It’s been a tough two weeks. We here at AE sort of lean on each other like family and, needless to say, we have had to do a bit more leaning than usual as of late. Anxiety is, for us and many others, at an all-time high. Recently, we started discussing what movies we watch in moments of great stress to help comfort ourselves.

Out of curiosity, I opened that line of discussion to our Twitter audience. The response was pretty overwhelming.

When compiling everyone’s answer into a list, it seems, with a few lax interpretations and maybe some flawed math, we received over 500 answers. I’ve pooled them together below.

But don’t bother checking my numbers. That’s not the point.

The point is a symbolic one. This is a very, very tough moment. And we’re all in it together, just as we are all sharing this love affair with cinema. So if you’re struggling, maybe scroll through and pick a new suggestion, or find a forgotten old favorite. Lean on each other, and let’s keep going. – David Shreve, Jr.

1-10 (Our Picks)

1. Beautiful Girls (1996)


Beautiful Girls is one of the quieter entries in my arsenal of comfort films. While not exceedingly funny or terribly uplifting, there is an undeniable consolation to be found in a cast of characters immobilized by their most basic decisions: where to live, what career to pursue, and who to love. When I first saw Beautiful Girls, I was a senior in high school, much more likely to identify with the lone child in the film – the character most self-assured and certain of what and who she wanted…a self-proclaimed old soul. But the sense of frustration each character faces is universal; the men in the film are back together for their high school reunion, each too caught up with the idea that they deserve a life they don’t yet have but struggling to make a single decision based in reality. By chasing the ever-elusive idea of the perfect woman, measuring these women by impossible standards and never once stopping to question if they themselves are deserving of such perfection, they miss the real women before them. To someone just entering adulthood, projecting a decade into the future is an oddly obscure exercise but one usually met with the basic assumption that more of the fundamental life questions will be resolved than not. But there’s some comfort in the uncertainty in Beautiful Girls and the reassurance that maybe you can go home again. – Grace Porter

2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures

When I’m stressed by the chaos of the world, I seek out order. For me, this means re-reading all of Harry Potter or The Cat Who mystery series, or watching British crime dramas like Midsomer Murders, Wallander, or Hinterland, which soothe me with their neat endings where goodness prevails and the murderers are apprehended. If I’m in the mood for a comforting movie, however, I go for Beauty and the Beast – a bit of a departure from my favorite genres. I was not into Disney as a kid, nor am I a collector of Disney movies now. I watched Beauty and the Beast a couple of times when it first came out in 1991, and then didn’t see it again until we bought it on Blu-Ray a few years ago. That’s an interval of roughly 20 years. Since seeing it for the first time as an adult, however, it’s been my go-to comfort movie, because not only does it have a neat ending where goodness prevails, it also has clever music and lyrics and beautiful artwork – a balm to a troubled heart. – Katherine B. Shelor

3. Dazed and Confused

Gramercy Pictures

Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused captures the free-spirit and ever-eternal optimism of youth, with a group of characters so likeable that it’s hard not to get caught up in their antics. Part of the film’s appeal is Linklater’s ability to create nostalgia for a time that many fans of the film, including myself, were never a part of. There’s a simplicity to this world because it exists in a bubble, in time where the night of the film can be treated like the most important of these characters’ lives. Linklater makes every character, set-piece, and music selection feel essential, and thus this snapshot of 1976 feels lived in. There’s something calming and life-affirming about how important small moments are within this film, and how reassuring the freedom of choice and the open-endedness of the future is. Hopefully in four years, or less (God, I hope it’s less) we’ll be able say that we stood together, we helped one another, we worked together, and we did the best we could while we were stuck in this place. – Richard Newby

4. It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Cinemad Presents

It’s a strange suggestion, but since I first watched Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day, the film has become my go-to in times of high anxiety, and that seems fitting, given that I was introduced to the film because of co-founding AE writer Josh Rosenfield’s having campaigned for the film’s inclusion on our Best Films of the Half Decade list a few years ago. One might initially think a film about a stick figure slowly losing his mental faculties and dying might make for bad self-care. But there’s something between Hertzfeldt’s empathy and ethereal presentation of time and life that offers a hypnotic sedative, a sense of scale and reason and dizzying warmth. The animated film isn’t without landed emotional blows; I’m not selecting it for this list because it’s a straight anesthetic, but rather, because it lends a healthy approach at reaching a state of calm, with its humanism establishing an eye-to-eye look with the base of all fears and its artistry packaging those fears in a way that, by the tear-jerking conclusion, becomes easier to accept. – David Shreve, Jr.

5. Jaws

Universal Pictures

Jaws was released two years before I was born, but thanks to its near-constant presence of weekend afternoon TV, I’ll always associate it with childhood and the irrational thrill of lifting my feet up off the ground at the cue of the theme’s bassy throb. There’s something comforting about a time when all your fears could be reduced to one singular terror – and then seeing that terror so gleefully obliterated. We lived for a time in New England when I was a kid, and, in watching Jaws, I get a sensory rush – the warm salt air, the itchy and summer-averse ’70s fabrics, the tinny sound of the PA on the beach. There was a time when Jaws scared me, but now it’s more a sweet nostalgia that only stings a little bit. – Samantha Sanders 

6. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures

The first time I watched Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard about it through Tumblr and thought, “Hey, I’m a music nerd, maybe I’ll like this. Or maybe it’ll be really silly.” And the truth is, I loved it. I loved it for how silly it is, but how honest it felt, too. At 17, I connected with Norah’s feeling of being an outsider that likes bands no one in high school listened to. To note, the movie’s soundtrack was (and is) damn good; it also helped that my favorite film composer Mark Mothersbaugh wrote the score. I was in love with the idea of being in NYC, too, a feeling that stayed with me as I passed high school and entered university as a budding music writer and DJ. Traipsing around the city, going to hole-in-the-wall venues with guys in the crowd that are way too amped for a band nobody wants to see, missing trains, meeting up with that douchey musician who’s clearly just using you for a connection – little did I know that Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist would echo scenes from my life as a university student first dipping my toe into the music industry. Now, as a graduate and young professional, I still find joy in the movie’s good-hearted, musically adventurous spirit, and will continue loving it in all its rebellious and kitschy glory. – Staley Sharples

7. Mamma Mia!

Universal Pictures

Mamma Mia! holds the title of being the movie I watched in theatres more than any other. On my birthday the year it came out, I made my friends dress up (any excuse to wear a boa in those days) and watch it with me under duress. In theory, it’s a psychedelic mess: a musical based on ABBA’s hit songs about questionable paternity and a wedding sounds like a miss before the gun even sounds. But it is exploding with ALL CAPS FUN in a way that suffocates the misery out of life. Filmed on the island of Skopelos, Greece, the intense blues and whites sizzling in the sun mirror the bright joy that Mamma Mia! brings. It’s jam-packed cast is forgiven in their mediocrity with the shiny, stars shooting out of your eyeballs happy sing-a-long opportunities, and they are endless. Amanda Seyfried is a delight to watch as she trills like a songbird on a journey of finding family, and even Pierce Brosnan passing a kidney through his SOS duet with Meryl Streep warms the heart. At the height of a keen interest in Meryl’s career, I was thrilled to discover her enthusiasm and support of the original musical by Catherine Johnson, leaping at the chance to play the lead role. Mamma Mia! is a lighthearted, cheesy romp through some of the best karaoke hits of the ‘70s and it absolutely never fails to put a smile on my face and a song in my voice. – Becky Belzile

8. Mrs. Doubtfire

20th Century Fox

Mrs. Doubtfire is one of those movies from childhood that bore itself into my brain and stayed put. It’s the kind of magic hot chocolatey movie I reach for when I need it and one I can’t seem to flick past if it’s on television. Its first comfort is that it reminds me of good times with my own dad, a man who I’d liken to a goofy Robin Williams character, but especially to Mrs. Doubtfire’s Daniel Hillard. Williams is in his family film groove here, hilarious and so endearing, nailing one of many happy roles to revisit in his memory. The story of a well-meaning but irresponsible father who disguises himself as a nanny just to spend time with his kids seemed so warm to me, and I took special delight in its “Everything works out!” ending. As I’ve grown and re-watched it over the years, I appreciate it for different reasons. I remember its comedy from when I was young, the iconic transformation scene as Williams tries out various looks being the highlight of my viewing. Today I’m more interested in the family dynamic, pure ‘90s nostalgia, and catching all that great sexual innuendo. No matter the motive to watch, this movie is one that I just can’t resist – especially in dark times. – Becky Belzile

9. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Paramount Pictures

In these trying times, sometimes you need to switch off Twitter and take a few hours to ignore the world and get yourself right before re-joining the fray. In those moments, I want a movie that is going to excite me, amuse me, and remind me that there is good in the world. For me that movie is undoubtedly Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’ve written before about Raiders being a near perfect movie and it definitely has all the ingredients of one: directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, written by Lawrence Kasden, music by John Williams, and starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys Davies, Paul Freeman, and Denholm Elliot. Raiders is fun, scary, action-packed, cheesy, cynical, fast-paced, witty, and contains Nazis getting shot, run over, hit with airplane propellers, melted, blown up, and punched so many times it’s like a year of Christmases. Switch off social media, close the curtains, put Raiders on, and then when it’s finished, get your hat on, clench your fists, and get back into the fight. – Sean Fallon

10. Spider-Man 2

Columbia Pictures

There are plenty of movies I loved when I was younger that fail to live up to my memory when I revisit them, or I find that my enjoyment of it was due to the specific moment I was seeing it for the first time rather than its actual quality. Spider-Man 2 came around at a perfect time for me, right between the pure joy I found in the character as a child and the cinema obsessive I became in my late teens. I still don’t think I’ve had the same feeling of exaltation watching a movie as I did in 2004, seeing my favourite character brought to screen in such an exciting way. The closest I’ve come was with The Avengers, but still, whenever a great superhero movie is released you can hear many of us say, “This is the best one since Spider-Man 2.” It’s a landmark through which the sub-genre will always be judged. Each time I revisit it there’s a lot to live up to, and every time I am struck by the same things I was 13 years ago, and even find myself falling further in love with it. The comics have always been a melting pot of different tones and genres, and Raimi managed to capture that all in one film – it’s melancholic, thrilling, funny, melodramatic, scary, and uplifting. The train fight has such clear stakes and such an effective narrative it plays like Fury Road directed by Spielberg; the surgery scene brings the terror and absurdity together so effectively it ranks high in the Evil Dead director’s scariest; and the relentless misery of Peter’s life is mined for all its comedic worth that are more reminiscent of The Apartment. Yet underneath all of this is the most authentic and satisfying elucidation of the internal struggle of the superhero and any good person who wants to do the right thing in this world. – Jack Godwin

11 – 500 (Your Picks)



23 – 27









57 – 58


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80 & 81

82 -109

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141 & 142



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