Five films to revive your spirits for 2021
There’s only so many baubles you can hang on a year like 2020. After 12 months of endless blows – from the forest fires that ravaged Australia to the pandemic that swept the globe and forced us to “cancel Christmas” (as well as a literal plague of locusts) – even the brightest of spirits are dimming this December. But don’t despair, for the cure could be as simple as sitting down on your sofa and pressing play. Here are five feel-good films which will help rekindle hope for the year ahead and restore your faith in humanity.
In true Pixar fashion, Soul takes an extremely complex existential concept and condenses it down into some cuddly wide-eyed characters that children and adults alike are sure to love. This animation, only just released on Disney+, delves into the idea of spirits and what it is that gives us that special spark. The wonderfully inventive adventure doesn’t stray away from the darkness, but with a delightful and diverse cast including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey and Richard Ayoade, it also explores how we can find the light in the smallest of moments. If you’re looking for a new lease of life, look no further than this jazzy inner-journey.
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Dickens gets a whip-smart revival in Armando Iannucci’s modern ode to the classic writer. Featuring an outstanding multicultural ensemble cast led by a captivating Dev Patel, the story swaps around the events of the novel for a more cinematic and refreshingly told tale fit for a contemporary audience. In this title Ianucci shifts away from his standard quickfire satire, instead championing the wit of Dickens himself and complementing it with expertly timed physical comedy and a huge helping of heart.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
Nothing instils a feeling of comfort quite like the smiling face of Tom Hanks. In one of his best performances to date, Hanks steps into the shoes of beloved kids TV presenter Fred Rogers, reminding all adult viewers that it’s never too late to listen and learn. Disarming cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (an equally well-cast Matthew Rhys) with his gentle optimism, the host melts away those cold barriers which we build around our emotions when we reach maturity in what feels like the cinematic equivalent to a warm hug.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
This charming Mark Twain-esque fable is clear in its moral message: true family bonds are built on something far stronger than blood. When Zak (Zack Gottsagen) – a wannabe wrestler with Down syndrome – escapes from the community centre and stumbles across outlaw Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), the two form an unlikely alliance. Well-meaning and long-suffering support worker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) catches up with the party, and the result is a touching tale of finding love and support in unexpected places.
Paddington and Paddington 2
Ok, we said five, but this pair of films are as inseparable as the two sides of the furry protagonist’s famed marmalade sandwich. These exquisitely made animations bring the duffel-coat-clad bear back to life with vivid detail and vibrant colour – as well as another brilliant cast. Whilst the first instalment introduces us to the eccentric Brown family in all their glory, the sequel outdoes itself with an unforgettable stint from Hugh Grant and a prison sequence that thaws even the coldest criminals.