1. The Shawshank Redemption
When The Shawshank Redemption was released, many moviegoers considered it another movie about criminals and prison. However, this adaptation of a Stephen King short story about an innocent man’s fight for freedom surprised audiences with its heart, warmth, and emotional pull.
In this fictionalized version of The Battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans battled against all odds to overcome 300,000 powerful Persian soldiers. Their remarkable victory inspired thousands of Greeks to take arms and dispel the invading Persian army.
Mel Gibson directed and starred in the historical epic about William Wallace, who led his fellow Scots against England tyranny in the 14th century. Wallace’s final cry of “Freedom!” ignited a Scottish rebellion.
In the film that shot him to stardom, Sylvester Stallone played Rocky Balboa, a loveable, hard-luck boxer who gets one shot at glory in a match with the great Apollo Creed. Rocky’s heart, grit, and determination earn him respect from fans and his opponent.
5. Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting showed us all that what we can accomplish if we learn to believe in ourselves. Robin Williams plays a therapist who helps reluctant genius Matt Damon overcome his fears and embrace his gift.
6. The Patriot
In this fictionalized account of the Revolutionary War, Mel Gibson overcomes heartbreaking loss to lead Americans into battle against English oppressors. Initially reluctant, Gibson’s character ultimately embraces the idea that there are some things worth fighting for.
7. Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby starts as the female “Rocky,” a movie about one woman and her trainer as they navigate the world of women’s boxing. However, a shocking plot shift at the halfway point turns it into a movie about friendship, loss, and dying with dignity.
8. A Beautiful Mind
This true story chronicled mathematician John Nash’s battle with mental illness, but it also showed an inside view into a loving, but complicated, marriage. With his wife’s support and love, Nash learns how to conquer his demons.
9. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump tells the tale of a simple man who unwittingly participates in some of the biggest moments of the twentieth century. Driven by love for Jenny, his childhood friend, Gump overcomes life’s challenges to find success and happiness.
10. Cast Away
Tom Hanks plays a high-strung FedEx executive who spends years stranded alone on an island following a plane crash. In the end, Hanks’s character learns an important lesson – that work isn’t everything in life.
11. Chariots of Fire
In this epic story, two British runners who are rivals and friends attempt to balance their pursuit of Olympic glory with their strong Jewish and Christian faiths. In chasing Olympic gold, they show that one can be successful and maintain his principles.
12. The Great Escape
As thrilling as it is inspirational, The Great Escape is a true story about Allied soldiers who attempt to escape from a German POW camp during World War II. The group overcomes rivalries to work together and break out of the camp.