10 Feel-Good Thai Movies from the 2000s For Instant Cheer Up
It's time to bring back the smiles, laughter, tears from the 2000s once again with this list of feel-good movies from the recent past that will make everything better.
Just mere months into the start of a fresh new decade and we're already all stuck at home waiting out for a pandemic to be over. One of the many industries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak is the film industry, especially the coming global attractions the were planned to be released in March and throughout the summer of 2020 that have been postponed indefinitely.
Movie fans in Thailand have no choice but to switch over to streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube for a makeshift cinema experience at home. But after a few weeks, things can start to get boring and many of us are starting to feel depressed. That's why we invite you to take a trip with us down memory lane and relive all the wonderful moments you've experienced during what we consider the best feel-good films in Thailand during the 2000s. Not only will you feel the nostalgia that'll make you smile, but you'll also have a few more critically-acclaimed movies to add your list and pass the time during this lockdown period.
Now, without further ado, let's go check out our hand-picked list of the best 10 feel-good Thai films from the 2000s! (Sorted by the year of release)
The Iron Ladies (2000)
Kicking things off with a masterpiece from Tai Entertainment is The Iron Ladies, a comedy film directed by famed Thai film director, producer, and screenwriter Youngyooth Thongkonthun released in 2000. The movie was made from the true events of a men's volleyball team that was mainly made up of gays and transgenders. If we were looking back 20 years ago, we'd all have to admit that the topic of LBGT was not as well-received as it is today.
The Iron Ladies is about the formation of a volleyball them where almost all of the members are either gay or transgender, expect for Chai (played by Jesdaporn Pholdee), who remains as the only straight male player from the previous team. This comedy film also features moments of drama and romance from the hardship the team must face as members of the LBGT community during that period in Thailand. The movie is considered by many to have changed the initially closed-minded perspective of society towards gay and transgender people to a more accepting one.
After its release, The Iron Ladies had been a triumph. Aside from garnering over 100 million Thai Baht in revenue, the film has been nominated twelve times and won ten awards, including the Thailand National Film Association Awards, Toronto International Film Festival and the reader award of German LGBT magazine Siegessäule at the Berlin International Film Festival. The Iron Ladies was truly a pioneer in the sports and LGBT genre of the Thai film industry.
Fan Chan (2003)
Fan Chan is one of the few Thai movies that achieved a legendary status from its overwhelmingly positive reception upon its release in 2003. The film was the result of a collaboration between 3 giants of the Thai entertainment industry during the time including Hub Ho Hin, Tai Entertainment, and GMM Pictures. It was also a debut film by six young screenwriters and directors at the time like Vitcha Gojiew, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharathorn, Witthaya Thongyooyong, Anusorn Trisirikasem, and Komgrit Triwimol, all of eventually which became leading directors of Thailand. Some of their subsequent works include come top domestic films like Dear Dakanda (2005), Teacher’s Diary (2014), as well as Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story (2009) that will also make an appearance on this list.
Fan Chan is a Thai romantic comedy film about a childhood friendship between a boy named "Jeab” his neighbor named “Noi-Naa" who grew up in a small town in Thailand in the 1980s. The film offers a nostalgic look back into the past on how people used to live and how children used to play. The comedic value added by the group of talented young actors and actresses gives the film its unique charm that stuck with many of us up until today.
The film was the top domestic film at the Thailand box office in 2003 and earned over 140 million Thai Baht. The success of Fan Chan also led to the formation of the renowned GMM Tai Hub (GTH) film studio, a merger between GMM pictures, Tai Entertainment, and Hub Ho Hin.
The Overture (2004)
Another critically-acclaimed Thai film that was the winner of several awards in Thailand from the 2004 Thailand National Film Association Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Adul Dulyarat), Best Cinematography (Nattawut Kittikhun), Best Editing (Ittisoontorn Vichailak), Best Screenplay (Peerasak Saksiri, Ittisoontorn Vichailak, Dolkamol Sattatip), and Best Sound. The Overture was also the country’s official selection for the 77th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The movie was inspired by the life story of Thai palace musician Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng) and focuses on the “ranat ek” or Thai xylophone, one of the most well-known instruments in Thai music. The story is split into 2 timelines, one during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1880’s) and another during the reign of King Ananda Mahidol (1940’s). In the former timeline, the story follows a young Sorn who excels in the “ranat ek”. Taught by his father, Sorn continues to overcome competitors until he secures a place as a musician in the royal palace under the wing of his new teacher.
