There are films that touch the hearts of broad audiences in an almost universal fashion. The following may very well be the 5 most uplifting movies, bar none. Let’s see if you agree.
1: Forrest Gump
The 1994 romance drama starring Tom Hanks, Sally Fields, Robin Wright, Mykelti Williamson, and Gary Sinise was a box office smash that earned six Academy Awards. Hanks proves convincing in his role as a low-IQ young man who inspires people he meets during his journey.
Bullied for what some see as shortcomings during his youth, Forrest Gump becomes a college football All-American, Vietnam War hero, and millionaire while doing the right thing. Forrest Gump, the man and the movie, teaches us that love, kindness, and the patience he demonstrates as a loving father are more valuable than wealth or status. Life may be like a box of chocolates — as Forest famously says — but this film delivers heart-felt emotions with certainty.
2: Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck team up to create a touching 1997 film that doesn’t shy away from the emotional turmoil broken children carry into adulthood. Damon stars as Will Hunting, a brilliant young man shackled by the horrific abuse he suffered and must overcome.
Clinging to his lifelong South Boston friends and jailed after striking a cop, his genius is discovered by a Harvard mathematics professor. A deal is brokered that he’ll undergo counseling sessions with Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), also from Southie. Together the pair help heal each other’s wounds and garner the courage to take a chance on life and love. Or, as Damon and Williams say in the Academy Award-winning film, “I gotta go see about a girl.” To some degree, we all suffer trauma that holds us back. Good Will Hunting empowers us to try again.
3: Hidden Figures
The glass ceiling women face in wide-reaching industries was not see-through when three Black women mathematicians were needed for America to win the space race. It was a brick wall. That’s largely why the 2017 feature film is based on the non-fiction Margot Lee Shetterly book by the same name.
Starring Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, audiences get a glimpse of the discrimination experienced by African-Americans. Katherine Johnson has to answer for her long “breaks,” which require her to walk a half-mile to the nearest “colored” restroom. Racial and gender barriers are challenged in Hidden Figures. But what proves uplifting is the way three women earn the respect they deserve from the world’s most prestigious space exploration organization in the world — NASA.
4: Remember the Titans
Based on a true story, Denzel Washington stars as high school football coach Herman Boone who is trying to integrate a team in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. Although “whites only” schools and sports have been abolished, the practice festers across the region. A reluctant coach Boone is drawn into the controversial job because community members need racial obstacles to come down.
White and black players clash, referees try to punish the integrated team, and some in the community do not desire change. But leaders emerge among the high school athletes, and the Titans become a powerful force on the field because of their commitment to each other. Sports movies often drive an inspirational message. Remember the Titans offers hope that future generations can do better.
This 1993 coming-of-age movie places socially awkward fifth-grade Scott Smalls (Tom Guiry) in centerfield. As the new kid in town, his mom (Karen Allen) encourages him to take a break from academics and have some boyhood fun. “Run around, scrape your knees, get dirty. Climb trees, hop fences. Get into trouble, for crying out loud. Not too much, but some,” she exclaims.
Smalls joins a group of boys fully committed to the game of baseball as the adventures and antics mount. Sleep outs in a wooden fort, an encounter with a giant dog called “The Beast,” and the retrieval of a baseball signed by Babe Ruth keep you smiling. Sandlot doesn’t just make you reflect on fond memories. It makes parents want them for their own children.