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Inspirational Movies to Motivate Your New Years Resolutions

Updated on December 26, 2009

It's that time of year when we not only look back at the events of the last year, we also look forward with a fresh enthusiasm and gritted determination that the new year will be an improvement on the last full of achievements. Well for me there is nothing better than a few inspirational movies to get me in the mood to look forward with a new found source of enthusiasm and put me in mind to come up with some new year's resolutions, goals and ambitions for the year a head. With that in mind here are a few of my favourite inspirational movies which always fill me with a sense of empowerment.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The story of Chris Gardner, a man who was so down on his luck that he didn't have the money to provide a roof over his and his sons head, yet turned it all around to become a hugely successful entrepreneur but also a philanthropist helping many others around the world. It is by far one of my personal favourite movies not just because it's inspirational but because I know what it's like to be complete penniless and desperate, so much so that it speaks to me on another level.

But it is a very inspirational tale which is not just about a rags to riches story, read the book and you will find out more as to why it isn't, but about the love that Chris has for his son that he would work all the hours god sent so that he could provide for his son whilst trying to make a better future for them both. It also features one of the most powerful, emotional performances that Will Smith has ever given and how he didn't win an Oscar for his touching portrayal is beyond me. It is definitely the perfect inspirational movie if you are feeling down on your luck and like the whole world is caving in on you as it demonstrates through hard work, focus and sheer gritted determination that you can get what you are working for.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

So it maybe seriously old, seriously sentimental, majorly patriotic and features some acting which compared to today’s movies feels a little amateurish but eve so the tale of Jefferson Smith played by James Stewart, a patriotic American who stands up for what he believes in, what is right whilst stuck in a corrupt political system is the motivating, invigorating stuff which inspirational movies are made of.

You just have to watch the powerhouse performance of James Stewart when he is delivering his impassioned speech to Congress to feel the empowerment it generates making you feel like you can also stand up and be counted. But in doing so it also empowers you to get up and do something which matters to you.

Invincible (2006)

A list of inspirational movies would not be complete with a few from the sports genre, the home of the under dog come good tale. Whilst there are many too choose from my first choice is the often criticized tale of Vince Papale who at 30 years old and no real experience tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles Football team and too everyone's shock actually ended up in the team and in doing so became a legend.

So as too why "Invincible" is so often criticized, it's a Walt Disney production and so often happens when they get their hands on an inspirational true story is that they turn it into a family friendly movie. But even though the roughness of the situation, the expected boisterous banter and the violence of the sport are all toned right down it's impossible not to see that the story of Papale is inspirational. The fact at an age where he was theoretically past his best and shouldn't even be considering trying out just helps to fill you with the empowerment that it's never too late to reach for your dreams. Interesting there are often comparisons made between the true life story of Vince Papale and that of the fictional one of Rocky Balboa which leads me on nicely to my next choice of inspirational movie.

The Bucket List (2007)

"The Bucket List" an often derided movie may sound a bit of a strange choice to include on a list of inspirational movies. But the storyline about 2 men, both having a run in with cancer and realising that time may be short, become the most unlikely of friends as they share a journey of a lifetime, is a timely reminder how precious life is.

So okay it may not in fact be the most inspirational movie in the classic way but it does feature a great message in amongst a multitude of laughs, drama and a fair amount of sentiment. It's a perfect reminder that whilst we may all have dreams and aspirations we don't know how long we have on this planet so is a great reminder to make the most fo every single day as it may be our last.

Patch Adams (1998)

The tale of Hunter 'Patch' Adams a man who went against his medical superiors and put his career on the line with his unorthodox methods of treating the patient rather than the illness is another must have on a list of inspirational movies.

Not only does "Patch Adams" feature a wonderfully touching performance from Robin Williams but it also inspires you to have a go even when others and even common sense suggests otherwise. Just because convention says you shouldn't try and do something you dream of doing or achieving doesn't mean it's not obtainable if you believe in it enough. That is what "Patch Adams" achieves; it inspires you even when common sense dictates other wise.

Rocky (1976)

Despite Sylvester Stallone often having the mickey taken out of him for his often corny action flicks it's hard not to acknowledge the fact that with "Rocky" he gave us one of the most popular inspirational movies of all time. Not only did he act in the movie but he also wrote the screenplay with both his performance and screenplay gaining him Oscar nominations.

"Rocky" is the epitome of the underdog story, the guy who really shouldn't have any hope not only proving that through hard work he is a contender but also winning over legions of fans through his gritted determination and sheer bloody mindedness. It is a surprisingly powerful movie and although full of cinematic tricks to get an emotional response as we cheer on Rocky it does the trick, although the sequels were a bit hit n miss. Plus of course if one of your new years resolutions is to get in shape then there is always the music driven Rocky work out scenes to get you in the mood for a good work out.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

So Christmas day may have come and gone but Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is definitely a must have in a list of inspirational movies. The story of George Bailey, a man who has sunk so low that he is ready to take his own life yet thanks to an angel is shown that life is worth living through glimpses of life would have been like for his nearest and dearest if he's never been around, is a timely reminder that even in the darkest times there is positives to be had.

It has to be said that this time of year, a time for recollection that it can be both lonely and depressing. But the uplifting story of "it's a Wonderful Life" helps to turn things on its head and shows you that not only is life worth living but that you are important. Trust me, I have been at rock bottom and this movie always instils me with a sense that there are reasons to keep on going.

Men of Honour (2000)

If you want inspiration then there is nothing more inspiring that the story of Carl Brashear as told in the movie "Men of Honour". Carl had one aim in life and that was to become a Navy Master Diver and nothing was going to get in his way be it race, disability or even naval politics.

"Men of Honour" is a movie which inspires you to never give up even when everything and everyone seems to be against you. In Carl's life he had to overcome the racial prejudice of a black man in a predominantly white navy, especially when he came up against the racist attitudes of his superiors when he got to navy diving school. He had to suffer loss to achieve his dream and even when he suffered a debilitating injury it didn't stop him from aiming for his goal. there is an amazing spirit of determination on show in "Men of Honour" that really instils you with a sense of determination that nothing is impossible no matter how bigger obstacle you may come across.


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    • schoolmarm profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I love your list and have seen all of them except Invincible so I will have to watch that before the year ends. Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Shawshank has to be one of the inspirational movies ever. To be so low, sustain, then rise. A miracle.


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