I may not remember what I ate for dinner last night, but there’s an entire section of my brain devoted to movie quotes. It’s actually one of the things Penn and I connected on during our first date. We rattled off lines to Christmas Vacation and I knew it was love. I asked with a laugh, “Why is the carpet all wet Todd?” He didn’t miss a beat and replied, “I don’t KNOW Margot!”
But there’s nothing like the lift you get from an inspirational movie monologue to lift me out of a funk. If you’re in need of a pep talk or sob sesh, these 10 movie monologues will have you feeling all the feels in no time at all:
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
In this famous scene from the critically acclaimed drama, inmate Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) explains to Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (should-be podcast host Morgan Freeman), that you have to make a choice: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” It’s a scene about not losing hope, no matter your circumstances, and the importance of holding onto your dreams.
2. Hidden Figures (2016)
Taraji P. Henson’s Katherine gives her white boss a small glimpse into her life as a Black woman and (brilliant) mathematician working in a segregated office at NASA. Just one moment in an all-around stellar performance, her speech in front of her stunned colleagues is an honest, through-provoking reminder we all have the same needs and, most importantly, deserve to live with dignity.
3. Independence Day (1996)
We could all use a little bit of Bill Pullman’s President Thomas J. Whitmore’s message of unity these days (and every day). Rewatching this action classic starring Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot tapped to help protect Earth from an alien invasion, is practically an annual American tradition at this point. But it’s that speech before the final battle that always hits home, reminding us we’re all the same at our core.
4. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Boy do we miss you, Robin Williams. One of the late actor’s best moments can be found in the same flick that gave us Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Williams plays Sean, a psychologist asked to help the brilliant social delinquent Will (Damon) find a purpose for his gift. Fed up with Will’s know-it-all antics, Sean confronts him with the one thing he knows nothing about that’s also the key to knowing about everything: love. That final “Your move, chief,” gets me every single time.
5. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
After butting heads with her students at Wellesley College about the purpose and value of their education, art historian Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts) decides to confront them with current advertisements depicting “the modern” American woman of the 1950s. She challenges them to further consider what they want for their lives after so many years of hard work and to choose what makes them happy, not what’s expected of them.
6. Remember the Titans (2000)
One of the best sports movies, ever. Denzel Washington’s Coach Herman Boone is tasked with bringing together the white and Black players of his football team in 1971 Virginia. Seeing the deep seeded roots of racism threatening to tear the team apart for good, he takes the boys to the cemetery at Gettysburg for a lesson in the consequences of fighting your own brother.
7. Legally Blonde (2001)
When you need some hot pink, sweet-but-not-too-sweet feminism, you can’t go wrong with Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon). Elle’s commencement speech from this comedy is one of many highly quotable moments, but it really brings Elle’s story full circle, showing how far you can go when you push past other people’s expectations and just bet on yourself.
8. The Great Dictator (1940)
This black-and-white film may have been a political satire about a barber pretending to be a dictator, but star Charlie Chaplin’s final speech is anything but a joke. His incredible call for unity, peace and progress is one that still resonates as a call to action for social change and faith in humanity. Try not to be inspired as he reminds us, “In this world, there’s room for everyone.”
9. Braveheart (1995)
Mel Gibson’s star turn as Scottish warrior William Wallace was an all-around blockbuster. Set in the late 13th-century during the First War of Scottish Independence, it has plenty of drama and gore, but it’s Wallace’s speech about freedom and sacrifice to his troops before battle that has stuck with me ever since I saw it. There have been many parodies, but the original still hits the same note.
10. Dead Poets Society
Sorry, I have to end with one more from Robin Williams, because if there’s any message we’ve all taken to heart in the past year, it’s this: carpe diem (“sieze the day”). Williams, as teacher John Keating, is telling his students there’s nothing they can’t do if they just believe in themselves and go for it. Life is short and they better not waste the opportunities they’ve been given. Because after all, “We are food for worms, lads.”
What is your go-to movie when you need a pick-me-up? Let us know in the comments.