25 Best Movies to Watch About Overcoming Adversity

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Do you enjoy movies about overcoming adversity?

The ability to overcome adversity is one of the essential skills we all need to have if we are to succeed at anything.

However, there are times when the challenges that come our way become overwhelming. At these times, it’s tempting to give up and let our dreams go.

Hold on just a little longer.

The movies we’ve rounded up for today’s post remind and encourage us to believe in ourselves even when nobody else does, to work hard at what we want, and to never give up on our dreams.

Our list includes movies that depict survival in extremely harsh environmental conditions, people overcoming personal challenges, and others challenging social standards and norms to come out on top.

Read on to see why it’s not time to throw in the towel just yet.

1. Rocky

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This is the movie that started Sylvester Stallone’s career as an actor and screenwriter. It is about the struggles of a Philadelphian boxer named Rocky Balboa.

Rocky is an underdog who is willing to fight for a chance to prove he can become somebody. It is a film about going the distance and facing all the odds to get something you truly want.

Started in 1976, the Rocky series has gone on to inspire many people to:

  • Get up and keep going each time they stumble
  • Face their fears
  • Give their all to turn their dreams into reality

2. Monsters University

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This movie is a prequel to Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and tells the story of Mike and Sully before they became top scarers at Monster Inc.

Mike Wazowski dreamed of becoming a top scarer ever since he was little. He finally gets the chance to realize his dreams when he attends Monsters University, where he meets his future partner, Sully.

Although faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Mike and his friends are determined to succeed.

Monsters University is a great option if you’re looking for a film about bouncing back from personal failures and believing in yourself.

3. Coco

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Coco is the story of a boy named Miguel whose ultimate dream is to become a great musician. Unfortunately for him, his parents have a deep-seated dislike of music in any form.

Out of despair, Miguel finds himself on a fantastic journey that helps him understand his family’s worldview and affirms that his dream of becoming a musician is his true calling.

This movie reminds viewers that it’s not enough to want something. We also need to understand why we want it and do everything in our power to find answers.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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The Return of the King is the third and final movie in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s books. In this conclusion, we see how Frodo and the rest of the members of The Fellowship of the Ring overcome the evil they’re up against in a bid to protect Middle Earth from Sauron and his army.

The movie is a reminder that going after our goals often requires great sacrifice. It also affirms that with hard work, belief in yourself, and the support of friends, success is possible.

5. Unbroken

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Here’s a movie that shows a single man surviving a myriad of challenging experiences throughout his life.

The film chronicles the experiences of a young man named Louis Zamperini. Growing up, he always encountered trouble. When he gets older, he learns to harness his restless energy to qualify as a runner for the 1936 Olympics, and ultimately sets a record.

He then enlists in the US Army Air Force as a bombardier, only to have his plane crash into the Pacific Ocean during a search-and-rescue mission. He survives but is taken captive by the Japanese and taken to a POW camp.

The movie shares a powerful message about the will of a person to remain unbroken in the midst of hardship and uncertainty. It is also a reminder of the importance of forgiveness in order for us to remain whole.

6. 8 Mile

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This movie is about realizing one’s dreams by overcoming the challenges imposed by social status.

Viewers are introduced to B-Rabbit, a young white man who aspires to be a hip-hop artist. He lives in a trailer park with his mother, who faces personal challenges of her own.

In B-Rabbit’s case, the fulfillment of his dreams does not lie in gaining fame and fortune. To get to the top, B-Rabbit learns to face his reality and use his experiences to propel himself into the spotlight.

7. Akeelah and the Bee

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In this film, we witness the struggles of a young girl who has a talent for spelling, which could easily quality her for national-level competitions.

Despite her brilliance, she is reluctant to succeed, as she considers her gift to be something that will lead to her isolation from the people of her community.

The film is a reminder for us to never let our brilliance dim. It shows us how, when we’re truly ourselves, others become inspired to help us achieve what we want and to remember their own dreams.

8. The Way Back

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This 2010 film highlights our innate desire for freedom and the will to live in order to achieve it.

The film is set in the Second World War, during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland. We are introduced to a Polish military officer named Janus Wieszzek, who was betrayed by his wife as a spy and sent to a labor camp in Siberia.

While he is in the gulag, a blizzard strikes, presenting an opportunity for Janus to escape. The film features the hardships Janus and his companions face on their trek across Siberia to reach the Himalayas and freedom.

9. Leap!

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In Leap!, viewers get to know the story of Felicie, an orphan girl who dreams of escaping the orphanage where she lives and becoming a prima ballerina in Paris.

Using an assumed identity, Felicie gets into the Paris Opera, the top training ground for ballerinas. There, she must overcome the limitations of her past, her lack of formal training, and her fears to become the best dancer of her time.

10. Everest

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The next movie on this list is about overcoming the odds in harsh environmental conditions in order to survive. Everest is based on the 1996 climbing disaster, when a storm on Everest claimed the lives of eight people.

The film focuses on what two expedition groups on Mt. Everest had to do in order to survive after being caught in a blizzard on their way down from the summit.

11. The Martian

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Mark Watney is an astronaut who is presumed dead and accidentally left behind on Mars by his fellow crew members. There is a slim chance of rescue.

Until rescue arrives, he must draw on all of his knowledge and abilities to survive.

This movie teaches us that fighting for survival is not enough to get us through the most trying times in our lives. We must also hold fast to hope and believe that things will turn for the better.

