52 perfect comfort films – to watch again and again
May 23, 2021 4:23 AM   Subscribe

Give me, in times of strife, a ripped Linda Hamilton doing pull-ups in her cell, preparing equally for escape and Judgment Day. I have zero interest in cars and don’t even know how to drive, yet I absolutely adore it. I’m also a lesbian, but would watch the films for Vin Diesel’s muscles alone. One hundred golden minutes of pithy wisdom on all life’s thorniest subjects: boys, friendship, sex, drugs, accessorising, parking. Everything useful I know about life I learned from this film.

52 perfect comfort films – to watch again and again

And you ?
posted by y2karl (162 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
The comment section from the Guardian article from which I ripped those sentences should give you ideas for the And you ? part.
posted by y2karl at 4:30 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Mine are Eraserhead or Repo Man, depending on exactly what it is that I feel a need to be comforted about.

I especially enjoy watching either of these with somebody who hasn't seen them before; preferably somebody born since they were made. The turn, the look, the "what the FUCK did you just make me watch?" - it's the same every time and brings me so. much. joy.
posted by flabdablet at 4:59 AM on May 23 [24 favorites]

Honourable mention to Withnail and I.

Now excuse me. I need to go and research the fuel and wood situation.
posted by flabdablet at 5:01 AM on May 23 [13 favorites]

Honourable mention to Withnail and I.

To quote Roy Batty in Bladerunner: That's the spirit!
posted by y2karl at 5:11 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Howl's Moving Castle.
posted by Foosnark at 5:12 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]

It's a little too on brand for me to say Hackers, but yeah, Hackers. Also: Fury Road, Tampopo.
posted by phooky at 5:19 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]

posted by condour75 at 5:20 AM on May 23 [21 favorites]

Also, what’s with the Woody Allen? I mean, I get it, I used to adore Love and Death as a comfort movie, but are you really going to commit that to writing in 2021 without even an acknowledgment of how it’s problematic?
posted by condour75 at 5:25 AM on May 23 [28 favorites]

For me it is 12 Monkeys. It has humor, eccentricity, action, a clever plot, emotional moments, sci-fi ideas...like ketchup has all five tastes.
posted by snofoam at 5:30 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]

Real Genius
posted by hearthpig at 5:32 AM on May 23 [30 favorites]

Shakespeare in Love is definitely high on my list, but even higher would be the other John Madden + Gwyneth Paltrow collaboration: Proof. I love nearly everything about that movie. Also, as something of an applied mathematician myself, I would say that it's the only mainstream movie I've seen that really captures the spirit of mathematicians, and the practice of mathematics.
posted by Alex404 at 5:35 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Grosse Point Blank is a perfect film, and I could easily go on about how not only is the main story pretty damn good, but all throughout the background of every scene, the other characters are living out full arcs that, at best, are blink and miss it moments. The reunion party scenes are exceptional film making, and the movie is just a lot of fun.

Also, probably the best soundtrack released in the 90s, other than maybe Six String Samurai.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:37 AM on May 23 [55 favorites]

I noticed the Woody Allen thing too, but let it slide, because external context aside comfort movies are whatever make people comfortable, which is completely subjective. Even if, somehow, it's Eraserhead.
posted by phooky at 5:41 AM on May 23 [19 favorites]

I certainly have some disagreements with this list, but as someone in dire need of comfort films, I found enough "perfect" ones to get me through the end of the semester. Thanks!
posted by pangolin party at 5:49 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Cemetery of Splendour is a movie I can just watch endlessly and fall into. It's odd because I usually don't like to rewatch movies. And from the list, Days of Heaven, which is also odd because it is nothing like what I would usually watch.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:58 AM on May 23

(I would say that it's the only mainstream movie I've seen that really captures the spirit of mathematicians, and the practice of mathematics.

Eh. It falls into the twin traps of presenting mathematical accomplishment as requiring special genius and linking that genius with mental illness. Although math itself isn't a main plot point, I preferred the depiction of mathematicians in Incendies.)
posted by eviemath at 5:59 AM on May 23

All those comfort films and no "The Holiday," it's like they aren't even trying
posted by jscalzi at 5:59 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]

(Side note/clarifying addendum: Incendies is fantastic, but almost certainly not anyone's comfort watch.)
posted by eviemath at 6:01 AM on May 23

I would like to submit:

Vernon, Florida (1981)

Grey Gardens (1975)

and as always - Clue (1985)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:05 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

comfort movies are whatever make people comfortable

Terminator 2

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:06 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

The Fifth Element for me, Spirited Away for my wife.
posted by bonehead at 6:06 AM on May 23 [27 favorites]

Muriel's Wedding.
posted by jabah at 6:07 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]

Though Les Triplets de Bellville is right up there too.
posted by bonehead at 6:07 AM on May 23 [19 favorites]

My Neighbor Totoro, Almost anything by Mel Brooks, especially Young Frankenstein, Princess Bride, Moana, Nine to Five
posted by mermayd at 6:09 AM on May 23 [16 favorites]

Any of the golden age musicals: South Pacific, West Side Story, Singin’ in the Rain. Top of the heap though is probably The Music Man.
posted by jquinby at 6:09 AM on May 23 [15 favorites]

I find I watch Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon quite often. The subtleties in the performances of everyone onscreen continue to reveal nuance and texture even after a zillion viewings.

