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Best Feel-Good Movies to Watch This December if You Don’t Celebrate the Holidays

‘Feel-good December movie’ doesn’t have to mean ‘holiday movie.’

Five Great Feel-Good Movie

With December finally here and general merriment in the air, it can feel like everyone in the world has something to celebrate. This can be especially hard if you’re someone spending the winter holidays alone this year, or if you’re someone who doesn’t celebrate them. And while it can be nice to sit down and watch a feel-good movie during a cold winter’s night, it can be annoying when it seems like every movie out there either features jolly Kris Kringle or gifts under a tree. 

But never fear, Tilt is here, and we’ve got five feel-good movies to watch this December if you don’t celebrate the holidays. 

Ice Age

5. Ice Age (2002) 

Written by Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, and Peter Ackerman 
Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha 

While you might not expect a movie about talking prehistoric animals to kick off this list, we at Tilt like to be unpredictable. Ice Age follows the story of Sid (John Leguizamo)—a ground sloth—and Manny (Ray Romano)—a woolly mammoth—as they try to return a neanderthal baby to his now-abandoned village. Along the way, they cross paths with Diego (Denis Leary), a smilodon (aka. sabre-toothed tiger) who convinces them he’s going to help them track down the neanderthal camp. Unfortunately, Diego is on orders to return the baby to his pack and leads Sid and Manny to where the rest of the smilodons are waiting. Along the way, he has a change of heart, becomes genuine friends with his travelling companion, and helps save the day. The movie ends with the baby being returned to his father, and the animals travelling off together. The movie is fun and lighthearted, while still dealing with some pretty heavy themes. It’s also a great reminder that family doesn’t have to begin and end with blood. 

Bridget Jones's Diary

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) 

Written by Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis 
Directed by Sharon Maguire 

Before you scroll to the next item on this list (since Bridget Jones’s Diary does, technically, have moments rooted in holiday festivities), hear us out! Even though this movie opens with her going to a New Year’s party and features a prominent shot of a Christmas sweater, the focus is on Bridget (Renée Zellweger) getting her life together and finding the right partner for herself. Although there are some problematic elements to this movie (namely a woman being shamed into changing her life, losing weight, and thinking she needs a man to be happy), it’s still a cute romantic-comedy that’s just funny enough that we’ll let these problems slide (or, at the very least, try not to dwell on them). The narrative follows Bridget as she tries to get herself a new job, dates her coworker named Daniel (Hugh Grant), and then falls in love with the man she initially couldn’t stand, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). And yes, before you ask, the movie is absolutely a reimagining of Jane Austin’s 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice

Frozen

3. Frozen (2013) 

Written by Jennifer Lee 
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee 

While you might be tired of hearing Idina Menzel belting “Let It Go,” it’s impossible to get tired of this feel-good Disney movie (unless you have kids, in which case all bets are off). The movie follows the story of two sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), who have been living in isolation from the outside and from each other (a choice Elsa makes after nearly killing her sister with her ice powers). While Elsa is hesitant to be around people, Anna is excited that her sister’s coronation has brought so many visitors. Before the big event, Anna goes into the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana) and the two of them fall head over heels for each other. Elsa gets mad when Anna says she’s going to marry the prince she hardly knows, accidentally unleashes her powers on the citizens of Arendelle, and runs away. It’s then up to Anna to find her sister, which she does with the help of a reindeer named Sven, a sentient snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), and a man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, Sven turns out to be a bad guy, Anna is encased in ice, and things look pretty grim. But don’t worry, this is Disney, and the story has a happy ending that relies on the true-love siblings share. It’s a really fun movie, has a great message about family, and was a fun take on traditional princess tropes in animated films.

Groundhog Day

2. Groundhog Day (1993) 

Written by Danny Rubins and Harold Ramis
Directed by Harold Ramis 

For Phil Connors (Bill Murray), the only thing worse than having to spend a day in Punxsutawney covering Groundhog Day is having to repeat that day for years. This is the premise of 1993’s Groundhog Day, in which this crotchety weatherman is forced to relive the day over and over and over again. Although he rebels against his time loop by killing himself, killing the groundhog, and being an *ss for the first few months (maybe years), he eventually takes on the role of a benevolent god who uses each day to improve the lives of those around him. He also spends the time trying to get his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell), to sleep with him. Although this begins with him tricking her and studying her behaviour day after day, his attraction turns into love for her and develops into a tender semi-relationship. (Although, for reference, yes, this is a super creepy thing for him to do and is not remotely romantic by our standards.) The movie has a happy ending for everyone involved as Phil learns what it means to be a good man and Andie realizing that there’s more to the seemingly superficial weatherman than meets the eye. (Or at least there is after the ten-year cycle he spends in Punxsutawney.) 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) 

Written by John Hughes 
Directed by John Hughes 

If you thought this iconic ’80s director only made coming-of-age tales for teenagers, guess again. Hughes gives us one of the best feel-good December movies around with the side-splittingly funny Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The movie follows the misadventures of Neal (Steve Martin) trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving, which is only two days away. Unfortunately for him, the planes, trains, and automobiles he keeps taking to get home have a bad habit of breaking down on him and his travelling companion, Del (John Candy), who’s also trying to get home for the celebration. The movie ends with them arriving at their destination two days late, and Neal inviting Del to celebrate with him and his family when he discovers Del is a widower and has nobody to come home to. Although this movie does, technically, involve the celebration of a holiday (albeit not one celebrated in December), the focus of the movie is on the growing friendship between the two men and the empathy they develop for each other along the way. It’s a heartwarming, hilarious, and thoughtful movie, and is absolutely worth checking out this December. 

Written By

Caitlin Marceau is an author and lecturer living and working in Montreal. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and spends most of her time writing horror and experimental fiction. Her collections, "A Blackness Absolute" and "Palimpsest", are slated for publication by D&T Publishing LLC and Ghost Orchid Press respectively in 2022. When she’s not covered in ink or wading through stacks of paper, you can find her ranting about issues in pop culture or nerding out over a good book. For more, visit CaitlinMarceau.ca.

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