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The Best Cozy Movies for Every Kind of Comfort Watch

Even the most pretentious, devoted cinephiles need a day off, because life is bad and not every movie has to be so serious. While a movie is not therapy or a permanent solution when times are tough, certain films can lift your mood or, for 90 minutes to three hours and 15 minutes (Titanic’s run time), help you forget it. When I was going through my first heartbreak, a friend invited me to her apartment, where she had a bag of Taco Bell sitting next to The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD. She said, “When I’m sad, I do my favorite things.” The Nightmare Before Christmas is far from my favorite thing (I have feared stop-motion animation since I was a child), but I learned a valuable lesson: Cozy comfort movies matter, and cozy movies might seem objective, but generally, they’re subjective. Not everyone is powering up a Nancy Meyers film when they’re down, even if they should.

Cozy movies take you back to a nostalgic, significant place. They invoke feeling, magic, wonder, and memories of a better time. And sometimes they’re just colorful and cute. Or they’re movies that played on TBS every weekend when you were at an impressionable age. While The Nightmare Before Christmas didn’t mean anything to me then, it certainly does now. It reminds me of a friend who pulled me out of the dark, a friend who taught me that movies can heal. Here, in all its glory, is a comprehensive list of cozy comfort movies that span genres — from rom-coms to thrillers to high fantasy — and eras from Hollywood’s Golden Age to 2023.

Notting Hill (1999)

Notting Hill is the cozy-movie blueprint: Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, smart, funny, romantic, and expected, all while featuring a picturesque life in a charming London neighborhood. More importantly, it’s a gentle reminder that in the 1990s, it was perfectly reasonable for a man to make a living by owning a travel bookstore.

The Parent Trap (1998), or literally any Nancy Meyers film

Nancy Meyers’s first feature film transcends time and place in the cozy-movie lexicon — as does her entire filmography — in that it’s nostalgic and comforting across a span of generations, though it strikes a particular cord for millennials who grew up with star Lindsay Lohan. The Parent Trap is a visual feast, from its sunny, pastel costumes to its decadent homes (the London townhouse, the Napa Valley mansion), and reliable visual gags that haven’t aged a bit.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–3)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy sinks you into Middle Earth. While the hero’s journey about friendship, perseverance, and triumph over evil involves death, battles, and betrayals (things not necessarily associated with comfort), the films provide an escape. Mythical creatures, elf Cate Blanchett, and practical filmmaking turn the New Zealand landscape into an absorbing world that will remind you of your childhood, even if you were a fully grown adult the first time you encountered Peter Jackson’s masterwork.

Paddington (2014), Paddington 2 (2018)

Sweet and vibrant like marmalade. From cast to narrative to colorful sets and costumes, the Paddington films are relentlessly British and equally pleasurable.

Scream (1996)

Horror is an unconventional choice for a cozy film, but there’s something about Wes Craven’s Scream — featuring the best cast assembled in the ’90s — that smooths the brain while challenging it. Perhaps it’s the fresh dialogue ridden with niche pop-culture references. Maybe it’s the satirical, darkly comedic angle: It offers up tropes that unfold in the movie, which don’t make the film less thrilling but help the audience anticipate the horrors.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Eleven quirky guys. Julia Roberts. Dan Cheadle’s Irish accent. Brad Pitt eating. That ’70s Show star Topher Grace. Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson. 7th Heaven star Barry Watson. A classic. A cinematic masterpiece. An ultimate cozy movie.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Spooky but magical with original songs worthy of a Tony and a one-hour-and-16-minute run time? Fire it up the next time you’re crying and see what happens.

The Apartment (1960)

Although it is now expensive in an unreachable way, Manhattan’s Upper West Side exudes comfort. Perhaps it’s the tree- and brownstone-lined blocks and neighborhood feel. This is the setting of the equally tender and biting Billy Wilder classic The Apartment, which captures the human experience with exemplary, grounding performances from legends Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine.

Tootsie (1982)

Liz Lemon would want this to be here.

