6. Adventureland (2009)
Adventureland is set in the summer of 1987, and follows recent graduate James Brennan who is planning a trip to Europe with his friends after which he will he attend graduate school for journalism. However upon learning that his parents are experiencing financial problems, James is forced to look for a summer job instead. He finds himself working at a rundown amusement park called Adventureland where he meets co-worker Emily and finds himself falling for her.
Adventureland was written and directed by Greg Mottola whose previous film was another coming of age film – Superbad. Adventureland was less successful than Superbad, earning a box office revenue of $17.1 million against a budget of $9.8 million. However it was well received critically and is often cited as a coming of age film that will appeal to both adults and teenagers.
Adventureland is a nostalgic look at so many things – your first job, summer jobs, first love and growing up. And there is nothing quite like a crappy summertime job to bring people together and form bonds, and Adventureland perfectly captures that feeling.
Most heart-warming moment: As the film progresses, James falls more and more in love with Em. After Em moves back to New York, James eventually follows her and waits outside her apartment in the pouring rain. Em feels that she has ruined everything between her and James but he tells her that he sees her in a different way than she sees herself.
This simple declaration shows the simple sweetness of loving someone for who they are, not what they have done. With the film ending on James and Em reuniting, you cannot help but feel happy.
7. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Kubo and the Two Strings is the fourth feature film produced by Laika and is a 3D stop-motion fantasy film. It is the directorial debut of Travis Knight and follows the story of Kubo who has a magical shamisen. When Kubo accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past, he is set upon a dangerous journey to unlock a secret legacy along with his new friends Beetle and Monkey.
Kubo and the Two Strings made $77.5 million at the box office against a budget of $60 million, but was well received critically. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Academy Awards and won Best Animated Film at the BAFTAS.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully animated film with an incredibly engaging and touching story. It has moments of genuine fear mixed with moments of heart-breaking sadness, and without a doubt will capture an audience’s imagination. Kubo and the Two Strings weaves a majestic story, and with its ruminations on family and forgiveness, it will strike a chord with anyone who watches it.
Most heart-warming moment: In the last moments of the film, Kubo is able to speak to his deceased parents’ ghosts. Seeing this exchange is desperately sad but ultimately wonderfully touching and moving.
8. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
The Fundamentals of Caring is based on the 2012 novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison. The film follows writer Ben who decides to retire from writing after a personal tragedy. Ben takes a six week course to become a caregiver, becoming a caregiver for eighteen year old Trevor who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Trevor is sardonic and dry witted, and has a fascination with quirky roadside attractions. However he is also anxious and refuses to leave the house to see any of the attractions. Together Ben and Trevor decide to embark on a road trip, which turns out to be a turning point for both of them.
The Fundamentals of Caring had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and was released by Netflix in June of the same year. The film received mixed reviews but was highly praised for its performances. It has also been noted for using dark humour in a poignant and considerate way.
With road movies being almost a whole genre in itself, it can be difficult to find one that feels wholly original. The Fundamentals of Caring manages to not only feel original, but is fun and engaging at the same time. It may fall into Hollywood territory at times, especially in the third act, but for the most part it still has that classic indie feel about it.
Most heart-warming moment: By the end of the film, Ben has gone back to writing and is writing his next novel about Trevor. As Ben narrates, he informs the audience that he and Trevor remained friends but on Trevor’s twenty first birthday, Ben found him dead on his bedroom floor. It turns out that Trevor was faking, which goes along with his mischievous personality, and the film ends on a happy note.
The friendship, camaraderie and bond that is formed between Ben and Trevor is expertly shown at this point and the way that both Trevor and Ben have helped each other is lovely to see and incredibly heart-warming.
9. Lion (2016)
Lion is a biographical film based on the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. It tells the true life story of Saroo who at five years old got lost on a train which took him thousands of miles away from his home and family. After living by himself in Kolkata, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years late, with only a handful of memories, Saroo sets out to find his family using a revolutionary new technology known as Google Earth.
Lion received six nominations at the 89th Academy Awards including a nomination for Best Picture. It was also nominated for a multitude of other awards and won Best Actor for Dev Patel and Best Adapted Screenplay for Luke Davies at the BAFTAS. Lion was also a box office success earning $140 million against a $12 million budget. It is one of the highest grossing Australian films of all time.
Lion is an incredible story, even more so because it is based on a true life story, and boasts brilliant performances. Eight year old newcomer Sunny Pawar is a revelation as young Saroo, and Dev Patel is brilliant as an older and torn Saroo. As well as being great visually, Lion is a wonderfully engaging and life affirming film. By the time the credits roll, you will not fail to feel happy, positive and uplifted.
Most heart-warming moment: Without a doubt when Saroo is finally reunited with his long lost family. Seeing his mother’s absolute joy and relief to see her son safe and well is a wonderfully affecting and heart-warming moment.
10. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Another biographical film, this time based on entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s bestselling memoir about his struggles of homelessness. After being evicted from his apartment, Chris and his young son find themselves with nowhere to go. Chris manages to find a job but it is as an unpaid intern. Chris and his son live in shelters as Chris refuses to give into despair as he is determined to create a better life for himself and his son.
The Pursuit of Happyness was well received both critically and financially. It earned $307 million at the box office against a budget of $55 million. It also earned a plethora of award nominations including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Will Smith.
The standout of The Pursuit of Happyness is the heartfelt and sincere performances in it, especially the central performance by Will Smith as Chris Gardner. Its story is inspirational, and shows the audience that determination and hard work will pay off in the end. Many people face a titanic struggle day in and day out in order to survive, and The Pursuit of Happyness aptly shows this whilst still showing that life’s greatest happiness comes not from money but from family and love.
Most heart-warming moment: After Chris wins his hard fought for job as a broker, he rushes to his son’s day-care where they embrace. Everything has led to this moment where the audience finds out if Chris has gotten the job or not, combining that with the close relationship that Father and Son have together, and this moment is the epitome of heart-warming.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.