I recommend the black and white film 1945. Set in a small village in Hungary in 1945 just as World War II finished, it opens on a summer day as the town prepares for a wedding. Two Jewish men get off the train with two large crates and go through town. The town's residents are wondering who these two men are and why they have returned. Some of the town's people were part of a coverup in getting a prominent Jewish family deported and taking over their possessions. Many of these people have such profound guilt, leading to irrational decisions while they think these two strangers are there to take back what was taken from this family. What happens in the town all takes place in a few hours.
This gem has a script that is so well written, you could almost close your eyes and just listen to the movie and come away entertained by the romantic comedy. Dexter (Cary Grant) shows up a few days before his rich ex-wife Tracy's (Katharine Hepburn) wedding to George Kittredge (John Howard) with two tabloid reporters, Mike (James Stewart) and Liz (Ruth Hussey), in tow. Dexter, a recovering alcoholic, confronts Tracy about her role in their divorce, while she belittles him for his addiction. The movie exhibits a series of sharp-witted confrontations between Dexter and Tracy, but beneath the seeming malice is a deep-seated love they still feel for one another. Will she go through with wedding another man?
The Philadelphia Story (1940) is a must-see for the star-studded cast alone. You can find it in the "Weddings—Classic Films" binge box along with The Bride Came C.O.D., The Father of the Bride, and Princess O'Rourke. And for more classic romantic comedies, check out our lists that cover the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
Inspirational sports movies are one of my favorite feel-good comfort watches. And there's a new movie that fits this theme perfectly: Safety (2020, PG). Set in 2008 and inspired by a true story, it follows a Clemson freshman who juggles school, football, and family. After his mother enters a drug rehabilitation facility, Ray takes in his younger brother Fay. He hides him on campus, refusing help, trying to do it all on his own.
His Clemson family teaches him that accepting help is not the same as taking charity. Throw in a fight with the NCAA about legalities and you'll enjoy a film that will have you rooting for Ray, Fay, and the rest of his teammates aka brothers.
Check out one of our Rokus with Disney Plus to watch the film.
This feel good story is based on the singing phenomena that were ten small town lobster fishermen and close friends from Cornwall, UK. They would meet at the local pub and sing traditional sea shanties. After they were discovered by a London music management company, their music cd was the biggest selling traditional folk album of all time.
Fisherman's Friends (2019, PG-13), a slightly fictionalized version, is great entertainment. There are lots of laughs, great songs, and some heartwarming performances from familiar British actors. It is a charming, funny story that will have your toes-a-tapping.Listen to the music from the film on Hoopla.
John McClane (Bruce Willis), currently separated from his wife, is an NYPD cop invited to her company Christmas party in a Los Angeles skyscraper. When terrorists seize the building and a group of hostages, McClane is their only chance of escape. Die Hard (1988, R) sets the standard for action/hostage movies and catapulted Willis into becoming an action hero movie megastar. Also starring Alan Rickman as his nemesis. Get the "Die Hard Collection" binge box to watch the entire series. It is also featured in the "Christmas Gone Wrong" binge box.
This is the quintessential Christmas movie that everyone has seen or should see. George Bailey (James Stewart) has seen his life's dreams dashed one after another, and in a moment of despair, contemplates taking his own life. An angel is sent to show George just how different the world would be if he were never born. Check out this timeless classic directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946, PG) is available as a part of the binge box called "A Classic Christmas Collection" which also includes Christmas in Connecticut, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, and White Christmas.
Also, take a look at our list of Family Christmas Movies.
I highly recommend the movie, The Great Alaskan Race (2019, rated PG). It is the heroic true story of a race against time during an arctic blizzard. In 1925, there was a diphtheria epidemic that made all the children of Nome, Alaska, deathly ill. The town desperately needed the anti-toxin serum to stop this epidemic. This is the story of the Serum Run.
Twenty brave mushers and 150 courageous dogs traveled 700 miles through -80 temperatures to bring the serum back to Nome to save the children. What should have taken 25 days to travel by dogsled was done in a record of 5.5 days by these heroic mushers and dogs. This proved that anything was possible with hope and courage. The Iditarod Race is done in remembrance of the 1925 Serum Run.
Imagination and reality come together in the beautifully arranged musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020, PG). Featuring Forest Whitaker as the once famous toy maker, Jernonicus Jangle, we see how one man with the help of his enthusiastic and intelligent granddaughter, Journey, overcomes what seems to be the impossible: reigniting his creativity and reuniting his family. The film begins in the present with Grandmother Journey (Phylicia Rashad) introducing her grandchildren to the story of the Jangle family and their friend-turned-foe, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key). In a year filled with what seems like one hardship after another, join this diverse and accomplished cast to inspire your sense of wonder and joy this winter.
