50 Uplifting Movie Moments

Paths Of Glory (1957)

The Moment: The final scene in which a German folk-singer performs The Faithful Hussar and reduces Kirk Douglas’ battle-hardened regiment to tears. As a sergeant appears to announce their imminent return to the front, Douglas allows them a couple more minutes of freedom before he returns them to the hell of war.

Goosebumps or Grin? It’s an extremely affecting moment, but one too tinged with regret to produce a grin. The goosebumps on the other hand are very much in evidence.

Key Detail: The abrupt shift in the regiment’s mood as they switch from mocking catcalls to peaceful humming.

The Jungle Book (1967)

The Moment: Disney have put out a lot of classic song and dance routines over the years, but none can compete with I Wanna Be Like You for sheer joyfulness! King Louie might be a bit of a wrong ‘un underneath it all, but we’ll say this for him…the boy’s got rhythm!

Goosebumps or Grin?
Grin. Although that might fade when you realise that this will be going round your head for the rest of your day…

Key Detail: Baloo’s coconut-clad entrance is a joy to behold. Top monkey business.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

The Moment: When Cruise interrupts Renee Zellweger’s man-bashing session to tell her that she completes him, followed by her revelation that, “you had me at hello.” Okay so it’s kind of cheesy, but this was back when Cruise was charming rather than creepy, so somehow he makes it work.

Goosebumps or Grin? Chances are you’ll have been grinning for most of the film’s final reel, and there’s nothing to bring that to a halt here!

Key Detail: The sceptical onlookers who really, really want Cruise to fuck it up.

Carrie (1976)

The Moment: Having suffered years of mental abuse both at home and at school, Carrie finally enjoys a moment of happiness when Tommy leads her to the dancefloor for her first dance followed by her first kiss. Granted, the mood doesn’t last long, but for a few moments at least, it looks as if things might be on the up for our heroine.

Goosebumps or Grin? It kind of depends on whether you’ve seen it before. If not, you’ll be grinning at Carrie's good fortune, but if so, you’ll probably have goosebumps over what’s coming next…

Key Detail: “I can’t do anything,” says Carrie in a small voice. Oh but you can Dear…oh but you can.

Cool Runnings (1993)

The Moment: Just as it looks as though the unthinkable might happen, and the Jamaican bobsledders might just break the world record, one of their sled’s blades falls off, leaving them agonisingly short of the finish line. Slowly, nobly, our fallen warriors get to their feet and carry their sled across the line, to the wild applause of the gathered crowd.

Goosebumps or Grin?
Goosebumps at the applause, for definite, although their last-gasp collapse is still a bitter pill to swallow.

Key Detail: When Junior’s old man reveals his Jamaica t-shirt amid the crowd. Keep those heads held high chaps.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

The Moment: The big climax of course, from Jimmy Stewart’s manic “Merry Christmas Bedford Falls”, to the festive surprise his friends and neighbours have rustled up for him once he arrives home. Although it still irks us that that evil Henry Potter gets away scot free!

Goosebumps or Grin?
Such an overload of Christmas spirit would normally have us reaching for the sick bucket, but in Capra’s capable hands it raises a smile every time.

Key Detail: The revelation that Clarence has got his wings, signified by the tinkling of a Christmas tree bell. Pure magic.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Moment: Okay, no more Christmas ones after this, but Tim Burton’s macabre seasonal offering hits the high notes with the sequence in which Santa sets about putting right the mayhem created by Jack Skellington’s misguided exploits. His parting gift of snowfall to Halloweenland is the frosted icing on the cake…

Goosebumps or Grin?
We defy anyone to watch this without grinning their stupid heads off!

Key Detail:
The bit where Santa swaps a wizened head for a yapping puppy. Why doesn’t anyone ever buy us a claymation puppy for Christmas?

Fight Club (1999)

The Moment: The final scene in which Ed Norton (who has just shot himself, lest we forget) reassures Helena Bonham Carter that everything is going to be okay. As Project Mayhem’s demolition job explodes into life behind them, Norton tenderly takes her hand and explains that, “you met me at a very strange time in my life”. You don’t say…

Goosebumps or Grin?
It always brings us out in a soppy grin. Who knew terrorism could be so darned romantic?

Key Detail: The slow build of Where Is My Mind? by the Pixies ensures that a good scene goes down as a truly great one. Oh, and the flash-frame of a penis is also a hilarious addition!

Flying Down To Rio (1933)

The Moment: Fred and Ginger’s first collaboration hits its high point as a troupe of beautiful dancing girls perform on the wings of a plane as it flies over the exotic vista of Rio De Janeiro. A neat bit of trick photography from the award-winning Linwood G. Dunn brings this breathtaking set-piece to life.

Goosebumps or Grin? Grin. Watching this one in the middle of Winter is a sure-fire seasonal pick-me-up.

Key Detail: Allow the film’s hyperbolic advertising campaign to explain: “Sweeps of eye-staggering sensation as the Flying Armada of Beauty soars on wings of giant planes down heaven's twinkling pathways!” Yep, that pretty much sums it up!

Lost In Translation (2003)

The Moment: The point at which Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray finally kiss has to be one of the romantic scenes in movie history, particularly since their awkward initial parting at the hotel was so pregnant with things unsaid. Everything about this makes us happy, from the tender embrace to Murray’s beaming face as he returns to his cab.

Goosebumps or Grin? Grin, although this is also the point where we start to tear up…

Key Detail:
The fact that we don’t hear what Bill whispers in her ear. Speculation be damned, we don’t want to know. It’s perfect as it is.