A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

12 of the Best Movies About Friendship to Watch with Your Bestie

These fun flicks celebrate the joys and comforts of true friendship. Grab a tub of popcorn and settle in with your squad!

1 / 12
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‘Brian’s Song’ (1971)

This made-for-TV movie was so popular that it actually had a brief run in theaters. It’s that good. Considered a “guy-cry” movie, Brian’s Song stars James Caan and Billy Dee Williams as pro footballers who become best friends. Then one of them gets cancer while the other’s career takes off. When the sports star wins the “most courageous player” award, guess who he dedicates it to? Get ready for waterworks during the acceptance speech when he explains that they gave the award to the wrong guy. Then he asks everyone to love his dying friend the same way he does. Based on a true story. (Here’s how support a friend during chemo.)

2 / 12
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‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985)

The Breakfast Club proves that you can find common ground with people even if you’re as different as “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” The Breakfast Club captured all those high school social icons together in the school library for a day of detention. Instead of being punished by it, the five teens discover that they can form connections across vast social strata. It’s the high school movie that fantasized that the nerd could get friends and the class clown could get the girl. When they leave the school at the end of the day swearing to talk to each in the halls on Monday morning, we believe them.

3 / 12
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‘Stand by Me’ (1986)

In this Stephen King novella turned movie, four young boys take off on a dangerous trek. They follow a rumor to find the dead body of kid about their age who was hit by a train. In this coming-of-age tale we learn about the trauma and hardship of each child as they make their way through a cruel world, fighting bullies of every sort. After their weekend journey, we discover what happened once they grew up and drifted apart. This classic covers the mysteries of tween boys before they had been named as such. The late great River Phoenix gives a knock-out performance early in his career.

4 / 12
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‘Don’t Think Twice’ (2016)

This acclaimed ensemble cast indie film follows the careers of a group of improv comedians. When one of them gets cast in a Saturday Night Live-type show, the rest have to deal with their envy while they take stock of their own stagnant careers. Can they be happy for their pal, who is now on his way to success and fame? They might be too mad. Mike Birbiglia’s movie feels fresh and authentic, and its also a really funny look at that group of people who get you—and also your jokes. Read these relatable best friend tweets and share them with your BFF ASAP.

5 / 12
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‘Thelma & Louise’ (1991)

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis give knock-out performances as unlikely criminals on the run from a slew of cops led by Harvey Keitel. After they kill a man in what was basically self-defense, they abandon their staid lives and take off across the American west seeking escape not only from the law, but from the confining roles of their own lives. When Thelma and Louise drive their aqua convertible off the cliff at the end, we don’t see it fall. They’re forever caught in mid-air, in a freeze frame, in all their awesome glory. Right where they belong.

6 / 12
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‘Beaches’ (1988)

You will probably start crying even before you hear Bette Midler belting out “you are the wind beneath my wings.” You know that’s what your best friend really is! Barbara Hershey plays the rich girl Bette meets on the beach when they’re both kids. They end up as pen pals and roommates and best friends through the highs and lows of their careers and break-ups. Bette becomes a Broadway star and Barbara marries the wrong man. After she has a daughter, she’s diagnosed with a rare disease. Just, no. But, yes, that tragedy happens. Bette ends up raising her best friend’s daughter and we know her mother’s memory will always be cherished.

7 / 12
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‘Toy Story’ (1995)

Audiences fell in love with the very human story told through a couple of animated toys. Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear start out as enemies, fueled by jealousy. But this beloved classic is all about learning how to work together. They start out rivals and end up best friends themselves, even as they vie to become Andy’s favorite toy. This is also one of the many classic family movies everyone can enjoy.

8 / 12
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‘The Odd Couple’ (1968)

What happens when a neat freak moves in with a total slob? Neil Simon’s famous play turned into a popular movie and then television series. Everyone can relate to opposites who turn out being good for each other once they get through all their quibbling. Walther Matthau and Jack Lemmon star as friends fated to really dig each other despite their huge differences.

9 / 12
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‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ (1991)

In the frame narrative, Jessica Tandy, an old woman in a nursing home, tells Kathy Bates stories of two young women in 1920s Alabama. The film then moves back to that time period, showing us the desperate adventures of Ruth and Idgie, (Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson.) Despite their oppressive environs that include an abusive husband and racist society, the two women forge an incredibly loyal friendship. Their story inspires Kathy Bate’s character to become more assertive in her own life. This classic celebrates the strength of supportive female friendships across the decades. Don’t forget to check out these funny family movies for your next movie night.

10 / 12
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‘Waiting to Exhale’ (1995)

Based on a Terry McMillan novel, this ensemble drama features a prominent cast including Whitney Huston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon. The women play friends who endure the ups and downs of their careers and relationships as they try to make sense of philandering husbands and new romances. Bassett’s performance is stellar, especially in the famous scene when she lights her cheating husband’s car on fire (after loading it with his things). She captures the rage and heartbreak of being taken for granted. Gregory Hines shows up as one of the good guys, but ultimately, Waiting to Exhale celebrates the bonds between your best group of women friends. They’ve got your back.

11 / 12
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‘I Love You, Man’ (2009)

Paul Rudd is adorable in this romantic comedy about a man who doesn’t have a close guy friend to ask to be the best man at his wedding. Then he meets Jason Segel, an expert “bro” with a decked-out man cave and a strong sense of freedom. Rudd loosens up, but Segel pushes him to the edge of what it means to be a man. Eventually, they discover the obvious. That it’s okay for guys to love each other—it’s even masculine to be able to admit that. Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk in the television series) shows up as another of Rudd’s friends and Rashida Jones plays the long-suffering fiancée. This movie helps guys know that it’s okay to say, “I love you, man,” especially when you mean it.

12 / 12
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‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play best pals, just like the kind they are in real life. Damon is a genuis with a chance to get out of Southie, their Boston neighborhood, and make something of his life. But he doesn’t want to leave his friends behind. In a moving scene, Affleck tells him that he has to go fulfill his dreams—that he’s insulting him if he doesn’t. Real friends don’t hold you back, even if that means that they have to lose you. Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgard play rivalrous friends who both try to mentor Damon through tough times. In doing so, their own relationship gets some redemption. Good Will Hunting shows us the healing power of friendship and the selflessness at its core.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.