Thursday, October 01, 2015

My 10 Greatest Inspirational Movies of All Time (Part I)

When we talk about inspirational movies, we're usually talking about sports films. However, there's a wide range of movies that didn't involve sports that were also inspiring. For my list, the rules are simple.

One, I have to have seen the film.

Two, the film needs to have have an impact on me in a visceral way. I know that sounds strange when you're making a list of inspirational films, It's just, how many times do you see movies like Brian's Song, released in 1971, on that list, and the writer is under thirty. Not that it isn't a good story, but come on.

Like most lists, this is completely subjective. And I'd love for your feedback as to movies I missed and ones that I should have included.

One final note. A movie doesn't have to be about someone achieving something, whether they become champions or famous, to be inspirational. That needs to be said, because I'm sure a number of people will look at some of these choices and may wonder how they're inspirational. That's why a list like this is subjective.

These films inspired me, and as such, have probably been watched multiple times.


I put a request out on my Facebook for suggestions, and these are the ones I received. A number of them I either haven't seen or they didn't make my Top Ten, but they're all terrific films. If you're looking for an inspirational movie this weekend, try one of these!

The Lives of Others, Blindside, The Duff, Dirty Dancing, Amelie, Fight Club, Rocky IV, Beaches, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Passion of the Christ, When The Game Stands Tall, For The Love of the Game, About Time, Magnolia, Schindler's List, El Camino, Seabiscuit, The Thin Red Line, Pride and Prejudice (the miniseries, and it gets included because it's awesome), Ever After, A Walk to Remember


These were films I considered but, for a variety of reasons, didn't make it into the Top Ten. Nonetheless, I recommend all of them. (Obviously)

Dead Poets Society, Rocky II, Aspen Extreme, Cinderella Man, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Hoosiers, Slumdog Millionaire (my greatest experience ever in a movie theatre)

The hardest to leave off this list was Dead Poets Society. I LOVE that film, and it is still one Robin Williams' finest performances. But it came out when I was fifteen, and probably too young to appreciate it by the time I saw it.

Hoosiers was also difficult to leave off the list. I categorize it as my favourite sports film of all time, but in terms of inspiration, there were, for me, just a few better choices. Still, it's a wonderful film. Six months from now, if I were to do this list again, it might be on it.

I don't give a description of every film, you can find that anywhere, but I do not my favourite moment in the film.



I never get tired of this one. A young Homer Hickham defies the odds and wrestles with his family to pursue his dreams. Based on a true story.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: The final rocket, when his dad comes to watch. There are a number of great scenes, especially with his teacher who inspires him, but I loved it because it was so earned. Awesome.


Yes, yes. I'm a writer. But it's difficult to create inspirational "writer" movies because the act of writing is so stationary and non-visual. (Oh, look at her at that keyboard!) But this is probably the best one out there. (Though I enjoyed Wonder Boys as well)

FAVOURITE SCENE: When William Forrester appears at the school to defend Jamal, and reads his work in front of Jamal's teacher.


There are going to be more sports movies on here than in other genres because they tend to be inspirational and because I'm a sports nut. Baseball (along with boxing) are the two most cinematic sports, and both have a long literary history as well.

In this case, an in-his-prime Kevin Costner gives a tremendous "every man" performance as a man seeking something more.

FAVOURITE SCENE: "Hey dad, wanna have a catch?" Tears. Honestly. One of my favourite scenes of all time.


First, let's just all take a second to give thanks that the way they do trailers now (and they're much more expensive) are about twenty times better then they used to be. Wow.

Okay, rant over. On to the movie.

Look, we all know about Damon and Affleck, and they're both great in this film. (Affleck doesn't get enough credit for his work here.) But this is Robin Williams' film. He's the anchor. Skarsgard is excellent, and Minnie Driver doesn't actually look like she hates everyone, but this is about Williams, who won a best supporting role for his work here.

I wrote about Williams a year ago. And as someone who has always battled depression, his death affected me greatly. How ironic then, that two of his films (Dead Poets was #12 for me) continue to inspire us.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: A lot of people may cite the "it's not your fault" scene, and I'd have no quibble with that, but I liked the scene when Williams tells Damon he's going to put his "cards on the table" again. Mentoring relationships do not work one way. As much as he's helped Damon, Williams has also been inspired to "go for it" again. Terrific film.


Shawshank is probably the best Stephen King story ever. (Yes, that's surprising isn't it.) Beautifully acted, it wasn't a hit when it arrived at theaters, but found its popularity on the home market. It is today, on of our treasured films. And if you ever feel like the world has consigned your fate, watch this. You won't regret it.

FAVOURITE MOMENT: "I guess it comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living. Or get busy dying."

What he said. Be inspired.

I'll list my TOP FIVE tomorrow.