Skip to content

The best comfort films to watch when starting university

Films are the best remedy for all overwhelming feelings, and I've put together a list of my top picks for comfort films that you can watch whilst you ease into university life.

By Alannah Mylechreest, Second Year, English and German

If you've recently moved away from home to university for the first time you may be feeling all kinds of emotions - excited, nervous, lonely, homesick. Films are the best remedy for all these overwhelming feelings, and I've put together a list of my top picks for comfort films that you can watch whilst you ease into university life. They're perfect to view either by yourself as you settle into your new room, or with your flatmates as a bonding experience!

Groundhog Day (1993)

Feel-good classic comedies make for excellent comfort films, and Groundhog Day is one of the best examples. The film follows weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray), who is covering the Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and wakes up one morning to find he is experiencing the previous day all over again. As he struggles to find a way to escape the time loop, Phil's cynical attitude changes, and he learns to live his life to the fullest.

Murray is naturally hilarious, particularly with his deadpan delivery, and Andie MacDowell also shines as the loveable romantic interest Rita. They say laughter is the best medicine, so give Groundhog Day a try if you want a distraction from any homesickness.

Courtesy of IMDb

Monsters University (2013)

Childhood favourites are perfect to rewatch when you're feeling a little homesick, and Monsters University in particular is a relevant and relatable watch when moving away to university for the first time. Serving as the prequel for the beloved Pixar classic Monsters, Inc. (2001), the film follows Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) attempt to survive their first year of college. The film deals with the difficulties of making new friends and feeling like you need to fit in, the stresses of academic pressure, and the struggle to find your own place in the world - something all students have dealt with at some point.

Although the University of Bristol doesn't have a Scare Games, it's always good to remember that there are hundreds of different clubs and societies to join at uni. And who knows, maybe like Mike and Sulley, you could meet some friends for life!

Paddington 2 (2017)

The film version of a warm hug, Paddington 2 is best viewed with a hot mug of tea and a marmalade sandwich in hand. You don't necessarily have to have seen Paddington (2014), just simply know that the eponymous Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is an adorable bear cub from Peru that the Brown family finds in Paddington train station and adopts as one of their own.

Whilst searching for the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's birthday, Paddington is framed for robbery, and his community bands together to bring justice. At one point Paddington 2 was the most reviewed film at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and with many shots of a picturesque and idyllic London, accompanied by Dario Marianelli's quirky soundtrack, it's easy to see why.

Paddington's consistent positive outlook is inspiring, and he spouts many wise aphorisms over the course of the film. There are also so many hilarious moments, particularly during encounters with the prison's chef Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson) or the once-beloved actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). That being said, I challenge you not to be weeping at some point during this film!

Courtesy of IMDb

Ponyo (2008)

The colourful world of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films makes for excellent escapism, and if you've already watched My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004), I'd suggest giving Ponyo a try. This heartwarming tale of friendship details the relationship between the magical goldfish-turned-human Ponyo (Yuria Nara, Noah Cyrus in the English-language version), and the five-year-old boy Sōsuke (Hiroki Doi, Frankie Jonas in the English-language version). Like all Studio Ghibli films, the animation is simply gorgeous, and if you're looking for a bit of joy, you'll definitely find it when you see how adorable Ponyo is!

Legally Blonde (2001)

If you're in need of some motivation at the start of a new academic year, then Legally Blonde is the best solution - at least when it comes to films. Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has fierce drive and determination to get into Harvard Law School, and subsequently be top of the class, in order to show up her former boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis).  It will probably make you want to crack open a textbook and start studying. Furthermore, the abundance of pink in practically every other shot is certain to wash away any feelings of sadness.

Courtesy of IMDb

The Sound of Music (1965)

All in all, the best comfort films are deeply personal, ones that you have watched so many times you could recite the script by heart. For me that would have to be Robert Wise's adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic 1959 musical The Sound of Music. Free-spirited postulant Maria (Julie Andrews) is sent to look after the seven children of the widowed Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), and helps to bring joy and music back into all of their lives, including the Captain's.

Even if you've never watched the film before, you'll probably be familiar with many of its musical numbers, such as 'Do-re-mi', 'My Favourite Things' or 'Edelweiss'. Seeing Maria stride through the gorgeous Austrian hills in the gorgeous springtime can also be a welcome distraction as winter draws closer.

Courtesy of IMDb

Featured Image: Corina Rainer / Unsplash

What is your favourite comfort film to watch?