Movie enthusiasts typically love a good film that makes you think and view life differently. The acting, narrative, and overall execution of the movie have to be on point to really make you feel like you're experiencing the same situation and emotions as the characters on-screen. The following films give you a deeper appreciation of life through various situations that force you to value your existence differently.
1. The Truman Show (1998)
Watching this film will unquestionably make you reflect on your reality and the life you consider yours. The Truman Show is a cleverly crafted satire centered on the existence of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who unknowingly stars in a reality TV show that has broadcasted his life from the moment he was born. This thought-provoking film offers insightful commentary on the concepts of reality and free will, as it portrays a character who dares to question and ultimately break free from a meticulously fabricated world controlled by the media.
2. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my all-time favorite movies. The struggle that Will Smith's character endured, with his son in tow, really puts things into perspective when you consider how financial hardship affects people's lives. Seeing him unable to afford his rent and then having to find a place for him and his son to sleep was heartbreaking. They went between the bathroom in a subway station, a homeless shelter, and sometimes a hotel if he could scrounge up the cash from one day to the next. Yet, he never gave up hope and constantly tried to provide a better life. I'll never get tired of watching this film!
3. John Q (2002)
John Q is the emotional story of a father willing to do whatever it takes to save his son from dying at the hands of an inadequate healthcare system. Seeing him work as hard as he could to make payments to the hospital offered hope, just for it to be snatched away when he couldn't earn the money fast enough. When he found himself in a situation where he had to accept the death of his son because he couldn't afford to keep him alive, it was a reality check for viewers. We may not always think about not having the necessary medical coverage to meet our needs to the point of it becoming life or death, but that's a real thing!
4. Inception (2010)
Inception explores Dom Cobb's (Leonardo DiCaprio) exciting journey in life. Cobb's character arc, driven by his quest for redemption and a longing to reunite with his family, is a powerful inspiration for appreciating life. His evolution from a haunted and guilt-ridden thief to a man confronting his inner demons demonstrates his capacity to find solace and purpose amidst life's challenges. Watching Cobb's transformative journey encourages viewers to cherish their lives and the potential for personal growth and healing.
5. Crash (2004)
Crash weaves together the lives of diverse characters in Los Angeles, outlining the complexities of human interaction and prejudice. This thought-provoking film forces us to confront our biases and preconceptions, ultimately emphasizing the importance of empathy and understanding in a world where our lives intersect unexpectedly. It's an intense reminder of our actions impact on others, fostering a deeper focus on the interconnectedness of life.
6. My Sister's Keeper (2009)
My Sister's Keeper tells a story about the heartfelt relationship between Sara and her terminally ill daughter, Kate. The film does an excellent job of following their battle through illness and the extraordinary lengths a mother will go to protect her child. Witnessing their connection and the sacrifices made by everyone in the family is a touching reminder to appreciate every moment with loved ones. It inspires gratitude and hope for continued good health in this lifetime.
7. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Will Hunting centers on the transformative relationship between Will Hunting (Matt Damon) and therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Will, a brilliant but troubled young man, and Sean, a grieving therapist, find solace and growth through their improbable friendship. Their emotional journey shows us the potential for healing through genuine relationships. Witnessing their need for each other instills a deep appreciation for the impact individuals can have on each other's lives.
8. The Father (2020)
The Father delves into the life of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), a man grappling with dementia. The film's portrayal of Anthony's disorienting world and his daughter Anne's unwavering support makes us think about how much love and patience are required when caring for a loved one facing cognitive decline. Watching their journey fosters a strong appreciation for the resilience of family bonds and the significance of empathy, leaving viewers with a heightened sense of gratitude for the moments of clarity and connection in life.
10. A Man Called Ove (2015)
In A Man Called Ove, we meet a lonely elderly man, Ove, on the brink of taking his life. Unexpectedly, a lively young neighbor disrupts his plans, injecting color into his faded existence. The film beautifully balances humor and tragedy, celebrating the value of life. It reminds us that even in the most challenging periods, there's the potential for unexpected connections that inspire trust, love, and dedication.
11. Pay It Forward (2000)
Pay It Forward features a young boy named Trevor who initiates a chain of kindness by helping strangers without expecting anything in return. His courageous act, tragically leading to his death, sparks a movement that changes lives. This film serves as a poignant reminder of the ripple effect of compassion and altruism. Trevor's legacy encourages us to treasure life's potential for positive change, even in the darkest moments.
12. The Bucket List (2007)
In The Bucket List, two terminally ill men, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, embark on a journey to fulfill their life's desires before death. Their courage in confronting mortality head-on while pursuing dreams and forging a surprising friendship offers a profound lesson on embracing life. This heartwarming film inspires us to appreciate each moment, reminding us that it's never too late to chase our aspirations and cherish the gift of life.
13. The Help (2011)
Often, it's difficult to watch movies that accurately portray a dark period in any country's history. The Help shed light on the struggles of systemic racism as it relates to African American maids in the 1960s. Through the lens of this film, I can appreciate the progress that has been made and understand the necessity for the Civil Rights Movement to offer hope to the oppressed.
