Films have the ability to evoke a number of emotions. Some films make you laugh, some make you cry and some are deeply moving. A film that warms your heart can do that in various ways, and is not exclusive to one genre. But overall it can be generally said that a film that warms your heart is usually a film that you find yourself returning to time and again.
The following films are films that have that wonderful ability to warm your heart and evoke all the emotions that go along with that. These films fall into numerous categories, but hopefully there is something in each of them that has merit as a heart-warming film. Please be advised that there are spoilers throughout.
1. October Sky (1999)
This biographical film from director Joe Johnston is based on the true story of Homer H Hickam, Jr. and the lives of his three best friends who grew up in the small mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia. After being inspired by the launch of the Sputnik in 1957, Homer decides to take up rocketry against the stringent wishes of his coal miner father. Along with his friends, Quentin, Roy Lee, and Sherman, the boys start building their own small rockets with the support of their science teacher Miss Reilly who is the only person who supports their new venture.
October Sky is credited as Jake Gyllenhaal’s breakthrough performance, and both the film and its performances garnered positive reviews upon release. The film is also often commended for its themes about family, values, and its inspirational message.
October Sky combines drama with coming of age, and the result is a film that everyone will find elements of relatability in. The relationships depicted and the determination that Homer shows in achieving his dreams are incredibly touching, and knowing that the events that are shown are based on a true story just intensifies the heart-warming nature of October Sky.
Most heart-warming moment: Throughout the film Homer has a difficult relationship with his Father who believes that rocketry is a waste of time and despairs that Homer has so much respect for scientist Wernher Von Braun. In spite of their many differences though, they are ultimately each other’s strongest supporters. After butting heads yet again, Homer says to his Dad:
“Dad, I may not be the best, but I come to believe that I got it in me to be somebody in this world. And it’s not because I’m so different from you either, it’s because I’m the same. I mean, I can be just as hard-headed, and just as tough. I only hope I can be as good a man as you. Sure, Wernher Von Braun is a great scientist, but he isn’t my hero.”
That moment where Father and Son reach an understanding, and Homer tells his Dad that he is his hero is such a wonderful, touching and emotional moment. And it is just one moment in a film filled with heart and emotion. By the time the final vignettes come up on the screen, October Sky is bound to have warmed you heart.
2. The Intouchables (2011)
This film about the unlikely friendship between wealthy quadriplegic Phillipe and his caregiver Driss who has just been released from prison struck cinematic gold in France. Nine weeks after its release it became the second biggest box office hit of all time in France, earning $448.8 million against a budget of $10.8 million. The Intouchables was also well received critically. It was voted the cultural event of 2011 in France and has been nominated for numerous awards all over the world.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables struck a chord with audiences around the world. The story of two men who are completely different in their circumstances and personalities, but who come to realise that actually they are the same in that they both have disadvantages and obstacles to overcome is a rich story that allows the audience to invest fully in the characters.
Most heart-warming moment: In the closing scenes, Driss takes Phillipe to a nice restaurant by the sea. Driss tells Phillipe that he will not be eating lunch with him, and wishes him luck with his date. It is revealed that Driss has organised a date for Phillipe with Eleonore, a woman with whom he has been writing to but has been too embarrassed to meet. Emotionally touched, Phillipe smiles at Driss through the window.
It may seem like a small moment but the smile exchanged between the two men is truly that of understanding, acceptance and a special friendship that will be long lasting. It is a truly heart-warming and lovely moment.
3. Love Actually (2003)
Possibly one of the most quintessentially British films of all time, Love Actually intertwines a number of stories following different aspects of love and a variety of individuals. As the film is set during the countdown to Christmas, it has become one of the staple films of the holiday season and has also been cited as a modern day Christmas classic.
Starring an ensemble cast including actors such as Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, and Colin Firth, Love Actually is written and directed by Richard Curtis. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, it was a box office success making $247 million against a $45 million budget.
The combination of different stories featuring a multitude of characters allows for the audience to find investment in at least one, or many, of the characters and what they are going through.
Most heart-warming moment: One of the stories follows Mark and his best friend Peter who has recently married Juliet. Peter and Juliet both believe that Mark dislikes Juliet as he is often offhand with her and avoids spending time with her. But nothing could be farther from the truth as it is revealed that Mark is actually in love with Juliet and keeps his distance from her for his own self-preservation.
On Christmas Eve, Mark goes to Juliet and Peter’s house. When Juliet answers the door, she finds Mark carrying large cue cards and a boom box playing Christmas carols. On the cue cards he has written, without expectation of reciprocation, that he is in love with her. Having now told her he walks away, and tells himself “enough….enough now.”
Anyone who has experienced unreciprocated love knows how unbearably painful it can be. Seeing Mark tell Juliet his feelings and accept that he needs to stop loving her is a highly moving moment that can’t fail to warm your heart.
4. A Silent Voice (2016)
This animated teen drama film from Kyoto Animation is based on the manga of the same name. It tells the story of Shoko Nishimiya, a young girl with a hearing disability, and Shoya Ishida, a school bully. Shoko is bullied mercifully and isolated due to her hearing disability. Years later the tables are turned and Shoya sets out to make amends.
A Silent Voice was the nineteenth highest grossing film in Japan in 2016, and earned a box office total of $22 million. It was also well received critically, earning praise for its unflinching look at bullying.
A Silent Voice is a highly compelling film – it is endearing and touching at times and yet difficult to watch and harrowing at other points. The animation is wonderful and engaging – the film is hand drawn and you can see the detail and effort that has gone into it. Ultimately A Silent Voice feels like a film that everyone should see.
Most heart-warming moment: After much torment and struggle, Shoya finally finds redemption and forgiveness. Regardless of your thoughts on him, this moment is deeply affecting and moving.
5. Room (2015)
Room was frequently cited as one of the best films of 2015. It received four nominations at the 88th Academy Awards including Best Picture, and won Best Actress for Brie Larson. Both the central performances by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay were highly praised, and Larson in particular has been singled out for various awards. Room is based on the novel of the same name by author Emma Donoghue who also wrote the screenplay.
Room tells the story of a woman who has been held captive, living in one room, for seven years. Her five year old son Jack was born in captivity. Their daring escape allows Jack to experience the outside world for the first time, whilst his mother comes to terms with all she has been through and missed out on.
Room is a profoundly moving and harrowing film that shows the human spirit at its worst and at its best. And as Jack and his Mom go on a journey from the claustrophobic confines of the room where their life is dictated by their captor to the overwhelming adventure of being back in the real world, the audience is right there with them experiencing the same emotions.
Fantastic performances and an excellent script are only a few of the reasons that make Room a wonderful film – although at times it is heart-breaking, overall Room is incredibly life affirming and touching making it a film which will have you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled.
Most heart-warming moment: Jack has always believed that his long hair gives him strength. When his Mom attempts suicide and ends up in the hospital, Jack asks his Grandmother to cut his hair to send to his Mom.
As his Grandma cuts his hair, even though he has only known her for a short time, Jack looks up at her and says “I love you Grandma” to which she replies “I love you too Jack.” This simple exchange shows the importance of family, the strength of familial love and the innocent and beautiful way that Jack sees the world.