Many of us have had moments in life that change how we view everything. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your life is like, these moments can transform your world.
Sometimes, just watching someone else go through these moments can be a learning experience. Seeing someone survive insurmountable odds or overcoming impossible obstacles can give you a new perspective on life. Which is why watching movies about these life-changing moments can be so powerful.
If you’re interested in watching inspiring movies that deal with the ups and downs life throws at us, then keep reading. As we explore seven movies that may just change your life. For good, and forever. Just ensure that you don’t watch the movies on your smartphone.
1. The Pursuit of Happyness [No Longer Available]
At the lowest point of his life, penniless and having lost his wife, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his young son (Jaden Smith) are playing basketball together. Jaden reveals to his father that his dream is to become a star basketball player some day. It’s a dream that Chris immediately shoots down without thinking.
Seeing the dejected look on his son’s face, Chris catches himself. He walks over to his son, looks him straight in the eyes, and tells him:
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”
It’s a quote that carries the tone of this entire film. The movie opens with Chris Gardner narrating his own tale. Telling the viewer about his hopes and dreams of making a fortune selling bone density scanners. It’s a dream he believed in so much that he invested his and his wife’s life savings into it. It’s also a dream that failed miserably, leaving Chris penniless, without a wife, and eventually homeless.
With only his son by his side and a few dollars in his pocket, Chris embarks on a new dream: to become a wealthy stockbroker.
The Lesson: By the end of this film, you’ll see just how true it is that no matter how difficult it gets, if you believe in a dream, and are willing to work hard at it, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. (The Pursuit of Happyness is one of several dad movies on Netflix.)
2. The Shawshank Redemption [No Longer Available]
If you think your life is tough, imagine discovering that your wife is having an affair. Then imagine discovering that your wife has been murdered. And to hammer a final nail in your coffin, imagine you then get falsely convicted and sent to prison for her murder.
This is exactly what happened to character Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), at the start of this compelling film about hope, friendship, and what it means to be “institutionalized”.
Andy Dufresne struggles at first to adapt to life behind bars. At times, the gritty assaults and violence he faces will have you wondering why we’ve included this film in this list.
However, Andy’s friend Red (Morgan Freeman) provides him with the advice and guidance he needs to survive against impossible odds. Little does Red realize that it’s actually Andy who’s going to teach him the most important lesson of his life—the meaning of the word “Hope”.
The Lesson: Even under the most dire of circumstances, if you can maintain your grasp on hope, you can make it through anything.
3. Bridget Jones’s Diary [No Longer Available]
If you think that you’re a hopeless romantic, just wait until you meet Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) in this adorable comedy about a bumbling career woman who hopes to turn her life around in the New Year by journaling.
As she narrates each day’s entry in her diary, you will cringe as you watch poor Bridget struggling through a valiant effort at weight loss, embarrassing attempts to flirt with her boss, and her shocking realization that she’s caught in a love triangle.
Two men reveal their love to Bridget, and by the end of the movie, you’ll fall in love with poor Bridget too.
The Lesson: No matter how pathetic you think you are, there’s always someone out there who will find something about you to fall in love with.
4. The Truman Show [No Longer Available]
Have you ever felt like your life was just one long sitcom? Well, what if it really was? For Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), the only reality he’s ever known since childhood has been a reality concocted by a visionary director (Ed Harris).
Everything in Truman’s world is fake—from the carefully positioned branded products his wife keeps promoting, to the death of his own father in a tragic drowning. Truman blissfully goes about his daily life, until small events start happening that gradually make him paranoid about the reality of the world around him.
The Lesson: Some things in life can’t be scripted, like the human thirst for adventure, and the search for love.
5. Seeking a Friend For the End of the World [No Longer Available]
You would think that an asteroid hurtling towards Earth (which is almost as bad as the forthcoming zombie apocalypse) would put an end to the human quest for love, but this quirky comedy reveals that’s not the case at all.
After the announcement that an asteroid will be ending all life on the planet, an insurance salesman named Dodge (Steve Carell) discovers that his wife wants nothing to do with him and leaves him immediately. On the brink of inevitable depression, Dodge stumbles across his eccentric young neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley), who delivers a letter left for him from his long lost sweetheart.
Once Kiera learns that Dodge hopes to seek out his lost love, she joins him on a road trip that will leave both of them changed forever… or at least until the asteroid hits.
The Lesson: It’s never too late to find your one true love.
6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close [No Longer Available]
If there’s a single film to watch that will tug at your heartstrings while also providing an entirely new perspective on life, this is the one.
Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is an incredibly imaginative young boy who tragically loses his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. Throughout Oskar’s childhood, his father had always brought him on great adventures through the city.
For Oskar, it made sense that his father’s death—and the mysterious key that he found in his father’s closet—would become the last, and greatest quest, his father would send him on.
In his tireless search throughout the city for his father’s final message, Oskar discovers many truths about his grandparents, about his mother, and about grieving the loss of his father.
The Lesson: Sometimes the hardest part of seeking answers about a tragedy is accepting that some things have no answers.
7. Phenomenon [No Longer Available]
Imagine an ordinary guy—an auto mechanic kind of ordinary—gets struck by an unusual light from the sky and starts to develop paranormal powers. This is exactly what happens to George Malley (John Travolta) in this 1996 drama.
George’s first “powers” are extraordinary intelligence. Then, he discovers that he can actually move objects with only his mind. After demonstrating his newfound powers at the bar in town, George becomes the talk of the town. As word spreads, even the government takes an interest in George and his special abilities.
Unfortunately, with those powers come an unnerving revelation from his doctor (Robert Duvall), that he has a brain tumor. This revelation puts George on a new path: one where he seeks out more important things in life, like love.
The Lesson: It shouldn’t take a zap to the head, or a fatal diagnosis, for us to finally realize what (and who) is truly important in our lives.
Finding Meaning in Movies
However, some movies have the ability to burrow deep into your mind and heart, and stay with you for a lifetime. And possibly change your outlook on life in the process. To find more of them, check out some of the best movie recommendation sites. Want Netflix-specific recommendations? Try these sites and apps to discover Netflix movies to watch.