Also, Dazed And Confused, which I swear is a movie that gets better every single time I see it.
posted by hippybear at 6:10 AM on May 23 [16 favorites]

Young Frankenstein, such a perfect film

The Big Lebowski is such a wonderful exercise in looking haphazard and yet fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Also, Shaun of the Dead! For almost the same reason! The progression is almost like a song, where the harmony and melody drive each other forward at just the right pace. Not every great film is a song, but comfort films are, for me.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 6:22 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]

There are a couple mentioned above I can rewatch endlessly with pleasure (The Blues Brothers, Withnail and I). But also I have not yet found the limits of my ability to enjoy Slap Shot, To Live and Die in L.A., Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and about a quarter of the Coens' oeuvre (Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:23 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Hot Fuzz
posted by Slackermagee at 6:24 AM on May 23 [15 favorites]

Most of the above, and Moonstruck.
posted by Naberius at 6:27 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Film-wise, it's Notting Hill or When Harry Met Sally for me.

But, this past year it's been tv. Most comforting shows, by far have been Ted Lasso and The Detectorists. Sincere, honest, very very funny shows.
posted by papercake at 6:38 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

All these comedies, and I’m the first to mention The Naked Gun?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:40 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Previously and related: Gentle Cinema

I've been working my way through the ones of these that I can find
posted by Blorg at 6:41 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Wikipedia: "Comfort (or being comfortable) is a sense of physical or psychological ease, often characterized as a lack of hardship."

I skimmed the list, and whomsoever compiled it seems to be working with a *vastly* differing definition of the word 'Comfort'
posted by Faintdreams at 6:42 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

Breaking Away
posted by Edward L at 6:43 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]

Also, what’s with the Woody Allen?
...Speaking of killing, Norman Mailer in a rage once tried to kill one of his wives. The painter Caravaggio and the poet and playwright Ben Jonson both killed men in duels or brawls. Genet was a thief, Rimbaud was a smuggler, Byron committed incest, Flaubert paid for sex with boys. So case closed, one is tempted to say, invoking Ms. Cornwell’s phrase: anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism (I left that out, but there are too many examples to cite), murderousness, theft, sex crimes. That’s not to mention the drunkenness, drug-taking, backstabbing, casual adultery and chronic indebtedness that we know attended (or attends) the lives of so many people who make unquestionably good art. Why should we be surprised or think otherwise? Why should artists be any better than the rest of us?
Good Art, Bad People
posted by y2karl at 6:44 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]

Also, Dazed And Confused, which I swear is a movie that gets better every single time I see it.

I guess it would depend on your relationship with your high school years. I went to school with every one of the characters in that movie, and, when I watch D&C, it’s always kind of like regretting going to the class reunion.

Comfort movies for me tend to be ones like The Big Sleep, Maltese Falcon, Casablanca*, etc. Golden Age Hollywood ensemble films. Everyone and everything is at the top of the game, and it all just looks effortless and enjoyable. They are films that invite multiple viewings where you can watch everything (and everyone) going on in the background. Bit players adding great color and personality. It’s very much like watching a great, well-crafted machine running effortlessly.

* Oddly, despite that representative list, I don’t really consider myself a big Bogart fan. ~shrugs~
posted by Thorzdad at 6:48 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

This is a difficult question. Judging by what I rewatch on various platforms, it's Hair for me, with My Neighbor Totoro as a close second. But there are a lot of the films on the list and in the comments that I also watch again and again, and some I now want to watch for the first time.
Among action movies, Heat is my favorite repeat view, but I don't really watch action movies for comfort.
The best classic Hollywood movies (for comfort) are probably Casablanca , Singing in the Rain and Roman Holiday.
The Woody Allen thing stuck out to me as well, but I can see how they can have defined a period of your life, and remained something you return to. The Annual Woody Allen Movie was definitely a thing during my formative years. But so were the Eric Rohmer and Krzysztof Kieślowski films. Pauline at the Beach could absolutely be a comfort film for me, but personal statistics point to the films mentioned above.
posted by mumimor at 6:54 AM on May 23

[insert long list of horrible things done by] people who make unquestionably good art. . . Why should artists be any better than the rest of us?

IDK about you but I stay as far as I can from people who do long lists of horrible things. Why should artists be treated any different than the rest of us?
posted by MiraK at 7:00 AM on May 23 [24 favorites]

Oddly, despite that representative list, I don’t really consider myself a big Bogart fan.

We got a new appreciation for Bogart after seeing him play against type in The Caine Mutiny, one of the best ensemble films out there IMHO.
posted by jquinby at 7:01 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Charade, Roman Holiday, Pride & Prejudice, O Brother Where Art Thou?, My Neighbor Totoro.
If I had to choose only two it would be Pride & Prejudice and O Brother Where Art Thou? because I love the music in both.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:04 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]

My comfort-watch: My Cousin Vinny!
posted by MiraK at 7:06 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Good Art, Bad People

I note a major contextual difference in that, unlike Woody Allen, the vast majority of artists on that list are no longer living, and in many cases, have been dead for a while. The lack of acknowledgement of the existence (let alone role) of context seems to be a common feature of bad faith arguments, especially from the crowd that worries about such things as "cancel culture run amok" or freeze peach. But the article does make a strong argument for de-emphasizing the Western cannon, yes.
posted by eviemath at 7:07 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

Also, since Slap Shot has made an appearance...that movie just gets better and better for me because I think it's both a classic stoopid comedy and a legit biting critique and satire of masculinity (SPOILERS FOLLOW).

