deal with guns and drugs,” and probably because they didn’t make compromises, the film was a commercial failure. In recent years, however, it has been quietly growing into a cult classic.

12. Handsome Devil (2016)

best

8.0

Country

Ireland

Director

John Butler

Actors

Amy Huberman, Andrew Scott, Ardal O'Hanlon, Ardal O'Hanlon

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

I can’t get a song out of my head from this movie: the 1985 UK hit Desire As from Prefab Sprout.

It plays when the two main characters, a sensitive kid who’s bullied by his school for not liking rugby, and the school’s rugby star; talk over the “Berlin Wall” that separates their dorm room.

The song echoes “It’s perfect as it stands, so why then crush it in your perfect hands?”. These two seemingly incompatible personalities form a friendship that comes under threat from their school’s traditional authority, especially as one of them is revealed to be gay. 

It might seem like a tough premise, but Handsome Devil is actually a comedy. It’s a sweet and easy coming-of-age comedy.

11. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

best

8.0

Country

China, United States of America

Director

Female director, Kelly Fremon Craig

Actors

Alexander Calvert, Ava Grace Cooper, Blake Jenner, Chris Shields

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Lovely

A wonderful, witty teen comedy—possibly the best the genre has known in a long time! In a powerhouse performance, Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high school junior at peak angst and awkwardness. Her roller coaster journey through family, friends, lovers, or lack thereof, gives her that all-too-common impression for people her age that life is unbearable. Things get more complicated when Nadine’s dad passes and her only friend hooks up with an unexpected person. Her temperament and humor will help her see past her demons to understand what’s important in life, putting you in privileged spectator mode to this highly smart and exciting coming-of-age story.

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