An Inspirational New Year: 5 uplifting films to brighten your January

Come with us and step into the bright lights of 2016. January is a time for re-evaluating our lives and starting things afresh. We all know films are one of the most effective forms of escapism, so what better film to immerse yourself in than on with an uplifting story and inspiring message.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Different people will be touched by different inspirational movies, but some films are universally awe-inspiring. Messages of love, strength, acceptance, and perseverance can help get you through hard times (as well as a dark January).  Here are our top 5 inspirational films.

Video clip – Emily and Sarah discussing their favourite inspirational films


Audio clip – Emily and Sarah discussing their favourite inspirational films

Our Top 5

1.Dead Poet’s Society (1989) Directed by Peter Weir
Selected by Sarah Moore


Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society

Synopsis:  Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the Northeastern United States in 1959,[3] it tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry.
The film won a BAFTA  for Best Film and Best Original Film Score.

Why does it inspire you? I wanted to be a teacher when I was young and have been very fortunate to have outstanding teachers throughout my school years so this film struck a chord with me.  Robin Williams was majestic actor, especially in dramas, and really captured what it means to be a first-class moulder of young minds.  It made me want to be taught by him!

Trivia Fact: Bill Murray, Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman and Liam Neeson were all considered for the role of John Keating.

Trailer: Dead Poet’s Society


2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Director Ben Stiller
Selected by Emily Cook

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

What?  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a comedic adaptation of a short story by  James Thurber‘s, the film is directed by and stars Ben Stiller who plays Walter, a timid and submissive proofreader for a magazine publishing firm. Walter is incapable of standing up for himself, so retreats into his fantasy world, where he is heroic, poised, self-assured, and the master of his fate.
Ben Stiller received a nomination for a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Why does it inspire you? I enjoyed the creative devices used to submerse the viewer within the film, as we see the visualisations of Walter Mitty’s daydreams displayed on screen, we too find ourselves caught in Walter’s mind, one where there’s an unclear divide between reality and imagination. The underlying message reminds us we too can engage with our imaginations and make amazing things happen.

Trivia Fact: The drunk helicopter pilot jokes that “There are like eight people in Greenland”. When Walter goes to Greenland, he only sees eight different people.

Trailer: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


3. Wild (2014) Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Selected by Sarah Moore


What?  American biographical drama film Wild directed by Jean-Marc Vallée is chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy. The film stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern who both received academy award nominations for their performances.

Why does it inspire you? Travel is something I enjoy and I often take walks as my way of relieving stress so watching a film about how a real-life woman trekked such a long distance alone made me feel inspired and humbled.  Reece Witherspoon is an incredibly underrated actress and she definitely deserved the Oscar nomination she received – she emulates courage and single-mindedness and you really feel her pain, both physical and mental.

Trivia Fact: The young Cheryl is portrayed by the daughter of Cheryl Strayed (Straid) who the movie is based on and she also has a cameo in the movie.

Trailer: Wild



4. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Directed by Gabriele Muccino
Selected by Emily Cook

What?  Will Smith and his son Jaden star in this moving tale inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman (Will Smith) struggling to build a future for himself and his 5-year-old son Christopher (Jaden Smith).
Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for his leading performance.

Why does it inspire you? I found this film emotionally engaging, challenging and uplifting. Seeing a character with honourable motives striving to succeed against adversity reminds us what we too can achieve when we put our minds to it. The parallel between the actors’ on screen relationship and off screen relationship makes for powerful and compelling viewing.

Trivia Fact: There’s a cameo from the real Chris Gardner where he walks past Will and Jaden Smith

Trailer: The Pursuit of Happyness


5. Field of Dreams (1989) – Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Selected by Sarah Moore


What? Field of Dreams is a fairy tale celebration of the love of baseball, adapted by screenwriter/director Phil Alden Robinson from W. P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe. The film tells the story of Iowa farmer Ray, played by Kevin Costner, who after hearing a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come,” decides to act. Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie played by (Amy Madigan).

Why does it inspire you?  The reason this film was inspirational to me was that it’s about a man who throws caution to the wind and does something that other people would consider foolhardy, in the hope that something beautiful will happen.  I am quite a steady person but dream of starting my own sandwich shop or hopping on a plane to New York and never coming back!  I love the fact that Ray persists, even though it seems like he really should give up.

Trivia Fact: You can find the location of the field built for the film in Google Maps.

Trailer: Field of Dreams

We hope we’ve given you warm and fuzzy feelings to start the New Year. Have you been inspired by our list? Which films would you list as your top 5 inspirational films?

Happy New Year and Happy Movie Going!

This post was written by Emily Cook and Sarah Moore