This was a reader request from several weeks ago (and a post I feel we need right now!) but it took me a while to pull together the post as I have so many. Comfort films. The ones you watch when you are sick, sad, having a bad day, feeling a bit blue, the world is in turmoil, etc. I had been working on this list for a while now but bad things seem to keep happening (gosh that feels awful to write) and I’ve been hibernating with my favorites so it felt like the timing was right for this post. A comfort film can be different for everyone. Some of these are Oscar winning classics, others are just feel good favorites and box office hits. It’s just about what brings YOU comfort!
Here are mine, please (please!) share yours in the comments!
Note from Grace – As the times change, some of these might not hold up as well anymore. I have tried to flag anything (like the weight comments in Bridget Jones’ Diary) I remember as offensive and I don’t think there is anything on this list that is terrible but wanted to make that caveat: sometimes there is just comfort in watching something old. I think you can cringe a little bit, give thanks that times have changed, but still enjoy the nostalgia of watching something older.
33 of the Best Comfort Movies
Alright, let’s dive in. These films are all comforting to me for different ways. Clueless makes me laugh. The Princess Bride transports me to my childhood (same with Back to the Future). Love, Actually reminds me of all the different forms of love. I could go on. A good comfort film can help you get through a tough day, distract you when you are sick, or just transport you away when real life feels like too much. No matter how bad things get, there will always be movies. I am not a big re-reader of books but love to rewatch old movie favorites. These are the films I watch again and again. After a long day, for me, there is nothing better than a glass of red wine and a good movie.
I will say that putting these in chronological order made this such a walk down memory lane. I graduated high school in ’99 and remember blasting the Cruel Intentions soundtrack around that time. Then I graduated college in ’03 and remember fantasizing about Kate Hudson’s workwear wardrobe in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. After graduation, I was watching The Holiday and The Notebook on repeat.
PS – I didn’t put what streaming service these are available as that is ever changing and I own most of these on Apple TV but JustWatch is a great resource for that. Just input all your favorites and they will tell you where to watch it!
Nancy Meyers is our queen.
Did anyone else notice themselves falling back in love with Nancy Meyers during the pandemic? The old people romances. The cozy kitchens. The beach houses. Gah. She is our queen. I love her films so much.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
This is my all time favorite from Nancy Meyers. It’s Complicated is a close second but this is the favorite. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are just too good together. The meet-cute is hilarious: Jack’s character is dating Diane’s character’s daughter (played by Amanda Peet). The two wind up getting together, but he can’t settle down, and then Diane meets a younger man (played by Keanu Reeves). I LOVE this movie, definitely in my top 5.
The Holiday (2006)
Everything about this movie. The expected and the unexpected. Kate Winslet and Jack Black for example: a couple I’d never put together in my head, but it just WORKS! Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz both go through tumultuous breakups and decide to house swap for the holidays… LA and London! It is charming and sweet and one of my all time favorite movies anytime I am feeling sad.
It’s Complicated (2009)
My second favorite of Nancy Meyers’ films! Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep have been divorced for years. Meryl is still single; Alec has a younger (nightmare!) wife, played by Lake Bell. The two wind up in bed together, sneaking around… but Meryl knows Alec is no good! Luckily, a good man is waiting for Meryl: her handsome architect, Steve Martin. This is just so charming.
The Intern (2015)
Robert De Niro is a little bit bored and decides to apply for an internship at a fashion start-up (think Net-a-Porter, with Anne Hathaway playing a loveable workaholic boss). There are so many good elements here: the friendship between him and Anne’s character, an “old person romance” (my favorite!) between him and a beautiful massage therapist… I just love this one.
Home Again (2017)
This is adorable. While Meyers did not direct this, she produced it and her daughter directed it, so we will still count it. Reese Witherspoon returns “home” to LA after a split with her husband. Somehow along the way, she winds up “adopting” three younger guys in their twenties, who temporarily move into her guest house (she’s hooking up with one of them). It sounds like a mess but it’s great and oh-so-heartwarming, plus Candace Bergen plays her mom and of course (true to Nancy Meyers form) the house is absolutely beautiful.
And Tom Hanks is King?
I will always love Big (and also, 13, going on 30, which was the female version). Tom Hanks plays a teenager who wishes to be big and then suddenly there he is, living in New York and having to fend for himself. It’s charming and cute and so nostalgic.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Another old favorite. I grew up watching and loving this. Just so much nostalgia… plus that Empire State Building moment. I love this.
Forrest Gump (1994)
I watched this when I had COVID and forgot how much I love it. It’s truly epic (spanning childhood all the way through middle age, a war, etc.) with such great characters. I could watch this again and again and again!
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Tom and Meg forever… plus bring in book shops? Love. This is a forever favorite for me.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
This is one of my all time favorite old school films. It’s just… iconic. I mean, Sean Penn’s performance alone is just everything. I could watch this over and over again.
Back to the Future (all 3 of ’em! – 1985, onward)
Just a classic. I love love love these films and get happy just thinking about Marty McFly on his hoverboard or Doc and his time-traveling DeLorean.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Takes me back to my youth! It has been a little while (a long time!) since I last watched this, I think that needs to change. It’s an epic saga and just so delightful. Robin Wright dazzles as Princess Buttercup. It’s hilarious to compare her to Claire Underwood when you think about it.
I remember as a kid not being allowed to watch this because it was too sad. Once I watched it, I understood. I sob every time I watch this film. It’s incredible, and so is the soundtrack. Bette Midler forever.
Mystic Pizza (1988)
This is another one of those feel good films I always reach for when I am sick. Pure nostalgia. It’s about three young waitresses working at a pizza shop in a small town… Julia Roberts is divine!