It was written by Nancy Dowd, and while she absolutely, hilariously nails the macho, violent, sexist culture of hockey, dressing rooms, etc. (the Hanson Brothers, sure, but they're caricatures; it's the other supporting characters who all come across as grown-up versions of the guys I played hockey with), every single male character in that movie is some variety of fuck-up (in some cases, unpleasantly so), and the only characters with a lick of sense are the women. There's Lily, who is clearly smarter than she wants to let on and is so depressed by having to be around those guys and the state of her relationship with Ned that she's sinking into alcoholism, and Francine. Francine is Reggie (Paul Newman)'s ex, and he spends the entire movie utilizing his considerable charms trying to get back with her and while she clearly still harbours some affection for him, she's absolutely not going to let herself get pulled back into that world. The last shot of the film is her getting the fuck out of there and on her way to (presumably) a better life while Reggie stares despondently at her car. In a lesser movie, she would have been on the parade float with Reggie. There's also the team owner, who as the person who wants to fold the team is presented as the villain, but while she's cold and comes across as uncaring she's also clearly just making the rational economic decision, given the closure of the mill and the unlikelihood of the town's ability to support it moving forward. Even the bit with Ned stripping in the middle of the brawl at the end of the movie, which I didn't get when I saw the movie as a kid, seems like a shot at hockey's homophobic/gay panic culture, where a guy doing something like that would be regarded as far more transgressive and threatening to the natural order of that world than constant bench-clearing brawls.

Anyway, I just think Dowd did a brilliant job of clowning on men while disguising the whole thing as a good-time bro comedy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:07 AM on May 23 [27 favorites]

I'm always down to watch The Blues Brothers, but my go-to comfort movies are Rounders, Patton, and Seven Samurai. At one time I would have included the Lord of the Rings movies, but I haven't watched them in a long time. (Also leaving out a rotation of MST3K episodes I choose over any of those movies basically every night.)
posted by ob1quixote at 7:12 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Nobody said “Pretty Woman”?
posted by SLC Mom at 7:15 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Ooh... Raising Arizona.
posted by Foosnark at 7:17 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]

posted by y2karl at 7:19 AM on May 23

For me: Blade Runner and Wall-E. Preferably back-to-back.
posted by fregoli at 7:24 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Con Air ftw *Leaves brain at door*
posted by LemmySays at 7:25 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

*Leaves brain at door*

Now there's a MetaFilter: tagline...
posted by y2karl at 7:30 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

The sick day film of choice for the Mosley household is the BBC "Pride and Prejudice" miniseries. However, when I recently got a 24 hour bug and was utterly confined to the couch for the day, I mixed it up and watched "The Irishman" instead.

And if you think that's an odd pairing, I will argue that they're perfect because they are well told dramas that take their sweet time telling their story because we can take aaaallllll the time we want because you aren't going anywhere, are you, you sick bastard!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:38 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Mine is "You've Got Mail." Yes, I know it's catfishing and negging. I do not care.

In my imaginary sequel, Annabelle Fox, salty after finding out exactly why The Shop Around the Corner closed when she was a kid, grows up and starts her own company that invents ereaders. Her company indirectly destroys Fox Books.
posted by kimberussell at 7:44 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

I don't know if you could call these "comfort films", they're more like "films I love so much I can rewatch them".

Fandango, a 1985 cult film that was in one fell swoop an early film for Kevin Costner, Kevin Reynolds and Judd Nelson. I love this so much I did an FPP about it.

O Brother Where Art Thou.

Lost In Translation.

Call Me By Your Name, which I grant recently developed a problematic cast member problem - however, that particular actor was apparently such a non-entity for me in any of his other films that I'm actually able to pretend it's another guy entirely. (I only learned TODAY that he had a major role in a film I'd seen 10 years ago, and I have ABSOLUTELY no memory of him from that film.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

I was surprised not to see “Robocop,” “Road Warrior,” “Raising Arizona,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Aliens,” “Total Recall,” on there. Guess which of those film are mine, and which is my fiancee’s favorite.

I think my ultimate comfort movie would be the edited-for-TV version of “Beverly Hills Cop,” with all of the commercial breaks including Ernest P Worrell’s advertisements for Tyson’s Toyota.

There’s something about hearing Eddie Murphy say “and you have a pig face” that just takes me back.
posted by chinese_fashion at 7:49 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

"Continental Divide". Belushi's finest work.

The Goodbye Girl
Breaking Away
I saw these in the theater.
posted by thelonius at 7:51 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

I was glad to see Dancehall Queen made the list. It looks like each person got to mention one movie, which explains why it hops around so much. It is interesting to see how different ideas of "comfort" are.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:54 AM on May 23

Hidden Figures for me. Sure, it's undermined by its assortment of white saviours, and it pulls too many of its punches, but watching those women strutting The Right Stuff through NASA Langley gets me every time.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:54 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

If we are talking about comfort, the core of the list would be movies I imprinted on as a child in the 70's: Some Like it Hot, My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Oliver, Willie Wonka, Alice's Restaurant, and Monty Python's Life of Brian. And the really terrible Sgt Pepper movie with the Bee Gees and so many random 70's artists (I had it almost memorized when I was little). And lots of concert films, I still need to find a way to get my copy of REM's Tourfilm off VHS.