When Harry Met Sally … (1989)

Another Upper West Side entry in the cozy-movie canon! When Harry Met Sally … is obsessed with seasons and sweaters as a marker of time. The main characters take a stroll through a red-and-orange Central Park in peak fall, drag a Christmas tree on the sidewalk in the snow, eat outdoors on a sunny spring day, and wear the correct fabrics for each situation. The rom-com GOAT expertly follows all the most familiar tropes of the genre. As such, every scene is burned into the viewer’s brain, making the viewing experience — whether you’ve seen the film once or literally 158 times — a familiar escape.

Mamma Mia! (2008), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

The best to ever do it singing ABBA on a Greek island? Suddenly there is no pain.

Gone Girl (2014)

Fincher’s ****** thriller about the dissolution of a marriage — or, more specifically, about a woman who fakes her death and frames her husband, who is having an affair with Emily Ratajkowski (who is rehearsing for a production of Godspell) — is not exactly cozy, but the modern classic is a soothing rewatch due to its committed performances from leads Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck and striking supporting player Carrie ****. The dark comedy’s subversion of rom-com tropes such as the meet cute, and its division into acts, makes rewatches more rewarding as you excitedly anticipate what’s to come.

The Holdovers (2023)

Move over, Dead Poets Society. A new New England all-boys-school movie is the comfort-movie king now. The Holdovers is an instant cozy classic thanks to its snowy Christmastime New England landscapes, its period setting, and the presence of one Paul Giamatti.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Quite frankly, it’s disgusting that Joe Wright’s first feature film is so spectacular. This gorgeous adaptation of Jane Austen’s masterpiece cemented Keira Knightley’s power as a period-piece heroine and gave some of entertainment’s current VIPs a gig prefame: Carey Mulligan, Matthew Macfadyen, and Rosamund Pike are all present. (Hooting and hollering as the credits unfold is required.) Instead of focusing on how different the rituals of romance were when Austen was writing, Wright homes in on the similarities to our contemporary era, with attention to detail (the hand flex), modern filmmaking techniques (including a fluid camera and romantic lighting), and fast-paced dialogue, making the film an endlessly rewatchable modern classic.

Batman Returns (1992)

If your brain and body need a break, turn to none other than Michelle Pfeiffer’s beguiling performance as Catwoman in Tim Burton’s absorbing, quirky take on Gotham City.

Roman Holiday (1953)

It’s almost impossible to believe that Roman Holiday is Audrey Hepburn’s film debut: She has the effortless charm and skill of someone who was born in front of a camera. Roman Holiday is as sharp as it is gorgeous, with witty dialogue and clever performances that play out in a never-more-romantic Rome. Ultimately, though, as per usual with Hepburn films, it’s the costumes that make the movie. In Roman Holiday’s case, costume designer Edith Head’s stunning work makes Hepburn’s clothing a timeless and bewitching escape.

Ratatouille (2007)

Any Pixar movie (except Toy Story 3, which should come with a trauma specialist) could qualify as a cozy movie. But it’s Ratatouille’s Parisian setting — and all the food — that makes it the cozy Pixar movie.

Little Women (1994)

Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women — starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Susan Sarandon, firecracker Kirsten Dunst, ’90s heartthrob Eric Stoltz, and more — is successful as a cozy feature because it doesn’t try too hard. It’s a strict, focused, and loyal adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel that is obsessed with winter and spring in Massachusetts and benefits greatly from Thomas Newman’s light but rousing, and definitively wintry, score.

Knives Out (2019)

Sweaters, fall in New England. I’m sensing a theme.

A Philadelphia Story (1940)

The classic rom-com unites Golden Age heroes Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart in a fast-talking fest that’s rhythmic, dynamic, and uproariously funny.

Titanic (1997)

James Cameron’s disaster epic might not exude cozy on the surface: It’s a movie whose sole purpose is to depict a real-world tragedy, all while examining class. But its sweeping romance between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) pulls the audience into a fantastical narrative, and the pitch-perfect casting — from Bill Paxton to Kathy Bates to Victor Garber to the musicians — tell the story in a powerful, uplifting way that makes you feel safe and nostalgic for a groundbreaking moment in cinema history.

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