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: 89.834%
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: In this film, Dr. Malcolm Sayer takes a job at a Bronx psychiatric hospital and is put in charge of... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 95.577%
Critics Consensus: Brittany Runs a Marathon is an earnest and hilarious dramedy that finally gives Jillian Bell a role worthy of her gifts.
Synopsis: Brittany Forgler is a hilarious, friendly, hot mess of a New Yorker who always knows how to have a good... [More]
Directed By: Paul Downs Colaizzo

#29

Chariots of Fire (1981)
82%

#29
Adjusted Score: 87.793%
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: Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#28

Creed (2015)
95%

#28
Adjusted Score: 107.098%
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 Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, attempts to follow in his father's... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 32.129%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Overweight Australian filmmaker Joe Cross attempts to wrestle back control of his failing health during a cross-country trek in which... [More]
Starring: Dick Gregory
Directed By: Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr

#26

Fearless (1993)
85%

#26
Adjusted Score: 87.656%
Critics Consensus: This underrated gem from director Peter Weir features an outstanding performance from Jeff Bridges as a man dealing with profound grief.
Synopsis: Adapted by screenwriter Rafael Yglesias from his own novel, Fearless explores the complex struggle back to mental health of post-traumatic... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#25

Forrest Gump (1994)
71%

#25
Adjusted Score: 77.852%
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: "Stupid is as stupid does," says Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance) as he discusses his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 102.737%
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: The most brilliant mind at America's top university isn't a student, he's the kid who cleans the floors. Will Hunting... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#23

Groundhog Day (1993)
96%

#23
Adjusted Score: 102.585%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Bill Murray plays Phil, a TV weatherman working for a local station in Pennsylvania but convinced that national news stardom... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#22

Hidden Figures (2017)
93%

#22
Adjusted Score: 106.533%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary... [More]
Directed By: Ted Melfi

#21

Inside Out (2015)
98%

#21
Adjusted Score: 112.844%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life... [More]

#20

Julie & Julia (2009)
77%

#20
Adjusted Score: 84.355%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Based on two true stories, "Julie & Julia" intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#19

Last Holiday (2006)
56%

#19
Adjusted Score: 59.728%
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: Georgia Byrd lives a small life tucked inside big dreams. A shy cookware salesperson for a New Orleans retail outlet,... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Wang

#18

Life of Pi (2012)
86%

#18
Adjusted Score: 95.566%
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: Director Ang Lee creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#17

Lion (2016)
84%

#17
Adjusted Score: 94.366%
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 Kilometers across India, away from home and family.... [More]
Directed By: Garth Davis

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 113.999%
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: Filmmaker George Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 77.623%
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: Based on actual events that took place in 1971, a white southern high school is integrated with black students from... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#14
Adjusted Score: 58.503%
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: Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber's classic story of a day-dreamer who... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#13

Soul Surfer (2011)
45%

#13
Adjusted Score: 47.797%
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: Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she... [More]
Directed By: Sean McNamara

#12

Warrior (2011)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 88.841%
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: Haunted by a tragic past, ex-Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years to enlist... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#11

Wild (2014)
88%

#11
Adjusted Score: 99.126%
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: With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

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