Yes my mother is a huge fan of musicals. Dad was the Monty Python & concert film fan.
posted by buildmyworld at 7:58 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

The Princess Bride, Trading Places, Clueless, The Sting, T2... I works probably be happy enough with the Guardian's list. It's missing one of the sweeter Coen brothers movies (O Brother Where Art Thou would also be my choice). I would change out one of their teen movies for 10 Things I Hate About You, and exchange one of the romcoms for When Harry Met Sally. I would probably add in more of the Atomic Blonde/John Wick action movies, and The Emperor's New Groove. And I would want more cheesy action -- the Mummy, Indiana Jones, LoTR. But...I would not be unhappy with a library with those choices.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:59 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Big Trouble in Little China. "Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yes, sir, the check is in the mail!" *big bite of sandwich*
posted by SPrintF at 8:09 AM on May 23 [23 favorites]

ALERT: His Girl Friday is playing at 4 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) today (Sunday) on Turner Classic Movie channel. I believe they have a separate time for the west coast.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:13 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

*Me, a long-time Mefite, reading through this list*: “Someone is going to complain about the inclusion of Woody Allen films within the first five comments”. I was close.

It did make me laugh seeing Radio Days included here. My parents dragged me and my friend to see that one in the theater when it came out. I was probably 13. It is not a movie aimed at that age group, and my poor non-Jewish friend, definitely not aimed at his demographic at all. My main memory of the movie is watching my buddy sprawl out over a batch of seats to crash for the majority of it. Safe to say neither he or I would include it on our lists.

As for my own that I’d add to the list, I’d pick School of Rock. Comfort movie has a somewhat specific definition to me to which School of Rock fits perfectly. There are movies I might rank higher but maybe require more attention, contain more complexity in the plot, or that I have to be in a particular emotional space to sit through, so “comfort movie” doesn’t feel like the right term. School of Rock is one that I will always stop to watch if I catch it on and is also my “if none of the new releases catch my attention and it is one of the options I’ll watch it” film when I travel.
posted by The Gooch at 8:23 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Beaten to the punch by Big Trouble in Little China. In a similar spirit to the Slap Shot screed above by The Card Cheat, Big Trouble in Little China is an Eastern action movie that sells itself to the American public as a Western action movie. Jack Burton isn't the hero, he's the sidekick who thinks he's the hero.
posted by notoriety public at 8:24 AM on May 23 [13 favorites]

Oooh I forgot one!

The Warriors, in all its cheeseball glory. I just now was thinking "maybe I could go to a movie some time today, it'll be my first film in a theater since Covid and my knee got tanked" and when I saw that the Alamo was showing it today at 8, and that it only had 3 seats left, I snapped one up without hesitation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]

Yes to School of Rock, O Brother Where Art Thou, and My Cousin Vinny.

Also Groundhog Day, That Thing You Do, and Wet Hot American Summer.
posted by Gadarene at 8:27 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Tarkovsky films.
posted by glonous keming at 8:28 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Spinal Tap
posted by Keith Talent at 8:30 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

This is fascinating, I have seen six of the movies on the list for sure, perhaps one or two more - or most of one or two more - which, for me, is an unusually high number for lists such as these! Very fun.
posted by Occula at 8:41 AM on May 23

I don't usually like watching movies more than once, especially if I've seen it in the theater, but I make an exception for 2001: A Space Odyssey which I'll put on as background wallpaper.
posted by octothorpe at 8:48 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

I can't believe I'm not the only person who comforts themselves with The Lady Vanishes!
posted by wellifyouinsist at 9:01 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

A few of my favorite comfort films:

Jacques Tati's Playtime. Just a pure delight of carefully choreographed music and movement. Also a love letter to Paris that features almost no actual footage of Paris.

The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), based on a Jacques Tati script. Gorgeously animated, although the ending will probably destroy you.

Ozu Yasujiro's Ohayo. Films like Tokyo Story and Late Spring stand alone in the canon of cinema, but "Good Morning" is a simple, funny, beautifully-filmed story about families in a new suburban development. It is also a wonderful study of how brothers interact. Equinox Flower is another lesser-known Ozu film that I always find myself coming back to.

And of course, I love My Neighbor Totoro, but I think I love Kiki's Delivery Service almost as much. Also, Goro Miyazaki's From Up On Poppy Hill was somewhat underrated when it was released, but it is a lovely portrait of two young people in early '60s Yokohama, and the animation is ravishingly beautiful.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:02 AM on May 23 [13 favorites]

I like that My Neighbor Totoro made it in but would add Bend It Like Beckham and 10 Things I Hate About You.

