10 Movies That Will Change Your Life & Mindset

David

David

When he isn't helping you watch TV abroad, David enjoys watching comedy and documentaries. He's a big fan of The Detectorists and Blue Planet. He also loves watching English football, for his sins he supports Arsenal.

It’s been a tough few years for most people.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on everyone’s lives, with stay-at-home orders, closed schools, and furlough. A lot of people lost their jobs, and many more lost loved ones too.

No sooner have we left the pandemic behind than the economic impact of the Government’s COVID-19 policies have started to hit home as the cost of living crisis broke.

That’s left a lot of people struggling to heat their homes, put fuel in their cars, and even to put food on the table.

Throw in a war in Europe, a climate crisis and it’s easy to understand why so many people are feeling low.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you look at things the right way, there is still plenty to be positive about.

If you need a little inspiration, we are here for you with a list of ten movies that we believe will not only change your mindset but could even upend your whole life.

So let’s dive right in and take a look at them.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump was the feel-good movie of the 90s, and almost thirty years on from its release, it has lost none of its inspirational aura.

The movie tells the life story of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), a kindly but slow man from the US state of Alabama who unwittingly finds himself at the centre of a number of the 20th Century’s most defining events and undertakes some pretty superhuman feats of his own.

As a child, he influences Elvis’ dance moves before growing up to become an All-Star football player and meeting President John F Kennedy.

He serves in Vietnam, where Forrest is a hero and receives the medal of honour, but loses his best friend and saves his Lieutenant, who says he would rather have died.

He becomes a hippy, is involved in the ping-pong diplomacy between the USA and China, and influences John Lennon to write Imagine. Then he founds a shrimp company that makes his fortune before losing the girl he loves and beginning to run.

He runs for three years, back and forwards across the USA, before returning home, where he is told he has a son. His girl dies of an unknown disease, but Forrest is there to raise his son.

The movie was praised for its sweetness and charm, but it is the underlying message that sticks with most people. Forrest is faced with every possible challenge that can be thrown at a person.

But he endures, carries on, and ultimately succeeds. That is a message that we all need to hear sometimes, especially at the moment.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi Is based on a Booker Prize winning novel of the same name by Yann Martel, which was widely thought to be unfilmable.

But Taiwanese director Ang Lee had other ideas, and the result was a sumptuous and powerful film starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, and Rafe Spall.

It tells the story of a young Indian boy who grew up in a zoo and, after taking a ship together with the animals, winds up stranded in a rowing boat with a Bengal Tiger for company.

To survive, Pi creates a raft tethered to the boat for the tiger, which is called Richard Parker. Using his skills, he attempts to assert his position as the alpha creature over Richard Parker and is able to reboard the boat.

Pi’s struggles on the boat are documented in the film and, eventually, it lands on an island covered with algae. He regains his strength but discovers the carnivorous nature of the algae and goes back to sea.

Eventually, after 227 days adrift, the boat washes up in Mexico. Richard Parker disappears into the undergrowth without looking back, leaving Pi heartbroken but alive.

When quizzed by officials who don’t believe this version, Pi retells it with humans in the boat and asks which story they believe, they choose the one with animals.

The themes of the movie are rooted in the idea that life is a story that you tell yourself and things are not always as they seem. Although, lots of people have gained inspiration from the unlikely tale of survival against the odds too.

The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness stars Oscar-winning pugilist Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and Smith’s real-life son Jaden as his son, Christopher Jr.

He earns an unpaid position as a trainee stockbroker, one of twenty candidates competing for a single paid role. His wife leaves him, and he is evicted, ending up living in a homeless shelter with his son.

Gardner never reveals his difficult personal life to his colleagues and makes progress at work. In the end, he earns the job and celebrates with his son.

The real beauty of The Pursuit of Happyness, is that it is based on a true story. Chris Gardner is a real person, this story is 100% true, and the real Gardner even appears in the final scene of the movie.

Following the events of the movie, Gardner went on to establish his own multi-million dollar brokerage firm.

The moral of the film is an obvious one. While the movie is packed with Hollywood melodrama, the takeaway message is that hard work, loyalty to your family, and determination will bring their own rewards.

Not everyone will make millions like Chris Gardner did. But if we show the right values, even at the toughest possible moments, society will usually reward us for it.

Yes Man

Yes Man is a Jim Carrey vehicle starring Zooey Deschanel and from that, you might assume that it is a quirky oddball comedy. But it is so much more than that.

The film is based on the book of the same name by British comedian Danny Wallace about a divorced bank loan officer called Carl who goes to a motivational seminar where he is convinced to say yes to any opportunity that presents itself.

He says yes to a homeless man’s request, and it doesn’t work out well to start with, but he ends up getting a kiss from Alison, a young woman who gives him a ride.

But he says no to an elderly neighbour who offers him oral sex, then falls down the stairs and gets attacked by a dog.

He keeps saying yes and makes friends, ends up learning Korean, and meets up with Alison again, and they start dating. They go on a spontaneous trip but end up getting arrested. Alison finds out about the retreat, and they separate.

There is a convoluted happy ending eventually, but the main message of this story is to open your mind to new things and fresh possibilities.

After a few years where everyone’s lives have been constrained, this is a refreshing perspective and something which has the potential to open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Dead Poets Society

A cult classic starring the irrepressible Robin Williams as John Keating, an unorthodox English teacher at an all-boys prep school in Vermont.

