One of the most enjoyable ways to spend a high is watching a good movie or two, but there’s always a problem: as soon as you’re ready to get nestled in with a good flick, you’re confronted with endless lists and menus of things you could watch—and often the choices aren’t great. Netflix alone has almost 4,000 titles, Disney+ has every movie you remember from when you were a kid, and there are thousands more on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock, and the rest. Instead of spending time enjoying a film, you have to scroll and click, making countless decisions about streaming platform, genre, length—it quickly becomes a chore instead of something fun.
We love movies, and we especially love watching movies when we’re lifted. Since each of our strains produces a clear and well-defined mood, we thought we’d make life easier for everyone by putting together a list of some great movies to pair with each mood.
Mad Max: Fury Road is cinematic story-telling at its finest. Its fast pace never lets up for a minute, and the story is conveyed almost entirely without dialogue. Mad Max: Fury Road is only a loose sequel to the Mad Max series—Tom Hardy plays Max, and that’s about the only connection—and focuses instead on the daring escape attempted by Imperator Furiosa to save five women from a fate worse than death. This is a movie that will get you revved up for whatever comes next.
Speaking of adrenaline-fueled heart-thumping thrill rides, Run Lola Run asks: what if you only had twenty minutes to come up with $100,000? Lola, played by Franka Potente, races through Berlin, trying everything she can think of to find the money before a group of criminals has no recourse but to execute her boyfriend. Stuck in a time loop, Lola tries gambling, theft, and armed robbery in an attempt to save him, and you’ll be hanging on your seat every second.
So, you want excitement, you want energy, but maybe you want to avoid being trapped in such existential stakes. Tropic Thunder has danger, excitement, and explosions—but also has a great sense of humor about it. This movie is so funny, it starts with four imaginary commercials/movie trailers that make you feel like you’ve already seen three movies by the time it really gets going. Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Brandon T. Jackson lead a platoon of actors through a Vietnam-era adaptation of the fictional memoir, Tropic Thunder, and everything goes off the rails before it’s even begun.
Amélie plays like a window into someone else’s life for an hour and a half, and the life it depicts is full of little pleasures and no small amount of whimsy. There’s something so pleasant about French too, we highly recommend watching with subtitles instead of dubs. Chill out in Paris as Amélie works to unravel the little mystery that falls into her lap and enjoy the stream-of-consciousness storytelling as it moves in and out throughout the world.
This movie is so entrancing you might forget you’re even watching a movie and just let your mind give itself over to daydreaming. Samsara is mesmerizing, beautiful, and full of striking music that will let you sit back and contemplate the mysterious splendor of our world. There’s no dialogue, no plot, just serene meditation for an hour and forty-five minutes. “Samsara” is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life.”
There may not be a better feel-good movie than Paddington, regardless of your age. Based on the books by the same name, Paddington tells the story of a family who meets a talking bear seeking a home with a tag that reads, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” After agreeing to host the bear for one night, the family quickly learns that they may have bitten off more than they can chew. It’s fun, lively, and guaranteed to leave you smiling.
If you like to drift off to sleep with swirling visuals and introspective philosophical questions, Waking Life will have you wondering what’s real until you wake up in dreams of your own. The entire film was painted by digital artists, drawing stylized animation over the frames of the live-action raw footage to recreate the effect of wandering between realities.
This classic 20th Century Disney film is a serenade for the senses, consisting of several ambitious enterprises to animate what the mind’s eye “sees” responding to classical music. We can neither confirm nor deny the influence of cannabis on the result; however, we will loudly proclaim its virtues as a companion to the dreamy state often induced by marijuana.
Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully oil-painted feature-length film. Using a similar rotoscoping technique as Waking Life but completely analogue, it achieves a level of transportive immersion that is impossible to replicate, realizing the full potential of the animated medium. Loving Vincent has a slow, deliberative pace, based on the events of Vincent van Gogh’s life, and its visual aesthetic is directly inspired by his paintings—sometimes even including reproductions as the backdrop.
Immersive, contemplative, and imaginatively scored, The Fountain is full of long lingering visual effects that let your mind wander wherever it wants to. If you choose to keep it in the foreground, The Fountain asks tough questions about purpose, relationships, and relevance in the face of unrelenting time. It follows three stories through the past, present, and future, as mere mortals struggle with the implications of their one feeble shot at existence.
The great thing about The Lord of the Rings is that there’s three of them, so you can run the trilogy in the background and have cinematic company for the entire day—especially if you watch the extended editions. The premise is simple: an evil dark lord has returned to power, and there’s only one way to stop him: Frodo must carry the One Ring into Mordor and cast it into the fire of Mount Doom. Soon, his journey involves all the peoples of Middle Earth as they work toward—or against—his goal.
No one does animation better than Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, and Spirited Away is a gorgeous, arresting experience that’s the perfect companion to any creative spark. Chihiro finds herself trapped in a world of spirits and her parents transformed, powerless to leave. She has to adapt to the new rules of this fantastical reality and find a way to break the curse preventing her family from leaving.
If you’re already feeling the vibe, Dazed and Confused is a perfect companion piece to getting lifted. It takes place over the course of a single day at a small high school in 1976, following a group of seniors and a group of freshmen as they navigate the last day of school before summer vacation. It all culminates in a life-changing party under the stars for everyone involved.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may just be a perfect movie. It’s certainly the best comic book adaptation that makes you feel like the pages are flipping right in front of your eyes. Into the Spider-Verse is a bright, musical, energetic romp through the jungle of life’s big questions like, why am I here? What’s important to me? What am I supposed to do? For a superhero movie, there’s an incredible amount of artwork and heart on display here, challenging everyone to tap into their inner Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, or Spider-Ham.
Although it’s hard for stoner comedies to age well, The Big Lebowski takes things to a different level. Jeff Bridges plays the pot-smoking, White-Russian-Drinking hipster who just wants to go bowling with his friends. Due to a case of mistaken identity, he gets entangled in a series of capers enacted by unscrupulous individuals who want to use his laissez-faire attitude for their own selfish purposes.
Big is a classic comedy from the 80s that features Tom Hanks as a kid who’s stuck in a grown-up’s body. At first, it’s a dream come true—he can go wherever he wants, stay up late, and gets a job developing toys—but the realities of adulthood remind him that there are many great things about growing up. Big delivers big smiles and a few laughs, and is one of those movies that only seems to get better with age.
With a little more heart, Little Women tells the story of four sisters trying to make their way in the world during the years after the Civil War. Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo each have their own passions, ambitions, and desires, brought to life by the talented actresses Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, and Saoirse Ronan.
This movie has all the feels in one place, combined with eye-popping visuals and an uplifting soundtrack. Coco follows Miguel and his family’s relationship with heritage. Miguel wants to be a famous mariachi, but his family has a strict ban on music after his great-grandmother Coco’s father abandoned her as a child in pursuit of fame and fortune. After getting trapped in the afterlife, Miguel seeks his great-great-grandfather to try to put things right.