Movies have the power to transport us to different worlds, evoke powerful emotions, and create memorable shared experiences. Embrace the magic of cinema with this list of movie recommendations for seniors!
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Movies have the power to transport us to different worlds, evoke powerful emotions, and create memorable shared experiences. Embrace the magic of cinema with this list of movie recommendations for seniors!

The definition of a "good" movie varies from person to person. Some want a happy ending, a triumph against all odds, or a lesson in spiritual values. Others want to laugh until they cry!

Fortunately, there are movies to suit all tastes. Here is a list of some feel-good movies both old and new, to enjoy with the elderly.

Old & New Movies for the Elderly

Cool Runnings (1993)
Four Jamaican bobsledders dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. Based on a true story! #comedy
  African Queen (1951)
In WWI Africa, a riverboat captain and a strait-laced missionary spend most of their time fighting each other rather than the Germans. #adventure
  Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Max and John are neighbors and former friends. Their rivalry intensifies when a love interest for both of them moves into the house across the street. #comedy
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter, an eleven-year-old orphan, discovers that he is a wizard. As he enters a world of magic, he finds trouble awaiting him. #adventure #fantasy
  On Golden Pond (1981)
A cantankerous retiree has an estranged relationship with his daughter. When he and his wife agree to care for her new boyfriend's son, an unexpected relationship blooms. #drama
  The Parent Trap (1961)
Identical twins are separated after their parents divorce. They discover each other at a summer camp and decide to switch places in an effort to reunite their parents. #comedy #family
Bright Eyes (1934)
Society snobs get more than they bargained for when they take in their late housekeeper's orphaned daughter. Shirley Temple at her best! #comedy #musical
  Walk the Line (2005)
The story of American music legend Johnny Cash and his rise to fame with hits such as "A Boy Named Sue" and "Ring of Fire". #musical #drama
  The King’s Speech (2010)
King George VI tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of a speech therapist. An extraordinary friendship devleops. #drama #history
Casablanca (1942) 
During WWII, a nightclub owner in Casablanca agrees to help his former lover and her husband get out of the country. #romance #war
  The Magnificent Seven (1960) Seven gunfighters are hired by Mexican peasants to liberate their village from bandits.
#western #thriller
   The King and I (1956)
A widowed Welsh mother accepts a job as a live-in governess and English tutor to the King of Siam's children. #musical #romance
The Pink Panther (1963)
A clumsy detective is on the trail of a notorious jewel thief planning to steal a diamond called 'The Pink Panther'. #comedy #slapstick
  A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot. #comedy #heist
  Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) An unhappy housewife befriends an old lady in a nursing home and is enthralled by the tales she tells. #drama #comedy
Shine (1996)
A gifted pianist struggles through his dysfunctional childhood. Years later, he suffers a mental breakdown but manages to return as a legend. #drama #romance
  My Fair Lady (1964)
A snobbish phonetics professor agrees to take a lowly flower girl under his care and make her presentable to society. #musical #romance
  Oddball (2015)
An eccentric chicken farmer trains his dog to protect a penguin sanctuary from fox attacks in an attempt to reunite his family and save their town. #family #adventure
The Sound of Music (1965)
An aspiring nun is sent as a governess to take care of seven motherless children. Soon her jovial and loving nature tames their hearts. #musical #family
  Billy Elliot (2000)
Little Billly's life is forever changed one day when he stumbles upon a ballet class. Unfortunately, his father things ballet is for sissies. #dance #drama
  The Odd Couple (1970)
One is neat, one is a slob. Both are divorced and need a place to stay. The arguments are endless but funny; it's like watching your parents fight. #comedy
The Princess Bride (1987)
A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love.They must battle the evils of the kingdom to be reunited with each other. #family #adventure
  Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A family decides to travel across the country when their daughter wants to participate in a beauty pageant, unaware of what the journey has in store for them. #comedy #drama
  Mary Poppins (1964)
In turn of the century London, a magical nanny employs music and adventure to help two neglected children become closer to their father. #musical #family
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) When a struggling writer meets Holly, an eccentric but beautiful socialite, he falls hopelessly in love with her. #romance #comedy   The Addams Family (1991)
When an evil doctor learns about an eccentric family's missing relative, she hires an imposter to masquerade as him so that she can loot the family. #comedy #family
  The Wizard of Oz
When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical land of Oz. #fantasy #musical

