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

Food & Entertainment

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

As previously seen on Wit & Delight

From lighting excessive numbers of candles to calling your best friend to setting up camp in your bed and not emerging for hours on end, we all have go-to things that make certifiable bad days a little easier to swallow. Sometimes it’s one (or all) of the above. Other times, it’s nice to shut our brains off for a little while and turn to a comforting movie or TV show we’ve watched dozens of times before. Last fall, I polled Instagram to ask for movie recs that could be the salve for the particular version of a bad day I was experiencing at the time. Today I’m sharing the results again, in case you need ’em this weekend, or in the weeks ahead. Here’s to finding some comfort, some laughs, and some deep, deep nostalgia, in the movies and TV shows below.

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. 1) I watch something just horribly depressing. I’m talking murder-y, who-done-it documentaries. Or 2) 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 (like Pride & Prejudice and Harry Potter) are British. Fast forward to this week when a lovely woman DMed 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!

Movies and Shows 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 Classics

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

Strong Female Leads

  • 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

Newer Shows

  • 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 - September 21, 2019

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September 21, 2019 1:50 pm

Yes Yes Yes to all of these. I ALWAYS turn on Pride and Prejudice when I’m feeling blah. Also, I really need to start watching Downton Abbey. I’ve fallen so behind on that era of TV haha. Good list! Definitely saving.

September 21, 2019 9:03 pm

Breakfast at Tiffany’s and any other Audrey Hepburn movie.

September 23, 2019 3:45 am

Legally Blonde needs to be an addition under ‘Strong Female Leads’. I’ve turned to that film many a time when I need a pick-me-up and it’s so inspiring!

Also ‘Mr. Selfridge’ under British television. Like Downston Abbey it’s a terrific period drama with memorable characters.

September 23, 2019 8:09 am

I couldn’t agree with these more! I’ve seen most and will be watching those I haven’t!!

K A T E L A T E L Y || fashion + lifestyle blog

September 23, 2019 1:08 pm

One of mine is PS I Love You. I was having a super down day last fall, watched it, and as the credits rolled I said to myself “I’m going to Ireland next year.” In March, I fulfilled that lifelong dream! Who knew a sad day movie could prove so inspirational?

September 24, 2019 1:40 pm

Am I the only one who really enjoy action flicks or scary movies to get a lift when I’m in a dark place?

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