17 Best Movies to Watch When You’re Depressed in 2023 – Cinema as Cure

Sometimes, life throws curveballs that leave us feeling down, lost, or stuck in a rut. There are various coping mechanisms to help us navigate through these challenging times, and watching movies is often a comforting one.

A good film can whisk us away from our troubles, if only for a couple of hours, and sometimes even leave us with a refreshed perspective. But not all movies are created equal when it comes to lifting our spirits. Some have the power to make us laugh till our sides hurt, while others gently remind us of the goodness in the world.

Whatever your mood may be, there’s a film out there that can serve as a balm for your soul. To help you find that perfect cinematic escape, we’ve curated a list of the 17 best movies to watch when you’re depressed in 2023. Whether you’re looking for a feel-good comedy or a heartwarming tale of human resilience, we’ve got something for everyone.

Criteria for Selection

When selecting movies for this list, we considered several factors:

  • Mood Boosting: The film should have the ability to uplift your spirits.
  • Inspiring Story: A plot that provides hope or a renewed sense of purpose.
  • Quality of Storytelling: A movie that isn’t just popcorn fluff but a well-crafted narrative.

In a year like 2023, which has been fraught with uncertainty, these movies are sure to provide a much-needed escape. So, grab some popcorn, cozy up on the couch, and let the movie magic begin.

17. “Life is Beautiful” (1997)

This Italian film follows a Jewish man who uses humor and imagination to protect his son in a Nazi concentration camp.

Why It’s Uplifting

Although set against a backdrop of horrific circumstances, the film demonstrates the indomitable spirit of humanity and the power of laughter.

  • Life Lesson: Even in the darkest moments, a positive outlook can make all the difference..

For Whom

For those going through extremely challenging times and need proof that the human spirit can triumph over adversity.

16. “Up” (2009)

This animated movie from Pixar follows an elderly man who fulfills his dream adventure by flying his house to South America using balloons.

Why It’s Uplifting

“Up” reminds us that adventure and new beginnings are possible at any age.

  • Life Lesson: It’s never too late for a new start.

For Whom

Suitable for all ages, particularly those who think that they’re too old or too stuck to try something new.

15. “Sing Street” (2016)

Set in 1980s Dublin, this film is about a boy who starts a band to escape his strained family life and win the girl of his dreams.

Why It’s Uplifting

This movie shows the liberating and transformative power of music, packed with a nostalgia-inducing ’80s soundtrack.

  • Life Lesson: Sometimes, you have to take risks and chase what makes you happy.

For Whom

For music lovers, romantics, and anyone who needs a reminder to pursue their passions.

14. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

This classic film takes us through the life of George Bailey, who discovers the impact he’s had on others when he wishes he was never born.

Why It’s Uplifting

It teaches us that even when we feel insignificant, we’ve probably touched more lives than we realize.

  • Life Lesson: Every life has meaning and impacts others in ways we may never know.

For Whom

Ideal for those struggling with self-worth or questioning their impact on the world.

13. “Spirited Away” (2001)

Another gem from Hayao Miyazaki, this Japanese animated film follows a young girl navigating a world of spirits and gods after her parents are transformed into pigs.

Why It’s Uplifting

This movie is about courage, adaptability, and the will to overcome even the most fantastical obstacles.

  • Life Lesson: Be brave; your inner strength is more potent than any external challenge.

For Whom

Suitable for both children and adults, especially those who enjoy fantasy and need an extra push to face life’s challenges.

12. “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)

This British drama is about an Indian teenager who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” but is accused of cheating.

Why It’s Uplifting

The film is a journey through life’s hardships and the protagonist’s unyielding optimism and belief in love.

  • Life Lesson: Destiny may have its plans, but so do you.

For Whom

For the hopeless romantics and believers in fate.

11. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)

This comedy-drama follows a dysfunctional family on a cross-country trip to support their daughter in a beauty pageant.

Why It’s Uplifting

The film’s dark humor and heartfelt moments remind us that family, as imperfect as it may be, is irreplaceable.

  • Life Lesson: Embrace your flaws and those of the people you love.

For Whom

Perfect for anyone who feels down and could use a hearty laugh and some family therapy.

10. “Groundhog Day” (1993)

Starring Bill Murray, this comedy-drama is about a man who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again.

Why It’s Uplifting

The movie offers a comedic take on self-improvement and personal growth, teaching us that it’s never too late to change.

  • Life Lesson: Every day is a new opportunity to become a better version of yourself.

For Whom

If you’re stuck in a rut and need a fresh perspective, this one’s for you.

