18 uplifting movies on Netflix for a feel-good escape

18 uplifting movies on Netflix for a feel-good escape

You don’t need any excuse or reason to watch something uplifting on Netflix, so we’re not going to pretend you do. Yes, feel-good movies are always there for us when spirits are low, but even when you’re happy you deserve to ride that wave! Turn your frown upside down or fix that grin on firmly with these films.

Here are 18 uplifting Netflix movies you can stream right now.

1. Dumplin’

A young girl in a jean vest standing next to an older woman wearing a ball gown and beauty pageant tiara.

Danielle Macdonald as Willowdean and Jennifer Aniston as Rosie  in ‘Dumplin,’ in which a former beauty queen’s daughter enters a pageant as a protest.
Credit: Bob Mahoney/Netflix/Kobal/Shutterstock

Dumplin’ is the definition of sweet. While this coming-of-age story has a small-town Texas girl (Danielle Macdonald) entering the local pageant to spite her beauty queen mother, she learns a few important lessons about self-worth along the way.

The movie is full of character and has a few key elements that make almost anything better including Jennifer Aniston, glitzy costumes, and Dolly Parton songs. Its heart and warmth make it worthy of a crown. –Brooke Bajgrowicz, Entertainment Fellow

Where to watch: Dumplin’ is now streaming on Netflix.

2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This 2016 adventure about bad egg Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his curmudgeonly foster father Hec (Sam Neill) is the kind of eccentric delight that writer/director Taika Waititi specializes in (this time co-writing with Barry Crump, who wrote the original book).

After losing his foster mother, Ricky flees into the forests of New Zealand, pursued by Hec only to learn that the older man also feels no need to return to civilization. Together they become the wilderpeople; living off the land and evading capture from authorities, including Thor: Ragnarok‘s Rachel House.

Wilderpeople is equal parts stirring, hilarious, and absurd — story of found family and adventure that can be loved by all. -Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: Hunt for the Wilderpeople is now streaming on Netflix.

3. Jingle Jangle

A group of well-dressed people dancing in a toy shop that is decorated for Christmas.


Credit: Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX

Shut up and embrace the magic of Christmas with Jingle Jangle, a delightful original musical about family, toys, and inheritable mechanical ingenuity.

Forrest Whittaker stars as Jeronicus Jangle, a formerly genius toymaker who thinks he’s lost everything. But his daughter Jessica (literal Disney princess Anika Noni Rose) and granddaughter Journey (newcomer Madalen Mills) come back into his life to reignite the spark that makes their family special. Ricky Martin, Phylicia Rashad, and Keegan Michael Key also star in unforgettable roles that play together to make Jingle Jangle an instant holiday classic. –Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter*

Where to watch: Jingle Jangle is now streaming on Netflix.

4. The Forty-Year-Old Version

Get to know the hugely relatable voice of Radha Blank in the first-time writer-director’s semi-autobiographical comedy, in which she also stars and raps like freakin’ badass.

A story about a middle-aged playwright facing an artistic crisis, Forty-Year-Old Version tackles its daunting themes of ambition, identity, racism, and aging with the irreverent tenacity demanded of its bold auteur. You’ll laugh as Blank tosses away searingly clever lines with ease, and be deeply moved by her more private moments of self-reflection. -Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: The Forty-Year-Old Version is now streaming on Netflix.

5. Kiss the Ground

A crop of carrots being pulled from the earth.

Netflix’s “Kiss the Ground” offers rare hope for the environment’s future.
Credit: Netflix

It’s hard to imagine a documentary about the general health of our planet being uplifting. But despite human-led climate change, damaging factory-scale farming practices, and the deterioration of our food-bearing soils, Kiss the Ground shows that we haven’t crossed a point of no return.

Smaller scale farming, regenerative agriculture, and the restoration of nutrient- and microbe-deficient soil is not only a possible path forward to rehabilitating the planet, it’s a path that many people are already taking. Featuring farmers, experts, eco-minded celebrities, and activists, Kiss the Ground lays out both the issues that are heavily affecting the ground beneath us and the myriad of ways that people can buck these trends to make the soil richer, the plants healthier, and the planet better off as a whole.  -Kellen Beck, Science Reporter

Where to watch: Kiss the Ground is now streaming on Netflix.