Aside from giving us a glimpse into the beauty of traditional Thai music and instruments, the film also touches upon the political aspect of Thailand during the dictatorship rule of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram, whose government called for the accelerated modernization of Thailand. As a result, performances of traditional Thai music, dance and theatre were frowned upon. After the film ends, it’s hard not to feel proud of all the culture and heritage that makes Thailand one of the charming countries in the world.
The Tin Mine (2005)
The Tin Mine is a Thai biographical drama film adapted from the short stories by Thai National Artist Ajin Panjapan. The film is directed by the renowned Jira Maligool who also takes up the producer position for this film. After trying to secure the rights to the Tin Mine series of short stories from Arjin to be adapted in a film for an extended period, Arjin finally grants Jira his long-awaited permission, resulting in the critically-acclaimed film called The Tin Mine we know today.
The movie follows the teenage years of Arjin Panjapan after he was retired from his student status from the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Engineering. After also breaking up with his girlfriend, Arjin decided to travel south to work at a mining camp in Kapong district of Phang Nga Province from 1949 to 1953, a period when tin mines were a flourishing business in Thailand. Over the 4 years, Arjin was at the mine, through both good and bad times, he got to learn countless valuable life lessons that no university classes or lectures anywhere can offer.
Although the movie wasn’t such an astounding box office success like most of the films on this list, The Tin Mine still garnered several awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Recording and Sound Mixing from the 2006 Thailand National Film Association Award. The film was also the official entry from Thailand for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards.
Seasons Change (2006)
Seasons Change is a romantic-comedy teen movie from GTH film studio directed by Nithiwat Tharathorn, one of the directors of Fan Chan (2003), and co-produced by famed screenwriter and producer Jira Maligool. The film also features the classic song “Season Change” of famous Thai singer Nop Pornchamni as one of the original soundtrack.
The film portrays the high school life of the three main characters “Pom”, “Aom”, and “Dao” and the everchanging dynamic in their relationships throughout a year that covers three seasons including summer, winter, and monsoon. The story is narrated through the perspective of Pom (played by Witawat Singlampong), taking place at the College of Music, Mahidol University. Pom makes an impulsive decision to attend music school to follow Dao who he’s been secretly in love with for the past three years, a decision unknown to his parents who expects him to attend medical school. From the memorable funny moments between the characters to the emotional scenes under the rain, Season Change is still considered until today as one of the best feel-good movies Thailand has ever made.
The reception overwhelmingly positive at the time of release, so much that all the main actors earned the last name “Seasons Change” by the fans for quite a while. Aside from winning the hearts of Thai adolescents who found the film easy to relate to, Seasons Change also won 4 “Golden Doll” awards in 2006.
Khan Kluay (2006)
Khan Kluay is the very first Thai 3D computer-animated film (after The Adventure of Sudsakorn which was a 2D animated film). The film is based on “Chao Praya Prab Hongsawadee” by Ariya Jintapanichkarn and was directed by Kompin Kemgumnird, an animator whose resume includes stints with Disney and Blue Sky Studios and involvement with popular animated films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dumbo, The Lion King, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Ice Age.
Khan Kluay is an animated film that portrays the unique Thai cultures and traditions within the film, including how children play in the old days and the backdrop of traditional Thai-style houses. The voice cast is also no short of talented individuals with names like Phoori Hiranyapruk, Warattaya Nikluha, as well as National Artists like Juree Ohsiri and Rong Kaomulkadee
At the time of release, Khan Klauy garnered nearly 100 million Thai Baht in revenue, exceeding every expectation previously set for animation films. Outside of cinemas, Khan Kluay plushies and keychains were also flying off the shelves in every mall in town.
