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  • Writer's pictureSam Malone

Comfort Movies for a Difficult Time

Where do we turn in a time like this? Well, with some good old wholesome cinema, we can go anywhere. Here are some movies erring on the optimistic side of things, films of comfort and joy in this time of uncertainty and distress. If there’s one thing a good story tells us, it’s that we always bounce back. For the time being, stay safe and escape to the movies (in your homes).

Sing Street (2016)

A musical delight of artistic rebellion, young love, and songs that honor the wonderful 80s and The Cure.

Begin Again (2013)

John Carney’s other musical delight is an ode to summertime in the city with a bubbly Mark Ruffalo and a talented Keira Knightley taking to the streets of New York to record music.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

I mean this is just a great movie for anytime, anywhere. It’s an absolute good time.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Always my go-to comfort movie.

The Nice Guys (2016)

One of the best comedies of the 2010s. Ryan Gosling is aces (he should really do more comedies).

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Another Ryan Gosling gem, while we’re at it. Plus Emma Stone, Steve Carell, and Julianne Moore.

Set It Up/Sleepless in Seattle/You’ve Got Mail/When Harry Met Sally

Craving some romance in this tumultuous time? Here you go.

Ratatouille (2007)

A love letter to making art. We can still dream (and make art) in this time of self-isolation.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Nothing like this classic musical to up your spirits.

La La Land (2016)

Another beautiful musical and sure, the ending is a bit heart wrenching, but if you can’t see the good in it as well, then maybe find something a little sweeter. Though bittersweet can be a good thing.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

For when you become so bored you start daydreaming. Just watch this instead.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Such an affirming movie. Any one can wear the mask and God bless those who are actually wearing masks at the front lines right now.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

An absolutely stunning movie.

A Place in the Sun (1951)

Another stunning romance starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Montgomery Clift again. Another great romance.

Ford v. Ferrari (2019)

Remembering friendship in this time of social distancing.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

What better way to have some laughter than from jokes making fun of hateful people. Especially in this time when love is needed more than ever.

About Time (2013)

A good time for some sentimental cheese.

The Holiday (2006)

It’s not the Holiday’s. But why not pretend with some romantic cheese?

Love Actually (2003)

Ditto the above.

Toy Story 1, 2, 3, 4

Of course.

Baby Driver (2017)

Talk about a happy ending.

Before Sunrise (1995)

A simple movie for a complex time. Sounds nice.

Chef (2014)

Jon Favreau’s passion project is wonderful.

The Princess Bride (1987)

This movie will never get old.

Almost Famous (2000)

Watch it for the bus and plane scenes. Stay for the whole story because it’s beyond touching.

Indiana Jones films

There may not be better escapism than the Indiana Jones franchise.

Back to the Future films

Right up there with Indy.

Nathan for You: Finding Frances (2017)

Nathan Fielder’s brilliant and beautiful magnum opus? Yes, definitely.

Plains, Train, and Automobiles (1987)

Classic comedy.

Red River (1948)

A wonderful western for this time.

Shane (1953)

If not for the story, then at least for the beautiful Wyoming landscape.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck indeed.

Breakfast of Tiffany’s (1961)

Audrey Hepburn again indeed!

Columbus (2017)

I almost didn’t include this one. It may seem more melancholy, but there is an urgency for hope under the reflection. Plus beautiful architecture for when you forget about buildings in quarantine.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Fall under young Heath Ledger’s spell.

School of Rock (2003)

Jack Black.

Clueless (1995)

Why not?

Pretty Woman (1990)

This movie rocks.

Wes Anderson Triple Feature

Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Trust me.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

The movie that beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture? Turns out it’s a good movie.

Harry Potter films

Harry Potter can get heavy but the payoff message is the one we all need right now. Harry Potter forever.

Lord of the Rings films

Sam’s monologue at the end of Two Towers? Pertinent. The rest of the movies? Perfect.

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

Good time for a fun heist film.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)


His Girl Friday (1940)

Good time for a fast-paced, screwball comedy.

Casablanca (1942)

I mean obviously.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

We could use some dancing. Why not make it dirty?

Footloose (1984)

Kevin Bacon.

Grease (1978)

More dancing!

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, The Gay Divorcee, Royal Wedding. The ultimate dancing duo were a joy to watch and still are.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Because it is.

It Happened One Night (1934)

Classic rom-com.

About a Boy (2002)

Hugh Grant never fails.

Powell and Pressburger Movies

A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Powell and Pressbuger made the most human films. Perfect movies for a time like this.

Charlie Chaplin Movies

A Dog’s Life, The Kid, The Great Dictator, City Lights, Modern Times. Chaplin never disappoints.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

I adore this film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

If you watch any Star Wars, make it this one.

Rocky Films

Perseverance and fight? Good films to binge right now.

E.T. (1982)

Nothing like some good old Spielberg.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

One of Spielberg’s best that no one talks about. Watch it.

Babe (1995)

George Miller’s unorthodox but touching movie always works.

Big (1988)

Tom Hanks. What a guy.

Knives Out (2019)

Nothing like a good whodunit to take your mind off of things.

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

A much-needed movie.

The Women (1939)

This is a very fun movie.

Holiday (1938)

Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

Richard Linklater Double Feature

Dazed and Confused and Everybody Wants Some!! Hangout movies for hanging out.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Probably Tarantino’s least stressful movie. Besides the Spahn Ranch scene, it’s a good film for chilling at home.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Need some more high school fun?

Harold Loyd and Buster Keaton Movies

The Freshman. Safety Last! Steamboat Bill, Jr. The General. The Cameraman. Some more slapstick comedy.

Sabrina (1954)

I love this movie. Audrey Hepburn is amazing as always and Humphrey Bogart shouldn’t be easy to love, but somehow still is.

John Wayne Movies

Because of course? The Searchers, Stagecoach, Rio Bravo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, True Grit, Mclintock! Some of these may be less lighthearted but damn do they make for some good viewings.

Sergio Leone

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. A Fistful of Dollars. For a Few Dollars More. Once Upon a Time in the West. Nothing like some good shoot ‘em ups.

A River Runs Through It (1992)

Escape to some fly fishing in Montana. If not in real life, then at least in this beautiful film.

Groundhog Day (1993)

For when the days start to feel the same.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise's best role.

Giant (1956)

A Texas sized epic for my fellow Texans.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

If you watch an epic that isn’t Giant, watch this one.

A League of Their Own (1992)

There’s no crying in baseball.

Little Women (2019)

Greta Gerwig’s stunning film is a good one to revisit at this time.

Nights of Cabiria (1957)

A film of endurance and optimism in the darkest of times. How fitting. Strive on, smile, and dance.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

“Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

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