20 true-story movies for inspiration, perspective and overcoming extreme odds

I hope you will find some inspiration in these true-story movies that highlight what the human spirit is capable of when faced with adversity.
 
You may have seen some or all of them, but this may just be the right time to revisit these tales of astounding feats of overcoming and others that will warm your heart deeply!
 
Listed in alphabetical order:
 
127 Hours - While exploring a remote canyon in Utah, mountaineer and adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco) becomes trapped when a boulder falls on his arm. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and considers his options, leading him to an agonizing choice: to amputate his arm so that he can extricate himself and try to make his way back to civilization or remain pinned to the canyon wall and likely die.
 
Apollo 13 - Based on the events of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) find everything going according to plan after leaving Earth's orbit. However, when an oxygen tank explodes, the scheduled moon landing is called off. Subsequent tensions within the crew and numerous technical problems threaten both the astronauts' survival and their safe return to Earth.
 
Cinderella Man - During the Great Depression, ex-boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) works as a day laborer until his former manager offers him a one-time slot against a rising young contender. After he wins a shocking upset, Braddock goes back into the ring full time. Dubbed "The Cinderella Man" for his rags-to-riches story, Braddock sets his sights on the defending champion.
 
Dallas Buyers Club - In mid-1980s Texas, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he has just 30 days left to live, Woodroof refuses to give in to despair, seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S. from wherever he can find them. He begins selling the treatments to the growing number of people who can't wait for the medical establishment to save them.
 
Gandhi - This acclaimed biographical drama presents major events in the life of Mohandas Gandhi (Ben Kingsley), the beloved Indian leader who stood against British rule over his country. Dedicated to the concept of nonviolent resistance, Gandhi is initially dismissed by English officials but eventually he and his cause become internationally renowned, and his gatherings of passive protest move India towards independence.
 
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale - Young Ronnie reveals to his classmates that his personal hero is a dog named Hachi. Ribbed by his fellow pupils, Ronnie goes on to tell the remarkable story of his grandfather's friendship with the dog.
 
Hidden Figures - 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 into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
 
Invictus - This movie tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the Captain of South Africa's rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of Apartheid.
 
Marley and Me - Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston) buy their first home and adopt Marley, an adorable yellow Labrador pup. But Marley soon grows up to be a mischievous handful. Still, even while he's destroying the furniture and failing obedience school, he always manages to bring out the best in John, Jenny and their growing family.
 
Men of Honor - Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is an ambitious sharecropper who joins the U.S. Navy to become the world's first black master diver. But as he works through diving training, the bitter and racist Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) sets out to make Carl's journey as difficult as possible. Despite the entire Navy doubting his potential and sabotaging his training, the determined Carl proves that he can overcome the discrimination around him.
 
My Left Foot - No one expects much from Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), a boy with cerebral palsy born into a working-class Irish family. A miraculous event occurs when, at the age of 5, he demonstrates control of his left foot by using chalk to scrawl a word on the floor. With the help of his steely mother and no shortage of grit and determination,  Christy overcomes his infirmity to become a painter, poet and author.
 
Patch Adams - After struggling with depression in a mental hospital, Hunter "Patch" Adams (Robin Williams) decides he wants to become a doctor. Disillusioned with is chosen school’s clinical perspective on patient care, Adams opens his own medical clinic for those without insurance before a tragedy causes Adams to re-evaluate his approach.
 
Saving Private Ryan - Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by war while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
 
Schindler’s List - Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party he staffs his factory with Jewish workers. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
 
Spare Parts - With the help of their high school's newest teacher (George Lopez), four Hispanic students form a robotics club. Although they have no experience, they set their sights on a national robotics contest. With $800 and parts scavenged from old cars, they build a robot and compete against reigning champion MIT.
 
Sully - On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.
 
The Blind Side - Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years when Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and husband, Sean (Tim McGraw) take him in. Michael's tremendous size and protective instincts make him a formidable force on the gridiron, and with help from his new family and devoted tutor, he realizes his potential as a student and football player.
 
The Miracle Worker - Blind and deaf after suffering a terrible fever as a baby, young Helen Keller (Patty Duke) has spent years unable to communicate, leaving her frustrated and occasionally violent. As a last chance before she is institutionalized, her parents send for half-blind Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft) to teach Helen. Helen is initially resistant, but Annie gradually forms a bond with her and shows Helen ways of reaching others.
 
The Pianist - True-life story of brilliant pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrian Brody), the most acclaimed young musician of his time until his promising career was interrupted by the onset of World War II. This powerful, triumphant film follows Szpilman's heroic and inspirational journey of survival with the unlikely help of a sympathetic German officer.
 
The Pursuit of Happyness - Life is a struggle for single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith). Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son find themselves alone with no place to go. The pair must live in shelters and endure many hardships, but Chris refuses to give in to despair as he struggles to create a better life for himself and his son.
 
The Theory of Everything - In the 1960s, Cambridge University student and future physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) learns at age 21 that he has motor neuron disease. Despite this and with his wife Jane at his side, he begins an ambitious study of time, defying terrible odds and breaking new ground in the fields of medicine and science, achieving more than either could hope to imagine.
 
The Whistleblower – A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex trafficking scandal. 
 
Enjoy these thought-provoking and deeply touching movies!
 
Ina Mohan
Founder & President
Health, Healing & Happiness LLC