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16 Peaceful Movies Where Everything is Perfect and Nothing Goes Wrong

Robbie Janney

Take a deep breath, relax, and escape. These sixteen peaceful, yet entertaining movies are here to give your stressed-out mind a break.

These are … how do you say … stressful times we’re living in. Extremely stressful. You may be cooped up in your home, with a bleak outlook on the current state of the world. The news is constantly reminding you that everyone is in a state of panic, and it seems like there’s no escape from this dark timeline we’ve stumbled into.

In times like these it’s important to have an escape. For most of us, that escape is a good movie. But, you probably don’t want to watch a bleak movie that’s just going to bring you down. (OK, apparently some of you do—2011’s Contagion is, at the time of writing, in the top ten iTunes rentals.) You do want a movie you can get peacefully lost in. So, for the sake of our collective mental health, here’s a list of sixteen movies (ranked in no particular order) that are basically digital NyQuil. These movies will help you ascend to a much more peaceful plane of existence. Sure, these movies do have moments where things go awry, but in totally okay ways that resolve into wonderful endings.

To help you indulge even further, I’ll list a companion piece (for an extra dose of peace) and a pairing of a calming food, drink, or self-care routine to match each movie, adding a new dimension of tranquility to your viewing experience.

1. Spirited Away

Ahh, yes. Sweeping animated landscapes, a minimalist soundscape, and the sweet surrender of a calming Miyazaki storyline. I always turn to a Miyazaki movie when I need something to cheer me up after a long day. Spirited Away is at the top of that list. There’s just something about the animation style and the slow pace of the film that calms me. The gentle piano combined with Miyazaki’s insanely complex natural soundscape is bliss. I can go on and on about the hypnotizing effects of Japanese narratives compared to Western narratives, but I’ll just let you watch the movie in peace.

Companion pieces: My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle

Pairs well with: Green tea, steamed buns, and a hot shower.

2. Secondhand Lions

Remember when you’d go to your grandparents’ house and sit on their floral couch, all tucked into a handmade quilt? Your Grandpa would sit down on his recliner next to you and regale you with stories of his glory days? Well, if you condensed that entire feeling into a movie, it would be Secondhand Lions. The story is blanketed in the dark cloth of a boy who’s neglected by his mother and terrorized by the awful men she brings home. But, it’s all cleaned up by the wonderful pairing of Robert Duvall and Michael Caine as tough-as-nails grandpas with hearts of gold who give a young Haley Joel Osment the love and affection he so rightfully deserves. Oh, and there’s also a lion.

Companion pieces: The Sandlot, Stand by Me

Pairs well with: A nice, hearty steak and giving your grandpa a call.

3. The Princess Bride

The king of all “story time” movies, The Princess Bride has collected many a child’s heart over the years. Reminiscent of the peace you felt staying home from school with a cup of chicken noodle soup, watching The Price is Right while you recovered from a sickness, this movie has all the elements to make someone curl even deeper into their blanket nest: A heartwarming story of true love, a gentle giant, and a man on a mission to avenge his father’s death.

Companion pieces: Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia

Pairs well with: Chicken noodle soup and repeating the phrase, “My name is Inigo Montoya…”

4. Everybody Wants Some!!

If there’s one thing Richard Linklater is known for doing really well, it’s making movies about, well, nothing. The “slice of life” genre is his forte. Just watching his characters interact with each other, their environment, and the time period they’re in just makes you feel warm inside. It makes you nostalgic for a moment in history you probably didn’t even live in. Everybody Wants Some!! is about a team of baseball players making their way through the first days of college, and the freshman who’s getting a feel for the team, and girls, along the way. If you look back at your first day hanging out with a new group of friends fondly, this movie will hit you right in the feels.

Companion piece: Dazed and Confused

Pairs well with: Lone Star beer and hitting things in your backyard with a baseball bat.

5. Moonrise Kingdom

I feel like posting Wes Anderson on this list is almost cheating. But, alas, it’s necessary to a collection like this. Moonrise Kingdom will bring about all of those feelings you had as a young child when you went camping for the first time (or just went on adventures in your backyard). But, more importantly, it will remind you of the first time you fell in love. If love isn’t your jam, then just let the absolutely gorgeous symmetry of Wes Anderson’s cinematography to lull you into a tranquil stupor.

Companion piece: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Pairs well with: Hot dogs and a warm campfire.

6. Billy Madison

Okay, this may be the dark horse of the list, but I’m adding it for selfish reasons. I love a classic Adam Sandler movie—they’re incredibly fun, dumb romps. I’m reminded of popping Billy Madison into my VHS player as a kid and laughing my ass off, even though I was watching it for the thirty-second time. This is a movie you can truly shut your mind off for—just sit back, relax, and watch Adam Sandler in a tiny desk surrounded by a classroom of nine-year-olds.

Companion piece: Happy Gilmore

Pairs well with: A sack lunch, a juice box, and Miles Davis.

