Spring is all about comebacks. It’s the season of rebirths, fresh starts, and second gos. Whether you’re counting down the last semester of school or wishing away that last patch of melting snow, spring is the beginning, middle, and end of an underdog story — born out of nothing, thriving, passing the baton to its worthy successor. And who knows underdog stories better than the movies?
Hollywood knows its way around baseball season as much as it does a blooming garden painted in pastels and pollen, and this post-vernal equinox trip through the decades captures the petrichor-scented comfort —and occasional storminess — of the spring season.
And you don’t even need an umbrella.
1950s: My Neighbor Totoro
Forest sprites, a lush countryside, two young girls distracted by nature as they await their mother’s uncertain recovery — Hayao Miyazaki’s rich and buoyant stroll through childhood, imagination, and the ’50s is as delightful as the last bell of the school year.
Come for the huggable Totoro, stay for the scenery and sisterhood.
Runners Up: The Producers, Vertigo
1960s: An Education
Growing up, messing up, running with the wrong crowd (which happens to have a good sense of fashion)— Lynn Barber’s adaptation’s trip into young adulthood, self-exploration, and the ’60s is as revealing as impromptu skinny dipping on a warm day.
Come for the trips to Paris, stay for the fashion and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-nominated role.
Runner Up: Breathless
1970s: The Wicker Man
Spring harvests, pagan rituals, a missing person’s case-turned-burning person’s case — David Pinner’s adaptation’s journey into fertility, futility, and the ’70s is as disorienting as the season’s first bee sting.
Come for the mystery, stay for the panic and the grand finale.
Runner Up: Carrie
1980s: Steel Magnolias
Gossip, friendly chaos, Sally Field breaking your heart — this Robert Harling adaptation’s sentimental study of human connections, recovery, and the ’80s is as bittersweet as the end of last season’s hibernation.
Come for the camaraderie, stay for the spring bookends and literally every performance.
Runners Up: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Critters 2: The Main Course
1990s: Notting Hill
Meet-cutes, cobblestone streets, Julia Roberts standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her—Richard Curtis’ romantic screenplay detailing the complexities of affection, frustrations of celebrity, and the ’90s is as satisfying as budding flowers after a long winter.
Come for the romance, stay for the smalltalk and sunny disposition.
Runners Up: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 10 Things I Hate About You
2000s: Big Fish
Tall tales, second chances, a garden of daffodils bringing out Ewan McGregor’s golden complexion — Tim Burton’s reality-bending venture into family strife, hyperbole, and the 2000s is as pleasant as the smell after it rains.
Come for the father-son drama, stay for Burton’s satisfying self-control and the late Albert Finney.
Runners Up: Enchanted, Jeepers Creepers
2010s: Cabin in the Woods
A getaway with friends, fresh starts, a creepy cellar stashed with nightmare creature-summoning tools — Drew Goddard’s hysterically deranged plunge into monsters, good intentions, and the 2010s is as relentless as pollen against a weak immune system.
Come for the horror, stay for the ingenuity and April showers (of blood).
Runners Up: Moneyball, Blockers