The beginning of a new year offers us a chance for a clean slate and the golden opportunity to start over. With the new day and new calendar year comes fresh perspectives, strength, and a renewed sense of purpose.
Of course, if you’ve suffered a breakup, a job loss, someone’s passing, or the financial brink, there’s also the risk that the January blues might seep in. So we pulled together a round-up of movies and TV shows that can show you how to get through it and start fresh.
After a Breakup
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
The Story: After being unceremoniously dumped by TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), struggling musician Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) takes a vacation to Hawaii to heal. Unbeknownst to him, Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new rockstar boyfriend, complicating his attempts to get over her.
The Uplift: Peter experiences a blindsiding when the love of his life ends things, and you feel his pain. But his heartbreak turns out to be a big blessing in disguise, revealing new things about himself as it nudges him to leave his comfort zone. There’s a beautiful metaphor in the film wherein Rachel (Mila Kunis) urges Peter to jump off a cliff. He can’t do it at first, but after more prompting, he finds a way to take “a leap of faith.” It’s a wake up call that as bad as it might feel right now, your future self will thank you for being brave enough to face life head-on. “Fortune favors the brave,” as Matt Damon once said.
Rye Lane (2023)
The Story: Two heartbroken 20-somethings meet cute in the gender-neutral loos of an art gallery, connect over relationship horror stories, and engage in cheeky shenanigans across the vibrant neighborhoods of South London – helping each other mend their broken hearts and restore their faith in love.
The Uplift: Love moves in mysterious ways, arriving in our lives at the most unexpected times. In this infectiously lively and heartwarming rom-com by first-time feature director Raine Allen-Miller, we’re reminded that when one door closes, another door opens…if we’re ready to accept the opportunities as they come.
Where to stream Rye Lane: Hulu and Disney+
Check out our guide to more Movies to Watch After a Breakup.
The Story: This the fictionalized tale about the creators behind the world’s first smartphone, who saw their company rise up and topple tech giants only to eventually crumble under the weight of high expectations and ruthless competition.
The Uplift: A humorous cautionary tale that’s been embraced by business school professors, tech execs, and start-up founders, BlackBerry will resonate with anyone who’s feeling down-and-out as a result of our rapidly changing world. The story follows three innovative founders whose outsized ambitions are matched by their unlikely success, as their revolutionary new device is embraced by everyone including President Obama. Skipping straight to the downside of the company’s meteoric rise, the film leaves us to piece together “what happened” in the middle while revealing how dreams can come true…but quickly turn into nightmares, especially if we can’t adapt quickly and outsmart the behemoths. In the end, it’s a lesson in how failure can be our best teacher.
Where to stream BlackBerry: Vudu.
Full Time (2023)
The Story: When mounting debts, a deadbeat ex, and a terrible commute push suburban single mom Julie (Laure Calamy) to the brink, she takes matters into her own hands to land a job interview that could turn her life around. Just when her dream job is within her grasp, a transport strike brings the city of Paris to a standstill, forcing her to go to new lengths in this French drama that feels like a frenetic thriller.
The Uplift: Full Time perfectly embodies the saying, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Julie is willing to do anything to get out of her predicament and provide a better future for her kids. But life keeps throwing more obstacles in her path, each one rooted in the realistic challenges so many of us have been facing. You might think you don’t need to watch someone endure the pile up of stresses that remind you of your worst week, but Julie finds a way to stay focused on bouncing back, and the film is ultimately a blueprint for resilience in the face of our everyday adversities.
Where to stream Full Time: Vudu
After a Loss
After Life (2020)
The Story: Tony (Ricky Gervais) is a local newspaper reporter whose life is turned upside down by the death of his wife. Angry at the world, he decides to act and say whatever he wants, believing that making everyone else’s life miserable is his superpower.
The Uplift: We all deal with loss differently, as Tony makes clear. For anyone familiar with Gervais and his humor, he’s not afraid to embrace the most boorish of characters. But watching Tony move through his grief is a window into why some people become bitter, and how that bitterness can become its own debilitating illness. It eats us from the inside out and robs us of our happiness. Finding a way to compassion, for ourselves and others, can be cathartic and therapeutic. The cantankerous Tony eventually realizes that kindness is the best remedy for his grief. Check out writer Mark Miller’s in-depth take on After Life here.
Where to stream After Life: Netflix
After Love (2023)
The Story: When Mary’s husband Ahmed suddenly dies of a heart attack, she accidentally uncovers the secret double life he carefully nurtured just 21 miles from their home.
The Uplift: You can only be betrayed by someone you trust, or worse, someone you love. But how do you mourn and honor the memory of a loved one you suddenly realize you did not entirely know? It’s a question without an easy answer, but first-time filmmaker Aleem Khan tackles it head on in After Love, a layered, restrained drama about grief, betrayal, and forgiveness. Anchored by Joanna Scanlan‘s hushed yet searing portrayal, the film reminds us that a broken heart can still find room for empathy and compassion, and that we need to be kind to ourselves; healing is a journey that starts from within. Most importantly, the film demonstrates that the highest form of love is not romance but forgiveness. Forgiving someone who hurt you is hard, but it sets you free.
Where to stream After Love: Prime Video
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (2020)
The Story: An Australian in his 20s visits his American father and two teenage half-sisters in Los Angeles, only to learn that dad is dying and wants Nicholas to become the guardian to Genevieve and Matilda, something he’s definitely not prepared for.
The Uplift: A warm, witty, well-written sitcom, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay offers hope for life after orphanhood, even if it comes during the tumult of adolescence. All three of the siblings have to learn how to start over, look out for each other, and find meaning and joy in the wake of loss, all while contending with added challenges like autism spectrum, homosexuality, and acceptance. The short-lived series tackles its topics with originality and humor — all in under 30 minute episodes.
Where to stream Everything’s Gonna Be Okay: Hulu
After a Layoff
The Company Men (2010)
The Story: When a big company undergoes a massive downsizing, young executive Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) and co-workers Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) and Phil (Chris Cooper) suddenly find themselves out of work. Removed from their huge cushy jobs and salaries, all three men must quickly redefine themselves and reassess their priorities in order to survive the harsh realities of unemployment.
The Uplift: While the movie highlights how to adapt and persevere during a job loss, The Company Men at its core is a melodrama with a throbbing social conscience, as it shows a good amount of white-collar reckoning. Greedy corporate executives are not immune to hardships and consequences here, and it’s comforting to see them learn their own lessons in humility.
Where to stream The Company Men: Max
Everything Must Go (2010)
The Story: After losing his job, salesman and heavy drinker Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) receives a “dumping” from his wife on the same day. He decides to hold a yard sale in front of his former home to turn his life around, and ends up living on his lawn.
The Uplift: Billed as a comedy-drama, this one can be bleak, but it’s ultimately an optimistic movie about the unexpected jolts in our lives that give us the chance to reassess our work, relationships, and shortcomings. The theme is “letting go,” and the painful but necessary process that allows us to make room for new things. It’s a cathartic story that’s also refreshingly honest, as its resolutions are open and unsettled — like life.
Where to stream Everything Must Go: Vudu
As we look back on another year, it’s worth remembering that adversity, heartache, and grief are part of what makes us human and helps us connect, shaping our character and making our triumphs that much sweeter. Whatever you’re going through at the moment, let these stories remind you to embrace a fresh start. Happy New Year y’all!