As we live through unprecedented times, the use of streaming services to access TV shows and movies has increased dramatically. Many of us are looking for new forms of diversion, even as health dominates the national conversation. So, why not combine the two? In addition to highlighting new ways to live a healthy lifestyle, these wellness movies also offer great entertainment value. That’s why we’re proud to present to you our selection of the top 10 wellness movies to watch.
To make it simple, we’ve kept our focus on selections from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Some require a small fee to rent, which we’ll note where relevant. Unique as each may be, these wellness-focused movies have one thing in common: they educate and inspire us to take a look at our own lives in the process.
Embrace (Amazon Prime)
Embrace is the story of a single person, but it has resonated with many. The documentary, which streams free for Amazon Prime subscribers, follows body image activist Taryn Brumfitt as she explores not just “body shaming” but the broader concept of “body loathing.”
Originally released in Australia in 2016, the film has acquired a global following. It’s an inspiring work designed to help women of all ages rethink the way they feel about themselves. Here’s what The Guardian had to say about the documentary in 2017:
“Brumfitt sets out on a round-the-world expedition to understand the issues better, meeting assorted experts and opinionated celebrities such as Amanda de Cadenet and Ricki Lake, as well as a woman with a terrible eating disorder, a severe burns survivor and a delightful young lady whose hormone imbalance gives her a beard. It has an indisputably worthy message, and should be essential viewing (…).“
Embrace is also one of the few wellness movies that boasts a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements (HBO)
Moonlight Sonata gained fame during the 2019 Sundance Festival, where it emerged as an underdog to capture the imagination of audiences everywhere. It’s now available for HBO subscribers looking for an inspiring story with essential life lessons built-in.
The movie highlights Jonas (a young boy) going deaf, but it also connects the tragedy to Ludwig Van Beethoven — perhaps the most famous deaf person in history. The two stories interweave as 11-year-old Jonas learns to play the Moonlight Sonata, written by Beethoven when he began going deaf. Jonas’ music education is overseen by his grandfather, who has been deaf for most of his life.
This selection is likely one of the most heart-wrenching, inspirational wellness movies on this list. Where it shines is its ability to encourage us to find our inner strength, never knowing where our talents may lie. If a deaf man can compose one of the greatest musical pieces ever written and a deaf child can play it, perhaps each of us is capable of more than we realize.
Or, as a recent review in the Washington Post puts it, “Moonlight makes its points softly, but with resounding conviction.“
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix)
“Does it bring you joy?” You may have heard that question once or twice in early 2019, when the first season of this TV show swept the United States. Marie Kondo is an organizing expert originally known for her KonMari method of getting rid of physical things that don’t add joy to life. The Netflix show catapulted her to new levels of fame.
In each episode, Kondo helps a person or family in various stages of life (from a family with toddlers to a widow grieving the loss of her husband). She frequently cites scientific facts to highlight the negative effects of clutter on the mind. For the audience, it’s easy to follow along, develop an understanding of the method, and maybe even take on a similar project.
A review in The Atlantic (shortly after the show was released) best explains why it’s worth watching:
“The genius of Kondo’s approach is that she cares not at all about renovation or decor. Her clients’ homes might be stylish or drab, spacious or cramped, but she treats them all the same: Every newly tidied room gets the same gasp of delight that signals Kondo’s pride in the family’s accomplishments. The host never suggests adding an accent wall or some trendy shiplap to spruce things up. Instead, she shares her clients’ joy at finding space and reconnecting with meaningful heirlooms.”
Happy (Amazon Prime)
In one way or another, we’re all searching for satisfaction in life. So, why not watch a movie about the quest for individual happiness? That’s exactly what the documentary Happy (free for Amazon Prime subscribers) is all about.
The documentary was actually released in 2012, but it resonates as much now as it did eight years ago. Filmmaker Roko Belic masterfully blends heart-wrenching personal stories with cerebral interviews featuring scientists. The result is a movie for everyone, a treatise on happiness that’s as light as it’s profound. Or, in the words of the Huffington Post:
“This movie is for you. For me. For everyone. It brings full circle a wealth of scientific, empirical, and national research on happiness and delivers it in a documentary-type format so mesmerizing you’ll be recommending it to friends and family before you get halfway through.“
Grass is Greener (Netflix)
That relationship is explored throughout this documentary, which interviews both medical experts and celebrities like Snoop Dogg. In the process, it dives into heavy topics like institutional racism and prison reform. As such, it’s one of the most unique wellness movies on this list. In addition, it ends with a strong argument for the legalization of cannabis and connects that movement to a move towards racial equality:
“It’s hard to argue with pain and suffering and the way a filmmaker chooses to present it. Even if you’re not the “greenest” person on the planet, there’s still much to be learned here. With sources and information like this, “Grass is Greener” simply makes itself.“
Plastic Paradise (Amazon Prime)
The oceans are changing and not necessarily for the better. While we continue to frequent beaches along America’s coastlines, the truth is uglier elsewhere. Millions of tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year and this leads to massively negative impacts on both wildlife and nature.
