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Want Brady’s Mental Toughness? 10 Inspirational Movies to Watch

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Shutterstock_151134017If you’re one of the 111 million people who watched the New England Patriots power their way out of defeat at the Super Bowl, did you think it was just about over in the third quarter when the Atlanta Falcons were leading 28-3? I admit, I did. Even paid my tab and headed home. We were in for a surprise as the Patriots (led by quarterback Tom Brady) charged ahead and turned the game around to win 34-28.

As a perennial backer of the underdog, I was rooting hard for the Falcons but that doesn’t lessen my respect for a team that resisted falling into a “it’s a lost cause, let’s just get this over with” mentality. Let’s face it, we’ve all been at that point: whether it’s a career challenge, relationship or financial difficulty, or perhaps a health problem, some hurdles seem impossible.

Of course, part of the challenge is knowing what’s truly beyond reach and what isn’t. Becoming a rock singer is out of the question for me unless every rock fan loses their hearing. But many goals are attainable; watching a few of the movies listed below may help reinforce that fact. These films, which include suggestions from AICPA colleagues, depict mental toughness in facing huge hurdles. While Hollywood does embellish, these feel real for the most part and many are based on real people and events.
  1. Erin Brokovich (2000) – Based on the real story of an unemployed mother who gets a job as a legal assistant and takes on “Goliath” (a large utility) in her investigation of groundwater pollution that is harming the townspeople nearby.
  2. Hello, My Name is Doris (2015) – A shy, unassuming 60-something woman gets inspired by a self-help seminar to pursue a crush on a much younger colleague, shaking up her sheltered and routine life in the process.
  3. Hidden Figures (2017) – The inspiring true story of three African-American female mathematicians who, despite the substantial gender and race barriers of the time, played a key role in the United States’ historic launch into space.
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979) – This film traces author Maya Angelou’s life  growing up as a young black girl in the South during the Depression, and how she overcame a traumatic childhood to discover her true worth.
  5. Joy (2015) – The title character of this movie is a divorced mother of two coping with parents and an ex-husband who lean on her heavily. An inventor at heart, Joy creates a self-wringing mop and faces a lot of hurdles on a journey to make her invention a success.
  6. Miracle (2004) – Kurt Russell plays real-life coach Herb Brooks, who took the U.S. men’s hockey team to the 1980 Olympics to challenge the legendary Soviet Union team.
  7. Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – Broke, homeless and responsible for his young son, Chris Gardner refuses to give up on his dream to be a stockbroker (based on the book by the real Chris Gardner).
  8. Rudy (1993) – Being far smaller than any football player doesn’t prevent this determined kid from pursuing his goal of playing for the Notre Dame College football team.
  9. Secretariat (2010) – The first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years, Secretariat became a legend for his speed and size, but it took the persistence of co-owner Penny Chenery to stay in the race.
  10. Vision Quest (1985)High school wrestler Louden Swain has to lose 23 pounds to challenge the state champion whom he is determined to beat. With little support from his coach or father, can he do it, especially when a romantic interest shows up?

But what about...?

Some of you may be protesting the absence of Rocky, The Blind Side, etc. They are excellent movies - there just wasn’t room for all of them and I wanted to include some that folks may have either forgotten or didn’t know about and, for those who mainly watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, some without a sports theme. Ray, Philadelphia and Lorenzo’s Oil are a few more I would recommend to celebrate the human spirit.  Please feel free to add here to our list – we’d love to hear what movie has inspired you the most.

Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager – Tax and Personal Financial Planning, Public Accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Illustration courtesy of Shutterstock.


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