40 Best Uplifting Movies on Netflix Right Now

40 Best Uplifting Movies on Netflix Right Now

April 17, 2024

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Sometimes, the world gets a little too much to handle. In such times, there’s nothing like putting real life on pause and getting sucked into a feel-good movie. From irreverent buddy films to inspirational tales where good trumps evil, a wholesome watch can be a great comfort in the moments we need it the most. Here are some of the best uplifting movies currently streaming on Netflix, all of which are sure to turn that frown upside down.

31. Rocks (2019)

7.5

Country

Germany, UK, United Kingdom

Director

Female director, Sarah Gavron

Actors

Afi Okaidja, Anastasia Dymitrow, Aneta Piotrowska, Bukky Bakray

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Heart-warming

It’s rare now to hear the phrase “girl power” without being immediately suspicious of its intentions, reduced as it were to cheesy adspeak and empty platitudes. But in the case of Rocks—a movie helmed by a predominantly female crew and co-written by the teenage cast themselves—the slogan fits. There is power in this type of girlhood: open, collaborative, and supportive, and that’s just what happens off-screen. 

On-screen, what unfolds is even more complex and beautiful. As Rocks struggles to take care of her younger brother all on her own, as she’s forced to grow up and face ethical dilemmas normally reserved for adults, she is backed unwaveringly by her friends Sumaya, Agnes, Yawa, Khadijah, and Sabina. It’s their specific bond, unsentimental but deeply considerate and loyal, that keeps the film as solid and grounded as the title suggests.

32. Jacqueline Novak: Get on Your Knees (2024)

7.5

Director

Female director, Natasha Lyonne

Actors

Jacqueline Novak

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

We’re familiar with dick jokes from stand-up comedians, especially male stand-up, but Jacqueline Novak’s 90-minute show about the blow job feels completely new. Get on Your Knees feels like casual storytelling from someone experienced yet distant enough to be a cool authority on it (say, your best friend’s older sister’s best friend), but funnier. It’s like a gossip session about a first experience, except the breathless, dizzying stream of thought is peppered with philosophical thought and points out the absurdity around the language and common attitudes about sex. And as she does so, and as she talks about self-conscious fumbling and unanswered questions, she strides back and forth, in an easy, self-assured way, the way we’d like to feel going into the act.

33. 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. 

34. Friday Night Plan (2023)

7.4

Country

India

Director

Vatsal Neelakantan

Actors

Aadhya Anand, Amrith Jayan, Babil Khan, Juhi Chawla

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Lighthearted

Friday Night Plan resembles many a classic teen film (most notably, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Booksmart), but it also doubles as a thoughtful inquiry into the delicate bond between siblings who could not be more different from one another. Sid and his younger brother Adi (Amrith Jayan) have different ideas of what matters most in life, ideas that get tested when their mother’s car gets towed away during their night of fun. Sid thinks it’s only right to come clean and retrieve the car no matter what, but Adi believes this can all wait until tomorrow morning: tonight is Sid’s night to celebrate and finally connect with peers he’s shut off all his life. This tension comes as a surprise in what otherwise looks like an ordinary teen movie, but it’s also a welcome addition that helps Friday Night Plan stand out from the rest. 

35. It Ain’t Over (2023)

7.4

Country

United States of America

Director

Sean Mullin

Actors

Billy Crystal, Bob Costas, Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Nowadays, more people might know the cartoon character Yogi Bear or the saying “It ain’t over ‘till its over,” more than they know Yogi Berra, the larger-than-life baseball player who originated the character and the phrase. But in his prime, Berra was one of the most recognizable faces of major league baseball. He was so beloved that he appeared in countless commercials and effortlessly won the hearts of Americans. It Ain’t Over, however, makes a case about Berra being more than just a public figure and how he was one of the best players of all time. The documentary, which is equal parts stats, archival footage, and anecdotes, is convincing without ever being forceful or desperate about its arguments. Berra’s innate warmth and charm carry over in this biography, regardless of whether he’s telling the stories himself or his friends and family regale us with tales of the icon. You don’t have to know much about baseball to enjoy Berra’s life story unfold; having a basic appreciation of storytelling and kindhearted people will suffice. 

