So it’s the Holiday Season, and that means no school (only for a few weeksL)! I wanted to start making these top 10 lists since…well…I love reading them. My inspiration probably came from the top 10 lists over at askmen.com, so shout out to them. Here are the 10 most inspirational movies that I’ve seen. Of course, the problem with top 10 lists is also the advantage—conciseness. I’m sure there will be movies that are missing from this list, and you’ll be like ‘wtf is he thinking?!’ And there may even be a movie on the list you watched that makes you think that I am easily inspired. Well, that may be true… Anyway, feel free to comment if you had other movies in mind. Thanks!
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)
A sports agent, Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), is willing to do anything to represent a solid, performing athlete. Out of the blue, Jerry has a realization that what he is doing is cut-throat and immoral. He writes a manifesto about the dishonesty in sports management, and is applauded by his peers. Nonetheless, this doesn’t fly well with management, and he consequently loses his job. Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr., who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this role), a super-egotistical football player, sticks by Jerry’s side as he hopes to stay true to his beliefs while he attempts to revive his career. Renee Zellweger plays Dorothy Boyd, who left the company to work with Jerry because she believed in him. Romantic, comedic, dramatic, and extremely inspirational, Jerry Maguire is a must see for…everyone!
(This movie is so unbelievably quotable)
“I just want to be inspired” or “Show me the money!”
9. Dead Poets Society (1989)
John Keating (Robin Williams) is an English Professor who breaks all rules. Using poetry, Keating inspires his students (including a young Ethan Hawke and Dr. Wilson from House) to seize the day! Using poetry as a guiding point, lives are changed and students (and audiences) are inspired.
8. Forrest Gump (1994)
This film is quite hilarious and dramatic, simultaneously. At first, it appears to be a big joke, but it turns out to a heart-warming success. A simple man with an extremely low IQ far exceeds what was expected of him. Forrest (Tom Hanks) proves that ability isn’t everything. He finds love, success, and courage through his kind heart. The movie shows Forrest traveling around the world, meeting historical figures, and influencing pop culture.
“Life is like a box of chocolates.”
7. Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Homeless, wifeless, and jobless, all Chris Gardner (Will Smith) has is his son (played by his real son, Jaden Smith J). Gardner works hard and sees practically no rewards for his labor. But this movie is all about struggle. Life is hard, and sacrifices must be made. The title says it all… this is about the glorious path to success and of course, “happyness”.
“He must have had on some really nice pants.”
6. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Like #5 on this list, this is a film adaptation of a book. And also like #5, I read the book before watching the movie. Let me say that the film version of TKaM is amazing. In the film, Atticus Finch, who is named AFI’s greatest movie hero of the 20th century, serves as the lawyer to an accused black man in 1930’s Alabama. Scout and Jem, Finch’s children, are forced to learn about racism and the rampant evils of their time, and give us a clear and unbiased understanding of the immorality of the era. You’ll walk away from this movie a better person—more forgiving, less judgmental.
“There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.”
5. October Sky (1999)
This is the film adaptation of my favorite book growing up, Rocket Boys (the movie title is an anagram for the book title, bonus points). Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie follows the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr., who resides in a coal mining town in West Virginia, 1957. Inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1, Homer decides to take up rocketry although his father strongly disapproves. Homer eventually follows his dreams all the way to NASA, where he ended up working as an engineer. This movie reminds us that dreams do come true for regular kids (not just super talented athletes and singers!). Read the book too!
“Let them have outer space. We got rock ‘n’ roll.”
4. Remember the Titans (2000)
I don’t know anyone my age that hasn’t seen this movie. Using sports as a way to overcome racial boundaries in 1970’s Virginia, this movie never gets old. Remember the Titans made me a better person, and it will probably do the same for you. There are parts where I want to shed tears (NO I didn’t actually cry …I have allergies). The characters are very relatable, and the concepts can be applied to life, not just sports or desegregation. Also, the dialogue is quite humorous at times.
“Sometimes life is hard for no reason at all.”
3. Rocky (1976)
Well, maybe it’s my Philly bias, but America loves an underdog (shout out to Philly sports)! Anyway, the beginning of one of the greatest movie franchises ever (yes, ever!) was an instant classic. Rocky Balboa is a gritty Philadelphian who is kind at heart and strong in will; Rocky turns out to be a sleeper pick against Apollo Creed, just as the movie turned out to be a sleeper hit when it was released. The classic American sports drama, Rocky is a must see. And once you watch the first one, you’re gonna wanna watch ’em all! Slyvester Stallone writes and stars in this amazing film set in an amazing city (that’s right, Philly).
“Apollo Creed vs. the Italian Stallion- sounds like a damn monster movie.”
2. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have the break of their careers, for which they would go on to win Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. Robin Williams won the first Oscar of his career for Best Supporting Actor. All around the movie has a miraculous feel to it. A boy genius named Will Hunting from South Boston (Damon), who takes on laborious jobs like construction and even as a janitor at MIT, is discovered by an award-winning mathematics professor, who hopes to help Will utilize his unmatched brilliance. Will prefers the company of his hooligan peers (including the Affleck bros) as they engage in bar nights and fights, and he eventually falls under the counseling of Robin Williams’ character. And of course, there is a love story tied in. This is (usually) what I’ll say if you ask me my all time favorite movie.
“How you like them apples?!”
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Apparently, this film was not marketable during its release back in ’94, and so it didn’t do too well initially, but it gained fame through word-of-mouth over the next few years. Currently, it holds the top spot on most “Greatest Movie” lists, no matter where you look (it’s hard to find it out of the top 5); sometimes Shawshank takes a number 2 seat to The Godfather, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Tim Robbins plays a brilliant banker who is accused of a crime which sends him to prison for life, where he meets Morgan Freeman. Magic ensues. Not like that, get your mind out of the gutter! Just watch it, trust me!
“Andy Dufresne – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of movies that I have been told to watch that may have also had the chance of making this list. One recent example is The Blind Side, which I swear I’m going to watch in the next few weeks. I also can’t wait to catch The Fighter sometime this week, which is expected to be up for several Oscars. So enjoy the Holiday Season, and if you’re in the need of some inspiration, check out one of the aforementioned films on Megavideo, Netflix, or perhaps Blockbuster (I don’t know how they’re still in business).
Happy Holidays and God bless Hollywood!