6. Good Burger

What could be more feel-good than a movie about two teenagers who set out to save the fast food restaurant they work for when a bigger, more popular competitor arrives on the scene? How about one starring Saturday Night Live legend Kenan Thompson, and featuring Abe Vigoda?

It’s also a hilariously sweet story based on a sketch from Nickelodeon’s All That. Almost 25 years after its release, Good Burger is still an absolute delight. –Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter/Weekend Editor

Where to watch: Good Burger is now streaming on Netflix.

7. Over the Moon

A woman in a red Chinese-inspired gown leading two children.

Chin, Fei Fei, Chang’e, Jade Rabbit, and Lunettes in Netflix’s “Over the Moon.”
Credit: NETFLIX

You’ll basically get the same experience watching Over the Moon as you do when you watch a colorful bath bomb fizz: It’s comforting and pretty to look at.

This Netflix animation has a Chinese girl named Fei Fei taking a journey through the stars to meet the moon goddess Chang’e after her mother’s death. In addition to featuring fanciful visuals, Over the Moon delivers a sweet and touching message about moving on. It’s hard not to feel a little lighter by the time the credits roll. –B.B.

Where to watch: Over the Moon is now streaming on Netflix.

8. Hugo

Hugo stars Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret, a young boy who finds himself living alone in a 1930s Paris train station after his father dies and his adoptive uncle, who manages the station’s clocks, goes missing. It’s not long after that he’s drawn into a mystery involving his departed dad, a nonfunctional automaton of unknown origins, and Georges Méliès, a French pioneer of early film. -A.F.*

Where to watch: Hugo is streaming on Netflix.

9. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

Beyoncé Knowles center stage performing in a black and gold leotard.

A queen rises.
Credit: netfix

It’s not often that we get to look behind the curtain when it comes to Beyoncé, and though Homecoming is tempered, it deeply satisfies that craving.

The film follows the legendary singer as she performs at Coachella 2018, but the surprise gig also happens to be her biggest since giving birth to twins Rumi and Sir. Over the course of two hours, you watch her ascend the stage like a phoenix rising, relishing the show’s standout moments and audience energy at historically Black colleges across the country. In between, she opens up about the creative process, and we watch her vision come to life. It’s the closest some of us will ever get to a Beyoncé concert, and we truly feel at home. –P.K.

Where to watch: Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is now streaming on Netflix.

10. Begin Again

Like most John Carney movies, Begin Again doesn’t start out uplifting. Mark Ruffalo plays a down-on-his-luck music producer who hasn’t been able to find a new voice in years, and Keira Knightly plays a brilliant songwriter whose dirtbag boyfriend (Adam Levine) got famous and left her in his dust. It’s when these two sad sacks find each other and decide to make an album of live performances recorded on the streets of New York City that the power of music starts working its magic on their growing friendship and their lives. –A.N.

Where to watch: Begin Again is streaming on Netflix.

A man in a pink suit with velvet lapels, making a skeptical face while holding a cane.


Credit: Netflix

Lightning struck for Netflix with My Name is Dolemite.

On the one hand, it’s a meaty starring role for Eddie Murphy, whose comeback is long, looooooooong overdue. Then there’s the role and the story itself, a hilarious biographical account of one Rudy Ray Moore. Learn how the famed comedian, singer, and actor first made his name as a stand-up comic and then went on to define some of the most well-known Blaxploitation epics of the ‘70s, starting with Dolemite.

Fun, funny, and stacked with a staggeringly talented cast, this is one of the best movies you can watch on Netflix or anywhere else. –A.R.

Where to watch: Dolemite is my Name is now streaming on Netflix.

12. The Intouchables

Based on the true story of a man and his caregiver’s unlikely friendship, The Intouchables is an imperfect film worth seeing at least once.

Not to be confused with its markedly inferior English-language remake The Upside (yes, the one starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart), this 2011 French film has been praised for its sensitive onscreen representation of people with disabilities and exquisite leads François Cluzet and Omar Sy. Laugh-out-loud funny, this buddy comedy asks audiences to reimagine how they see others, and why. Although occasionally clumsy in its messaging, The Intouchables delivered some of the most enduringly impactful moments of the 2010s. -A.F.

Where to watch: The Intouchables is now streaming on Netflix.

13. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

A woman in a white dress singing into a microphone.


Credit: Netflix

What isn’t feel-good about a movie where a struggling music duo is randomly selected to participate in the biggest music competition in all of Europe?

