If you’re like me, you’re probably spending most of your free time on Netflix and Disney+. After all, there’s nothing like a feel-good film to help you unwind. Especially when it’s directed by a top-notch filmmaker like Nancy Meyers or Greta Gerwig.
Female directors were unfairly snubbed at this year’s Oscars. But thankfully, our favourite streaming sites are full of uplifting and brilliantly crafted comedies, dramas and romances directed by some of the best in Hollywood – and beyond. Here are my unofficial nominations for Female-Directed Feel-Good Favourites:
The Parent Trap
When separated-at-birth twins Hallie and Annie meet at summer camp, they hatch a daring plan to switch places and reunite their parents. The Parent Trap may have misled viewers about what it’s like to live in London (if only we all had posh flats like Natasha Richardson…) But it’s a fun, family friendly classic that never grows old.
Bride and Prejudice
Bend It Like Beckham is Gurinder Chadha’s more famous feel-good film. But Bride and Prejudice is just as fun! It’s also my favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptation (sorry Colin Firth) – exchanging rural England for Amritsar, landowning gentlemen for rich Westerners and country dances for Garba. Plus, Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan stars as Lalita Bakshi, a confident Austen-worthy heroine.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
A feel-good movie night without this cult favourite? As if! California teen Cher Horowitz’s quest to become a better person – starting with adopting “tragically unhip” new girl Thai Frasier – not only gave us some memorable 90s slang. It also made plaid skirts and knee socks well-deserved wardrobe essentials.
A United Kingdom
In this uplifting period drama, Seretse Khama, the soon-to-be king of Bechuanaland (Botswana) falls in love with Ruth Williams, an Englishwoman – only to have the British and South African governments try to end their marriage. A United Kingdom is your quintessential star-crossed romance, but way better. It’s based on a true story and features David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike as the charismatic, barrier-breaking couple.
Aside from Clueless, no other Hollywood comedy defined the 90s quite like Wayne’s World. It follows two suburban metal-heads as they struggle to grow their public-access TV show without selling out. It’s also a step above your average teenage boy film, thanks to badass leading lady Tia Carrere (who plays a singer/bassist in an up-and-coming band) and badass director Penelope Spheeris (who’s famous for her 80s punk and metal documentaries).
Greta Gerwig is the coming-of-age movie master! Building off her success with Lady Bird (another must-watch), her Little Women adaptation stays faithful to the beloved story of the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – as they overcome their personal obstacles to build better lives for themselves. Filled with timeless sibling rivalry and teenage mishaps, it also features heartwarming and hilarious performances by Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothée Chalamet.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime