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Movies That Motivate

Updated on December 22, 2015

Often times, you will watch a movie and it sends an extremely powerful message about living a full life. There are just some movies out there that make you want to act, fall in love, travel, do the impossible. Here is a short list of those movies.

Gattaca

In this 1997 drama, Ethan Hawke plays a genetically flawed man in the possibly near future. Society has become automated by the gene sequence of the citizenry and Hawke's character drew the short end of the stick. Without a viable sequence, he is relegated to a mediocre life.

But Hawke's character aspires to do something great and takes steps to fake his way through society and reach his goals. He takes marvelous steps for someone in his position and with the help of some unlikely characters, finally rises about his meager genetics.

The movie is definitely a drama and moves quite slowly, but the end makes it worth the wait.

Ethan Hawke in Gattaca

Fraser and Moira Kelly

'I'm ending our friendship.'
'I'm ending our friendship.'

With Honors

With Honors is a 1994 drama starring Brendan Fraser and Joe Pesci. Pesci plays a down-and-out former merchant marine sailor and Fraser is the Harvard graduate student working on his thesis. When Fraser's thesis paper falls into Pesci's control, Pesci seeks a reward for its return. A combative Fraser calls the police to try and help but ends up only getting Pesci evicted from the library basement he was inhabiting. Fraser ends up trading favors for the pages of his thesis, including providing a new space to reside.

The two end up developing a friendship and they break through the societal norms of the homeless and the privileged. Pesci ends up teaching Fraser's character how to live a life outside what the typical requirements that have been drilled into his head.

The final sequence is quite moving and be ready to cry before being inspired.

Douglas and a Creepy Clown in The Game

The Game

Another drama from 1997, The Game tells the story of a pair of brothers brought up in high society. Michael Douglas plays the older brother who now runs the family business and his younger, and troubled, sibling played by Sean Penn.

The pair's father committed suicide when they were young and Douglas' character is following the exact same path. Penn's character seems to have found a solution though to cope with the pressures of high finance and expectations put upon them. He gives Douglas' character a gift of playing The Game and then we're off.

Douglas goes through many dramatic moments that takes him well out of his comfort zone and leaves him with nothing left to lose by the end of it. When he believes he has killed his younger brother in a tragic accident, that sets him over the edge and sets the stage for a very dramatic ending.

Like Gattaca, this movie tends to move fairly slowly but sets you up for a memorable and inspiring ending.

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

This movie is very deceptive. It didn't come off as an interesting offering when the trailers come out, but it delivers a really nice message. Ben Stiller, as a director, is just sneaky good.

In the movie, Stiller plays the title character, Walter Mitty. Mitty works for Life magazine as someone who handles the photos that will become the cover photo for the magazine. When the magazine's top photographer, played by Sean Penn, confusedly submits the final cover photo prior to the magazine shutting down, Mitty cannot find it. He embarks on a world trip to track down Penn's character and find out what happened to the shot.

The trip takes Mitty to a host of new places and exposes him to a bevy of life adventures, giving him a new perspective on life. All the while, Mitty is in touch by phone with a woman he daydreams about having a relationship with and who also works for the magazine. Through his travels, he gains a new confidence to be able to get the girl in the end.

Another movie with a beautifully done final sequence that makes you really appreciate the entirety of the movie that you've just watched and make you want to be a better person.

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Dead Poet's Society

Robin Williams plays John Keating, an instructor of Poetry at an affluent Ivy League preparatory school in this 1989 drama. Some of the lessons he aims to teach his students pertain to living a full and diverse life, which goes against many of the lessons being handed down from the school's administration which wants them to be more militaristic in nature.

Carpe Diem is a main theme and putting yourself out there and seeing what happens. Unfortunately for Keating, his teachings clash harshly with the expectations of his students and end in tragedy. Keating is made the scapegoat and is forced to leave the school.

But not before the students show him that what he's taught them will be with them forever in a touching scene to end the film.

Poetry Class at Welton Academy

Geeky Cast of Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Paper Towns is a 2015 drama that follows a high school geek and his fearful friends. It revolves around his relationship with his next door neighbor and the missed opportunities he has had. One night, she does her best to help him be more adventurous before disappearing.

The geek feels that she has left him clues to go and find her, so he embarks on the mystery to discover where she went with the help of his two best friends who are also wildly unpopular at their high school. Through their investigation, they make new relationships with other students at the school and overcome some of their fears about conformity.

In the end, by taking risks, each of them has become a better person and achieved some measure of satisfaction.

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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 10 months ago from Philippines

      Thank you for this list. I can always do with an inspiring movie now and then, and yours is a great help.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 23 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great list.