Experience the magic of Jingle Jangle on Netflix with one of our Rokus.
"Houston, we have a problem." In April 1970, three astronauts were headed for the moon when an oxygen tank exploded, affecting life support and propulsion. With an all-star cast, Apollo 13 (1995, PG) puts you right there in the lunar module as well as in the room at Houston flight control as the engineers work frantically to bring these men home alive. Apollo 13 was directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Gary Sinise.
Fans of Apollo 13 may also enjoy The Martian with Matt Damon. Apollo 13 is available as a DVD as a part of the Binge Box called "Never Travel with Tom Hanks," which includes three other movies: Cast Away, Captain Phillips, and Sully.
The wives on the Flitcroft military base are facing six months on their own after their spouses were called up to active duty. It is not easy when your spouse gets deployed. They get letters and maybe a video chat, but must find their way to cope. Some turn to TV shopping, others send care packages, many drink.
The Sergeant Major's wife, Lisa (Sharon Horgan), is responsible for the mental well-being of all the wives in the regiment. This ranges from brainstorming entertaining group activities to providing a shoulder to cry on. She is a little overwhelmed and has to cope with the Colonel's wife, Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas), who has very different ideas for activities. They finally meet in the middle and decide a choir would be an activity all could enjoy. The pair clash, but after some words realize they are stronger together. The choir becomes the activity that pulls them together and provides comfort.
Military Wives (2019, PG-13) was inspired by the true stories of women who started the first military wives' choir. The story is touching, heartfelt, funny, and sad at times, but very entertaining. For more about the true story and an interview with the actors, check out this NPR article.
I recommend the movie All Good Things (2010, rated R), based on a true story from the early 80s about New York real estate heir David Marks (Ryan Gosling) and the disappearance of his wife Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Gosling does an amazing job with the transformation of his character in how he changes over the years of his marriage. He tries to outrun his past, but his family and wealth bring him back into the family business.
Filmed on a very low budget The Blair Witch Project (1999, R) does a superb job of creating an eerie atmosphere without expensive special effects. The viewer is led to believe that the movie is actually footage from a documentary that three film students created when they ventured into the Maryland woods to document the local Blair Witch legend. This home-video quality film is all that was recovered. After watching the film read this interesting article, "The Blair Witch Project at 20: Why it can't be replicated."
The movie is available on dvd or as a part of a Halloween binge box called "The Footage Found Collection" which also includes Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, V/H/S, Creep, The Visit, and As Above, So Below.
When I heard Finding Neverland (2004, rated PG) was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, I hoped it would win--but it did not. Nevertheless, it is a terrific movie. Johnny Depp who portrays James M. Barrie and Kate Winslet are equally great together. All of the fantasy is typical Johnny Depp and had me wondering if there was any truth to this story about how James Barrie created Peter Pan.
As the movie progresses, a more serious tone emerges with a climactic ending befitting Academy Award worthiness. Heaven is a real place don't you know, and I for one can only imagine just how beautiful it will be.
Watch Finding Neverland on Hoopla today or on DVD. While it didn't win Best Picture, the film did nab an Oscar for Best Original Score. Listen to it on Hoopla. For more of the true story behind the film, read this New York Times article.
In A Patch of Blue (1965) Selena D'Arcy (Elizabeth Hartman) is poor, uneducated, and blind. She spends her days in a park stringing and selling beaded jewelry. One day she meets a young office worker (Sidney Poitier) who befriends her and opens up her world by showing her the outside world. Selena doesn't know he is black. Unfortunately, her racist mother (Shelley Winters) sees them together and forbids Selena to ever see him again. Selena defies her mother and continues the friendship despite the violence she endures.
This black and white drama is a story of friendship and compassion and love. Shelley Winters won a supporting actress Academy Award for her portrayal of a hateful ignorant mother. Sidney Poitier's understated performance is what makes A Patch of Blue a classic.
This fantastic movie masterpiece has great comedy that will make you fall down laughing and heartfelt drama that will pull on your heartstrings. All those things are guaranteed since the mix of comedy and drama is portrayed by the wonderful actress, Sally Field, and the late great funnyman legend, Robin Williams. I highly recommend Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, rated PG-13) for teens and adults of all ages if you want a good laugh or a good tug on the heartstrings.