If there is something we can undoubtedly say about films, it’s that they have the power to influence our mood.
Since it’s the end of the year, and few can elude the temptation to make lists, promises to oneself and all sorts of plans, here is a little incentive to get you started: a list of films you might want to watch to elevate your mood and put you in just the right frame of mind to get your list of New Year’s resolutions going.
14. Beginners (2010)
Beginners is a delicate and wonderfully shot film about loneliness, vulnerability and hope.
Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is a somewhat lonely graphic artist who has just lost his father to cancer. Before his death, his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) confesses that he is gay and that he is in a relationship with a vivacious young man. He lives his last year at the fullest, partying and frequenting the gay scene. After his death, Oliver’s companion is Hal’s dog, whom he talks to and takes everywhere with him, as he cannot bear hearing the dog cry when he’s left alone in the house.
Oliver meets Anna (Melanie Laurent), a beautiful actress living a drifter life and moving from one hotel to another as she travels to shoot a new film. Both of them have intimacy issues and are afraid to connect, yet they fall in love and try to live together.
Despite the characters’ fragility, be it illness of the body or soreness of the soul, they manage to live their lives with courage and make the best out of what they are given, which ultimately gives buoyancy to this sensitive drama.
13. The Holiday (2006)
The Holiday is the story of two girls living in two different parts of the world, suffering from problems of the heart. It’s also a story about starting over and getting over the hardship one sometimes encounters.
Amanda (Cameron Diaz) is a successful movie trailer creator whose boyfriend cheats on her. Iris is a sensitive columnist who’s been hopelessly in love with one of her colleagues for years. They used to be together, but he cheated on her and is now going to marry another woman. Amanda lives in Los Angeles and Iris lives in the countryside in England.
In great pain, both of them decide they really need a change of scenery for the holidays and end up switching houses. Amanda meets Iris’s charming brother Graham (Jude Law), and they have what first appears to be a one night stand. In the meantime, Iris befriends the elderly screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach) and the sweet guy Miles (Jack Black).
12. The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
This is another lovely feel-good movie that explores friendship, leading a full life at all ages, fighting for love and exceeding one’s boundaries. Five women and a man start a book club around the works of Jane Austen.
Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is left by her husband Daniel (Jimmy Smits) for another woman. Her older friend, the spirited six time divorcee Bernadette (Kathy Baker) decides to start a book club to distract Sylvia from her grief.
She gathers Jocelyn (Maria Bello), their middle-aged, dog loving, single friend; Allegra (Maggie Grace), Sylvia’s lesbian daughte; and Prudie (Emily Blunt), a French teacher who is having marriage troubles. Jocelyn meets the attractive young man Grigg, a science-fiction aficionado who falls for her. She brings him along to the book club to introduce him to Sylvia. Although she denies it first, she slowly falls in love with him.
11. Pride (2014)
Director Matthew Warchus’ second feature was a well-received one, winning the Best British Independent Film Award and the Queer Palm Cannes Award, among others.
Pride is a story set in 1984 of a group of young gays and a lesbian during Margret Thatcher’s conservative regime. Realizing that the miners, who are on strike because of the pit closures, are in a precarious situation, they start raising money to help their cause. Soon enough they fill a bus and head to the Welsh village of Onllwyn to meet with the mineworkers’ union members to convince them to accept their help and take the money they’ve managed to raise.
Though the miners are at first reluctant to the gays’ presence and seem embarrassed to take their money, slowly they come to realize that they are fighting the same battle.
Pride is a powerful and moving story about solidarity, overcoming prejudice, friendship and willpower. And to top it all off, it’s a funny one, too.
10. In Her Shoes (2005)
In Her Shoes stars two sisters with different self-esteem and fulfillment issues.
Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is an attractive party girl who enjoys the attention of men, who she allures into doing her small favors. She has trouble finding and keeping a job, and seems unable to get her act together. Rose (Toni Collette) is a big-hearted woman who is unluckily in love. She is insecure because of a few extra pounds and feels unappealing. She has a crush on her boss, who she’s covertly sleeping with.
Maggie gets kicked out of her father and her step-mother’s house because of bad behavior, and after a terrible fight and being caught sleeping with Rose’s boss, she leaves her sister’s house, too. Rose quits her job at the law firm and starts to walk dogs for a living.
Maggie finds a letter that reveals the existence of a long lost grandmother. She goes to Florida to live with her. This film explores fighting the feelings of loss and insecurity, the rekindling of estranged relationships and the starting of a new life.
9. The Shipping News (2001)
The Shipping News tells the story of the lonesome underdog Quoyle (Kevin Spacey), a man who never believed in himself and who was acutely deprived of affection. His parents mentally abused him and never gave him any love. He has never had any success in life.
While working in a printing house, he meets Petal (Cate Blanchett), who he falls in love with and marries. They have a daughter together, but Petal doesn’t seem to care about any of them, as she often sleeps with different men she brings to the house, insults Quoyle and ignores the little girl.
While running away and after selling their daughter to sex traffickers, Petal has a car accident and dies. Quoyle and his rescued daughter live the city to go to a small town where his family used to live and he takes on a job covering the shipping news for a small local newspaper.
Slowly, Quoyle starts to build a new life, and discovers himself along the way.
8. Bridesmaids (2011)
Despite its light feel-good appearance, Paul Feig’s 2011 film is a solid and sweet comedy that will boost your morale.
Annie (Kristen Wiig), a no-longer-so-young woman struggles to fight her own fulfillment issues while trying to plan her childhood best friend Lillian’s wedding (Maya Rudolph). Annie managed to get fired from her jewelry store saleswoman job, she’s having casual sex with a man that doesn’t respect her and who she has a crush on, and now sge has to put up with Lilian’s new beautiful, rich, well-connected and well-groomed best friend Helen (Rose Byrne).
She becomes manic, depressed and almost loses the chance for real love.