Surviving 2023: 15 Comfort Movies for When You Just Can't Even
Feeling a bit frazzled by the news lately? Trust me, you're not alone.
Here's a list of lesser-known comfort movies that'll warm your heart without making you sob into your popcorn.
1. "The Hundred-Foot Journey" (2014)
"The Hundred-Foot Journey" is a delicious blend of food, culture, and, oh yes, our queen-on-a-big-screen, Helen Mirren. When the Kadam family moves from India to a quaint French village, they open up an Indian restaurant – right across the street from a Michelin-starred French eatery. Cue the culinary war! The Kadam's young chef Hassan turns heads with his fusion dishes. It's all spice and sass until both parties realize they can learn from each other. The film made a respectable $88 million at the box office, even.
2. "A Good Year" (2006)
What happens when a cutthroat London stockbroker inherits a vineyard in Provence? Russell Crowe plays Max, who's all about the hustle until he's thrown into a world of sun-soaked grapes and rustic charm. Initially, Max plans to sell the estate but starts to fall for both the vineyard and a local café owner. It's a leisurely stroll through the vine leaves, as Max gradually sheds his hardened city-slicker persona.
3. "About Time" (2013)
Imagine discovering you can time travel but only within your own life. Would you change things? Young Tim learns from his dad that the men in their family have this peculiar ability. Tim decides to use it to improve his love life, which leads to a series of delightful mishaps. There's romance with a sprinkle of British humor, and it all happens in a lovely coastal English setting.
4. "Dan in Real Life" (2007)
Family reunions: fun or fiasco? For Dan, a widowed advice columnist, it's more the latter when he falls for Marie, who – oops! – happens to be his brother's new girlfriend. Set in a cozy Rhode Island home, the movie is a series of quirky family activities and awkward interactions, as Dan tries to navigate his feelings for Marie without hurting his brother. It's got a relatable, charming messiness to it that'll make you smile.
5. "Hector and the Search for Happiness" (2014)
Feeling stuck in a rut? So is Hector, a psychiatrist who realizes that he doesn't really know what makes people happy. Cue an around-the-world adventure! From the busy streets of Shanghai to the tranquil mountains of the Himalayas, Hector meets all kinds of characters who offer their own takes on joy. Maybe this movie won't make you happier, but it will certainly ease up the tension and maybe even make you think.
6. "The Way" (2010)
Emilio Estevez directs his real-life dad, Martin Sheen, in a film about a grieving father walking the Camino de Santiago to honor his late son. Along the way, Tom (Sheen) encounters a motley crew of fellow pilgrims each seeking something different – forgiveness, redemption, or simply a good bottle of wine. The scenery is gorgeous, and the encounters are genuine; it's a journey both literal and emotional.
7. "Waking Ned Devine" (1998)
You ever fantasize about winning the lottery? Well, in this delightful Irish comedy, someone in a small village actually does! But get this, the winner, Ned Devine, dies from the shock of it. The town's folks hatch a plan to claim the prize money by pretending Ned is still alive. Shenanigans and hilarity ensue, naturally, as they try to deceive the lottery inspector without tripping over each other.
8. "Moonrise Kingdom" (2012)
Two 12-year-olds, Suzy and Sam, decide to run away together in a small New England island town. Think scouting adventures, youthful romance, and a search party that includes the likes of Bill Murray and Bruce Willis. With its pastel colors and quirky dialogue, it's a Wes Anderson film, alright, but oh so comforting in its child-like whimsy.
9. "Waitress" (2007)
Pie, anyone? Jenna, a waitress in a small Southern town, is stuck in a loveless marriage and discovers she's pregnant. Her way of coping is through baking pies, each with a quirky name based on her life experiences. A new doctor in town offers a glimpse of what life could be, and Jenna dares to imagine a future where she's truly happy.
10. "Local Hero" (1983)
Big oil meets small town in this British comedy-drama. Mac, a Houston oil executive, is sent to Scotland to buy a whole seaside village for a new refinery. But this ain't no straightforward business deal. The quirky villagers and the idyllic surroundings start to grow on Mac, and you watch him transition from a money-driven exec to someone who finds charm in the simple things.
11. "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012)
Interested in time travel? Journalist Jeff and his interns Darius and Arnau sure are. They investigate a guy named Kenneth, who's looking for a partner to time travel with him. Initially, they think he's a kook, but Darius takes a liking to him. As Darius trains with Kenneth for their "mission," she starts to believe it might actually be possible. It's quirky and offbeat, but also oddly heartwarming as Darius and Kenneth prepare for a journey neither are sure will happen.
12. "Bagdad Cafe" (1987)
Stranded in the Mojave Desert, a German tourist named Jasmin stumbles upon a run-down truck stop café owned by Brenda, who's going through her own mess of a life. The two couldn't be more different but become unlikely friends. Jasmin takes up magic tricks and cleaning, of all things, and starts to transform the cafe and its regulars.
13. "Rocket Science" (2007)
Meet Hal Hefner, a teenager with a stutter who joins his school's debate team. Why? To win the affection of Ginny, the team's star debater. Despite his stutter and the challenging world of high-speed debating, Hal gives it his all. While things don't go smoothly – Ginny leaves the school, leaving him to fend for himself – it's about Hal finding his voice, quite literally.
14. "Big Night" (1996)
Two Italian immigrant brothers run a failing restaurant. Enter the "big night": a special evening where famous jazz musician Louis Prima is expected to dine there. It's make-or-break time. Secondo, the businessman, and Primo, the chef, put together a feast that's the epitome of culinary art.
15. "The Station Agent" (2003)
A man named Fin, who has dwarfism, inherits an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey. He just wants to be left alone but ends up forming friendships with Joe, a food truck owner, and Olivia, an artist grieving the loss of her son. Despite themselves, they form a tight-knit community. There's train spotting, nightly strolls, and the slow unfolding of each character's backstory.