Final Score (2007)
Final Score is a documentary film from GTH studios directed by Soraya Nagasuwan that follows four high school students in their senior year during their preparations for the university entrance exams in 2006. It was the first year that Thailand had switched from the Entrance system to the Admission system were to qualify for admission to a university faculty, students must take standardized tests. These tests were called O-Net and A-Net exams in Thailand.
The film mainly took place at the Suankularb Wittayalai School in Bangkok and focused on the four young boys “Per”, “Big Show”, “Lung”, and “Boat” depicted as average students with no pre-written scripts. Through the perspective of the director, we can see the real-life stories of the boys play out as they take on the exam preparations while having to balance their teenage life and absorbing the pressure and expectations their families have set on them.
This film was also a kickstart for Per (Suwikrom Amaranon) who found himself to be a talent show host. Today, Per had already made quite a name for himself in the Thai entertainment industry.
Dear Galileo (2009)
Dear Galileo follows the story of best friends Noon and Cherry where each had just gone through a tough period of their lives. Noon had just broken up with her boyfriend and Cherry was suspended from school for an entire year for forging her teacher's signature. They both decide to take a trip aboard together to England, France, and Italy to find inspiration. Throughout the trip, Noon and Cherry enjoyed countless of good moments but had to endure several tough times as well.
The film was directed by Nithiwat Tharathorn, the same director of Seasons Change (2006), and starred Jarinporn Joonkiat, Chutima Theepanarth, and Ray MacDonald. The cast and crew had to spend an entire two months in Europe to complete the filming.
Dear Galileo is all about life, friendship, and travel that had caught many viewers in a "feel-good" moment, especially at the scene when Ton (played by Ray MacDonald) raised a hand-written sign in the middle of the Champs-Élysées. The film grossed over 30 million Thai Baht in revenue.
Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story (2009)
Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story is another popular romantic-comedy film by GTH we all remember for the quirky character of Mei Li played by Cris Horwang and the handsomeness of Loong played by the immensely popular actor Theeradej Wongpuapan (Kane). The film is directed by Adisorn Treseirikasem, one of the directors of Fan Chan (2003).
The film follows the story of Mei Li, a thirty-year-old woman who had started to feel insecure as she is the last in her group of friends to get married and her relationship with Loong, an engineer working for the BTS Skytrain. Throughout the movie, we get to enjoy the quirkiness of Mei Li and bite our nails as we wait to see how the relationship with Loong will play out. Even though there’s nothing overly exciting about the plot, we’re sure many people, especially the young working Bangkokians, can relate and identify with Mei Li.
Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story grossed up to 15.1 million Thai Baht on the first day, the highest record for the year and also narrowly beating another blockbuster film from GTH Phobia 2 (2009). The film won countless accolades and awards from multiple organizations, while actress Cris Horwang also sealed her movie star status by winning the Best Actress award from the 19th Thailand National Film Association Awards.
The Happiness of Kati (2009)
The Happiness of Kati is a film about a family from a novel of the same name written by famed Thai novelist and translator Ngarm Vejjajiva. She received the Southeast Asian Writers (S.E.A Write) Award for Thailand in 2006 while the film adaption was completed in 2009 by film director Genwaii Thongdenok.
The film tells a story of a nine-year-old girl who is about the lose her mother to Lou Gerig’s disease. The mother, realizing that she wouldn’t be able to care for her daughter for much longer, asks her grandparents to help care for Kati in her place. The film reflects the reality in Thai society where grandparents still play a big role in raising the kids for many families. Kati has a grandfather who used to be a lawyer and a grandmother who is quite strict and old-fashioned. Everyone in Kati’s life, however, does their best to care for Kati, taking over for the love of her mother who passed away before she could she Kati grow up.
After watching the film, you might start to recall some memories as a child of the times you spent with your grandparents or older cousins. The film also portrays the simplicity of the upcountry lifestyle and how happiness can be found in the little things around you. The Happiness of Kati is another feel-good movie that you just can't miss.