25 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix Canada That Will Lift Your Spirits
Whether you’re looking to cure a case of the blues or need something to keep you going through lockdown restrictions, these uplifting and inspirational flicks will surely do the trick.
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Enola Holmes (2020)
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) stars as the titular Enola Holmes, the teenage sister of the renowned Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and stern Mycroft. Underestimated by her brothers and unwilling to conform to the societal conventions of 19th century England, Enola sets off on her own adventures—first in search of her missing mother (Helena Bonham Carter), and later to rescue a helpless boy, Tewkesbury. Featuring a playfully subversive script and Brown’s fun performance, Enola Holmes is perfect family-friendly fare.
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Wine Country (2019)
During a vacation to Napa Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday, a group of longtime friends—played by Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey—reunite and revisit past choices. Inevitably, the six friends come to realize that their relationships with one another are beginning to break. This heartfelt comedy is directed by Poehler herself.
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The Half of It (2020)
This teen version of Cyrano de Bergerac swaps out the brilliant but large-nosed swordsman with Ellie Chu, a shy, straight-A student in a sleepy Midwestern town. Played by newcomer Leah Lewis, Ellie makes extra money by writing essays for fellow students—one day, the sweet-natured but inarticulate jock Paul asks her to write love letters to Aster, a classmate he has feelings for. Their unlikely friendship is upended, however, when Ellie finds herself falling for Aster too. Funny, heartwarming and surprisingly thoughtful, The Half of It is one of the best high school movies in recent memory.
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In this mouth-watering comedy-drama, hotshot Los Angeles chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau, who also wrote and directed the film) suddenly finds himself jobless after drawing the ire of his restaurant’s owner and an influential food critic. Realizing he’s at a crossroads, Carl heads to Miami and launches a food truck business with his best buddy (John Leguizamo), ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and estranged young son—and in the process reignites his passion for cooking. Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Bobby Cannavale and Dustin Hoffman co-star.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Long before The Queen’s Gambit took the world by storm in late 2020, Searching for Bobby Fischer helped reignite chess in the public imagination in the ’90s. When seven-year-old Joshua Waitzkin becomes obsessed with the chess hustlers at New York City’s Washington Square Park, his parents (Joe Mantegna and Joan Allen) discover that he’s a chess prodigy. But when his dad hires a strict tutor (Sir Ben Kingsley), the three adults are faced with a dilemma: let Josh live a normal happy childhood, or lead him down a path that has destroyed many chess savants before him.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Everyone assumed childhood friends Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park) would wind up together—except for Sasha and Marcus, that is. Fifteen years after graduating high school, she’s a celebrity chef and he’s an unsuccessful musician. Will the two reconnect and find their happily-ever-after? Always Be My Maybe is everything a rom-com should be—and it’s all the more special because it depicts Asian-American characters who aren’t often seen in mainstream movies.
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Loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic Emma, Clueless follows Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a spoiled and stylish teenager who plays the role of matchmaker for her friends and teachers. As Cher’s meddling spirals out of control, she finds true love in the form of Paul Rudd, who plays her ex-stepbrother. As if! Always clever and surprisingly heartfelt, Clueless is one of the touchstone comedies of the ’90s.
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Legally Blonde (2001)
From being sorority president to gracing her campus calendar as Miss June, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has got it made. Her West Coast credentials, however, are no match for the East Coast Ivy League—that’s made abundantly clear to Elle when she chooses to study at Harvard Law School to impress her pretentious ex. Charming, funny and highly re-watchable, Legally Blonde is a statement of self-empowerment for the ages.
School of Rock (2003)
After getting kicked out of his band, cash-strapped guitarist Dewey Finn (Jack Black) decides to impersonate a substitute teacher at a private elementary school. Once there, he learns that many of his pupils are also talented musicians. Dewey’s plan? Form a new rock band and enter a local competition called “Battle of the Bands,” which offers $10,000 in prize money. Buoyed by Black’s energetic performance and a killer soundtrack, School of Rock is a gut-busting paean to the healing power of music.
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Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)
After the death of her mother, introverted and eccentric sixty-something Doris Miller (Sally Field) suddenly finds herself living alone for the first time in her life. Later at her data entry job, Doris meets John (Max Greenfield), an attractive young colleague with whom she is immediately infatuated. Anchored by Field’s winning performance, Hello, My Name Is Doris is a quirky and hilarious character study.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Released from a psychiatric institution after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, former teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his parents. Soon he meets Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a manic young widow who offers to help him win back his ex-wife if he agrees to enter a dance competition with her. Mental illness and dysfunction may not sound like your usual feel-good movie tropes, but Silver Linings Playbook is nevertheless an energetic, funny, big-hearted affair.