7. Paddington 2

If you haven’t dove into the Paddington Cinematic Universe, you’re seriously depriving yourself of the warmest fuzzies you’ll ever experience watching a film. I was hesitant to watch this film at first. But, if you ask anyone who’s seen it, you’ll become an IMMEDIATE Paddington convert. If you read the Paddington 2 synopsis, it can be jarring to think of how this movie is labeled wholesome. A bear gets sent to prison? Like, what? But how can you not smile watching an animated bear become best friends with an entire prison population, after making them his famous marmalade sandwiches?

Companion pieces: Paddington

Pairs well with: Marmalade sandwiches and a stuffed teddy bear to cuddle.

8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

What’s more fun than a cheeky high school senior faking a sick day to go on an adventure with his best friends? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. The namesake of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is always, somehow, one step ahead of his pesky principal, and you just can’t help but root for him. This is also coming from a John Hughes fanatic—for some reason, quirky 80s movies just get me. If you’re really having a bad day and you don’t want to see anything depressing, feel free to skip the majority of Cameron’s scenes.

Companion pieces: The Breakfast Club, Can’t Buy Me Love

Pairs well with: Chicago deep dish pizza, the Beatles, and Wayne Newton.

9. They Came Together

Nothing makes me happier than a truly stupid movie. And, the crowned prince of all stupid movies is David Wain‘s incredible Rom-Com parody, They Came Together. If you hate Rom-Coms because they all follow the same tired, old plot structure and stereotypical cast list, then you’ll absolutely adore this movie. It’s a campy extravaganza with a hell of a comedic cast. If that doesn’t sell you, just watch the movie so you can see Paul Rudd doing the most Paul Rudd things ever.

Companion piece: Wet Hot American Summer

Pairs well with: Red wine, candy, and burning your copy of 27 Dresses.

10. Napoleon Dynamite

Stuff your pockets full of tater tots, grab a quesadilla, and get ready to rest easy watching the adorably geeky Napoleon Dynamite wade his way through love, friendship, and feeding his pet llama, Tina. You probably haven’t seen this movie in at least a decade, and all those “Vote For Pedro” shirts parading through your local mall are just a distant memory. But, there’s one special thing I need to tell you—this movie holds up. It’s always a gamble to watch your old favorites because they might not be as good as you remember them. Trust me on this one—you’re going to love it even more.

Companion piece: Gentlemen Broncos

Pairs well with: Tater tots, quesadillas, and throwing a football a quarter mile.

11. The Overnight

As we take a quick jump over to the Mumblecore genre, I present to you my favorite of the subgroup—The Overnight. A couple who has just moved to Los Angeles, another eccentric couple who invites them over for dinner, and the night that changes their lives forever. If you’ve ever been on a double date with a couple that puts off strange vibes, then you’re going to love the feeling of this film. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll tell you this: On my first watch, I legitimately spit out my drink from laughter as I watched the ending unfold. You’ll know it when you see it.

Companion piece: Drinking Buddies, The One I Love

Pairs well with: Red wine, Mexican food, and a hot tub.

12. Midnight in Paris

What’s not to love about seeing the fantastical artistic characters of the early 1900s Paris salon scene brought to life? Midnight in Paris is an extremely lovable movie wherein you get to see Pablo Picasso interacting with Ernest Hemingway, or Dali showing off his newest art pieces to Owen Wilson‘s head-in-the-clouds character who travels into the past during his trip to Paris. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, just watch the opening scene above, and I guarantee you’ll feel instantly calmer.

Companion piece: Annie Hall

Pairs well with: French bread and Absinthe.

13. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Okay, yes, I know I said I don’t like many Rom-Coms, but this one is totally different. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is an endearing story about family and the always-fun process of introducing a significant other to all of your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents. The reason I’m including this is because it defies a lot of the tropes known to its genre. The couple actually pairs well together, and you are cheering for them all the way through. If it doesn’t make you love and appreciate your family, I don’t know what will.

Companion piece: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Pairs well with: Greek food and Windex.

14. The Producers

Mel Brooks holds a special place in most of our hearts. Whether you grew up watching his films, or your dad had a couple fuzzy VHS tapes in his collection he’d let you watch when mom wasn’t home, I’m sure all of us have a very fond memory of watching one of his movies. The Producers is one of his greatest hits, utilizing the talents of Gene Wilder as the nervous Leo Bloom. This movie combines the fanfare of classic broadway with the timeless comedic power of a solid Mel Brooks film.

Companion piece: Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles

Pairs well with: Martinis and Broadway show tunes.

15. Singin’ in the Rain

If you’re looking for something that’s a little more classic Hollywood to lull you into sweet surrender, there’s no better option than Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly is an absolute gem who just can’t help but put a smile on your face. And the endearing tunes throughout the film are sure to warm your cold heart. What beats a sweeping Hollywood overture when it comes to upping your mood?

Companion piece: An American in Paris

Pairs well with: Popcorn and impromptu dance numbers in your living room.

16. Mamma Mia!

Come on — it’s ABBA! It’ll make you feel good. Shh. Surrender to ABBA.

Companion piece: Across the Universe, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again

Pairs well with: Singing with your best friends and courting three former lovers in Greece.

Cover image via StudioCanal.

Want more ideas on what to watch? Learn more about film history and get some ideas here:

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