When I think of fall, I think of morning walks with the crisp, autumn air and the crunch of leaves under heavy, worn-in boots. I think of chai lattes and muffins fresh from the oven, their sweet warmth permeating the kitchen. I think of slow mornings and rainy days curled up in a blanket with a book. I think of longer dinners, seasonal candles and toasted pumpkin seeds. More than anything, fall is a season of warmth — a warmth like that first time the heat kicks on, that warmth that wafts through the room, releasing the tension in your muscles as you settle into the couch.
That is autumn for me. During fall time, that is the warmth that I want to be filled with as I watch movies, sometimes with a cup of tea, sometimes with some fresh banana bread, sometimes with nothing more than a thick blanket and some friends by my side. I have never gravitated to the “spooky” side of autumn cinema. I find horror movies so anxiety-inducing, spending almost two hours sitting with my body clenched up, practically holding my breath the entire time. Instead, I want to watch movies that relax my body, make my heart feel like it’s expanding and leave me with a giddy smile on my face. I want to consume movies that exude warmth.
When I was compiling this list, I realized that there is no distinct continuity in these movies. They are pretty disparate, but they all have the prevailing feature of leaving me feeling warm, joyful and cozy. I also would like to acknowledge the lack of diversity in these movies. I find that I need to more intentionally seek out cozy movies which portray more diverse life experiences, perspectives and which are produced by more diverse creators. For now, my list consists of some nostalgic (a.k.a. old and non-inclusive) movies and a few slightly improved recommendations on the diversity front. Some are of extreme cinematography quality and others are more simple watches. Either way, I hope that you can find some warmth in this time which feels so frigid by watching one of these movies.
In no particular order …
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
Clay-mations aren’t all that strange! Directed by Wes Anderson, this movie has all the elements of a wonderful Wes Anderson film: creative shots, vintage color palettes and quirky characters. This film is hued with warm, autumnal colors and tells the seemingly simple story of a fox’s last hurrah as a seasoned bandit before settling into the responsible dad role. Seems a little absurd, but you won’t regret giving this movie a watch. It exudes that quintessential fall “warmth” with incredibly lovable characters and a surprisingly compelling plotline. Would absolutely recommend this one on those gloomier nights when you need a little pick-me-up! It’s available on Disney+ and is perfect for any fall movie night.
“You’ve Got Mail”
Moving in a completely different direction, I have to recommend this movie next. In my opinion, the peak of cozy rom-com cinema, “You’ve Got Mail” is simply one of those movies which makes you feel good. It makes you dream of cozy, locally-owned bookshops and email correspondence on bulky computer screens with that person who is just right for you. You’ve probably already seen this, but it’s definitely worth another watch whenever you want to cozy up with a blanket with a candle burning and with a long-day’s work behind you. Stream it on HBO or rent it alone. You won’t regret it!
“Remember the Titans”
Again, I’m sure you’ve already seen this. Again, I’m sure you can now see how my list is a bit all-over-the-place. However, I needed to recommend this movie. Not only does the thought of high school football always remind me of fall, but this movie reminds me of those random days in high school where we watched a movie that was loosely related to class after a hard week of exams. This is one of those movies that you’re glad to be watching, even in a hard school desk. It reminds you that in this world that seems so messy, so hateful and so broken, that there is still hope. There are still extraordinary people. There are still people with good hearts. There isn’t anything that fills me with warmth that that hope. Watch it on Disney+ soon.
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Another recommendation that doesn’t really fit in the “cozy” genre, but something I found fit my criteria is this film. Maybe it’s the setting and the morning runs. Maybe Jennifer Lawrence just gives off fall vibes. But, this movie left me again feeling that warmth. Definitely not a movie which makes you feel all gooey and lovey the entire time, but this movie has a prevailing sense of hope and absolute ownership of who these characters are. With honest characters and atypical life experiences, this movie does not at all fit into that “You’ve Got Mail” cozy category. Instead, it is one of those watches that is valuable, a bit strange and more than anything, hopeful. In that sense, it is definitely a fall watch. Available on Netflix whenever you want to watch something truly compelling.
“Edge of Seventeen”
This is one of those movies of those coming-of-age films that depicts growing up but in the most un-Netflix way, if you know what I mean — not over-simplified, not relying on character tropes and with fuller, more developed characters. This movie about finding your place and grappling with the seemingly heavy moments of growing up exudes that fall warmth and prevailing joy that I look for in my fall feel-good movies. Honest, funny and with the most adorable love interest (we love Erwin!!!), this movie is a must watch for any time of day, any occasion and any mood. Watch it on Hulu or rent it online.
I just had to add this one! As Día de los Muertos is fast approaching, I could not recommend watching this movie more. Heartfelt and heart-wrenching, this movie will make you cry ugly-tears and also leave you feel like your heart has grown twice as big. It doesn’t hurt that the music is wonderful and the characters are so loveable. You’ve probably seen it multiple times before, but watch it again! Enjoy it on Disney+.
A sweet movie about a 10-year-old in New York falling in love for the first time, this movie is just the epitome of wholesome, cozy cinema. Josh Hutcherson is adorable as the movie’s protagonist and this is just one of those movies that makes you smile. It doesn’t hurt that the movie takes place as the leaves are changing in Manhattan in the background of your simple love story. More than a childish watch, this movie will leave you feeling all the optimism and all the love! Available on Hulu or find it online.
“Bao” Animated Short
I have to end this on a short and sweet note! You may have forgotten about this Pixar short which played before “Incredibles 2” in theaters. A heartfelt story about a Chinese mother and her relationship with her son, this eight minute short wrecked me. By the end of it, I was crying ugly tears and wanted to hug my parents. An honest depiction of parent-child relationships hit home for me as an Asian-American, and I know I’ll spend far more than eight minutes rewatching and rewatching this short. See it in on Disney+ whenever you can spare a few minutes.
That’s all folks! I’m sure I am missing some incredibly cozy movies, but this list sums up what films fill me with joy and warmth. I hope you enjoy these cozy watches throughout our lovely autumn season. Gather some friends or watch alone on those chilly fall nights. You won’t regret it.