That’s where this documentary picks up. It focuses specifically on the example of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of trash in the Northern Pacific, that (at 1.6 million square kilometers) is twice as large as the State of Texas.
From there, it explores larger climate issues in interviews with scientists, experts, and celebrities. You’ll also be treated to a surprising appearance by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In all, it’s one of the best wellness movies for inspiring a more sustainable lifestyle. Brands like us, that recycle ocean trash to produce plastic bottles like the ones used for our Hemp Oil, are trying to help reverse the trend.
The Truth About Alcohol (Netflix)
How do you feel about alcohol? For some, it’s a scourge of society. For others, it promotes relaxation at the end of the day. Opinions range from “harmless” to “extremely harmful.” As this documentary argues, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
At less than one hour long, this movie is immensely accessible. ER doctor Javid Abdelmoneim talks to experts and presents findings that explain the science of drinking. This documentary offers a British perspective, but that doesn’t diminish its watchability the least bit. From why some people get drunk faster than others to the short- and long-term effects of alcohol on health, The Truth About Alcohol serves to inform as well as to entertain.
The obvious conclusion, per The Guardian:
“So, no massive surprises here then. It’s pretty much as you were: booze is basically not good for you and you should almost certainly drink less, and less often. The only problem being that it’s also brilliant, and Javid knows it.“
Free Solo (Hulu)
Think about hanging from a 3,200 foot-high legendary rock without any type of safety net. If that doesn’t give you vertigo, this movie may just be for you. Free Solo made global headlines when it was first released in 2018, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Documentary. It’s been somewhat of a phenomenon ever since.
Yes, the film is first and foremost a biopic of free solo climber Alex Honnolt. However, it’s so much more than that. The sweeping vistas of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park would be enough to keep you glued to the screen. Beyond that, the tale of mental strength and physical preparation is truly something to behold. And it’s a constant tension, as The Atlantic points out:
“Even Chin, Vasarhelyi, and their camera operators have to confront the possibility that, in trying to make their movie, they may instead capture someone’s final moments. It’s this profound, human tension that makes Free Solo such a gripping and rewarding documentary to watch.“
The Goop Lab (Netflix)
What if you could watch an iconic actress delve into some medical topics that have been controversial for a while? That’s exactly what the Goop Lab, headlined by Gwyneth Paltrow and available on Netflix, promises. In six episodes, Paltrow explores topics that range from psychedelic psychotherapy to the iconic ice swimming exercise.
Note, however, that the show isn’t supposed to serve as serious medical commentary. Paltrow’s offering is pure entertainment. The producers combine a tongue-in-cheek approach with worthwhile moments, however. What results is a highly entertaining romp through some fascinating topics. As the New Yorker highlights, it’s worth checking out:
“The Goop Lab, lowbrow TV with high production values, is the most unsettling kind of sponcon—the soulful kind. Wim Hof, a popular healer who, following the death of his wife, came to believe in the salutary benefits of breathing exercises and immersion in freezing water, teaches a group of Goopers “snowga.” A bodywork expert asks several employees to lie down on massage tables, and then, like a puppeteer, pulls at the air above them as they writhe, moan, and weep. In every episode, the skeptics are converted, and the believers are reaffirmed.“
Take Your Pills (Netflix)
We end with a documentary that’s as unsettling as it’s important. You may have heard about drugs that are designed to help you focus but comes with potentially dangerous side effects. Just how dangerous? That’s what this film explores.
Take Your Pills focuses on Adderall, but its lessons are universal regarding artificial psychotropic stimulants of all kinds. Over the course of just under 90 minutes, filmmaker Alison Klayman tries to unearth the origins of these types of drugs. She also delves into the reasons certain hard drugs have become mainstream while close relatives like cocaine have been criminalized. The documentary is set against the backdrop of a society that demands access to the benefits Adderall promises to solve:
“The title of “Take Your Pills” sounds innocent enough, until you realize it’s the society as a whole that’s issuing the directive: Take your pills… Or else what? Or else you’ll be left out in the cold, with a mind that’s racing to play catch-up instead of one that’s been stimulated, or maybe just stoned, into perpetual overdrive.“
From Watching Wellness to Practicing Wellness: A Natural Transition
Take a look at the cumulative list above, and you’ll see a wide range of wellness movies and documentaries. Some are unyielding in their positivity, while others are more contemplative. Still, others paint an undoubtedly scary picture of the world. However, they all have one thing in common: an earnest desire to educate the American public about the importance of wellness, subtly or overtly.
They also represent a greater trend: the increasing willingness of the American public to examine formerly taboo topics in the search for a healthier lifestyle. Each of these options will, in their own way, motivate you to practice healthier, wellness-focused living.
That same drive is also what encouraged us to start our company. Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil has many potential benefits that allow you to build a healthy lifestyle in a way that works for you. If you’d like to learn more about this natural supplement and its many potential benefits, we’d love to tell you more about it. Contact us today to learn about our products and how we aim to contribute to a society that prioritizes health and wellness.