And would probably also take off a bunch of films that I didn't even find compelling the first time I tried to watch them.
posted by blueberry monster at 9:22 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Fellowship of the Rings for me. I saw that sucker 9 times in the theater when it first came out and have completely lost track of how many more times I've seen it since then. That initial scene (I prefer the original cut for that particular scene) in the Shire is perfection and I just want to live in it forever.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:36 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]

Gentle citizens I would like to offer Duck Soup.....what? I give you an offer and you don't accept it?? Go! And never darken my towels again!!
posted by storybored at 9:56 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]

Margin Call has been for years the film I put on when I just want to relax and decompress. I have no idea why.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:56 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Just based on their constant presence on stations like TBS on a lazy Sunday afternoon back in the 90s, mine are The Jerk and Smokey and the Bandit.
posted by hwyengr at 9:59 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I also love pretty much anything shot in three-strip Technicolor. Singin' In The Rain, Easter Parade, The Red Shoes, you name it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:09 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Go! And never darken my towels again!!

Of course, you know this means war!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:11 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

A Room With A View, people. it's so delightful.
posted by supermedusa at 10:19 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

-Female gaze!
-I put a curse on that plane!
-also basically every line of dialogue
-Everything done, said, or gestured by Olympia Dukakis
posted by emjaybee at 10:20 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

The Spanish Prisoner, as much for the soundtrack by Carter Burwell, as the plot holes and ham acting.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:21 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

When Harry Met Sally
Bring It On
All Marvel films
posted by double bubble at 10:24 AM on May 23

Barry Lyndon
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:35 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Mine is "You've Got Mail." Yes, I know it's catfishing and negging. I do not care.

The problem with You've Got Mail is that Meg Ryan owns a small, local, independent bookstore that is forced to go out of business because of the new chain mega-bookstore and then (because of product placement) she spends the whole movie drinking coffee at Starbucks instead of at a small, local, independent coffee shop.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:40 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]

both are new, but anyway i find myself constantly rewatching once upon a time in hollywood and portrait of a lady on fire. i'd add the favourite, but there's nothing comfortable about it.
posted by sapagan at 10:45 AM on May 23

My Favorite Year. "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!"
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:46 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

The Graduate? Huh? It’s an excellent picture, but it’s one of the bleakest movies I’ve ever seen. The ending alone makes me want to slash my wrists.
posted by holborne at 11:05 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Competence porn for me. The Equalizers, The Bournes and Sneakers.
Also most things by Shane Black and the McDonagh brothers.
Perhaps I just like Brendon Gleeson because I re-watch the Edge of Tomorrow a lot.
posted by fullerine at 11:45 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Seconding 10 Things I Hate About You
posted by aclevername at 11:52 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Radio Days definitely counts for me. Hannah and Her Sisters I find more puzzling. It's good, but he's done better (Crimes and Misdemeanors), neither of which I'd consider a comfort watch. Except for maybe I recently rewatched Small Time Crooks and found it delightful, perhaps because I'd managed to somehow forget most of it after it came out, and find it fits the bill.

Which leads me to a wonderful actor who appeared in the latter, Elaine May, possibly most infamously remembered for a notorious turd she wrote and directed. But she also wrote and/or directed some real gems, including a comfort film of mine, The Heartbreak Kid, starring the recently passed Charles Grodin. It's a bleak comedy somewhat in the vein of The Graduate, IMO (in which May had a bit part).

In keeping with those times, another great comfort movie of mine is Taking Off, from 1971. Which starred Buck Henry (who co-wrote The Graduate, which was directed by Mike Nichols, who was a comedy improv partner with the aforementioned Elaine May).

A different flavor of comfort movie of mine, since I was a little kid, is the 1950s sci fi classic, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, an earlier work prominently featuring the special effects of the late Ray Harryhausen. I love all the movies he worked on, but this one always stands out for me.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:54 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Strictly Ballroom. I watched it when I was in high school or early college, and it was a perfectly ridiculous dance movie that set me on my road to loving all dance movies. The scene when they are dancing on the rooftop to Time After Time.... I think I am going to find my copy (I bought it on DVD guys!) and watch it again.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:19 PM on May 23 [18 favorites]

I'm sorry. No Who Framed Roger Rabbit, for reals? I'm living on a different planet than these people.
posted by potrzebie at 12:28 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]

But always, strictly ballroom.
posted by BeeDo at 12:37 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


“What’s the number to the phone in my car?”
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:46 PM on May 23

-I put a curse on that plane!

I see a wolf in everybody I ever met and I see a WOLF in YOU.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:46 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

No Ocean's 11?!? You just slip into it so smoothly, and it does all the work for you.
posted by praemunire at 12:57 PM on May 23 [9 favorites]

And no The Thin Man? Geez, people, do you hate fun or what?
posted by praemunire at 12:59 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I think half the reason is that I watched all of the making of content on the special edition boxes and so every time I watch it I'm just overwhelmed by all the care and attention that went into making those films.

Also, Indiana Jones 1 and 3
posted by Reyturner at 1:07 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Anything by Mel Brooks.
posted by lock robster at 1:21 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Bull Durham: “Well, candlesticks always make a nice gift”

The Great Muppet Caper: “There’s a pig climbing up the side of the house.”

Chef: “ At Chef Carl Casper, I would rather have you sit on my face after a brisk walk on a warm day than suffer through that fucking lava cake again."

Strictly Ballroom: “Son, can I bend your ear for a tick?”

Anything with Queen Latifah
posted by epj at 1:23 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

I could list a lot of movies that feel like a sort of emotional home base for me, most of them corny 80s sci fi. Maybe that very reason, the movie that has worked the best to comfort me when I'm feeling down is Galaxy Quest. A dorky balm for my weary soul.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:29 PM on May 23 [13 favorites]

We have watched "To Catch a Thief" "Rear Window" and "North by Northwest" about 100 times since 2016.

