Uplifting movies: my list

To say that I love movies is an understatement. I watch movies as a hobby, a recreation and also, as a study of humankind. Movies have always shaped my consciousness and who I am today. Due to my job as a movie translator (I do this in my extra time) I have seen and savoured many movies that have also shaped my general taste. But for me, a movie’s essential components are merely a good story, good characters and good acting. If only one of these is present, I can enjoy the movie just fine. What I mean is, I definitely appreciate a profound piece of cinematic art, but I can also relish a light-hearted movie that happens to contain a gentle message, regardless of its directing or camera-work. You may have guessed my favourite type of movie: one with a message. Preferably, with an uplifting message.

In this post I tried to collect those movies that have stayed with me years after I first saw them, movies that contain a beautiful story with a profound message. Movies that make me want to be a better person. I highly recommend each and every one of these, you can click on the titles and that will take you to the respective imdb page, where you can find out more about each specific piece. There is no specific order, I just put them on the list randomly, regardless of genre or their release time.

Since the list is not comprehensive by far, please add your picks, if you have any that you don’t see here. I will also be adding movies as I see them, or as I remember some favourites from the past.

BEYOND THE BLACKBOARD

Based on the true story of how Stacey Bess made a difference on homeless children through teaching… and caring. She is an example to us all, whether we teach or not, and this Hallmark movie is a touching, wonderful tribute to her strong and shining spirit.


THE RUSSELL GIRL

This is a beautiful movie with wonderful acting, a story with powerful redeeming qualities about forgiving and coming to terms with the past. Truly enjoyable to its last moment, I strongly recommend it.

THE ULTIMATE GIFT

A beautifully redeeming movie about family, love, and how a person CAN change for the better.

PAY IT FORWARD

The movie that inspired the world-wide movement.

SEVEN POUNDS

When we make a mistake, can we ever do it right? Can we make up for what we commit against other people? A man’s journey to redemption through paying that which he can’t do right, forward to others.

FIREPROOF

This is marriage counseling at its best, from a humane point of view, as well as Christian. The movie’s technical merits are not grand, but the message compensates fully.

REMEMBER ME

Our ultimate wish is to leave a mark on the world, to have an impact on the people around us. Even the slightest of us can achieve that and this movie is a beautiful testimony to it.

A WALK TO REMEMBER

From Nicholas Sparks’ novel, this one is evergreen. Beautiful and simple, it reflects on love and faith and how we can follow the narrow path, against the grain, and become happy.

THE LAST SONG

Another story by Sparks, this movie is underrated but is genuine nonetheless, about the relationship between a father and his daughter.

LETTERS TO GOD

A truly Christian movie on how a child can affect a whole neighbourhood. Based on a true story.

TO SAVE A LIFE

Another movie on faith, the Christian lifestyle and learning to help others.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE

One of the biggest indie hits of the recent years, it is also one of the smartest, funniest and most uplifting ones. Don’t miss it!

RABBIT HOLE

A dark, sad tale of loss and grief and how one can cope with it all. At the end, there is a beautiful glimmer of hope, which makes this movie wonderfully uplifting.

OF GODS AND MEN

Last year’s true story sensation, this also happens to be a beautiful and uplifting testimony of people of God standing strong against adversity and death.

REIGN OVER ME

A story of how a man, with a little help from a friend, can recover emotionally from losing everything in the September 11 attacks.

THE WOODSMAN

A rather grim, sad movie about a man who had committed a crime in the past and is ready to move on, if only society and his old temptations would let him… It does have a redeeming ending, though, well worth watching.

THE CHRISTMAS SHOES

A tale of letting go of the past and embracing the new. Have loads of hankies handy, you will need them.

HACHI: A DOG’S TALE

Based on a true story, this one will haunt you for a long time after you’ve finished watching.

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU

A sweet romantic tale about winners and losers and what’s really important in life.

CHARLIE ST. CLOUD

Sometimes, we are unable to let go. And sometimes, it is well that we want to hold on.

DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY

A legendary movie with wonderful acting and an even more wonderful ending.

MONA LISA SMILE

The “female version” of Dead Poets’ Society; not as dramatic and compelling, but the message is there.

