We're all missing someone. Hopefully these gems will help you to think of better days ahead.
1) 84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
An RTÉ One afternoon favourite, this true story champions the written word, random acts of kindness and affection from afar. A BAFTA-winning Anne Bancroft plays Helene Hanff, a New York writer who places an order with London bookshop Marks and Co in 1949 and gets a friend for life into the bargain. Anthony Hopkins, at his pulses-racing best, plays the shop's main buyer, Frank Doel, whose correspondence with Helene becomes the highlight of his working week. Soon enough the rest of the staff and Frank's wife Nora (Judi Dench) are writing to her too! Achingly sweet, tenderly funny and recalling that old Smiths chestnut that there's more to life than books, but not much more, 84 Charing Cross Road does wonders for our sense of gratitude and would inspire any of us to put pen to paper. Once we've wiped our Irish eyes after a very special cameo...
2) The Outsiders (1983)
The gang's all here: Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, C Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze and you. Francis Ford Coppola's take on SE Hinton's 1969 book about young toughs in Tulsa, Oklahoma has held up very well and still ranks as a highlight on the CVs of its cast. It's a celebration of camaraderie and a cautionary tale about that dangerous age when you don't know what you don't know but think you know it all. The Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay is used to heart-rending effect, its message more powerful than ever right now.
3) Harry & Tonto (1974)
Art Carney's "mad love affair" with his feline co-star bestowed The Honeymooners legend with the Best Actor Oscar and gave us one of the great road movies. When widower Harry Coombes is evicted he dusts off Tonto's transporter and decides to leave New York for the West Coast, becoming younger at heart every step of the way. At its life-affirming best Harry & Tonto beautifully captures the idea that there are no strangers, only friends we have yet to meet. Its theme, that there is still fun to be had and places to be seen - no matter what your age - couldn't come at a better time for all of us.
4) Ghost World (2001)
Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are so happy to have escaped the classroom that they can't be bothered with college and decide to take any job that will get them out of their parents' houses - and allow them to keep firing their buckshot cynicism at will. But what happens if one of them starts having feelings for someone else? Based on Daniel Clowes' graphic novel of the same name, Ghost World brilliantly captures that twilight hour between child and adulthood through the hopes, fears, tragedies and comedies of its central duo. Missing out on the audience it deserved upon its release, director Terry Zwigoff's film has since become a cult classic with more charcoal than any barbecue you'll have this summer. Still need a nudge? Zwigoff also made Bad Santa...
5) The Kings of Summer (2013)
Where would the best of friendships be without some snark? There's a triple helping for everyone here. Best pals Joe and Patrick (Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso) decide they've had enough of their respective parents and run away to build their own place in the woods (warning: treehouse trigger) and live off the land. They're aided/hampered by Biaggio (Moisés Arias), a misfit who somehow has tagged along. The 80s teen movie flame burns brightly here and should supercharge your own appetite for antics. If this is your kind of quote: "You're right, it's a classic kidnapping. They took our children and the canned goods and pasta", you'll be right at home.
6) Sling Blade (1996)
Billy Bob Thornton's passion project sees the writer, director and star turn his own short film into a masterful Southern Gothic story of good and evil. Thornton plays Karl Childers, a man with special needs who is released from the psychiatric hospital where he has been a patient since the age of 12. Returning to his hometown, Karl befriends youngster Frank (Lucas Black) and his mother Linda (Natalie Canerday), who are living under the terror of her boyfriend Doyle (a chilling Dwight Yoakam). If anything, the healing power of relationships here is the equal of Thornton's stunning central performance. Just like that favourite fleece that knows its own way to the washing machine, this film has long been the best of pals with many a DVD player.
7) Walking and Talking (1996)
Catherine Keener and Anne Heche play Amelia and Laura, the True North in each other's lives since childhood but who have reached a crossroads in their relationship. Laura has just become engaged; Amelia is convinced she'll be written out of the picture. The perils of adulthood provide plenty of toe-curling treats here, with Keener's comic timing showcased from start to finish. All these years later, plenty of people are still pining for a Walking and Talking sequel. Care to join us?
8) The Eighth Day (1996)
People have said their lives were changed after watching The Eighth Day. It's easy to see why. Daniel Auteuil plays Harry, an embittered executive with seemingly little hope of getting off the corporate hamster wheel. That is until he meets Georges (Pascal Duquenne), a man with Down syndrome who has decided on a weekend away from his care home. On-the-road calamities ensue, but with every mile Georges and Harry move closer to the things that are missing in their lives. There's every chance that you'll be a mess long before their destination. In the best way.
9) 20th Century Women (2016)
Mike Mills' film escaped into Irish cinemas for a couple of weeks before the 2017 Oscars, by rights it should still be running. Annette Bening (never better), plays the single mom running a boarding house in 1979 Santa Barbara. Her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is now 15, and she could use a little help from her tenants (Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup) - and Jamie's unrequited love Julie (Elle Fanning). This brilliant story about kindred spirits holds its own with the iconic American movies from the decade in question - laughs, tears and the all-important idea that things can turn out alright. You'll be in great company for the stretch in the evenings.
10) Son of Rambow (2007)
Love the title? Wait until you see the film... Writer-director Garth Jennings turned newcomers Bill Milner and Will Poulter into a two-boy army to treasure for this glorious escapade that celebrated an era when hijinks weren't shackled by helicopter parenting and health and safety. Milner's Will Proudfoot is a painfully shy youngster who is a member of the Plymouth Brethren. Poulter's Lee Carter is the boldest kid in the school. Ever. Together they join forces to make their own First Blood spin-off, and it turns out that their misadventures in the screen trade are even better than the original movie. This is one of those treasures that you wish had been around when you were a kid - you'll get as much of a kick out of it now as you would've way back when. Even John J himself would be wiping his eyes with his bandana.