As the temperatures drop further, flu season hits and end-of-year craziness fully sets in, it’s easy to fall into a funk. While a good comedy can always be trusted to shoo away the winter blues, so can an inspirational true story.
Here are 5 uplifting movies based on real events that you can find at the Box or through Redbox On Demand.
Stronger – Jake Gyllenhaal plays Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs while he stood near the finish line to cheer on his ex-girlfriend Erin (Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany). As he recovers from his devastating injuries, he struggles with PTSD, which isn’t helped by his alcoholic mother constantly trying to get him on TV and influencing him with her unhealthy habits. But Erin — and a stranger who saved Jeff’s life in the aftermath of the bombing — give Jeff a new perspective and a motivation to move forward with his life. Though Jeff’s story isn’t depicted in Patriot’s Day — director Peter Berg’s take on the same attacks — that would be another inspirational movie to pair with Stronger for its depiction of true heroes on April 15, 2013.
Wild – In this amazing adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of the same name, Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed — a woman who has spiraled out of control and into addiction following her mother’s death. After her husband divorces her, she vows to get her life back together and decides to hike 1,100 miles over 94 days along the Pacific Coast Trail to kickstart this new chapter. However, she has no former hiking experience and basically has no idea what she’s doing. Wild will inspire you with its gorgeous scenery, its depiction of the kindness of strangers who help Strayed along her journey, and its reminder that anyone can completely turn their life around if they are committed to working through their demons.
Bleed for This – Miles Teller stars as Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, a world champion boxer who broke his neck in a car accident and was told he’d never walk again, much less fight again. But Vinny will not accept that fate. He goes against his doctor’s orders and begins working out while wearing a metal “Halo” brace for three months that is screwed into his skull. You could say he’s the dictionary definition of “tough guy.” Aaron Eckhart plays his coach, who is initially against Vinny’s potentially self-destructive plan, but eventually begins helping him when he realizes there is no way this fighter is backing down. This movie will make you marvel at the depths of human resilience! (And make you feel a little sheepish about complaining that you bruised yourself while tripping over your kids’ toys.)
Hidden Figures – This 2016 Best Picture nominee celebrates the African-American women behind much of the success of our country’s Space Race in the 1960s. Despite being met with racism and prejudice on a daily basis, these female physicists, engineers and pre-computer mathematicians still sent astronauts like John Glenn safely into orbit. Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Best Supporting Actress nominee Octavia Spencer as Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, respectively, are treasures in this inspiring tale of American heroism that will give you immense hope for the future.
Hacksaw Ridge – This is another 2016 Best Picture nominee, and it tells one of those stories that seems like it couldn’t possibly be true — except it is. Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a World War II combat medic and “conscientious objector” who refused to carry or use a weapon. But he still desperately wanted to serve and put his medical knowledge to use to help his fellow troops. Despite not being armed, he managed to save 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa, in what is truly one of the most harrowing sequences I’ve seen on film. This movie will give you no doubt that there are truly selfless people out there among us, and the end-credit footage of the real Doss serves as a happy bonus.
You’re feeling inspired just reading about these movies, aren’t you? Imagine what watching them will do to lift your spirits!