GRAN TORINO

Clint Eastwood is gaunt, grim and grumpy, but his character (and story, for he is the director of this one) delivers a beautifully uplifting message. Truly magnificent, well worth the watch.

HEREAFTER

Another Eastwood movie, this time for the spiritually inclined. It’s a tale of life beyond death and how we can cope with it.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

One of the most inspirational movies ever: one man’s struggle to raise his child and preserve his dignity amidst adverse circumstances.

THE BLIND SIDE

Based on a true story. It shows how the rich CAN be good people and it also emphasizes the necessity of believing in, as well as helping others. Sandra Bullock dazzles.

LIFE AS A HOUSE

This one’s a tearjerker. Wonderful acting and a really touching story is all it takes!

CHANGING HEARTS

One of my personal favourites, not only because it’s a half-indie, half-artsy story about finding one’s purpose in helping others, but also because it features the gorgeous and yes, talented, pre-Damon Salvatore Ian Somerhalder.

DEAR FRANKIE

Slow, poetic, beautiful and simple, this one’s a real gem. Wonderful actors and a haunting story. Definitely to be watched many times!

MODERN TIMES

A classic, an unforgettable treasure. Something that humankind continues to build on as generations come and go. Charlie Chaplin’s legacy is as shining as ever, and this one’s one of his best: funny, satyrical, profound and uplifting at the same time.

MARVIN’S ROOM

A heart-warming tale of sacrifice, of family ties and just how strong they can become. Amazing performances by the legendary Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton and of course the super-talented Leonardo di Caprio.

TWO WEEKS

Four grown-up siblings meet to say goodbye to their dying mother. It’s sad, it’s funny, it’s heartwarming. Sally Field shines in her role and so do the other actors… A really beautiful movie that will stay with you for a long time.

FORREST GUMP

Tom Hanks shines as the slow-brained, but kind and generous young American whose life shows us how someone average can be at important milestones of history. This is a movie packed with sentimental truths and gentle reminders of how to best live your life. It has a crazy-amazing cast, brilliant music. Sometimes kitsch, but mostly moving and uplifting, this one is not to miss!

ERIN BROCKOVICH

I only recently watched this one and I was very pleasantly surprised. Based on a true story, it depicts the struggles of a saucy and smart single mom (brilliantly portrayed by Julia Roberts) raising three kids to shine a light on corporate evil which has caused illness and death among the population of a small town. With professional legal help she fights her way through court and brings justice to thousands of people. And based on facts, she’s been doing that ever since. Truly uplifting.

AUGUST RUSH

Someone reminded me of this one in a recent comment – thank you! Here, MUSIC is the foundation of everything. It helps get a talented young boy back to his biological parents, for example. Not to ignore, beside the beautiful musical score is the evil character played by the fantastic Robin Williams. Simply amazing, he is!

28 DAYS

Thank you for another reminder. I had seen this one a long time ago, but I remember the good qualities of the story. I also remember the beautiful music score and Viggo Mortensen… Sandra Bullock plays someone in a rehab who through struggle and with outside help manages to learn how to tend to a plant. As we know, this is the first important step toward recovery! Watch it, it’s a lot better than critics say.

MR HOLLAND’S OPUS

An artist’s wish to leave a mark in the world. Life interferes and success and integrity emerge in a more mundane setting, the classroom. Can a musician find satisfaction through teaching? Richard Dreyfuss is, as usual, brilliant.

PUMP UP THE VOLUME

I just remembered this one, I’ve seen it many times and I wrote a separate movie review on my blog to it (in Hungarian). It’s a very youthful, rebellious movie about a high-school student (Christian Slater) who decides to rock the system, go against the grain and speak up on behalf of those bullied, scared and ignored. In a way, this is Dead poets’ society in another shape and style, and I think that the atmosphere of teen angst and punk music does not decrease the dramatic effect. I absolutely love this one, don’t miss it!

LARRY CROWNE

Tom Hanks’s baby and he also stars in the lead. He is sweet, he is believable, he is that average guy who is great at his job but has no college education, so he is fired. Instead of searching for a whisky bottle, he enrolls to school, at almost fifty. Light-hearted but truly entertaining and it will leave you smiling all the way.

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