January is when most of the world seems motivated to make major life changes, but it’s tough to get going on any kind of transformation if you haven’t been inspired. If you watch a couple of these epiphany-driven movies, though, you might just find yourself moving toward some personal revelations of your own.
1. Pay It Forward – It’s one of those “inspirational” stories that’s touching, but manages to avoid becoming as sappy as a Lifetime movie. In Pay It Forward, the child of a single mother fulfills a class assignment by trying to make the world better, one act of kindness at a time.
2. He Got Game – Starring Denzel Washington and NBA veteran Ray Allen, this one makes the list because of its commentary on ethics and loyalty.
3. Forrest Gump – If you haven’t seen this already, do it ASAP. It not only has one of the most memorable lines in movie history, but it reminds you that some people are just genuinely good.
4. The Truman Show – After Ace Ventura and The Mask, it’s hard to remember Jim Carrey for his dramatic roles, but existentialism and ideas of God are pretty heavy in this one. Make sure you have a box of tissues and a good friend on speed dial when you watch it.
5. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – Yes, it’s every kid’s favorite, but “so shines a good deed in a weary world” might become your personal maxim after watching this movie no longer being a candy-crazed toddler.
6. The Pursuit of Happyness – This recent movie made the list because: a) it’s based on Christopher Gardner’s real life, b) Oprah dedicated an entire episode to it, and c) it shows someone overcoming obstacles that seem impossible because of his own faith in himself.
7. Erin Brockovich – Julia Roberts won an Oscar for portraying this real-life story on screen. She plays a hot, kick-ass single mom defending an entire community against a corrupt corporation, despite zero years of law school under her belt. “I think it’s an inspiring chick flick,” said Carolyn Jones, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University. “She’s a single mom of three who works hard and doesn’t take no for an answer.”
8. Finding Forrester – Any English major or aspiring writer will find some renewed interest in storytelling after watching this symbiotic relationship between a young student and a reclusive, J.D. Salinger-like author.
9. Garden State – Zach Braff’s life changes after going home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. He stands up to – and mends his relationship with – his father and falls in love with a girl who gives him the strength to do so.
10. Aladdin – Seems like a strange choice for this list, but with Disney-worthy morals of love and being true to yourself, this animated movie can still encourage you to be a better person. Plus, it’s cute and hilarious. Elena Sava, a junior at George Mason University, said, “It’s a great movie to watch as a kid because of the songs and the storyline, but when you watch it as an adult it’s more about catching the subtle lines that you missed as a kid. When you do catch them, you laugh out loud.”