Put a smile on your face with one of our specially-selected feel-good films. From ’80s classics to under-seen gems, there’s plenty to keep you and your family entertained this January.
Our Little Sister (PG)
“★★★★ – An exquisite portrait of family life” – Guardian. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s beautiful and tender tale of sisterly love. Three twentysomething sisters are estranged from their parents – first their father left to live with another woman, then their mother walked out – but when their father dies they attend his funeral. There they meet their younger half-sister, which transforms all their lives.
One of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved films, My Neighbour Totoro is adored by young and old alike. Sisters Satsuki and Mei move into an old house with their professor dad to be closer to the hospital where the girls’ mother is recovering from a long-term illness. Encountering a creature who calls itself Totoro, the sisters embark on a magical adventure with woodland spirits.
“★★★★★ – A refreshing and invigorating delight” – Guardian. Kate Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan Vernon, a devilishly acerbic widow surrounded by a whiff of scandal and seeking a wealthy spouse for her daughter. Based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, Whit Stillman’s gloriously comedic period romp is overflowing with elegance and barbed wit.
Separated couple Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) take their three children to Scotland to visit Doug’s 75-year-old father Gordie (Billy Connolly), and are keen to keep their marital strife hidden so as to not upset him. Thankfully Gordie is too busy enjoying the time with his grandkids, encouraging them to have more fun and worry less. A delightful and moving home-grown comedy. Also available on BBC iPlayer.
★★★★★ – Empire. Bill Forsyth’s “timeless masterpiece” (Mark Kermode) is gloriously reminiscent of Ealing’s comedies. A young Texas oil executive is sent to a remote Scottish seaside village to arrange the construction of a new refinery. But he finds himself facing opposition from the locals. A heart-warming film about community and the pleasures of small-town life.
This gleeful French comedy comes from the same team behind 2011’s equally daft The Fairy, offering a sublime mix of surrealism and slapstick. When Canadian Fiona receives a letter from her Parisian aunt asking for help to avoid being forced into a care home, Fiona sets off for the city of light where she meets oddball Dom, falls in the Seine a few times, and tries to finds her runaway relative.
Clayton Jacobson’s hilarious Australian mockumentary stars his brother Shane as a lovable plumber. Kenny is proud of his work supplying and servicing porta-loos, despite his family’s disdain. Offered the chance to be an executive after his performance at a trade show, and keen to impress his son, Kenny has to decide whether it’s time to hang up his plunger for good.
A studio comedy for adults that stars big name actors is a rarity in recent years, but Game Night is an absolute joy – stylish, fearless and very, very funny. Max and Annie (Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams) are renowned for their ultra-competitive game nights. But when Max’s brother arrives in town offering to up the ante with a staged kidnapping mystery, things go somewhat awry.
One of the most successful Indian films of all time, this glorious comedy-drama features megastars Aamir Khan, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi. Best friends in college, Rancho, Farhan and Raju get into student hijinks while struggling with the pressure to achieve good grades. Years later and now successful, Farha and Raju go in search of Rancho who disappeared on their graduation day.
Rolf Lassgård stars as grouchy widower Ove Lindahl. Seemingly alone in the world, Ove spends his time enforcing housing association rules and planning how he is going to end his life; but he finds his misanthropic ways tested when a new family moves in next door. A bittersweet, crowd-pleasing comedy about love, heartbreak and community, based on the bestselling book by Fredrik Backman.
An absolute delight – the film equivalent of a duvet day with mugs of tea and endless biscuits… or marmalade sandwiches! Sent by his aunt from the jungles of Peru to live in London, lovable bear Paddington quickly moves in with the Brown family. But his arrival has been noticed by a rare animal collector who wants him for her latest exhibit. Also available to rent on BFI Player.
Arriving in 2018 and raising the bar for all comic book and family films, Into the Spider-Verse is a triumph of animation, character, heart and filmmaking craft. Young Miles Morales has enough problems dealing with his fancy new school, but after a chance meeting with Spider-Man and an assortment of heroes from the multiverse, mild-mannered Miles must train to become the web-slinging protector of his city.