8 Hidden Gem Movies To Inspire You in 2013January 3, 2013
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.
~from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
It’s 2013 already and I’ve decided to start things off not the way I normally would (that is, making funny or sarcastic comments about the world) but on an uplifting note. With my new position starting next week and a trip to California soon afterward, I have every prerogative to be positive. It’s also been a while since I’ve done either a List of 8 or a movie post, so the time seems right to do both at once.
These are some of the movies that have really inspired me over the years, for various reasons. Not all of them are/were blockbusters and only a few are “Based on a True Story.” As we begin a new year, I know all of us could use a little inspiration and motivation to realize our goals or help reinvent ourselves. If you haven’t seen one or more of these, why not make it a Netflix rental this weekend? Even if you have, why not go back for a little extra inspiration? You can thank me later; I’ll even buy the virtual popcorn.
#8: 12 Angry Men (1957)
Why it inspired me: To many modern viewers it may initially seem dull, with its deceptively simple subject matter of a jury’s deliberations during a murder trial and its claustrophobic set. 11 jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt and only one of them, #8 (Henry Fonda) believes in his innocence. He slowly but surely begins to sow seeds of doubt in the others. One of those rare films that shows its audience the power of logic and the hidden agendas all of us carry inside. Riveting to watch.
#7: Antwone Fisher (2003)
Why it inspired me: Over the years I’ve watched many movies about people of different cultures who grew up in poverty and violence. As a Caucasian this often makes me feel guilty about my comparative Life of Riley; Antwone Fisher did just the opposite. It put me in the title character’s shoes and helped me see through his eyes. I glad to read the real-life Fisher’s autobiography and how he succeeded in life through service in the U.S. Navy. This movie is about the power of forgiveness and love even if we have been terribly wronged. Denzel Washington‘s directorial debut. A must-see.
#6: The Last Unicorn (1982)
Why it inspired me: I never really knew until I got older; I had the VHS tape as a child and watched it over and over. Like so many well-made children’s movies, there’s more to the story. The lonely unicorn, thinking she is the last of her kind, goes on a perilous quest to find the others. Along the way she discovers the very best along with the very worst of humanity. This movie is about the need all of us have to step outside our comfort zones and go looking for what really matters to us. Beautiful in every way, more Miyazaki than Disney, with striking imagery.
#5: The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Why it inspired me: It’s certainly not based on a true story, and even if it somehow were, I’d still enjoy it. Unlike any animated film I’ve ever seen; Triplets has everything from a vacuum-cleaner jazz trio to a little old lady crossing the ocean in a rowboat to exploding frogs…all without a single word of dialogue. This is a film that reinforced my long-held fantasy that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. It also has an insanely catchy theme song.
#4: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Why it inspired me: 1939 was a banner year for movies, and I love just about all of Jimmy Stewart‘s films, so why’d I choose this one? It’s about idealism and the power of believing in something greater than ourselves. Though it was made over 70 years ago, its message is still as strong as ever. Our gridlocked political system could do with re-watching this one…and it has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican, but rather being an American.
#3: Babe (1995)
Why it inspired me: What is it with me and talking-animal flicks? Babe is the Citizen Kane of talking-animal movies. It’s about love, loss, prejudice, hate, animal rights, freedom, second chances, and perseverance. It’s also about not letting the circumstances of our birth, or our physical appearance or handicap, dictate how we live our lives. You’ll find yourself cheering for the title character, a piglet who dreams of being a sheep-herder. This is an allegory in the best possible way. It’s also one of those rare movies that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
#2: The Iron Giant (1999)
Why it inspired me: Hardly anyone at the time saw this; it’s now deservedly a cult favorite. (If nothing else, it’s Brad Bird’s directorial debut.) Its story of a boy meeting and bonding with an extraterrestrial being is familiar ground, but it’s done with such heart and wit that I gladly overlook it. This is a powerful story about not letting our fate be chosen for us, and of unconditional love. The voice cast is terrific and so is the 1950s paranoid Cold War milieu. One of only three films that make me cry every single time I see them (see also below.)
#1: Rudy (1993)
Why it inspired me: Plenty of sports movies have been made about the “little guy” winning: Rocky, Hoosiers, Seabiscuit. I like them all, but the true (albeit Hollywood-ized) story of “Rudy” Ruettiger is my favorite. I watch it every year to motivate myself. Not only does Rudy get a chance to live his childhood dream of playing football at Notre Dame, he also educates himself along the way and inspires countless others. I love this movie because it’s about always giving 100 percent, and the need to cultivate and develop relationships in our lives. If you’ve never watched it, and even if you’re not into sports movies, treat yourself (and bring plenty of tissues for the end.)
What are some of your favorite inspirational movies? Why do you like them so much?