Pure soothing relaxation.
posted by nothing.especially.clever at 1:41 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Usually Withnail & I, but lately I’ve rewatched Tenet a couple times.

Once you’ve sorted the nonsense of the plot out with the first viewing you can sit back and more properly enjoy Pattinson’s wizened aristo-MacGyver while John David Washington looks impossibly cool as he beats the shit out of bad guys. Also the soundtrack is lots of fun.
posted by hototogisu at 2:10 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

The comments on the article are probably the most pleasant internet comments on a newspaper article ever. Also, someone mentioned 13th Warrior, which, yes. As I’ve said elsewhere here, it’s the best Dungeons and Dragons film ever made, from the raucous “forming of the party while drunk at a tavern” to the characters whose classes and levels are almost nakedly apparent (it’s a mid-level quest, everyone is between say lvl 6-8, with Bulvar maybe being 9 or 10, and Ibn being a lvl 4 bard at best), to the best Conan the Barbarian feeling sword and high fantasy committed to film since, well, Conan. Can’t recommend it enough.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:48 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]

As there's a small cadre who chime this in for these threads and since it's a beautiful work: The Straight Story
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 3:29 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Well, I love a lot of the films listed, but the two movies that immediately spring to mind that I can watch over and over and that induce a strange euphoria in me are Grand Budapest Hotel and Fury Road.
posted by Grangousier at 3:35 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Clueless and The Princess Bride are the two on the list that do it for me. Apart from that I am partial to the Ken Branagh Much Ado About Nothing, and Mallrats, which I always refer to as my favourite flawed foolish comfort film. Those latter two have their problems but I'm able to overlook them.

The other comfort films I crave are musicals where I can sing along to most of the songs! For me they're Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Chicago, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and My Fair Lady.
posted by andraste at 3:44 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I would perhaps add Harvey...
posted by jim in austin at 4:05 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

The Castle
posted by snwod at 4:30 PM on May 23

Royal Tenenbaums for sure, along with Blues Brothers, 2001, The Hudsucker Proxy, Totoro, and Starcrash.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:34 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Oh, and Buckaroo Banzai!!!!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:35 PM on May 23 [10 favorites]

Stranger Than Fiction
White Christmas
and Moonstruck
posted by amelliferae at 5:33 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

We had the chance but we were scared. We walked away. We lived our lives in fear!

Best moment in cinema.
posted by BeeDo at 5:48 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

'Withnail & I' starts out as a comedy, and one of those rare films that actually captures the real sense of struggling artists existing in late 1960s culture, as opposed to many fake versions in popular media.

But... that final scene is utter heartbreak. Knowing that your dreams are finally crushed, along with envy and unrequited love for your best friend, who is now gone...
posted by ovvl at 6:14 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Spirited Away
The Fifth Element
The Incredibles [which has not an ounce of fat on it.]

And if for some reason I feel a need to have my heart strings pulled, like 'Right now!':

posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:19 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

(Oh, and in the 'heart strings pulled category' I'd probably also add 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' but the weeping comes at the end. Sometimes a good cry is just the comfort I need.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:22 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

A League of their Own is excellent sick-day fare, and I think hasn’t been mentioned yet.
posted by janell at 6:23 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

mine are The Jerk and Smokey and the Bandit.

Is there any malady the presence of Bernadette Peters won't soothe? (ok, just talking about the former)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:33 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Cold Comfort Farm. Young Frankenstein. And Bullets over Broadway, were I still watching Woody Allen movies.
posted by WhenInGnome at 6:50 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Glad, and a little shocked, to see that Terminator 2, my #1 comfort film, made the list. (Second is Aliens.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:31 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Agree wholeheartedly with A League of Their Own and School of Rock, but for me the ultimate comfort movie is Babe.
posted by otters walk among us at 7:42 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I love From up on Poppy Hill. I find there is a subgenre of movie, derided for not having a strong plot, that really hits the spot for me. Hail Caesar! was another one of those.

Bibi Gyaru is another great quiet and easy movie.
posted by that girl at 7:45 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Strictly Ballroom has come with me and comforted me across five continents and nearly thirty years. It is joyous and heartbreaking and hilarious and I am so glad that so many other MeFites treasure it as well.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 7:45 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Perhaps I didn’t read closely enough, but could there really be no Julie Andrews in that list? Mary Poppins, people!!
posted by Sublimity at 8:04 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

For me it's indian blockbuster cinema that hits the spot for comfort watching and big emotions that gets a satisfying catharsis from me. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is a definite mainstay (though these days i get more kick with the queer reading that it's a displaced fantasy of a gay man), though since late last year it's Baahubali hands down -- i guess i needed some evil rulers getting their retribution somehow.
posted by cendawanita at 8:04 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

I saw the US premiere of Strictly Ballroom at a festival. It was screened outside. Afterwards, a bunch of the audience went into streets to dance. That’s interactive cinema!

Glad to see Destry Rides Again make the list. There is comfort in the ease and humor of the film.

I would also say a Preston Sturges movie would make my list. But I’m partial to movies from the 30’s and 40’s.
posted by Rashomon at 8:06 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

And the really terrible Sgt Pepper movie with the Bee Gees and so many random 70's artists (I had it almost memorized when I was little).