More Movies to Enjoy with the Elderly

  • Duck Soup (1933) - Comedy
  • 42nd Street (1933) - Musical
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - Musical/Drama
  • Roman Holiday (1953) - Romance/Comedy
  • Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Musical/Comedy
  • An American in Paris (1951) - Musical/Romance
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) - Musical/Romance
  • Oklahoma! (1955) - Musical/Romance
  • Gidget (1959) - Comedy/Romance
  • Some Like It Hot (1959) - Comedy
  • West Side Story (1961) - Musical/Drama
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Drama/Crime
  • Harry & Tonto (1974) - Comedy/Drama
  • All the President's Men (1976) - Drama/History
  • Annie Hall (1977) - Comedy/Romance
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977) - Drama/Music
  • Annie (1982) - Musical/Comedy
  • Tootsie (1982) - Comedy/Romance
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Sci-Fi/Family
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - Comedy/Drama
  • Out of Africa (1985) - Drama/Romance
  • Anne of Green Gables (1985) - Drama/Family
  • Groundhog Day (1993) - Comedy/Fantasy
  • Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - Comedy/Family
  • Waking Ned Devine (1998) - Comedy
  • The Full Monty (1997) - Comedy/Drama
  • Awakenings (1990) - Drama/Biography
  • Pollyanna (1960) - Drama/Family
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) - Comedy/Romance
  • Moulin Rouge! (2001) - Drama/Musical
  • Strictly Ballroom (1992) - Comedy/Romance
  • The Family Man (2000) - Comedy/Drama
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Adventure/Comedy
  • Pay It Forward (2000) - Drama/Romance
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) - Comedy/Drama
  • The Descendants (2011) - Comedy/Drama
  • Quartet (2012) - Comedy/Drama
  • Philomena (2013) - Drama/Biography
  • Wild (2014) - Adventure/Drama
  • Gran Torino (2008) - Drama
  • Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) - Drama/Family
  • The Bucket List (2007) - Adventure/Comedy

TV Shows

  • Lassie (1954-1973) - Adventure/Family
  • Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983) - Drama/Family/Western
  • Fawlty Towers (1975-1979) - Comedy
  • As Time Goes By (1992-2005) - Comedy/Romance
  • The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007) - Comedy
  • Pride & Prejudice (1995) - Drama/Romance
  • Planet Earth (2006) - Documentary/Nature
  • Downton Abbey (2010-2015) - Drama/Romance
  • Jeopardy (and other game shows) - Game Show
  • Life (BBC documentaries on nature) (2009) - Documentary/Nature

Christmas Themed Movies

  • The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Drama/Romance
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Drama/Fantasy
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Drama/Fantasy
  • White Christmas (1954) - Musical/Comedy
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) - Comedy
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Comedy
  • Home Alone (1990) - Comedy/Family
  • The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue (1996) - Drama/Family
  • Elf (2003) - Comedy/Family
  • A Christmas Story (1983) - Comedy/Family
  • It Happened One Christmas (1977) - Drama/Fantasy

Musical DVDs

  • Roy Orbison (Black & White Night)
  • Cat Stevens (Tea for the Tillerman)
  • Joe Cocker (Respect Yourself Live)
  • The Beach Boys (Lost Concert)
  • The Very Best of Richard Clayderman
  • Peter, Paul & Mary
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Camelot
  • Les Miserables
  • Cats
  • Tony Bennett (Wonderful World)
  • Luciano Pavarotti (The Duets)
  • Glen Campbell

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Comments   Post a Comment

Oliver 12th Aug 2022
Any recommendations for movies available as part of Amazon prime!? Or YouTube even. Possibly can get Netflix again.

For average 80-95 age range,. Couple 60-70

It takes an age trying to find one that's available free. and that anyone agrees on.

Far better to choose one they've not seen, I wonder, and there's less opinion attached?

I want to start up a regular weekly movie slot (UK audience), it's not been. Something ive done much before. Have struggled with decision making, and finding them!
Felecia 26th Aug 2022
Funny & touching movie was Secondhand Lions with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall. Was released @ 2003.
Debra Ferrell 22nd Feb 2022
I have shown movies monthly since starting here (Virginia), and I'm actually a Service Coordinator (versus Activity Coordinator). Discussions before and after relate to topics brought up by the movies, and the movies themselves even help with cognitive issues, memory recall, mental health/emotional health, etc.

