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)
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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)
@WeTalkMovies Pee Wee's Big Adventure, The Goonies, Big Trouble in Little China, Young Frankenstein and The Rocketeer.
— Zach McCue (@Zoddman) January 31, 2017
— David Bailey (@i_need_lunch) January 31, 2017
23 – 27
@WeTalkMovies There are so many to choose from. I'd pick Dumb and Dumber, Hot Rod, The Big Lebowski, Caddyshack, and Step Brothers.
— Matthew Fisher (@CouchPotato_MVP) January 31, 2017
— Wyatt Duncan (@WyattDuncan) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Sunshine, Sphere and Sleepy Hollow. All the S's.
— Matthew Hull (@ApolloCandy) January 31, 2017
— Matt Brown (@CallMeRoy88) January 31, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Joe Versus the Volcano
— John Henderson (@hendersonjohnm) January 31, 2017
— Lee McMonagle (@yourpallee) January 31, 2017
22 JUMP STREET https://t.co/q3JPbuUzrl
— DEREK A DIERCKSMEIER (@diercksmeier) January 31, 2017
— Chris Campo (@Chriscampo03) January 30, 2017
57 – 58
School of Rock, George of the Jungle, Chef https://t.co/IZLWKRbxs3
— Ray (@GarfOfTheGalaxy) January 30, 2017
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING https://t.co/q3JPbuUzrl
— DEREK A DIERCKSMEIER (@diercksmeier) January 30, 2017
Anything Wes Anderson. The Lord of the Rings is also a great fantasy escape. https://t.co/fHaItnbDwK
— InSession Film (@InSessionFilm) January 31, 2017
Groundhog Day https://t.co/pZ0J4OnqLN
— Jared (@jaredsletterbox) January 30, 2017
70 – 74
SPIDER-MAN 1 and 2, FANTASIA, OCEAN'S 12 https://t.co/tA0jP9BkDu
— President Diego (@deggowaffles) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Center Stage, Dirty Dancing, Valley Girl
— The Blaze! Podcast (@90210blaze) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.
— James T. (@JamesEditsFilms) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies HELLRAISER. Not even joking. I figure if I can get through it again I can get through anything.
— The Mike (@TheMike31) January 30, 2017
80 & 81
@WeTalkMovies There are a couple of comedies too for when that's too heavy, things like HOT ROD and WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER.
— The Mike (@TheMike31) January 30, 2017
110 – 120
@WeTalkMovies I would usually say orig. Star Wars trilogy, LOTR or Harry Potter but they're all fighting evil &we're doing that right now.
— SylkoZ (@SylkoZakur) January 30, 2017
121 – 124
@WeTalkMovies Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, The Campaign, UHF, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
— JK2 (@jk2two) January 30, 2017
125 – 132
@WeTalkMovies AnimalCrackers, AnnieHall, BringingUpBaby, DuckSoup, HorseFeathers, Pee-wee'sBigAdventure, ThePurpleRoseOfCairo, Withnail & I
— Shane Scott-Travis (@ShaneScottravis) January 30, 2017
133 – 135
— Patrick Crumlish (@patrickcrumlish) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Lost in Translation
— Jordan Levy (@thejordanlevy) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Independence Day. No, seriouslt6.
— LeighBC (@LeighBC) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies The Last Samurai. Its meditative tone is soothing, and the story of spiritual rebirth against the chaos of modernity inspires.
— Eric Marcy (@eric_marcy) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Top Secret!
— Zubin Verma (@zubiwan) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Aliens and Jaws. Always.
— Gary Bauchope (@rumandadrum) January 30, 2017
141 & 142
@WeTalkMovies The Pursuit Of Happyness, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Terminal.
— Adam Davis (@AdamDavis83) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Singin' in the Rain and Hairspray, the 2007 musical. Musicals do it for me!
— Hannah Keefer (@purplecow17) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies THE CORNETTO TRILOGY.
— serina (@fusiIlijerry) January 30, 2017
147 – 153
@WeTalkMovies Paul Feig movies
— kit (@heybrittrob) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies '50/50.' Funny, but also gives me a good, cathartic cry every time. 'Clueless' if I just want the laughs.
— Claire C. Holland (@ClaireCWrites) January 30, 2017
155 – 248 (???)
Harold & Maude, What We Do In The Shadows, Arsenic & Old Lace, The Joy Luck Club, and anything starring Vincent Price. https://t.co/9LwYQsz1dK
— Jamie Hunter (@Bashtinyourhead) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Better Off Dead ❤️
— Awdreenuh (@notimeforjoy) January 30, 2017
250 – 329
— Keith Adams Jr. (@BigBrother1988) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies That Thing You Do!
— Lisa Puy (@Lisa_Puy) January 30, 2017
331 – 350
— Tom (@shepardwong) January 30, 2017
351 – 356
@WeTalkMovies Oh, God! / Hairspray / Grease / I Love You, Man / The Funhouse Massacre / Stranger Than Fiction /
— M…a…r…k… (@markthetweeter) January 30, 2017
357 – 358
@WeTalkMovies Pulp Fiction, Seven, Interstellar.