We've seen that at MST Club!

I suppose it goes without saying for me, many Mystery Science Theater episodes are comfort food.

On the subject of Woody Allen, enough people above have already made the point that problematic faves don't necessarily make you problematic too. Woody Allen's work, and that of many others, will forever have an asterisk by them, but they're still on the list, partly because the best of them play as if the director were a better person than they are/were. (Of course, there are also works, like Allen's Manhattan, which become more creepy when viewed in context.)

I wonder if a bad person making good art ever consciously thought to themselves, "I should pretend to be someone else while making this." Like it was made out of a little piece of self-loathing, a coal burning in their soul?
posted by JHarris at 9:52 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I'm pleased to report I showed The Princess Bride to my daughter when she was about six (she's nine now) and her reaction to the movie was almost identical to the kid in the movie. "This is boring." "Is there going to be kissing?" "Do you want to stop watching?" "No, it's OK."

She also liked Big Trouble in Little China.

And she wouldn't be here if I hadn't courted my now-wife by taking her to Oakland's staggeringly beautiful Paramount Theater to see Casablanca.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:52 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

Josie and the Pussycats (2001) and Dredd (2012)
posted by mikelieman at 12:12 AM on May 24

Damn, Tokyo Story. Kudos to whoever can make that their comfort food movie, as it is quite good, but all I think about when I think of Tokyo Story is how we will all inevitably fail our parents.

On reading the thread, it turns out TheWhiteSkull already mentioned Playtime, Ohayo and From Up on Poppy Hill (I haven't watched a lot of Ozu films but of Ohayo and Tokyo Story it's definitely the quiet comedy about two kids in post-war Japan that makes it onto my personal list of comfort movies). Also, a bunch of people have already mentioned A League of Their Own and Tampopo. So I guess my contribution to the Metafilter canon is going to be The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a movie that should be terrible, is in fact terrible, and yet is still maybe my favourite Fast and the Furious movie.
posted by chrominance at 12:30 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

I love the attitude of Hackers, the warmth of Chocolat, the witchery of The Craft, and the outrageously fashionable Man from UNCLE. I love them all so much, and I've seen them so many times. But for some reason, when I'm at my most distant and ungrounded, when I'm most in need of comfort, it's Arrival (with Amy Adams) that I turn to. It's a story about staying grounded when there isn't enough time. I'm very grateful for it.
posted by Callisto Prime at 1:30 AM on May 24

Somehow Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown has always contributed to my peace of mind.
posted by Public Corruption? at 4:39 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry. No Who Framed Roger Rabbit, for reals? I'm living on a different planet than these people.

I force every new friend to watch this with me. Then I spend the entire movie trying to stop myself from talking through it. It's ... dare I say ... a perfect film?
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:33 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

A Mighty Wind forever. So many lovely details but Eugene Levy's amazing tribute to Brian Wilson gets me every time. An absolutely perfect transition from near-catatonia to fluid ease as soon whenever he gets a guitar in his hands. (That's before you get to the soundtrack, where his voice timbre goes from young-Art-Garfunkel to old-Art-Garfunkel as the fictitious date moves forward from the 60's.)
posted by range at 6:40 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

My comfort movie is Joe Vs the Volcano. Nearly every line and scene is a gem, the story is funny, and sad in the right places, and the revelation he has is great. Also the island scenes are great and love story isn't overwhelming. It also formed the basis of everything else Tom Hanks did for 20 years afterwards - just different versions of Joe vs the Volcano, often with the same cast.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:39 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]

Woody Allen's work, and that of many others, will forever have an asterisk by them, but they're still on the list

Well, except that they didn't have an asterisk next to them on the list (which all the original commenter on this topic seemed to be asking for?). Obvious what comforts different people is an individual emotional response, but the asterisk has to be explicit. And include the footnote text.
posted by eviemath at 7:41 AM on May 24

Galaxy Quest, 10 Things I Hate About You, Pleasantville, Singin’ in the Rain, both Clue and Clueless, Princess Bride, WALL-E, Labyrinth, the first Captain America movie.

Not sure if a trend emerges other than maybe good costumes?
posted by nonasuch at 8:07 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

All of the above are excellent choices and many would have been my picks as well, so digging a bit deeper into my list I'm going to mention Way Out West and Chariots of Fire as films that will always make me feel better. Plus Star Wars.

And I'm with AdamCSnider on Margin Call. Given that it's a sympathetic view of generally unsympathetic people screwing over other people, it's both compelling and easily rewatchable.
posted by YoungStencil at 8:19 AM on May 24

My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Whispers of the Heart. If I'm not comforted by the end of that triple feature, then movies weren't going to be the answer anyway.
posted by Quasirandom at 8:19 AM on May 24

Best in Show - from the point when Fred Willard begins his commentary
posted by Ber at 8:22 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

It's kind of amazing to me that I had to scroll till almost the bottom to see "Star Wars"! Perhaps the Disney ingestion of the saga has somehow sullied even the original in retrospect? In any case, Totoro and Kiki are definitely up there for me, Moana, 10 Things I Hate about You, Princess Bride - usual suspects.
posted by domdib at 9:21 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

The two I keep reaching for:

