In the turbulent, stressful times that we now seem to be living in, I find myself relying on the sweet escapism of entertainment more and more often to cheer up and feel inspired to move forward. And when I absolutely need to remove myself from the present-day misery-making combinations of politics, bills, or love and career options, I find no greater solace than to chill out with a selection of the best feel-good movies of the '90s. As well as providing a glimpse of simpler, more hopeful times, there's also the added bonus that some '90s movies remind you of your childhood and, as such, are capable of giving you an instant rush of sentimental warmth.
But not every single one of these uplifting movies from the '90s is here just because of sentimental value. No, ma'am. The majority of these movies are here because they in some way inspire positive thinking, absolute joy, or the power to overcome adversity and stand up against malicious, cruel people. These are movies which will instantly bolster your strength, power-up your brain, and remind you of all the greatest things that life, and humanity in general, can actually offer. No matter how bleak or how dark things might currently appear.
1. Forrest Gump (1994)
Best for: A sweet reminder that sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth
And yes, I know that Forrest Gump can be heartbreaking at times, but it's also compellingly uplifting too.
2. But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)
Best for: Feeling completely unapologetic about who you are
This queer rom-com is a complete and utter classic and features one of the most feel-good finales ever.
3. Toy Story (1995)
Best for: Providing a blissful, nostalgic escape
Toy Story is hilarious, adorable, and full of heart. It's basically instant happiness.
4. Romy & Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
Best for: When you're about ready to take down your enemies
Furthermore, this movie is beautiful, positive proof of the power of female friendship and how looking fabulous can sometimes make you feel fabulous, too.
5. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Best for: Giving you that necessary reminder that you're capable of being a total winner, honey
Seriously, The Mighty Ducks is just the greatest underdog movie in the world. Plus, it stars a very young Joshua Jackson and he's so adorable that you will turn to instant mush the second he appears on screen.
6. Dazed & Confused (1993)
Best for: Partying your way through a bad time
Dazed & Confused also proved that sometimes all you need is a gang of your best friends and a lit party with which to let go of the past and welcome in a new era. No matter how scary that future may seem.
7. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Best for: A workout of all your laughter muscles
And sure, Mrs. Doubtfire is hilarious, but it also comes with a truly uplifting story, showing the lengths one father will go to just to spend time with his kids.
8. Never Been Kissed (1999)
Best for: When you totally feel like Josie Grosie (and know that you're better than that)
Just like Josie in Never Been Kissed, go forth and own your awkwardness, woo a hot honey, and prove to the world that nobody has the right to define your worth for you.
9. The Iron Giant (1999)
Best for: Restoring your faith in humanity
OK, so on the one hand, The Iron Giant is phenomenally sad and it makes me bawl. But on the other, though the movie definitely portrays the uglier side of humanity, it also celebrates a more hopeful side to humanity too. And I think we all need reminding of that right now.
10. As Good As It Gets (1997)
Best for: Reminding you that even the most flawed people have goodness to them
Jack Nicholson might be horrifying as the misanthropic Melvin in As Good As It Gets, but watching him soften up and warm to people is truly thrilling.
11. Groundhog Day (1993)
Best for: When you feel like you're stuck in a bad day loop
Gloriously bittersweet, Groundhog Day is the ultimate movie for removing a bad day (or a slew of them) from your system.
12. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Best for: When you're feeling supremely lonely
It's eminently easy to relate to Sandra Bullock's Lucy in this romantic comedy, even if she does come off as being a little stalker-ish. Deep down she's just a lonely woman wishing for romance, connections, and a better life. And that's something that many of us understand all too well.
13. The First Wives Club (1996)
Best for: Getting over a bad breakup.
There are few things as divinely inspiring in this life as witnessing the three almighty women of First Wives Club sing and dance along to Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me." Wash that ex right out of your hair, ladies.
14. Sister Act (1992)
Best for: Restoring your faith in life
It's as simple as this, Sister Act (and its amazing sequel) has just about everything you could want from a feel-good movie — including a troupe of singing and dancing nuns.
15. Hook (1991)
Best for: Reminding you of your childhood
And in doing so, Hook also provides a stunning reminder as to the power of imagination and the importance of letting loose and having some fun. Just like you did when you were 10.
16. Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Best for: Having a good cry (in the happiest way possible, of course)
The chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in this movie is enough to make me utterly beam with joy. But also, the movie's ending is just mercilessly upbeat.
17. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Best for: One of those days that is so bad that it's basically absurd
The Big Lebowski is also perfect proof that though a bad day can easily escalate to ridiculous proportions of terrible, that everything can eventually work out to be just about fine in the end.
18. Cool Runnings (1993)
Best for: Inspiring you to succeed against the odds
But also, as the Jamaican bobsleigh team of the movie proves, that failure is not something to fear.
19. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Best for: Inspiring you to be an absolute Kat Stratford style boss
While swooning over Heath Ledger, of course.
20. Matilda (1996)
Best for: Reminding you of your innate, feminine magic
Sure, you might not wield the power of telekinesis like Matilda did, but you definitely possess her same power to take control of your life, be happy, and take great care of your loved ones in the process. You got this.
21. MouseHunt (1997)
Best for: De-stressing
Listen, every now and then all of us are plagued by a tiny problem which becomes a major one, and in MouseHunt, that problem was a supremely smart mouse who outwitted all attempts to get rid of it. The movie always makes for painfully hysterical viewing, and though I've never had to battle a mouse, I can still totally relate to that endless struggle.
22. One Fine Day (1996)
Best for: Following up a bad date
Sometimes a bad date can completely ruin your entire week, never mind your day. But if Michelle Pfieffer and George Clooney's dreamy chemistry has taught me anything about love, it's that the right person could be coming your way in the most unexpected and wonderful of ways.
23. Office Space (1999)
Best for: When you're absolutely over your damn job
It's the most cathartic work based comedy ever made. So, open a cold beer, turn your phone off, and laugh your frustrations away.
24. True Romance (1993)
Best for: Feeling like a survivor
True Romance isn't just a dreamy, romantic fairytale. It's also a supremely uplifting glimpse of a woman (Alabama Worley) taking control of her life and refusing to ever be a victim.
For additional feel-good vibes, be sure to enjoy your '90s uplifting movies under a duvet, surrounded by junk food, and with a bottle of the finest (or cheapest, whatever) wine known to man. And I assure you, the happiness that follows is an absolute sure thing.