— Ben Smith (@BenInRealLife) January 30, 2017
359 – 361
@WeTalkMovies What We Do In The Shadows, Young Frankenstein, Chef and Star Trek IV. Yeap. I can think of those right now.
— Jorge Leiner (@jorg3leiner) January 30, 2017
362 – 363
— Victoria (@toria970) January 30, 2017
364 – 374
Catch Me If You Can
Life Is Sweet
Stop Making Sense
Night On Earth
35 Shots of Rum
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Tree of Life
— Mohammad Asif (@asifstark) January 30, 2017
375 – 376
— Daniel Ojanlatva (@danielojanlatva) January 30, 2017
377 – 379
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and STOP MAKING SENSE… oh and THE RED BALLOON. https://t.co/wiMaoeA7uO
— El Innombrable (@lnnombrabIe) January 30, 2017
380 – 381
@WeTalkMovies His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby and Arsenic and Old Lace
— Hamish Dwyer (@HamishD10) January 30, 2017
— WhoopDiFrigginDoo (@WholeLottaJulie) January 30, 2017
383 – 391
-The Rocky Series (including Creed)
-The American President
-The Nice Guys
-Back to the Future
-Raiders of the Lost Ark
-Return of the Jedi https://t.co/vbWIOazpZL
— Patrick PJ Campbell (@pj_campbell) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies The Jerk
— Mike D'splat (@miked_splat) January 30, 2017
393 – 394
— Kaz (@kazzani) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies I Heart Huckabees – nothing like a little existential humor to get through bleak times
— Liz Droge-Young (@LizDrogeYoung) January 30, 2017
Digimon Adventure. https://t.co/53VGZb37Ag
— Math (@eggmath) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Silence of the Lambs somehow does it for me….
— MISS GEMINI CROQUET (@HardlyIndie) January 30, 2017
399 – 408
Blazing Saddles https://t.co/MVuErDpakm
— Princess Break (@SunglassPri) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Disney's animated Robin Hood.
— Lauren H-Brooks (@lhbizness) January 30, 2017
411 – 434
Muppets. Anything Jim Henson had his hands in, really. THE DARK CRYSTAL is always a winner. https://t.co/GPbcXavYYQ
— Albert Muller (@aj_macready) January 30, 2017
435 – 438
@WeTalkMovies Dark Knight Trilogy, Jurassic Park & Lord of The Rings Trilogy
— DarkN7Knight (@mikel_hicks) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Garden state
— Megan Williams (@Megs0321) January 30, 2017
440 – 452
Lean On Me, The Iron Giant, Tomorrowland, Pan's Labirynth, Superman, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Willy Wonka, Most of Spielberg's 80's opus. https://t.co/JhPJX85JQC
— Rron R2 (@rron007) January 30, 2017
The Iron Giant https://t.co/PqxktmHqu0
— Bauce Soss Pim Taste (@thetimepast) January 30, 2017
453 – 456
Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind, Macross: Do You Remember Love, Flash Gordon, Star Trek: The Motion Picture to name a few. https://t.co/ctCXYue9Bs
— Oli Bulmer (@InvidNinja92) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies Attack the Block, Jurassic Park, Big Trouble in Little China, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Avengers, This is the End.
— Jeramy Wainwright (@JeramyWainwrigh) January 30, 2017
458 – 459
Transformers The Movie, Rocky https://t.co/rb69Nw70WX
— Patz@RobotHouse (@PatzPrime) January 30, 2017
461 – 462
Big Fish and Murder By Death https://t.co/wt3TvwdExX
— David Hart (@pccasestudy) January 30, 2017
@WeTalkMovies The Crow!
— Rita Bita Bo Bita (@TommiesMommy14) January 30, 2017
464 – 465
— Steve Crobie (@crobicon) January 30, 2017
The Perks of Being a Wallflower https://t.co/oByrnjbAev
— © Sam Ibaka (@MyNameIsSam1776) January 30, 2017
468 – 479
Seven Samurai, The Fisher King, Star Wars, Paths Of Glory, On The Waterfront, Gangs Of NY, Sound of Music, Rocky-Creed, Mad Max-Fury Road https://t.co/0TZzBzCcki
— Jacob Almond (@jakealmond) January 30, 2017
2001: A Space Odyssey https://t.co/xxjmkFmsqF
— Eric Jones (@deacon05oc) January 30, 2017
482 – 483
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Big Hero 6, Trainwreck https://t.co/n9T6S40Ogg
— Staley (@stalesmcgalesss) January 30, 2017
484 – 485
Mad Max Fury Road
Raid 2 https://t.co/qthln2dy2L
— Aguiar (@MrNerdista) January 30, 2017
CONAN THE BARBARIAN https://t.co/yfpiAPpYiE
— Source G (@EmperorOTN) January 30, 2017
487 – 498
@WeTalkMovies Any of a dozen Coen films, really…
— David S. (@AE_DavidS) January 31, 2017
@WeTalkMovies All the President's Men. All it takes to save the world is two people fighting for truth, regardless of political affiliation.
— Kenny Myers (@YoungerPope) January 30, 2017