Bride and Prejudice - Jane Austen+Bollywood, what's not to like?
The Full Monty
posted by Preserver at 9:22 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Umbrellas of Cherbourg. In any situation. At any time.
posted by Harry Black Goat at 9:34 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

True Stories for me. David Byrne's friendly narrator, John Goodman's longing bachelor, all the 80s weirdness and sad pedal steel guitars...I could watch it any time, anywhere and enjoy it.
posted by lhputtgrass at 10:07 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]

Well, except that they didn't have an asterisk next to them on the list

Yeah, after I posted it I realized I should be a bit clearer there. I mean how Woody Allen movies will be remembered going forward. About movies it was once okay to love unabashedly, they all now have to be tied to that.
posted by JHarris at 10:15 AM on May 24

Any movie can be a comfort movie. It depends on when you see it. both The Secret of My Success and Silver Streak are comfort movies for me, not because of any particular quality in themselves, but because I needed them to be at one time, and watched them both repeatedly.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:57 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

There are some great movies on this list that aren't one of my comfort flicks because I don't want to see them too often, lest their magic fade due to repetition. Joe Vs. the Volcano is definitely in that category. (It made a big impression on me from the very beginning; it may have been a matter of weeks or less before I would describe myself as having a "brain cloud" that day, or saying, "I know he can get the job. But can he do the job?")
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:14 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Airplane! I've seen it countless times, and I still pick up on new jokes each time I watch.

In another time, I would have said Annie Hall. For obvious reasons, I just can't anymore.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:43 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

We call these "5 Minute Movies" in our house... if we happen upon one of them playing, it doesn't matter if it's 5 minutes in or 5 minutes til the end, we will always sit down and watch the rest.
posted by skippyhacker at 11:58 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Let out a quiet inward cheer at seeing Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on the list. Yes, it's nonsense, but it's incredibly watchable nonsense; and part of its charm is how obviously everyone other than Costner is in on the joke.

(Alan Rickman going full pantomime, of course of course; but Christian Slater's clearly having a lot of fun too.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:30 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

Spaceballs, forever and ever. Yes some of it is cringey now but “keep firing, assholes!” and the 1-2-3-4-5 combination on the air shield get me every time.
posted by ActionPopulated at 3:01 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

Did I somehow miss Steel Magnolias? Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. Also sometimes comfort is seeing a bunch of people shot in the face. Bring on The Godfathers and Goodfellas!
posted by cyndigo at 5:08 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

"Beetle breakfast? Beetle drink? Beetle... Beetle juice? Your name is Beetlejuice?"
posted by and for no one at 8:00 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Big Night.
posted by rocket at 8:56 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

MetaFilter: sometimes comfort is seeing a bunch of people shot in the face.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:50 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Stop Making Sense (I know it lacks 'plot', but I feel better when I watch it. And I watch it a lot)
The Muppet Movie

Also, Princess Bride, Python films, and all the normal gen X touchstones.
posted by DigDoug at 6:11 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

These kind of conversations have popped up many times in the last year on Metafilter and in different contexts and while I don't generally participate in them I do find them pretty interesting. The concept is a bit alien to me - I will occasionally rewatch things (especially with my son or some friends) but very rarely do I rewatch anything on my own. For me the act of watching a movie, making time and space for it and giving it my complete attention (regardless of the movie) is the comforting act. And maybe also the novelty of discovering something new. So I find it funny and interesting that something like Devil Wears Prada or Days of Heaven or Barry Lyndon or even more problematic films can be sources of comfort to someone. Its weird! But I like it! Even if I feel that there is always too little time to watch the many movies I want to watch.

So I guess if I was forced to choose something to rewatch that was watched purely for my enjoyment and comfort? Maybe Stunt Rock or Lionman or Spider Baby.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:34 AM on May 25

Thrillers don't get much thrillingy-er than All The President's Men (1976).

And on the newspaper route, The Paper (1994).

Either of these I think I could watch pretty much infinitely.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:53 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

3 Idiots, Hamlet 2, Attack the Block, Arabian Nights, Departures, Young Detective Dee and the Sea Dragon, Dirty Dancing, Durrells in Corfu, Kiss, Kiss,Bang, Bang, Ms Pettigrew lives for a day, Pirate Radio, Prince of Persia, Valerian and the city of a 1000 planets and Wet, Hot, American Summer.
All in my movie library are some kind of comfort!
posted by Mesaverdian at 3:29 PM on May 26

Oh, we could all use a little comfort now.

Dirty Dancing was never my comfort film, but it was for several loved ones, including my late sister. I guess I've probably watched it more times than the average man.

The Fifth Element has been mentioned. It's all kinds of nonsense, but lovingly crafted and endlessly entertaining. I was reminded by the comment above mine that the Valerian movie exists, maybe time to give it a chance.

I think maybe all the Studio Ghibli films qualify for me. Many, many family movie nights have been spent with home-made pizza and Ghibli on the screen.
posted by Harald74 at 2:47 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]

I go back again and again to Raoul Walsh's White Heat with James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, and Edmond O'Brien. It's the first black and white film I watched all the way through as an adult (well, college age kid) and it was certainly my introduction to loving a lot of films of the Hollywood studio era.

There's something about those forties noirs and crime dramas that I find reassuring: maybe the notion of bad guys getting their due, which almost never happens in real life?
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:59 AM on May 28

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