25 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix Canada That Will Lift Your Spirits
Looking to cure a case of the blues? These uplifting and inspirational flicks will surely do the trick.
The Swimmers (2022)
In this inspirational real-life drama, two sisters (Nathalie and Manal Issa) in war-torn Syria are trained by their father (Ali Suliman) to become Olympic swimmers. When a terrorist bombing almost ends those dreams for good, the siblings set their sights on Berlin—a destination that’s not without dangers of its own. Noted German actor Matthias Schweighöfer co-stars as Sven, the swimming instructor who sees potential in Yusra, the more talented and motivated of the pair.
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Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
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. While Petit’s story was already recounted in the Academy Award-winning—and aptly titled—2005 documentary Man on Wire, this big-budget retelling is worth watching for Gordon-Levitt’s spirited performance and some spectacular CGI. The Walk is a thrilling biopic that will have you believing in magic again.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Happy Feet (2006)
More than fifteen years on, Happy Feet still has us busting a move. From its rousing singalongs to its impressive voice cast and environmental themes, this Academy Award-winning flick is one of the best feel-good movies on Netflix Canada. After being cast out of his community for having no “heartsong”—he’s a heck of a dancer though—emperor penguin Mumble (Elijah Wood) joins forces with his fellow outsiders in the hopes of finding his one love, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). As Happy Feet proves, few things are more important than staying true to yourself.
Blue Miracle (2021)
One of the most purely enjoyable movies released last year, Blue Miracle is a crowd-pleasing celebration of nature, family and honour. Omar (Jimmy Gonzales) runs an orphanage in Cabo, Mexico, with his wife; in dire need of funds, he joins forces with a washed-up fisherman (Dennis Quaid) and enters a prestigious local fishing tournament. Based on a true story, Blue Miracle is one of the best feel-good movies on Netflix Canada.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Each year, hundreds of millions of viewers tune into the Eurovision Song Contest, a songwriting competition featuring dozens of artists from across Europe. (For the uninitiated, the songs, costumes and performances can be downright bizarre.) In small-town Iceland, childhood friends and wannabe pop stars Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) dream of entering the event; after a freak accident that’s too shocking and silly to repeat here, the pair are chosen to rep their country on the world’s biggest stage. Thanks to choice casting (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens plays the duo’s Russian rival) and some hilarious production numbers, The Story of Fire Saga gives Europe’s quirkiest export the sincerity it deserves.
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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Perhaps writer-director Taika Waititi’s most perfectly realized film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is Rambo reimagined as a sweet-natured adventure comedy. After his foster mother, Bella, suddenly passes away, delinquent teen Ricky (Julian Dennison) and Bella’s distant husband, Hector (Sam Neill), escape to the bush before Ricky is taken in by child welfare services. Soon, however, the pair becomes the target of a nationwide manhunt. Thanks to its considerable craft and Dennison and Neil’s solid chemistry, Wilderpeople packs an undeniable punch.
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The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
In the Outer Banks, North Carolina, down-on-his-luck Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) draws the ire of his fellow crabbers after illegally taking their catches. While on the run, he encounters Zak (Zack Gottsagen, in a breakout performance), a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome who has recently escaped from a state-run care facility. Initially, the pair are at odds, but when Tyler learns that Zak is travelling to meet his hero, the wrestling legend Salt Water Redneck, Tyler decides to accompany him on the journey. Meanwhile, Zak’s dedicated caretaker (Dakota Johnson) tries to track the unlikely duo down. Funny, inspiring and oh-so sweet, The Peanut Butter Falcon is impossible to dislike.
Photo: Netflix Canada
Like Father (2018)
A workaholic executive (Kristen Bell) gets dumped at the altar, ends up spending her honeymoon cruise with her estranged father (Kelsey Grammer) and meets a nice guy (Seth Rogen) during her journey. Writer-director Lauren Miller—Rogen’s real-life wife—isn’t interested in breaking the rules, and that’s OK. Like Father is a feel-good movie about appreciating family, and one we could certainly use right now!
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Wild Rose (2018)
Newly released from prison after attempting to smuggle heroin, Glasgow mother-of-two and wannabe country singer Rose-Lynn Harlan (an electrifying Jessie Buckley) is hired as a cleaner for a wealthy couple. But when her new employer hears her sing, Rose-Lynn is encouraged to finally follow her dreams—much to the chagrin of her mother (Julie Walters), who wants Rose-Lynn to be more present in her young children’s lives. Beautifully acted and featuring songs by Emmylou Harris, Chris Stapleton and Wynonna Judd, Wild Rose is an inspiring, unabashedly sentimental kitchen sink drama.
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Photo: Netflix Canada
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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Photo: Netflix Canada
After the death of her aunt, plus-size high school senior Will Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) must repair her relationship with estranged mother Rosie (Jennifer Aniston). As a tribute to her late aunt, Will and a group of rebellious friends enter their small Texas town’s beauty pageant, much to the chagrin of Rosie, a pageant judge and former beauty queen. Anchored by Macdonald and Aniston’s winning performances, as well as pinpoint insights on beauty standards and parenting, Dumplin’ is the definition of crowdpleaser.
Based on the 2012 novel of the same name, Wonder follows August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a 10-year-old living in Brooklyn with Franceschetti–Klein syndrome, a rare medical facial deformity. Home-schooled by his parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson), the Pullmans decide to enroll Auggie into the exclusive Beecher Prep as he begins fifth grade. While Auggie must inevitably deal with a pack of school bullies, he’s also cheered on by his loving family, supportive teachers and new pals—and slowly but surely, begins to shed his insecurities.
Photo: Netflix Canada
The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
This sentimental comedy-drama centres on unemployed writer Ben (Paul Rudd), who takes on the job of caregiver for Trevor (Craig Roberts), an 18-year-old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and a fascination with American roadside attractions. The two unlikely buddies decide to hit the road, picking up two hitchhikers (Selena Gomez and Megan Ferguson) in the process. Always charming and often genuinely funny, The Fundamentals of Caring is a likeable showcase for its talented cast.
Photo: Netflix Canada
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 breaking. This heartfelt comedy is directed by Poehler herself.
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Photo: Netflix Canada
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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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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Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
In 2002, the once-dire Oakland Athletics ended the season with an American League West-best record of 103-59. It was due in part to the handy work of general manager Billy Beane and his assistant Paul DePodesta, who incorporated a new brand of empirical analysis to sign under-the-radar free agents. If that sounds too mathematical and, frankly, boring, for you, rest assured: Moneyball is one of the most entertaining underdog stories of the decade. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, this Oscar nominee will have you believing in the power of baseball again.
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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This coming-of-age masterpiece from Studio Ghibli and writer-director Hayao Miyazaki follows the Kusakabe family—10-year-old Satsuki, four-year-old Mei and father Tatsuo—as they move into a country house to be closer to the family’s ailing mother. Soon, the sisters discover nearby spirits and also befriend Totoro, a giant, magical rabbit-like creature. Miyazaki’s wonderfully humane ode to family, nature and rural living makes for one of the most heartwarming stories ever made—and an essential classic of world cinema.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 earned its cult classic status.
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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.
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