10 Uplifting Movies That Teach Compassion
After the past couple weeks, who doesn’t need a good movie to cheer themselves up? While some are fictional and others based on real life events, these ten movies ring true with their message – kindness and hope can be life-changing.
Step – Theme: a team is stronger than an individual
STEP documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. As each one tries to become the first in their families to attend college, the girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city. (Catch it while it’s still in theaters!)
Life of Pi – Theme: no matter if you fall, you can always rise
Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi (Suraj Sharma), as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.
Milk – Theme: persistence can start a movement
In 1972, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and his then-lover Scott Smith leave New York for San Francisco, with Milk determined to accomplish something meaningful in his life. Settling in the Castro District, he opens a camera shop and helps transform the area into a mecca for gays and lesbians. In 1977 he becomes the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a notable public office when he wins a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
Hidden Figures – Theme: girl power
Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Lion – Theme: family is everything
Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
Man on Wire – Theme: there is no such thing as the impossible
Filmmaker James Marsh masterfully recreates high-wire daredevil Philippe Petit’s 1974 stunt: performing acrobatics on a thin wire strung between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Petit enlists the help of a motley group of friends as he calculates every detail, from acquiring building access to stringing up the wire, and manages to pull off an astounding crime.
Spirited Away – Theme: you are never too young to help others
10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro must work there to free herself and her parents.
The Intouchables – Theme: unexpected connections can be the most cherished
An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.
50/50 – Theme: in tough times, you can always use a friend
Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Theme: the strongest force is love
Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy (Daniel Radcliffe) with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.