Walter Mitty

(Photo by @ Fox/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: 20th Century Fox Film Corp)

New Year, New You: 21 Movies To Inspire Your 2021

A new year can represent opportunity for new hopes and resolutions, and movies have the gift to inspire that personal change. If you’re eager to turn the page on 2020, here’s 21 movies to charge your 2021.

Diet and exercise are always high contenders on new year’s resolutions lists, and movies like Brittany Runs a Marathon, Chariots of Fire, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead will get you in motion. There are movies for getting in touch with yourself (Inside Out) and your roots (Lion), along with picking up new skills (Julie & Julia) and rekindling determination (Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures). And those entering 2021 with open hearts ought to seek out Wild, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Groundhog Day.

Some movies guide us through trauma and disaster, like Fearless, Life of Pi, and Soul Surfer. And if you’re ultimately looking for a no-holds-barred approach to whatever you do, hop in with the subjugation-shattering Mad Max: Fury Road.

If it’s a new year, it’s a new you: Here’s 21 movies to inspire your 2021.

#31

Awakenings (1990)
88%

#31
Adjusted Score: 90335%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by some of Robin Williams' finest non-comedic work and a strong performance from Robert De Niro, Awakenings skirts the edges of melodrama, then soars above it.
Synopsis: The story of a doctor's extraordinary work in the Sixties with a group of catatonic patients he finds languishing in... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 99107%
Critics Consensus: Brittany Runs a Marathon is an earnest and hilarious dramedy that finally gives Jillian Bell a role worthy of her gifts.
Synopsis: A hard-partying woman receives a startling wake-up call when a visit to the doctor reveals how unhealthy she is. Motivated... [More]
Directed By: Paul Downs Colaizzo

#29

Chariots of Fire (1981)
82%

#29
Adjusted Score: 89430%
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#28

Creed (2015)
95%

#28
Adjusted Score: 106863%
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 38274%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Morbidly obese and stricken with an autoimmune disease, a man endeavors to drink only fruit and vegetable juice for 60... [More]
Starring: Phil Staples
Directed By: Joe Cross

#26

Fearless (1993)
85%

#26
Adjusted Score: 88574%
Critics Consensus: This underrated gem from director Peter Weir features an outstanding performance from Jeff Bridges as a man dealing with profound grief.
Synopsis: When Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) survives a plane crash that kills many others, his last-minute epiphanies bring him a sense... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#25

Forrest Gump (1994)
71%

#25
Adjusted Score: 79401%
Critics Consensus: Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.
Synopsis: Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field),... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 102789%
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#23

Groundhog Day (1993)
96%

#23
Adjusted Score: 104474%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#22

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#22
Adjusted Score: 116930%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#21

Inside Out (2015)
98%

#21
Adjusted Score: 113878%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#20

Julie & Julia (2009)
77%

#20
Adjusted Score: 85287%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Frustrated with a soul-killing job, New Yorker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) embarks on a daring project: she vows to prepare... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#19

Last Holiday (2006)
55%

#19
Adjusted Score: 59404%
Critics Consensus: Although Queen Latifah's bountiful life-affirming spirit permeates the film, director Wayne Wang is unable to revive this remake with any real flair.
Synopsis: The discovery that she has a terminal illness prompts introverted saleswoman Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) to reflect on what she... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Wang

#18

Life of Pi (2012)
86%

#18
Adjusted Score: 97674%
Critics Consensus: A 3D adaptation of a supposedly "unfilmable" book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible -- it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding.
Synopsis: After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#17

Lion (2016)
84%

#17
Adjusted Score: 99507%
Critics Consensus: Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.
Synopsis: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home... [More]
Directed By: Garth Davis

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 116986%
Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller's post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Synopsis: Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 77639%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#14
Adjusted Score: 58828%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't lack for ambition, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty fails to back up its grand designs with enough substance to anchor the spectacle.
Synopsis: Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#13

Soul Surfer (2011)
45%

#13
Adjusted Score: 48523%
Critics Consensus: There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese.
Synopsis: A natural talent in the sport of surfing, teenager Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses an arm in a shark attack.... [More]
Directed By: Sean McNamara

#12

Warrior (2011)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 90235%
Critics Consensus: Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock -- and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.
Synopsis: An estranged family finds redemption in the unlikeliest of places: the MMA ring. Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine with a... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#11

Wild (2014)
88%

#11
Adjusted Score: 99353%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their respective powers.
Synopsis: Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

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