14. Interstellar (2014)
Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan, explores the consequences on humanity as Earth faces environmental collapse. The film's awe-inspiring visuals and emotional depth highlight the efforts of mankind for the sake of preservation. Cooper's (Matthew McConaughey) bond with his daughter Murph transcended even the dimensions of time—illustrating the extraordinary lengths we're willing to go to for those we hold dear through the power of love.
15. The Revenant (2015)
The Revenant follows the life of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who battles nature's harshest elements and confronts the wilderness alone after a brutal bear attack. His indomitable desire to keep pushing forward is unmatched. This harrowing journey makes you appreciate life and the primal instinct to live. The film compels viewers to acknowledge their hardships in conjunction with someone fighting desperately to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
16. The Road (2009)
The Road transports the audience to a desolate, post-apocalyptic world where a man and his young son embark on a perilous journey to the coast, seeking refuge in a harsh environment. The man instills the importance of being “good people” with fire in their hearts, resisting the desperation of cannibalism.
As they navigate this bleak existence, memories of happier and darker times with the boy's mother haunt the man, while the boy begins questioning the moral complexities of survival. I couldn't imagine going through so much to survive daily. It makes you appreciate the peace and security you may take for granted.
17. Cast Away (2000)
In Cast Away, a Tom Hanks classic, we see the main character battling the isolation of a deserted island while holding onto the memory of his fiancée, Kelly. Their love sustains him through years of survival, but he is constantly pushed to his limits mentally, physically, and emotionally. When he finally returns to civilization, he discovers that Kelly has moved on. The desperation for survival and his disappointing reality afterward resonates with the universal human experience of accepting change and moving forward, even during extreme adversity.
18. The Pianist (2002)
The Pianist follows Władysław Szpilman, who endures the harsh realities of World War II in occupied Warsaw. The film showcases acts of compassion from those willing to risk their lives to bring him food and shelter. Moreover, Szpilman's strength during this challenging time was as heartbreaking as it was inspirational. Through the acts of selfless individuals and his determination, he survives against all odds, highlighting the power of kindness, empathy, and the human will to persevere in the most dire circumstances.
19. I Am Legend (2007)
Dr. Robert Neville's (Will Smith) profound yearning for human connection can be seen in his conversations with his beloved dog. Haunted by the loss of his family due to the virus, he dedicates himself to finding a cure, clinging to the hope of restoring humanity. His isolation and the presence of his loyal dog emphasize his deep need for companionship. Neville's drive to find a cure and his determination to keep his hope alive evoke a powerful portrayal of the enduring human spirit despite lingering loneliness and despair.
20. A Time To Kill (1996)
In A Time to Kill, Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) defends a black man, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), who took the law into his own hands to avenge the brutal sexual assault of his daughter by two white supremacists. The movie delves into themes of racial injustice, moral dilemmas, and the quest for justice in a deeply divided society. It highlights the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity and their determination to fight for what is right.
21. Matilda (1997)
Matilda is a childhood classic for many millennials who can remember being in awe of her telekinetic powers. However, it's easy to miss the underlying themes of neglect that the movie shows. Belonging to a family that doesn't love or care about you is a pain that no one should endure, especially a young child—seeing Matilda being forced to do everything for herself because her parents are too selfish to help her or invest in her shows the importance of familial support and nurturing in life.
22. The Covenant (2023)
The Covenant underscores profound themes of duty, honor, and loyalty. After Ahmed saves Kinley's life, Kinley's unwavering commitment is to ensure the safety of Ahmed and his family, even if it means challenging the bureaucracy to secure visas. Their bond transforms them into unlikely allies and even brothers, culminating in a gripping showdown as Kinley risks everything to rescue Ahmed. The film powerfully illustrates the responsibility of honoring our word and how we should stop at nothing in our pursuit of it.
23. Taken (2001)
I became a Liam Neeson fan because of his performance in Taken. Out of all the movies about kidnapping, this one hit home for some reason! I travel all the time and never thought about the prospect of being lured into a human trafficking trap. Seeing Liam Neeson go to the ends of the earth to rescue his daughter successfully kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
24. The Unforgivable (2021)
In Unforgivable, Sandra Bullock portrays Ruth Slater, a woman who has served in prison for committing a violent crime. Upon her release, she embarks on a quest for redemption and forgiveness. The film explores guilt, second chances, and the enduring power of human connection. Ruth's unyielding push toward redemption highlights the impact of forgiveness and the desire to make amends for past mistakes.
25. Saw (2004)
Saw shows us how the will to live is pushed to its limits as victims are subjected to gruesome traps. The films explore the darkest aspects of human survival instincts and moral dilemmas. While the series is known for its extreme gore and terror, it ultimately forces viewers to confront the value of life itself. Leaving the theater, you may not find a positive message, but you'll likely leave with a heightened appreciation for the fragility of life and the instinctual drive to survive when faced with life-or-death situations.