Alex Strangelove (2018)
While on a mission to lose his virginity, high school senior Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) begins to fall in love with Elliott, an openly gay acquaintance. Sounds fine and dandy, but how will his girlfriend Claire react to his newly-discovered sexuality? Alex Strangelove captures the courageous act of coming-out with humour and heart.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Few movies encapsulate the feeling of total freedom quite like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. From unforgettable set pieces (that dance-your-heart-out musical number) to classic quotes (“How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this…”), there’s no finer tribute to the healing power of a good time. Better yet, Ferris Bueller doubles as a Chicago bucket list guide, which makes it the next best thing to an actual tour of the Windy City.
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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)
In order to save his Malawian village from a drought, 13-year-old science wiz William Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba) plans to build a wind turbine to power an electric water pump. But first, he’ll need the support of his skeptical family. Based on a true story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is one of the best feel-good movies on Netflix Canada.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
When janitor Will Hunting (Matt Damon) isn’t wreaking havoc with his aimless buddies (Ben and Casey Affleck), he’s solving the world’s most difficult math problems. Leave it to his new therapist, played by Robin Williams, to set the boy genius on the right track. Good Will Hunting may have its share of heartbreaking moments, but the ending is a winner.
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The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner, a salesman who, along with his five-year-old son, is left homeless after a bad investment. About to hit rock-bottom, Chris lands a six-month unpaid internship at a brokerage firm, but can he prove himself? The Pursuit of Happyness is often a challenging watch, but this against-all-odds tale is nothing short of inspirational.
In this quirky adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, a brilliant little girl (Mara Wilson) discovers she has telekinetic powers, and uses her newfound gift to turn the tables on her abusive parents and tyrannical principal. Matilda is perfect feel-good viewing for adults and kids alike.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Teenager Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) writes secret letters to every boy she’s ever fallen for and keeps them in a hatbox given to her by her late mother. When Lara Jean’s younger sister mails the letters behind her back, she’s forced to confront her imaginary love life head-on. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has become something of a cult classic, and it’s earned every bit of its acclaim.
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Set It Up (2018)
To make their lives easier, two assistants in New York City (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) play matchmaker with their workaholic bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs). In true rom-com fashion, the scheming duo begin to fall for each other, too. Carried along by the great chemistry of its leads, Set It Up makes for thoroughly enjoyable viewing.
Someone Great (2019)
Music writer Jenny Young (Gina Rodriguez) scores her dream job at Rolling Stone and plans to move to San Francisco. Yes, everything’s coming up Jenny—until she’s unexpectedly dumped by her long-time boyfriend. To nurse her broken heart before she leaves New York City, Jenny rounds up best friends Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) for one last girls’ night.
For most of his life, working class 22-year-old Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) has dreamed of playing football at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana—unfortunately for Rudy, he doesn’t have the size or the grades to get accepted. But after the death of his best friend, Rudy decides once and for all to pursue his dreams. Based on a true story, Rudy continues to inspire new generations of fans more than 25 year after its release.
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The Terminal (2004)
Upon arriving at JFK airport in New York City, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) discovers that his native Krakozhia has been taken over in a coup and has closed all its borders. Unable to enter the United States or fly back to his home country, Viktor is forced to take up residence in an abandoned section of the airport. Like Viktor, The Terminal is always optimistic—and a poignant reminder about the kindness of strangers.
The Walk (2015)
The Walk tells the true story of French street performer Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his quest to live out his obsession: a high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This thrilling biopic will have you believing in magic again.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
In 2003, the mysterious Tommy Wiseau directed, produced, wrote and starred in The Room. With its convoluted plot and healthy supply of WTF-moments (Wiseau’s performance chief among them), it gained notoriety among film critics and audiences worldwide as one of the “worst movies ever made.” The Disaster Artist chronicles The Room’s rocky production—and the unlikely bond between Wiseau (James Franco) and co-star Greg Sestero (Dave Franco). Fortunately, The Disaster Artist has no mean streak whatsoever—instead, you’ll find a quirky comedy about friendship, impossible dreams and the magic of movies.
Unicorn Store (2019)
Art school dropout Kit (Brie Larson) is pressured by her parents to finally start acting like an adult. Soon, however, she begins receiving invitations to a magical pop-up store owned by an eccentric salesman (Samuel L. Jackson), who tells her she’ll get her own unicorn if she completes a series of tasks. Unicorn Store is a whimsical tribute to childlike wonder.
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