36. Bank of Dave (2023)

7.3

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Chris Foggin

Actors

Adrian Lukis, Angus Wright, Cathy Tyson, Drew Cain

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Bank of Dave is a simple but well-told film that feels utterly satisfying from start to end. Dave is the little guy who only wants to give back to his community, but stopping him from achieving his noble goals are the big guys in suits with vested interests and too narrow a focus to appreciate the good that Dave is after. The film is David versus Goliath, countryside versus cityside, socialist versus capitalist (or, if you like, ethical capitalism versus unethical capitalism). You know who will triumph in the end, but that doesn’t detract from the film’s overall enjoyability. The dialogue is smart and stirring, and you can’t help but root for the film’s small heroes to win big. 

37. Can You See Us? (2023)

7.3

Country

Zambia

Director

Kenny Mumba

Actors

Chilu Lemba, Fransisca Muchangwe, Kangwa Chileshe, Ruth Jule

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Heart-warming, Thought-provoking

As the first Zambian film on Netflix, Can You See Us? is an interesting portrayal of albinism. Inspired by the real-life story of musician John Chiti, the film’s plot feels grounded, even if it’s similar to other stories depicting discrimination. With newcomer Thabo Kaamba at the forefront, her performance of the albino boy Joseph shines brighter than even the older actors of the film’s cast. That being said, it is held back by repetitive dialogue and sped-up character development from certain characters. Despite this, Can You See Us? is still a remarkable film that stands out from the other tearjerkers available on the streaming platform.

38. Orion and the Dark (2024)

7.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Sean Charmatz

Actors

Aliki Theofilopoulos, Amy Hill, Angela Bassett, Aparna Nancherla

Moods

Character-driven, Funny, Heart-warming

Going to sleep is something we do every day, though, when we were kids, it certainly wasn’t easy. With family-friendly source material and a new (and adorable!) sleepytime ensemble, Orion and the Dark plays with this fact of childhood, but screenwriter Charlie Kaufman transforms it into something more as the title characters journey into literal midnight dreams, tell stories-within-stories, and return back home with a poetic repetition. It still has some of his existential despair– after all, the overly imaginative Orion literally contemplates the possibility of death through his many, many anxieties– but it doesn’t just play with the classic childhood fear. Kaufman transforms the bedtime story, and the act of storytelling itself, as co-creation and connection between generations of filmmakers and viewers, with this film’s surprisingly layered writing.

39. The Queenstown Kings (2023)

7.2

Country

South Africa

Director

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

Actors

Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa, Likhona Mgali, Patrick Ndlovu, Sandile Mahlangu

Moods

Action-packed, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

The Queenstown Kings is a sports film that has plot points we’re all familiar with – alcoholic father trying to seek forgiveness from his son, a tempting offer for fame and riches, the standard training montage and more. These plot points sometimes go into melodramatic territory, but the film’s relationships make these scenes feel sincere, especially with the family dynamic that drives the film. And as Buyile strives to better himself to become a good example to the team, and Fezile makes different choices from his father, The Queenstown Kings feels sincere as a reminder of the better side of South African men, one that can be uncovered if they, and their community, believe in a higher dream.

40. Fanfic (2023)

7.2

Country

Poland

Director

Female director, Marta Karwowska

Actors

Adam Cywka, Agnieszka Rajda, Alin Szewczyk, Anna Krotoska

Moods

Heart-warming, Lovely, Sweet

Being made for free, fanfiction is free to play with controversial, less print-friendly concepts like gender-bending your favorite character. This freedom might go into strange territory, but most often than not, writers use fanfiction for escapism or for catharsis of their day-to-day lives. While the film doesn’t delve into fanfiction’s creative process, Polish drama Fanfic does recognize how the genre’s experimentation allows its writers to safely and freely explore different styles of expression, the same way teenage years hopefully do for its viewers. And as Tosiek goes through the trappings of coming-of-age self-discovery, it’s lovely and comforting and cathartic like the stories he writes.

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