Movies for Bad Days, Weeks, or (Let’s Be Honest) Years

Food & Entertainment

On a real let down of a day, a few weeks back, I took to Instagram (as so many of us do) to forget real life for a moment. Between double tapping on shoes I cannot afford, places I cannot visit, and clothes I can no longer fit into, it became clear it was time for my quarterly “time out” from Instagram. Not everyone can keep imposter syndrome at bay forever… especially when embarking on new projects! So instead of chatting about decor, fashion or art, I asked the community, What movies are you watching when you’re having a bummer of a day?

When it comes to soothing my feelings with media I fall into one of two camps. I watch something just horribly depressing. I’m talking murder-y, who-done-it documentaries or I’m having a Sliding Doors moment. The list here really covers the lighter side of where I gravitate, which is probably like taking advice from a hundred friends who know that a good romantic comedy does more for the soul than watching a situation unfold that makes your boo-hoo moment minuscule in comparison.

Hundreds of comments later, the recommendations were so deep and so good it took over an hour to respond to a handful of the submissions. Turns out, a lot of us have a very specific set of movies that act as an adult security blanket. And I don’t know about you but for some reason, almost all my favorites (Pride & Prejudice and Harry Potter) are British. Fast forward to this week when a lovely woman DM’ed me and said she typed up the whole list and asked if I wanted to refer back to it. BLESS YOU, Trish. She even organized the British movies (and TV shows) into their own category below!

What to Watch When You Need A Lift


“The English have something that works when you’re down

  • Pride and Prejudice – both the 2006 and the Colin Firth
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Love Actually
  • Notting Hill
  • Begin Again
  • About Time
  • Bridget Jones’ movies
  • Harry Potter – familiar and soothing

“Nora Ephron makes you feel better”

  • You’ve Got Mail
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • When Harry Met Sally

Nancy Meyers:

  • Something’s Gotta Give
  • It’s Complicated
  • Father of the Bride
  • Private Benjamin
  • The Holiday

Strong Girls:

  • Working Girl
  • Devil Wears Prada
  • American President
  • Parent Trap – both ’61 and ‘98
  • Old Streisand movies – The Way We Were, Yentl, Funny Girl etc.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Amelie
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • 13 Going on 30


  • Dan in Real Life
  • Family Stone
  • Ghost Town
  • Groundhog Day
  • Jerry Macguire
  • Guernsey Potato
  • Moonstruck
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bridesmaids
  • Garden State


  • Gene Kelly movies – Singing in the Rain, Brigadoon
  • Fred Astaire movie



  • Downton Abbey
  • The Crown
  • British Bake Off

Old Favs:

  • Gilmore Girls
  • New Girl
  • The Office
  • 30 Rock
  • Arrested Development
  • Parks and Rec
  • Veep
  • Friends
  • Sex and the City
  • Frasier
  • Schitt’s Creek

Old Family Drama:

  • Felicity
  • Friday Night Lights
  • West Wing
  • Parenthood


  • Happy Endings
  • Bob Ross Painting


  • Younger
  • Anne with an E
  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Queer Eye
  • The Bold Type
  • Outlander
  • Priceless (French)
  • Abstract (Netflix)
  • The Fund of Caring (Netflix)
  • Offspring (Aussie)


BY Kate Arends - October 9, 2018

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October 9, 2018 11:24 am

I recently binged all the seasons of Offspring on Netflix and I was obsessed! I loved it.

Linda Phan
October 9, 2018 12:21 pm

You have well and truly perfected this list!

October 9, 2018 1:13 pm

I dunno how they do it but Brits nail feel-good movies and TV series every time! They even, almost, made me watch a scary movie. I reeeeeally want to see Ghost Stories, that came out this year, because the cast is suberb and Brits do such intelligent humour and horror… But that’s the thing, maybe it’s too much for me, a sworn horror movie-hater :S

Teresa |

October 9, 2018 3:16 pm

The Harry Potter movies are definitely my go-to when I need something to help me feel better. They aren’t particularly happy movies or anything like that, but they just suck me in and let me forget about my problems for a while.

October 9, 2018 5:07 pm

This list is perfect! I go to all of these when I’m having a bad day or just want to watch something familiar and uplifting. The only movie I would add (and highly recommend) is Return to Me w/Minnie Driver and David Duchovny- another feel-good rom-com/drama classic!

October 9, 2018 6:06 pm

The perfect list. I’ve always been the escape into a movie kind of a girl. There are some new titles in the mix here, which I’ll be sure to put onto my to watch list.

– Natalie

October 9, 2018 6:33 pm

Sex and the City is my go to for a bad day 🙂

October 9, 2018 10:02 pm

I honestly can’t believe Labyrinth wasn’t mentioned once! That’s my favorite, go-to, feel good, childhood nostalgia classic!