Keating encourages the boys in his class to “make your lives extraordinary” and “seize the day”. They stand on desks, rip bits out of their books, and develop individual walks.

It emerges that Keating was a member of an unauthorised group called the Dead Poets Society when he went to the school, and one boy, Neil, restarts the group with other members of the class.

The lessons begin to have positive effects on their own lives. One boy begins to date the girl of his dreams and another gets into acting. But his domineering father forces him to quit. He withdraws him from the school, and enrols him into a military academy, with tragic consequences.

The subsequent upheaval ends the Dead Poets Society and results in Keating being fired and the movie’s most famous scene as the boys stand by their teacher.

The underlying message in Dead Poets Society is another which resonates powerfully in the current day and age. Be true to yourself, follow your passion, and remember to make every day extraordinary.

Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks makes his second appearance on our list in Stephen Spielberg’s Second World War epic, Saving Private Ryan.

Following a remarkable portrayal of the Normandy landings, the movie tells the story of a squad of US Army rangers sent behind enemy lines to recover Private James Ryan, the last of four brothers, three of whom died in the landings.

The mission takes them deep into occupied France, where they take on a number of Germans, with tragic consequences for some members of the company.

The squad reaches the bridge that Ryan is defending and tells him the bad news. But while upset, he refuses to leave his post. The squad remain to help defend it, but a German onslaught kills more before Captain Miller Hanks) is also hit and mortally wounded.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Air support arrives in the nick of time, and Ryan survives, but Miller dies after telling him to “earn this” by which he means to live his best life that so many have died to give him.

In a powerful climax, the movie cuts to an old man revealed to be the real-life James Ryan, who says he hopes he lived up to the request. We then see Miller’s tombstone and realise this is a true story.

The morale of Saving Private Ryan is not a subtle one. But it is a powerful one. Live your best life because so many other people don’t get the opportunities that you do. Don’t, whatever you do, waste them.

Amadeus

Amadeus is a Miloš Forman movie based on the stage play by Peter Schaffer about Antonio Salieri, a less-known contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The film tells the fictional tale of a rivalry between the two composers and is based on the false contemporary rumour that Salieri murdered Mozart.

The premise of the movie is around the idea that Salieri, the court composer to the Austrian Emperor Joseph II is acutely jealous that the younger Mozart has so much natural talent, which he lacks.

Salieri works hard, while Mozart drinks and womanises, yet still composes music beyond anything Salieri is capable of. He questions his faith, attempts to sabotage Mozart’s work, and plots to kill him and steal his work.

The film more than stands up on its own. But the messaging around envy and jealousy is timely today.

Modern society tends to leave us looking upon those more fortunate than us with jealousy rather than appreciating what we have. And in these straitened times, that’s something we could all learn from.

Whiplash

Whiplash is another music-focused movie, albeit a very different one to Amadeus.

It follows music student and jazz drummer Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller) and his abusive instructor Terrence Fletcher (JK Simmons), at a fictional conservatoire in New York.

Neimann is subjected to verbal and physical abuse but is determined and practices hard, even separating from his girlfriend to give him more practice time.

A car accident on the way to a gig means he cannot perform, and Fletcher fires him. It then emerges that a previous student of his had killed themselves. He quits music but then encounters Fletcher in a jazz bar.

He defends his methods, citing Charlie Parker’s rise to fame and invites Neimann to play with his band. That sets up a powerful and emotional ending which is a must-see for all jazz and drumming aficionados.

It is a wonderful movie that not only leaves us loving jazz music, but which also makes us realise that while working hard to achieve your goals is laudable, there has to be a limit somewhere, and work-life balance matters.

Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby was directed by and starred Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn, an old-school boxing coach who is persuaded, against all his instincts and prejudices to come out of retirement to coach a female boxer.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is an amateur with a reputation for quick knockouts, but Frankie’s methods raise questions from his assistant Scrap (Morgan Freeman).

Maggie makes progress, and Frankie takes her to Europe where she continues to win. She is under pressure in her personal life and, eventually, Frankie lines her up a title fight with a US$1 million kitty in Vegas.

***SPOILER ALERT***

But her opponent is dirty, hits Maggie after the bell, and she is paralysed after hitting her head on her stool.

Her family arrive to try and get her money, but she sends them packing. But as her health declines, she asks Frankie to help her die. It sets up a tragic and tear-jerking finale to a hugely powerful movie that quite rightly won huge acclaim for everyone involved.

The movie’s message around the character of Frankie is to never judge a book by its cover, but the whole movie tells you to know who your real friends are, and to keep them close.

Of Mice and Men

The movie version of classic John Steinbeck is another tearjerker, this one set during the Great Depression.

It stars Gary Sinese as George, a travelling labourer and John Malkovich as Lenny, his mentally disabled companion.

Lenny likes stroking soft things, and it emerges that they are on the move after he was accused of rape in the previous town they worked in. They have a dream to one day own a piece of land where Lenny can keep rabbits.

They find work, but Lenny gets in trouble because he doesn’t know his own strength. He then accidentally kills a flirtatious woman. He is chased by a mob but George finds him first, and saves him in the only way he can.

Of Mice and Men is about friendship and loyalty. But it is also about misunderstanding people and their intentions and the extent that desperate people will go to keep themselves alive.

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