Unlock some main character energy and give those new year resolutions a boost with our picks for the best motivational films ever made.
So you’ve written all your new year resolutions down, you’re busy getting on with them, and then it hits you. The motivation slump. Boom, right back down to earth. Can’t do it, won’t do it.
Sounds like you need a motivational movie to pull you through. From all-time classics to some lesser-known flicks, these movies are perfectly calibrated for pumping you up for the new year, new you.
Rising up from the streets, Sylvestor Stallone’s Rocky is plucked from obscurity to fight heavyweight champ Apollo Creed. Against all odds, Rocky wins, *checks notes* oh wait, nearly wins. Anyway, yes, Rocky loses, but as a firm underdog, he has succeeded against all expectations (and bagged the girl).
Over the course of 6 films (and the brilliant Creed sequel films) this formula doesn’t change all too much. Even when Rocky is the favourite at the beginning of a film, he’s soon pushed down to underdog status so he can rise up again. Formulaic? Sure. Effective? F*ck yeh.
At least 3 of the films’ montages are all-time classics in the montage hall of fame (more on some other all-time greats later) and everything from the soundtrack to Rocky pummelling slabs of meat and charging up a snow peaked mountain is just pure ‘new year, new me’ motivational fodder.
Talking of soundtracks, it doesn’t get much more motivational than Vangelis’ stirring synths for this epic sports drama. What actually happens in the film though?
Based on a true story, two British athletes in the 1924 Olympics, one a determined Jewish man and the other a devout Christian, are driven to win in the 1924 Olympics while wrestling with issues of religion, race, pride, conscience, and well, the whole shebang basically. It’s all very stirring stuff – perfect for watching before you dive into those marathon training plans.
Arguably the best sports film of 2022, there are two motivational stories at play in Hustle. The first is Adam Sandler’s NBA scout Stanley Sugerman, who gambles his career and his future, on the other protagonist, Bo Cruz, a young prospect from Spain. Even if basketball ain’t your bag, there are enough wisecracks and heart here to keep your head in the game.
Stuck in a deep depression and with limited hiking experience, Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) takes off on a 1,100 miles (1,800 km) hike across the Pacific Crest Trail. Based on a 2012 memoir and New York Times best-seller, the film is an emotional journey that sees Strayed using the challenge to reflect on her old life and start to build a new one. Kinda like a new year's resolution hey?
Ok, enough of the sporty dramas. Let’s take a detour…
Directed by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and set in Malawi, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, is based on another true story, proving that the best motivational movies are born from real life resolutions.
13-year-old William Kamkwamba is thrown out of the school when his family can no longer afford the fees. In a bid to save his village from famine, William sneaks into the library and learns how to build a windmill. It’s a predictably uplifting arc, but one that’s bound to get those side hustles moving.
We’ve all seen it, but is there a better time to give it a rewatch then when you’re dreaming up ways of making the coming year the best yet?
Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) is a slow-witted and kind hearted man who ends up running across the country, becoming a ping-pong superstar, and founding a multi-million dollar seafood chain. It’s basically a film about living life to the fullest, an important message to remember as we enter another year.
It might be one of the more popular resolutions, but running a marathon is still no easy feat.
This funny relatable comedy, sees 27-year-old Brittany stuck in a perpetual cycle of nights out and having to slog herself through the next day. So, in a bid to bring some sense and order to her life and stop the cycle, Brittany runs a marathon.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That’s half of the charm of this motivational watch. For unlike becoming heavyweight champion of the world or an NBA basketball player, we could all potentially run a marathon if we just resolve to do it.
Ah nothing buts a motivational tearjerker. Will Smith plays struggling salesman Chris Gardner as he battles to make a better life for himself and his son, all while being evicted from his home.
With everything counting against home Chris manages to bag a high-paying, life-changing job, before forming his own multimillion-dollar brokerage firm. It’s a punch-the-air moment that lives long in the memory. Just whether that memory outlasts your new year's resolutions is up to you.
“Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns.” We return, and conclude, with arguably the greatest montage ever put to film. You don’t even need to watch the whole film – although we’d recommend you do. Just whack the video on Youtube, head to the gym, and smash that PB like your Mulan taking on the Hun invasion.
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