12. On the Basis of Sex

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Discrimination is a common social issue for many people, not just in the workplace, but in every corner of society. Throughout history, a lot of people have had to fight for equal rights.

One of them was the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This movie is inspired by her life and work.

It highlights how she overcame the obstacles in her way to become a lawyer at a time when society thought that a woman’s rightful place was in the home.

13. Adrift

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This movie is based on real events that happened in 1983 during Hurricane Raymond. It depicts a woman’s struggles to overcome the horrors of being adrift at sea for 41 days and to deal with the grief caused by the event.

What was supposed to be an uneventful but romantic sea voyage for couple Richard and Tami became a nightmare when they sailed right into the path of Hurricane Raymond. For Tami, survival was the only option.

14. My Left Foot

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If you are looking for a movie that depicts courage and determination to overcome the limits of a physical disability, we recommend this one.

This movie is based on the inspiring story of Christy Brown, an Irish boy born as a quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy. Nobody expected greatness from him.

However, he gained control of his left foot and uses his toes to write and paint. In the process, he gained control of his life, going on to become an author, painter, and poet.

15. October Sky

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This movie tells the story of a group of boys who live in a mining community in West Virginia in the 1960s, during the Great Space Race. The group of boys is led by Homer H. Hickman, whose greatest dream is to build a rocket ship to rival Sputnik.

Homer holds on to his dream, despite the challenges he faces, such as:

  • A father who refuses to support him
  • Poverty
  • The general belief of the community that the only career option is to work in the mines

Despite everything, Homer is determined to succeed. His teacher, Frieda J. Riley, is one of the few who believe in him, and reminds him that, “As long as you’re alive on this planet, you have a choice.

16. Zootopia

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In this animated film, we get to know a city called Zootopia. The place is a haven for all animals, and prey and predator live together in peace.

We also get to know officer Judy Hopps, the first rabbit police officer assigned to Zootopia PD. Despite graduating valedictorian of her officers’ training class, Officer Hopps experiences discrimination at work, such as being assigned to parking duty and being forbidden to investigate a case, all because she’s a rabbit.

The key takeaways of this movie include:

  • Never giving up
  • Keep fighting to change the status quo
  • Be willing to try

17. Bend It Like Beckham

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Bend It Like Beckham is the story of two girls who dream of becoming professional soccer players. If they are to fulfill their dream, they will have to fully believe in themselves, go against their parents’ wishes, and fight racism and sexism.

18. The Shallows

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This 2016 survival thriller depicts the determination and courage to stay alive, against all odds.

Nancy Adams goes surfing alone on a beach in Mexico, but a shark attacks her. She survives the initial attack, but is stranded a couple of hundred yards from the shore, with the shark circling around her.

Nancy must rely on her wits and courage to save herself.

19. Cast Away

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Another movie set in the midst of an ocean in Cast Away. It is a gripping story of the resilience of the human spirit. [Check out these resilience quotes to help you overcome any adversity in life.]

In this film, we get to know Chuck Noland, an extremely dedicated executive who travels a lot for work. During one of his trips, the plane he is on is caught in a storm and crashes.

Chuck is the lone survivor of the crash and lands on a deserted island. On the island, he must learn to deal with extreme loneliness, find resources for survival, and figure out a way to escape and return to his old life.

20. Life of Pi

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In this movie, we witness how a disaster at sea forces a young man to take a journey of survival and self-awareness. It is a wonderful reminder to never lose hope when faced with challenges because miracles do happen.

21. Swiss Family Robinson

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In this film, a family gets shipwrecked and stranded on an island. Their resourcefulness helps them survive their ordeal, and even help create a comfortable life for them on the island.

One of the key takeaways from this movie is the importance of having a supportive family during trying times.

22. Erin Brockovich

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This movie introduces us to a single mother who defies stereotypes in order to hold a big company accountable for damages it has caused to residents of her town. The movie empowers us to speak out in the face of injustice.

23. Frida

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Frida Kahlo’s contributions to the world of art make her one of the most popular Mexican artists. But a near-fatal vehicular accident when she was young left her in pain for most of her life. The experience is credited as inspiring some of her paintings.

This movie shows us that human beings have the ability to overcome pain and create something beautiful out of it.

24. Big Eyes

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If you love movies about artists, this is a great option. This is the story of reclaiming one’s true power after it’s been denied for a long time.

In the 1960s, a series of artwork known as “Big Eye” was very popular. These works of art were credited to a man named Walter Keane, who relished the fame and fortune that came with his success

However, the movie reveals that Walter’s wife, Margaret, is actually the one who painted these images.

In the movie, we witness how Margaret fights  to be acknowledged as the true creator of the Big Eye series of paintings, as well as to gain her independence from the abusive and opportunistic Walter Keane.

25. Beautiful Boy

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This is the story of a family doing all they can to support their teenage son as he struggles and tries to find a way to overcome his drug addiction. The story mainly focuses on the relationship between the father and son.

It is a heartbreaking but inspiring reminder that we can succeed if we have the support of loved ones.

Final Thoughts

There you have it—our recommendation of movies about overcoming adversity.

What films from today’s list have you already watched? Which ones are you planning to check out?

Movies such as these often remind us that human beings have the capacity to transform hardship into something beautiful. These films are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

If you enjoyed this collection of movies, you might want to check out similar posts:

movies about overcoming adversity | movies about overcoming adversity on netflix | movies about achieving goals
25 Best Movies to Watch About Overcoming Adversity