Movies are a great way to inspire us, and all ten of these films will give you the motivation needed to start a new beginning this New Year. Each of these movies can teach us something about change, resilience, and pursuing your dreams.
January is the perfect time of year to tap into these traits and qualities. Whether you are feeling the post-Christmas blues or feeling energized by the new year’s possibilities, these movies will help you focus on your goals.
Some of them may remind you how strong and unbreakable the human spirit can be. Maybe you are feeling demotivated because you had a tough year last year. That’s understandable, but let a movie like Wild ignite the fire of survival in you.
The good news is that no matter what kind of negative mood you are in, you can most certainly get back on track. So, grab some hot cocoa and a fuzzy blanket, and settle in to watch some of the most motivating movies out there!
Don’t forget to also check out these holiday movies and shows on Netflix.
This movie is based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The story chronicles her one thousand one hundred mile solo hike, which she took after her divorce and the death of her mom. She was feeling lost and depressed and thought this hike would help her find herself.
The movie shows how Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) encounters many dangerous adventures on her hike. She had never done any hiking and was ill-prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. At one point, she loses a boot and is forced to hike the frozen wilderness with duct tape on her feet.
With the state of mind Cheryl was in prior to these near-death and harrowing experiences on her hike, it wouldn’t have been surprising if she had perished. Instead, she persevered and managed to not only survive but change the course of her whole life. It is a story of new beginnings, unlike any other.
#2 The Pursuit of Happyness
This next movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, is also based on a true story. Chris Gardner, an American businessman and motivational speaker, had a rough start during the 80s. Will Smith portrays the character depicting a struggling salesman. Gardner has custody of his toddler son while being homeless.
The movie explains the breakdown of the Gardner’s marriage because of financial struggles. It also shows some ways Gardner and his son had to survive being homeless in the city. Gardner is one of 20 people given an unpaid stockholder internship, who must compete for one opening as a paid stockbroker.
If you are looking for a story to remind you that your current circumstances are temporary and within your control to change, then watch this film. It will show you that the road to change is difficult and requires work and sacrifice, but is possible. My favorite part of this film is when Will Smith passes the real Chris Gardner (decked out in a suit) on the street—it’s the perfect cameo moment.
#3 Under the Tuscan Sun
Another movie based on a true story, Under the Tuscan Sun, is about a writer who impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life. The movie is based on the memoir of Frances Mayes (played by Diane Lane), a San Francisco writer.
Her picture-perfect life takes an unexpected turn when she learns her husband has been cheating on her. They divorce—and she loses the house to her ex-husband and his much-younger new partner, who is also pregnant.
These world-changing events leave Frances depressed and unable to write. She buys the villa because of a series of things she believes to be signs. The movie does a lovely job depicting all the new relationships and parts of herself that she discovers.
#4 Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is a fictional story, but it still does a wonderful job illustrating the challenges of new beginnings. After spending months in a mental institution, because of his bipolar disorder, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents.
He tries to reconcile with his ex-wife, Nikki, but meets and begins a friendship with a widow named Tiffany. Tiffany claims she will help him win back his ex, if he helps her win a dance competition. Pat’s father is also struggling with illegal gambling in order to secure funds to open the restaurant of his dreams.
This movie has a powerful story of new beginnings for all the characters. It is also a great reminder that most things in this life have a silver lining.
#5 Sleepless in Seattle
This is one of my favorite rom-coms! Sleepless in Seattle is another fictional story, but it offers us a chance to witness a new beginning to a love story. Chicago architect Sam Baldwin loses his wife Maggie to cancer.
He and his eight-year-old son Jonah start a new life in Seattle, while grieving their loss. A year and a half later on Christmas Eve, Jonah calls in to a radio talk show. He then persuades his reluctant father to go on the air to talk about how much he misses Maggie.
Thousands of women respond to the radio show and write Sam letters. One listener, Annie Reed, is struggling with where she in life. Jonah intercepts the letters and plays matchmaker. It’s an adorable and emotional story about love and grief.
#6 The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is a fictional story based on a Stephen King novella. The movie chronicles the lives and friendships of two imprisoned men.
Over the years, the pair undergo lots of growth and development, finding their new beginning in unlikely ways. They find solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Friendship and redemption are the common themes of this movie. It is also a reminder that no matter who you are, or what you have done, new beginnings are possible.
Rocky is the ultimate underdog story and should inspire you to face your challenges. In the movie, a small-time Philadelphia boxer gets a rare chance to fight the world heavyweight champion.
Rocky is a movie that shows us all things are possible when we commit to doing the work required to go the distance. The new beginning in this movie comes as a result of determination and building self-respect.
Almost anything is possible, and this movie is a wonderful reminder to be resilient and consistent.
#8 Soul Surfer
Soul Surfer tells the harrowing true survival story of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton. The young competitive surfer shows promise in the sport and is a natural. She seems to have an instinctual ability to sense the waves, and her future looks bright.
One day, while she is just floating in the ocean on her board, a shark attacks biting a massive hole in her board—and taking her arm with him. This movie will bring you to tears. Not only was Bethany’s survival a miracle (she had lost 60% of her blood volume), but this girl manages to surf competitively again.
The movie does an excellent job showing how she goes through all the stages of grief over the loss of her limb and the future she had planned. It also proves that nothing is impossible, even overcoming our own fears.
#9 Eat, Pray, Love
Even though it is fiction, this movie is the perfect reminder of life can change in an instant. The protagonist, Elizabeth Gilbert, seemed to have it all: a successful career, a loving husband, and a close-knit group of friends.
However, one day, she loses everything unexpectedly. She remembers a prophecy told to her by a guru she met in Bali. So, she leaves everything behind and takes a one-year trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia using the last of the money she had left.
It’s a great movie and a wonderful lesson on how to find happiness when it feels like the world is crumbling down around us and everything is wrong. New beginnings often come from some terrible endings.
#10 Seven Pounds
Another Will Smith movie to inspire you makes the list! This one is a little different from the rest, as it is much darker. It involves some lying and identity theft, but at the heart of it is the death of 6 people and one man’s guilt.
I don’t want to spoil this because if you haven’t seen it is epic. It is a story of redemption, the interconnectedness we share as humans, and the power of a single life.
This is not one man’s story of a new beginning, but rather a story of how the lives of seven strangers are changed.
Which film about ‘new beginnings’ will you watch first?
You can’t go wrong with any of these movies, in my opinion. Each one offers a seemingly insurmountable obstacle until the characters overcome them and start fresh.
Some are true stories, while others are works of fiction, but they all will have you looking at your life a little differently. Something doesn’t have to be non-fiction to bring your inspirational spark to life.
One of my favorite new beginnings quotes is actually a line from a Rob Thomas song: “Every new beginning is some other beginnings end.” This couldn’t be more accurate.
We don’t know where life will take us or what will happen next, but we know we can choose our response to it. What is your favorite movie about new beginnings and fresh starts? Let us know in the comment section below.