20. Ratatouille (2007)
Available: Disney+ (US), Disney+ (UK)
This is one vermin you’d want in your kitchen. Pixar’s trend of making the unloveable downright adorable continues in this tale of cooking and friendship. Patton Oswalt voices Remy, a culinary whiz with dreams of being a famous chef. There’s one catch: he also happens to be a rat. He relocates to the big city and finds an unlikely ally in restaurant busboy Alfredo Linguini. Together the duo churn out sensational dish after dish, drawing in the crowds to try their delectable cuisine.
Ratatouille is a sweet story that extols the virtue of friendship and how we shouldn’t judge talent based on looks. Plus: who doesn’t love a rat in a tiny chef’s hat?
19. Big (1988)
Available: HBO Go (US), available to rent on iTunes (UK)
Is '80s Hanks the best Hanks? Quite possibly. There are so many moments from Big that stand out thanks to the simple moral of the story – savour what we have in the present. It’s that concept which serves as fertile ground for some frankly *amazing* montages. When Hanks’ teen self is granted a wish to be big on a fairground machine, his life is transformed overnight when he wakes as a 23-year old. Cut to the big city living, the silly string parties, the dancing on oversized keyboards in department stores.
The glitz and glamour of adulthood is alluring; a seemingly far more exciting place to live when you’re a kid with a curfew. But the lesson in Big is a fundamental one: don’t wish your life away. Embrace today – the future will be there tomorrow, waiting for you.
18. Hugo (2011)
Available: Netflix, Direct TV (US), Available to rent on Amazon Video (UK)
Taking a pause on his love of mobsters, Martin Scorsese delves into an awe-inspiring steampunk world where truth and fiction collide. Young orphan Hugo (Asa Butterfield) lives in a 1930s Paris train station, avoiding the ire of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) while pilfering clock innards to help fix a broken automaton left by his father (Jude Law).
Hugo makes a friend in Isabelle (Chloe Grace-Moretz) whose father is none other than Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley) – a fictional take on the early motion picture pioneer. You’ll fawn over its lush visuals, yet it’s the importance of helping others that underscores Hugo, which is a beautiful ode to the art of movie-making. Or, as Melies puts it: how the art of film is itself, the invention of dreams.
17. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1985)
Available: Netflix (US), NowTV, SkyGo (UK)
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Some choice words of advice from the ‘80s most carefree teen. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is for every person on the planet who doesn’t want to go to work. Ferris’s devil-may-care attitude is one that’s endured because his heart’s in the right place all along. He pulls his girlfriend out of school, sure, but by enlisting his best friend Cameron into the scheme he forces the gangly youth to confront his biggest fear.
But it ain’t all sober life lessons. The film’s a hoot from start to finish, thanks to writer-director John Hughes’ panache for crafting characters so achingly true to life. Ferris’ sister Jeanie and Principal Rooney, whose efforts to expose his lies are thwarted at every turn, generate much of its comedy. Rooney’s secretary Grace is, however, the film’s MVP when it comes to sight gags and one-liners.
16. Clueless (1995)
Available: Pay to rent on Amazon Video (US), Netflix, NowTV, SkyGo (UK).
The teen flick against which every new teen flick will forever be measured. Alicia Silverstone stars as Beverly Hills brat Cher, who discovers she's clueless in matters of the heart despite her like, totally awesome fashion sense. Director Amy Heckerling's film is still stupidly witty and hasn't aged a day, even though it's over twenty years old.
A hilarious, heartfelt glimpse into growing up, it’s made all the more delightful thanks to Silverstone’s turn as Cher. Her bright, shiny point-of-view may seem ditzy yet she’s anything but. She cares about her family, her friends, her environment, and is always willing to divert her sunny optimism to those less fortunate. It’s easily one of the funniest AND smartest teen movies ever made that’ll make you laugh and want to be kinder. We hope not sporadically.
15. Groundhog Day (1993)
Available: Netflix, Showtime (US), Netflix, NowTV, SkyGo (UK)
Living the same day over and over is a plot device seemingly yanked from a Stephen King story or a Twilight Zone episode. In the hands of Harold Ramis, it’s transformed into a warm-hearted comedy that features Bill Murray's finest role. It’s Murray who’s the victim of the time loop, as disgruntled weatherman Phil Connors.
Groundhog Day simply wouldn't have its classic status without his performance that wrings laughter and poignancy out of his predicament. His mounting frustration with the niceties of small-town living serves as an endless well of amusement. Instead of taking the easy option of undoing Phil’s predicament when he falls in love, the film avoids that obvious syrupy solution and takes a much more interesting path: Connors’ only way out of this is for him to dedicate his time to becoming a better person.
14. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Available: Hoopla, MaxGo, DirectTV (US), rent from iTunes (UK)
A heartwarming story of friendship told through the rose-tinted glasses of time - what’s not to love? Cinema Paradiso opens on a prominent film director (Jacques Perrin) looking back on his life. The remainder of the movie is told mostly through flashbacks where we learn of the fledgeling bond between young Sicilian scamp Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) and his local cinema’s projectionist, Alfredo (Phillippe Noiret). Their relationship forms the core of the story as Salvatore becomes enchanted by motion pictures, learning of their power to affect audiences.
Both an ode to friendship and that shared love of movies which binds us together, we challenge you to not bawl your eyes out when Alfredo’s parting gift to Salvatore is revealed.
13. Working Girl (1988)
Available: HBO Now, HBO Go (US), available to rent on Chili, Amazon Video (UK)
The '80s – the era where poofy hair and shoulder pads were seen as the cutting edge of fashion, and quick-witted best friends were the only friends worth having. Working Girl makes great use of all these elements, a true product of its era that's managed to stay funny and warm nearly thirty years later.
Melanie Griffiths stars as Tess McGill, a young go-getter keen to make her mark on the business world by masquerading as her boss Katherine - played by an acerbic Sigourney Weaver - who's out sick. Tess takes risks, she busts balls. You'll probably fall in love with Joan Cusack as Tess's smart-mouthed pal, and wonder why she's not been given more roles like this over the years.
12. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988)
Available: Starz (US), available to rent on Google Play, Rakuten (UK)
Back when it was super-hip for guys to expose their midriffs, and to replace vowels with similar-sounding consonants, we had Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. It's not just a tale of two teenagers who travel through time to get help from historical figures for a school report. It is that, yes. Really it's a teen comedy that went against the grain of its contemporaries, the preppy John Hughes movies of the eighties.
See, Bill and Ted don't possess Ferris' cunning, or the self-awareness of those Breakfast Clubbers, which is why they're being chosen to save mankind makes the film like, totally funny, dude. Nearly thirty years later their mispronunciation of Socrates is still one of its most hilarious moments alongside their chosen maxim we should all strive to live by: “Be excellent to each other.”
11. Chef (2014)
Available: To rent on Redbox, Amazon Video (US), Amazon Prime Video (UK)
What do you do when your professional reputation goes up in flames after a bad review? Simple: start an online flame war with the critic. That's what kicks off the journey of Carl Casper, a chef who quits his L.A. restaurant gig and heads back to his hometown of Miami to restart his career.
Jon Favreau produces, writes, directs and stars, bringing plenty of heart and warmth to this foodie parable about rising up to embrace new things: that involves a reinvention with a battered old food truck. Chef will have you either, a) Googling where to find your nearest delicious, mouth-watering cuban sandwich, or b) seriously considering opening a food truck and driving it cross country with your best friends.