The 18 Best Birthday Movies: ‘Encanto,’ ‘Happy Death Day,’ and More

Whether you’re blowing out “Sixteen Candles” or doing the Time Warp, these are some of the best birthday-themed movies.

The Best Birthday Movies: Child's Play, Sleeping Beauty, Encanto, Sixteen Candles, Rocky Horror Picture Show

(Clockwise from bottom left): “Child’s Play,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Encanto,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and “Sixteen Candles”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear reeeeaaaderrrrr. Put this on your queue! Whether you’re a party animal fervently celebrating another spin around the sun — or an introvert quietly enjoying some well-earned Me Time — the day you were born should be wholly and unequivocally about you and what you want.

Just ask the Princess Aurora: a babbling baby girl-turned-titular “Sleeping Beauty” whose 1st and 16th birthdays were notoriously ruined by a woodland fairy with self-esteem issues. Or consider the plight of Tree: a screamingly funny (albeit slightly self-obsessed) sorority girl whose birthday warps into a time-loop slasher flick in the Blumhouse-produced “Happy Death Day.”

The best birthday movies can only be defined by the birthday-havers watching them. If spending your special day endlessly rewatching an old favorite that has nothing to do with birthdays is what you want, then that makes it the perfect fit. Cue it up and crack open a cold one, sweet birthday baby! But if you’re looking to make the most of the birthday theme or start a new annual tradition, you’ll find the best birthday movies take a variety of forms and offer a variety of experiences.

You’ve got the good birthday movies, as in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” These are the movies — typically coming-of-age movies — in which some unbelievable or fantastical development coincides with the birthday of our hero. We watch their lives change overnight almost entirely for the better with the birthday-of-it-all as a pleasant inciting incident for some big adventure.

Or you’ve got the kind-of-good birthday movies, as in “13 Going on 30.” In these journeys, the protagonist is gifted a Monkey’s Paw sort of birthday wish and is granted some massive change they ultimately discover they only want parts of. Pour one out for Jenna Rink, the fictitious “Poise” magazine, and that sparkly Barbie dream house.

And finally, you’ve got the bad birthday movies. Think everything from forgotten birthdays, as in “Sixteen Candles,” to cursed gifts that straight-up try to kill you; see Andy Barclay’s pal Chucky and the blood-splattered “Child’s Play” franchise.

To honor you, whoever you are, here are the 18 best movies to watch on your birthday. Listed chronologically, these titles are all about a birthday or feature a birthday scene good enough to make the entire movie worth recommending.

With editorial contributions by Sam Bergeson, Kate Erbland, and Ryan Lattanzio. 

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