7 classic movies to inspire your new year resolutions

We're preparing to say goodbye to 2020, and what a rollercoaster it's been. But enough of dwelling on the past: we're looking to the future, and the prospect of a brighter 12 months ahead in 2021.

Of course, at this time of year, it's natural to pivot one's thoughts around new year resolutions. Are you committed to learning new skills or taking up new hobbies when 2021 rolls around? It can be an overwhelming thing to think about, so we're helping with our Cineworld blog list of inspirational movies.

You can extrapolate some inspiring life lessons and skills from the following classics, and this blog post may help kick your new year into shape...


1. Julie and Julia – Learn to cook

We get two mouth-watering culinary stories for the price of one in this gentle comedy-drama from the late Nora Ephron. The Sleepless in Seattle filmmaker adapts the true story of Julia Child, the American housewife who established herself as a doyenne of Parisian cuisine when she relocated with her husband to France. Decades later, Child's groundbreaking cookbook would in turn inspire frustrated New York blogger Julie Powell, who transformed her relatively tiny apartment kitchen into a hotbed of delicious gourmet recipes.

Many liberties are taking with the real-life story, but you can't deny the appeal of the central performances. Meryl Streep is a joy as the effervescent Julia and Amy Adams is appealing as the 21st-century woman getting inspiration from the past. Both actresses are adept at light comedy and offer contrasting approaches to the notion of approaching complex cooking for the first time. And with eye-widening recipes ranging from chicken breasts in a mushroom sauce to raspberry Bavarian cream, there's plenty to inspire your inner Julia Child in 2021. On your marks, get set, cook!

2. Rocky – Get fit

You know the movie and you know the musical theme. What else do you need to start powering your way around the neighborhood? 2021 is the ideal time to unleash your inner Rocky, as you begin to pound the pavements and overcome personal challenges. Don't forget to stick those earbuds in and fire up Bill Conti's brassy 'Gonna Fly Now' theme beforehand.

Of course, we can't all live in Philadelphia, and you may not have an iconic set of steps to charge up in euphoric victory. Even so, Sylvester Stallone's underdog pugilist Rocky proved that the only barrier to fitness is in the mind, so take inspiration from the first (and arguably still the best) Rocky movie and get into shape in the new year. 

What inspirational lessons could you talk from the sequels, we wonder? Felling trees a la Rocky IV? That's maybe going a bit far.

3. Wild – Set off on an adventure

Cheryl Strayed's inspirational memoir Wild formed the basis of this acclaimed Reese Witherspoon vehicle, in which the Legally Blonde actress stars as the author in question. If you've ever had an inkling to bundle a load of clothes into a backpack and take off into the wilderness, temporarily leaving all cares and concerns behind, then take inspiration from this emotional drama, which saw Witherspoon and co-star Laura Dern both nominated for Oscars.

As per the movie and the book, Strayed looks to escape a traumatic past by hiking North America's Pacific Crest Trail, spanning barren deserts to looming redwood forests. It turns out to be a cathartic journey that causes Cheryl to re-assess the value of her life. Of course, you may just want to undertake a similar adventure for the fun of it – nothing wrong with that. Either way, the world is your oyster – get that rucksack and those pair of hiking boots together and map out where you want to go.

4. Little Women – Write a book

Have you got a novel inside you that's bursting to get out? Then it may be worth taking another look at Little Women, writer-director Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel. The story centres around the March sisters, their mother and their assorted acquaintances, but the heart of the narrative is the headstrong Jo, played with gumption to Oscar-nominated effect by Saoirse Ronan.

Gerwig's take on the material grafts 21st-century concerns of gender parity and equality onto the 19th-century context. The film is bookended by Jo's struggles to be taken seriously as a woman writer in the midst of the male-dominated patriarchy. Ultimately, she's able to draw on the rich tapestry of her home life, including her complex relationship with impulsive sister Amy (Florence Pugh) and on-off romantic interest Laurie (Timothee Chalamet), to publish a tome called... Little Women. The rousing climactic scene in which the book evolves from a fragmented manuscript into a handsomely bound volume is surely enough to fire your authorial ambitions.

5. Arrival – Learn a new language

It's never too late to become bilingual, or multilingual for that matter. Just look at Amy Adams' character in the engrossing sci-fi drama Arrival. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), this atmospheric story centres on Adams' bereaved linguist and her unexpected role in communicating with an alien race from another world. Arrival intentionally strips out the militaristic bombast that we've come to expect from invasion movies, instead crafting a cerebral and steadily urgent story of how language can both impede and embolden those from different backgrounds, even those separated by light years of time.

The heptapods, as the aliens come to be known, communicate in complex strands of inky blackness, and contained within is an important message for both Adams' character and the wider world. It may be a sci-fi story rooted in fantastical concepts, but Arrival also looks at the richly healing power of language, and how it can drive our lives in different directions. Are you up to the challenge in the new year?

6. Scott Pilgrim vs the World – Start looking for 'the one'

Have you spent much of 2020 in lockdown-related singlehood? Fingers crossed that 2021 will be the year that allows you to throw off those shackles. You can take inspiration from Edgar Wright's deliriously entertaining comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which demonstrates that you can indeed find the one – if you're prepared to work through the challenges along the way.

Said challenges in this instance manifest in the form of seven evil exes, who are destined to give the hapless Scott (Michael Cera) a rough ride. However, he's willing to duke it out with the likes of Chris Evans' spoiled A-list movie star and Brandon Routh's psychotically super-powered vegan to win the heart of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). There's a message in there somewhere about finding the one, and it's a message you ought to embrace as the new year beckons. Just don't start any brawls in the process.

7. Coco – Learn a musical instrument

There are so many lessons one can take from the rich plethora of Disney-Pixar movies. However, we've settled on one of their recent gems, Coco, for the simple reason that it's a beautiful ode to the inspirational power of music. If you've been thinking about taking up an instrument in the new year, this is the perfect movie to watch. Central character Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) must reckon with his family's long-standing hatred of music as he ventures into Mexico's Land of the Dead in search of his guitar-playing folk hero grandfather.

In classic Pixar fashion, it's a journey fraught with equal parts laughs and revelations, and the tear-jerking finale involving the titular Coco, Miguel's grandmother, is one of the studio's most powerful climaxes in years. Ultimately, however, this is a joyous movie that demonstrates how even the simplest of tunes can bridge divides and help us express ourselves. Ensure that you're 'un poco loco' in 2021 and allow Pixar to unleash that inner Eric Clapton.


Which of these movies will be inspiring you during new year 2021? Tweet us @Cineworld.