9. “The Intouchables” (2011)

This French biographical drama focuses on the friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and his caregiver.

Why It’s Uplifting

The film beautifully captures the transformative power of friendship and human connection, reminding us that sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places.

  • Life Lesson: Never underestimate the impact of genuine friendship.

For Whom

For anyone feeling lonely or in need of a reminder of the goodness in people.

8. “Forrest Gump” (1994)

This iconic film starring Tom Hanks is a journey through several decades of American history, seen through the eyes of a man with a low IQ but a big heart.

Why It’s Uplifting

The film’s message is one of hope and the unlimited possibilities life has to offer, no matter your circumstances.

  • Life Lesson: Your limitations do not define your potential.

For Whom

Those who are down on their luck or feel restricted by their circumstances can take solace in Forrest’s story.

7. “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)

This Japanese animated film by Hayao Miyazaki follows two young sisters as they move to the countryside and discover magical creatures in the nearby forest.

Why It’s Uplifting

The film encapsulates the innocence and wonder of childhood, providing an escape that’s both nostalgic and deeply touching.

  • Life Lesson: The power of imagination can make even the hardest times bearable.

For Whom

Ideal for families, kids, and anyone who needs to reconnect with their inner child.

6. “The Princess Bride” (1987)

This fairy tale adventure combines romance, action, and comedy to create an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Why It’s Uplifting

The sheer escapism of “The Princess Bride,” its witty dialogue, and its timeless message of true love and good triumphing over evil will lift your spirits.

  • Life Lesson: Love and kindness can conquer even the most insurmountable obstacles.

For Whom

For fans of classic storytelling, romance, and a good old dose of nostalgia.

5. “La La Land” (2016)

This musical romance featuring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling explores the relationship between a jazz musician and an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

Why It’s Uplifting

“La La Land” resonates with anyone who’s ever had a dream. While it does explore the sacrifices we sometimes have to make, it also emphasizes the beauty of the journey over the destination.

  • Life Lesson: Don’t let failures or ‘almosts’ define you.

For Whom

Perfect for dreamers, romantics, or anyone feeling discouraged about not achieving their goals yet.

4. “Inside Out” (2015)

This animated feature from Pixar is not just for kids. It takes us inside the mind of Riley, a young girl who is navigating a sea of emotions following a family move.

Why It’s Uplifting

“Inside Out” makes you realize that it’s okay to not be okay. Emotions like Sadness have their own importance and place in our lives. The movie masterfully combines humor with valuable psychological insights.

  • Life Lesson: Embrace your emotions; they make you who you are.

For Whom

Suitable for all ages, this is for anyone who’s struggling to understand their emotions or is going through significant life changes.

3. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

Directed by John Hughes, this American teen comedy film revolves around high school senior Ferris Bueller, who skips school for a day of adventure in Chicago with his friends.

Why It’s Uplifting

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is pure escapism, reminding us to take a break from our daily routine and seize the day. As Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

  • Life Lesson: It’s okay to take a break and live a little.

For Whom

This is for anyone feeling the burden of routine or the pressures of adulting. Take a break, and let Ferris show you the ropes!

2. “Amélie” (2001)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this French romantic comedy tells the story of Amélie, a shy waitress in Paris who decides to improve the lives of those around her while struggling with her own isolation.

Why It’s Uplifting

“Amélie” reminds us that happiness often comes from the small, everyday things in life. The film’s vibrant colors, whimsical music, and poetic storytelling all combine to create a dream-like escape from reality.

  • Life Lesson: Don’t overlook the simple joys that surround you every day.

For Whom

This is an ideal movie for those who feel disconnected and could use a nudge to find delight in the mundane yet magical moments that life has to offer.

1. “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)

This American biographical drama film is inspired by entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Will Smith delivers a powerful performance, playing Gardner, a man fighting against all odds to build a better life for himself and his young son.

Why It’s Uplifting

One of the key takeaways from “The Pursuit of Happyness” is that life can be terribly difficult, but determination and hard work can overcome almost any circumstance. The relationship between Chris and his son offers a touch of softness to the movie’s overall gritty atmosphere.

  • Life Lesson: Never give up on yourself, no matter how dire the situation.

For Whom

This is a great watch for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges and could use a tale of resilience and triumph to lift their spirits.

Final Words

And there you have it—17 movies that can lift your spirits, make you laugh, or offer a fresh perspective. Each film offers a unique emotional journey and comes packed with life lessons. So next time you’re feeling down, remember that sometimes the best therapy is a good movie.