October 10, 2018 1:45 am

So excited to see Offspring in the list. My fav show! (I’m Australian)
I’d add 500 days of summer
The secret life of Walter Mitty.

October 10, 2018 7:30 am
Reply to  Libby

Libby – There is a scene in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty – when they’re playing soccer in some far-flung country – that just has really stuck with me. Whenever I feel a sense of ennui, I think of that scene and remember what an adventure life can be. Thanks for the reminder. Amy

October 10, 2018 7:29 am

I LOVED Friday Night Lights. I recommended it to friends, who took off work to finish watching it. 🙂 Also, when I feel down, I watch Out of Africa, which never fails to inspire me and makes me remember the strength of being a woman, that life has its disappointments and that it is best lived surrounded by Ralph Lauren chintz. Ha. Just kidding. #notkidding

October 10, 2018 8:14 am

Outlander a total yes!! And I would add Peaky Blinders.

October 10, 2018 9:10 am

The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. Funny and sweet and never fails to pick me up.

October 10, 2018 1:08 pm

These are so good! One I would add that I just love in the real/rom-com category is This is 40. I’ve watched it a surprising number of times, and it’s up there with Sleepless and You’ve Got Mail for go-to comfort movies.

October 10, 2018 1:09 pm
Reply to  Ashley

Ooh, AND the show Togetherness from HBO!!

Kailie Kline
October 11, 2018 9:35 am

I LOVE the first season of Goliath, The Boss with Kelsey Grammer, and The Night Manager series.

Jackie O.
October 11, 2018 12:11 pm

Seinfeld! Forever and ever when I’m in need of a laugh. Love this list, but that is one addition I’d make.

October 12, 2018 6:37 am

Also, Easy A and Crazy Stupid Love!

October 12, 2018 3:05 pm

For me, my go-to movies are, for some reason, Disney. Particularly Tangled or Mulan. I also always gravitate to Captain America movies, but that’s because of my massive crush on Chris Evans :p

October 12, 2018 4:17 pm

What about Labyrinth, The Princess Bride and The Sound of Music?

October 12, 2018 5:23 pm

I recommend Whip It! for the strong girls category!! It’s a big cast of amazing women and the story is a coming of age/coming of empowerment through roller derby! I think it’s one of the most underrated films. It’s just amazing. For the British category, I recommend Pirate Radio – the story of a crew living and broadcasting rock music from a boat off the coast of England, because it was illegal to broadcast from the UK at the time. Finally, I want to recommend Obvious Child for the Rom Com category. I think it’s one of the smartest, most… Read more »

October 13, 2018 7:16 am

Sherlock and Elementary…!!!

October 13, 2018 9:31 am

This is amazing, thank you so much!!

pamela cable
October 14, 2018 7:54 am

lately if i’m feeling down i’ll find myself watching hallmark christmas movies no matter what month it is! a very merry mix up, let it snow, home in time for christmas… and two other older christmas movies the christmas list with mimi rogers and holiday in handcuffs

pamela cable
October 14, 2018 8:05 am

sorry! journey back to christmas with candace cameron bure home in time for christmas is a great book by heather graham!

October 14, 2018 8:10 am

Peter Rabbit is a great movie for a bad day.

October 14, 2018 10:44 am

The Sheltering Sky transports you to another time and place.

October 14, 2018 7:59 pm

Such a great comprehensive list! I used to love While You Were Sleeping..

October 15, 2018 5:33 am

Love this! Such a good round up.

October 16, 2018 12:30 am

On youtube free: (put in full movie)
-Undercover Angel
-Saved by grace
-Secret millionaire (Hallmark movie)
-Unwed father
-School of life
-Untamed Love-lifetime movie
-Blind dating
-A novel romance (Hallmark movie)

-Good Will Hunting (Matt Damon & Robin Williams)
-We bought a zoo
-Patch Adams
-Meagan Levy

October 16, 2018 8:45 am

This is exactly what I needed. I never know what to watch anymore xD I’ll just start from the top and get going 😀 Love this!

October 16, 2018 2:42 pm

I really want to see Amelie! My favourite pick-me-up movie is 10 Things I Hate About you just for Kat Stratford’s rebellious manner and 90s fashion.

October 17, 2018 9:39 pm

I need to watch some of these, also Younger is my fave!

October 25, 2018 10:32 am

WOW! Just what I wanted. I always get confused as to what movie or Tv series to watch. This list seems my starting point now. Also, a big thanks to everyone suggested some movies and Tv series in the comments.

Thank You

[…] A pretty perfect and holistic list of feel-good movies. […]

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