Some of the ones that I've shown that the residents have LOVED are:
Selma (shown today)
Simon Birch (Dear Lord, they hollered laughing at this movie!)
Pay it Forward
The Blindside
Hidden Figures
The Bucket List
Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood (They LOVED this movie!)
7 Pounds
I Can Only Imagine

I have been showing movies that many may not have seen. I actually had one resident say (when I first started in 2020) "Why does everybody always try to show us movies with old people in them?" Some of her friends in the room agreed. I laughed with them and have kept that in mind every time I'm choosing movies for the month :).
Note: I work in Independent Living

Just wanted to throw a few more ideas out that have been well received here!
Susan 22nd Feb 2022 Activity Director
Hi Debra
This sounds great and a good way to do many things
You have provided some valuable information
Thanks for sharing it
Cathy 25th Jul 2020 Activity Director
I want to try Downton Abbey. Has anyone else had luck with that? The two movies they enjoyed the most were 'Yours, Mine, and Ours' with Lucille Ball. They wanted a repeat because they really liked it.
The other was "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" with Don Knotts. For some reason it really tickled their funny bone.
Janet 22nd Jul 2020 Coordinator, Adult Day Center
Old TV shows are popular in Adult Day. I have found that 'MASH' is a big favorite among women and men.
Wanda Butterfield 29th Jun 2020
Will I have access to this program including movies even thought I am located in Bermuda?
Talita 30th Jun 2020
Absolutely Wanda! This is an international community!
Linda 9th Jun 2020 Diversional Therapy Asst

Frustratingly, we can't get any of these on Netflix where we are ( Levin, New Zealand) - not a single one!
I've contacted Netflix, apparently it's just the way it is.
Talita 15th Jun 2020
That is frustrating Linda. You should be able to pickup a lot of these older movies for under $10 on dvd online or even cheaper in charity stores.
Michelle Martin 23rd May 2020
Does showing a movie to residents infringe on copyright laws?
Thank you for a great list and great ideas.
Susan 25th May 2020 Activity Director
Hi Michelle
As long as you are not making a profit or showing illegal movies it is perfectly fine to show them and doesn’t infringe on any copyright laws
Cathy 20th Jun 2020 Activity Director
My understanding regarding copyright is that the home where the seniors reside is considered a home, therefore it is legal to show films legally attained for private viewing.
Gail 12th May 2020 Extended Care Assistant
I’ve been running a movie afternoon on Saturdays with appropriate snacks and ice creams that I bring around on a trolley.
We’ve watched Paddington and Paddington 2, Ladies in Black as well as classics like Sound of Music and My Fair Lady etc. this week we will be watching the “ Oddball” movie.
We chat and reminisce about issues that come up during and after the movie.
Talita 18th May 2020
Thanks for sharing these titles Gail! Recommendations are so helpful!
Sherlene 11th Dec 2018 Activities Coordinator
Thank you for all the great activity ideas! I have a question: is showing movies not considered an activity? The reason I ask is that we have an interim administrator who has come in trying to change my Activity calendar. She said that showing a movie is not considered an activity by regulations in Va. Is this accurate information? Can someone please tell me if this is so?
Kim 18th Dec 2018 Registered Nurse
Hi Sherlene, can't speak the U.S. but in Australia they certainly are as it provides the opportunity for the Residents to reminisce , socialise and to have fun. Your interim needs to pull their head in and let you do the job your paid to do. Good luck. And at this time of year, the Home Alone movies are a hoot. Merry Christmas.
Rebecca 1st Jan 2020
Hi there- In Ohio showing a movie is an activity---FYI
Susan 1st Jan 2020 Activity Director
Thanks for the information
Movies are a good idea when you don’t have staff there
Cathy 20th Jun 2020 Activity Director
I don't know about VA but it is difficult at times to please everyone. With the isolation of Covid 19, I have used movies and even old television shows more than I used to. I know sometimes it seems so passive, but it gives residents something to do while I am doing one on one activities with residents.
Susan 22nd Jun 2020 Activity Director
Hi Cathy
You are right movies and all TV shows give the residents some thing to do
Maybe you can hand out sheets that ask about their favorite character in the movie and why and other questions about the movie or TV show
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