Eurovision Song Contest is mad fun. There are glitzy sets, catchy songs, and memorably over-the-top performances by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. Did we mention Dan Stevens stars in a couple of fine on-stage musical numbers as a campy Russian Eurovision idol? Come for the comedy, come back because you can’t get Jaja Ding Dong out of your head. –B.B.

Where to watch: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is now streaming Netflix.

14. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

All Kabir (Abhay Deol) wants for his bachelor party in Spain is for his two best friends, Imran (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) to get along. But Arjun is obsessed with work as usual while Imran hides his true agenda behind nonstop jokes. Years of history can’t help pushing to the surface, along with old tensions and new secrets.

Specific though it is, ZNMD is relatable to any friend group regardless of nationality or gender — thanks to the formidable sibling team of Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, co-writing with Reema Kagti, and Farhan on dialogues with Zoya in the director’s chair. It also owes a lot to Farhan’s Dil Chahta Hai from 2001, also on Netflix. – P.K.*

Where to watch: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is streaming on Netflix.

15. A Knight’s Tale

Heath Ledger brought every ounce of his inimitable charm to his starring role in A Knight’s Tale, a historical fable based extremely loosely on the Chaucer story of the same name. Ledger plays Will Thatcher, a common squire whose knightly patron dies mid-tournament, leaving Will to don his armor and joust in his stead. Will and his friends Wat (Alan Tudyk), Roland (Mark Addy), and eventually Geoffrey Chaucer himself (Paul Bettany) team up to keep the ruse going as Will racks up victory after victory, only to risk it all when he falls in love with a noblewoman and starts to let his mask slip. It’s quick, it’s funny, it made a lot of money: A Knight’s Tale! -A.N.

Where to watch: A Knight’s Tale is streaming on Netflix.

16.To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before


Credit: Masha Weisberg/Netflix

Based on Jenny Han’s YA novel of the same name, this teen rom-com centers on wistful wallflower Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), who spends her school days steering clear of mean girls, then her nights dreaming of epic romances with various crushes. Her active imagination not only leads to whimsical fantasy sequences, but also to penning a series of love letters that she never intends to send. Naturally, the letters get out, leaving Lara Jean’s most secret desires exposed! To dodge the reaction from one crush in particular, she conspires with kind-hearted jock Peter Kavinsky (It Boy Noah Centineo) to be her pretend boyfriend. Amid shared scrunchies, love-dovey lock screens, yogurt drinks, and one steamy hot tub tryst, things get complicated as their fake romance sparks real feelings. (For a DIY double-feature, pair Susan Johnson’s praised pic with its love-triangle sequel, To All The Boys, P.S. I Still Love You.) –Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor*

Where to watch: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is streaming on Netflix.

17. The Breaker Uppers

This hidden gem comes from New Zealand, the fertile comedy ground that gave us Taika Waititi, Flight of the Conchords, and What We Do In The Shadows. Waititi collaborators Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, and Jemaine Clement team up for a deeply quirky buddy comedy about two long-time besties with a bonkers — but brilliant — business model.

Need someone to dump your partner so you can avoid a messy confrontation? Call on Jen and Mel (co-writers/co-directors/co-leads van Beek and Madeleine Sami). For a reasonable fee, these fearless Breaker Upperers will impersonate police officers, play pregnant, or even fake your death to help you ghost an ex. Whatever the shenanigans, van Beek and Sami sparkle. Booming with wild humor and big heart, this comedy is guaranteed to leave you cackling. -K.P.*

Where to watch: The Breaker Uppers is streaming on Netflix.

18. Addams Family Values

There’s nothing wrong with the original, but Addams Family Values is a rare case where the sequel surpasses the original. The story opens with the eponymous family of aristocratic movie monster archetypes welcoming a newborn to the fold. But Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) are concerned about their older kids’ — Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci) — trying to kill the youngest Addams. So they hire a nanny, Debbie (Joan Cusack), to help out.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Debbie is a serial killer whose whole schtick is marrying rich guys and killing them for their money. (That old chestnut.) And her next target is the lovelorn Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Will Debbie fit right in with this deranged family or does she have to go? – A.R.

Where to watch: Addams Family Values is streaming on Netflix.

*This blurb previously appeared on another Mashable list. This story was originally published in Feb. 2021 and updated in Nov. 2021.

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