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
An absolute classic, another one that I could probably quote line for line. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I love that it spans from graduating college and moving to the “big city,” all the way through adulthood and relationships. It is just… the best.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Another classic (with old school Julia Roberts AND Sally Field!) Julia plays the bride-to-be and Sally is her mom. Dolly Parton is their hair stylist and Daryl Hannah is an aspiring beautician who is helping out. Does the cast get any better? This is sad, but heartwarming, and an ode to the bond between women.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Along the lines of Fast Times (a great binge would be this and that for all the old school high school nostalgia). Just a wonderful old favorite. I haven’t watched this in a little while. Directed by Richard Linklater (a favorite!), with a breakout performance by Matthew McConaughey, it’s just a wonderful classic. I love this one!
I just love this movie so much. It is cheesy and campy and utterly quotable. Alicia Silverstone plays Cher Horowitz, a spoiled but utterly lovable teenager growing up in Beverly Hills. This + Legally Blonde + Mean Girls = a dream Sunday.
Any of the Harry Potter Movies (1997 onward)
I think I must have marathoned Harry Potter at least three times during the pandemic. There is nothing more comforting than escaping to Hogwarts for a day (or longer — it takes a whole weekend to watch them all!!!).
Cruel Intentions (1999)
This is not exactly comforting, but it IS! Ryan Philippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar.. it’s just so vicious and good. Before there was Gossip Girl, there was Cruel Intentions. It’s just the most fun to watch and rewatch over and over again. Like I said above, watching this transports me back to my high school experience. Not because mine was anything like theres, but because my friends and I were so scandalized by it… and… that soundtrack!
Legally Blonde (2001)
“What… Like, it’s hard!?” This may be one of my all time favorite Reese Witherspoon films… Reese is also my queen, I love her so much. Reese plays Elle Woods, determined to get into Harvard to win back her boyfriend (Selma Blair plays his new, brainy but mean fiancé.) It is campy and fun, and I think this is when I developed my crush on Luke Wilson.
Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
These movies will always be so comforting to me. Maybe because they make me feel better about myself (and like no matter how messy life can seem, things always work out okay!), but vintage Hugh Grant, Renee Zellweger, and Colin Firth are an absolute yes for me. (Though I will say I do find the weight comments bothersome; Bridget weighs all of 130/140 pounds and is considered chubby. Ah, okay, right… I just ignore those bits.)
School of Rock (2003)
This is so cute. Jack Black plays an overly enthusiastic guitarist who is kicked out of his band. Desperately in need of work, he finagles (lies) his way into a job teaching at an elite private elementary school. It’s an uptight environment and he teaches his students about the rock & roll gods he idolizes. It’s adorable watching these precocious and polite kids get into rock music.
Love, Actually (2003)
A classic. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies but just like with The Holiday I will happily watch it any day of the year. The Hugh Grant dancing scene, Colin Firth getting a second chance at love.. there’s just so much goodness in this one.
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003)
I definitely have a thing for romcoms set at magazines. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are working in the media biz (her at a top woman’s mag; him for an ad agency). He strikes a bet that he can make any woman fall in love with him (while she is simultaneously writing a feature on how to lose a guy); chaos ensues.
Mean Girls (2004)
This is another one I could quote all day long. We love a high school drama, and this is beyond fun. Lindsay Lohan has just moved to the suburbs of Illinois (after being home schooled by her her parents in Africa). High school turns out to be really clicque-y, including a “cool” group of girls dubbed “the plastics.” Rachel McAdams plays the queen bee Regina George so brilliantly. This is an all time favorite.
13 going on 30 (2004)
So charming and nostalgic; and yes, another romcom set at a magazine. Jenna Rink (played by Jennifer Garner) just wants to skip her teenage years and go straight to being thirty. When that actually happens, she wakes up in New York living the dream: an insane closet, a great job as a magazine editor, and a beautiful apartment. Of course, she soon learns that it’s not all as it seems and she realizes that the popular kids actually weren’t all that great.
The Notebook (2004)
Gahhh, a classic! For me, this is the ultimate love story. Is this what started my crush on Ryan Gosling? I think so. I feel like I don’t need to tell you about this as we’ve already seen it a million times but I always reach for this when I am sick or feeling sad. It’s so romantic, plus the Charleston scenery makes me happy.
Another fun New York one. Will Smith is New York City’s best matchmaker (I particularly love the match he makes in Amber Valetta + a schlubby but sweet accountant). Eva Mendes co-stars; I loved the chemistry between the two of them!
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
A forever classic, I feel like I (and probably most of you) can quote this movie line by line. Anne Hathaway stars as Meryl Streep’s assistant at a prestigious fashion magazine. It’s a job “a million other girls would kill for,” but at what cost!?
Midnight in Paris (2011)
This is one of my favorite movies. I have my opinions about Woody Allen but can put them aside for this. Just the fantasy of being able to transport back to the age of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald… the fantasy is too much! Plus major wanderlust with Paris (I have not been in years and miss it!)
I can’t remember what prompted me to watch Wonder but I loved it. Somehow, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson work as a sweet married couple and are just the best parents to their son. Augie Pullman was born with facial differences that had prevented him from going to a mainstream school. When he starts fifth grade, his family and new classmates discover their compassion and acceptance. It’s heartwarming and a tearjerker… I loved it so much.
The Hustle (2022)
This is a newer one (I watched it a month or so ago on Netflix) but I had to add it to the list as I found it really comforting. Adam Sandler and Queen Latifah play an adorable couple (turns out they have a longstanding friendship). Adam Sandler plays a basketball scout, taking a chance on a talented newcomer. I loved this. It helps that I have a massive soft spot for Adam Sandler.