Despite what you’ve been told for your entire life, growth doesn’t have to always be hard and unenjoyable.
You don’t need to spend every waking hour with your nose in a book, flying out to a seminar or have your earbuds blaring the dozens of different podcasts or youtube channels that you listen to.
In fact, some of the greatest life lessons and epiphanies that I’ve ever had came from sitting back on the couch with my girlfriend and a big bowl of popcorn and binge-watching the best movies I can find.
Due to popular demand, I’ve compiled a list of the 100+ movies that every man should watch to become a stronger more grounded man and reach his true potential.
While you’ve probably already seen many of these films before (although there are at least a few on here that I can all but guarantee you haven’t), you need to remember that context is everything.
I’ve seen several movies on this list more than 3x. But each time that I rewatch a film, I do so with the intent to learn and grow, I find some new nuance or theme to the movie or main characters that I’d never considered before.
I encourage you to go through this list divided by category of War, Success, Masculinity and Romance, paying special attention to the life lessons contained within each of them and take the lessons from the films and apply them to your own life.
Get your popcorn and drink of choice ready. These are the top 100+ movies you need to watch to achiever higher levels of success, freedom and happiness in your life.
Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back. ~Maximus, Gladiator
Maximus Decimus Meridius is the quintessential Grounded Man. Family, honor, duty, and a whole lot of sword slashing in the arena, he can do it all. Following Maximus’s journey after he is betrayed by the Emperor’s weak son, forced to see the death of his family, then sold into slavery, Gladiator tells a tale of vengeance and the quest for freedom.
Pay attention to Maximus’s leadership style of always leading from the front, putting himself in harms way to maintaining integrity in the face of death to fighting for something you deeply believe in, Gladiator is filled with life lessons that will show you what it means to be a strong Grounded Man.
“Earn this… Earn it.” – Captain Miller
Considered by many critics to be the greatest war film of all time, Saving Private Ryan immerses viewers into the cold and brutal reality of World War II. Nearly 20+ years later this film still holds it’s grounded of portraying some of the most realistic combat scenes to date. Instructed to save one Private Ryan, the last remaining child of a woman who lost three of her sons, Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks) must lead a small squad of soldiers on a near suicide mission to bring Private Ryan home.
What ensues is one of the most epic war films that will leave you with a deeper level of respect and admiration for the men and women who sacrifice everything for our freedom. Captain Miller shows you how to be calm in the midst of chaos throughout the movie and demonstrates a lead from the front attitude putting himself in harms way in every combat scene.
I am in a world of s**t, yes. But I am alive. And I’m not afraid. ~Private Davis
Portraying the horrors of the Vietnam War and Marine bootcamp in (almost) unbearable detail, Full Metal Jacket will leave you questioning the purpose of war and witnessing the way in which individuals are turned into a cog in a giant machine. Unlike many of the other war movies, Full Metal Jacket doesn’t glorify war. It simply reveals its harsh realities.
4. Schindler’s List
Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t ~Oskar Schindler
One of the most powerful and harrowing films to come out of the ’90s, Schindler’s List follows the journey of business magnate and Nazi supporter Oskar Schindler as he slowly begins to uncover the grim realities of German-occupied Poland. After hiring thousands of Jews to work in his factory (for pragmatic reasons), he is forced to make a decision that will shape his entire future. As the story unfolds, the audience witnesses the price that is often paid for being brave and doing the right thing.
“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” – General George S. Patton
Few individuals are more iconic or divisive than the brilliant soldier, military strategist, and tank commander, ‘Ol Blood and Guts himself, General George S. Patton. Renowned as one of the leading individuals in the Allies victory against Axis forces during World War II, Patton was a force to be reckoned with and this film brilliantly portrays a man who was one part insane and two parts genius.
The leadership lessons to be learned from this movie are innumerable and Patton’s larger than life portrayal is not easily forgotten. Pay attention to his confidence, boldness and ability to handle adversity in the face of fear.
Nobody asks to be a hero, it just sometimes turns out that way., Eversmann, Black Hawk Down
Detailing one of the most tragic stories to come out of America’s (many) recent conflicts, Black Hawk Down tells the true story of the 100+ U.S. Army Rangers and Delta operators who were sent into Mogadishu by helicopter to capture two of the most notorious Somali Lieutenants.
After two Black Hawk Helicopters were shot down by local insurgents the Rangers entered into one of the most heroic and tragic battles of their lives and are forced to fight their way out of the city against a numerically superior force. Gripping, heart wrenching, and filled with life lessons on bravery, leadership, and sacrifice, Black Hawk Down will leave you on the edge of your seat as you watch men fight for their lives for its entire runtime. Once the action starts, you won’t move.
7. The Pianist
The other man: “Must feel better on, this side of the wall, eh?”
Wladyslaw: “But sometimes I’m still not sure which side of the wall I’m on.”
The cinematographic adaptation of the memoirs of acclaimed Polish composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Pianist details the true story of Szpilman’s struggle to evade capture by the invading Nazi forces in war-torn Warsaw after all of his friends and family are rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps. What ensues is an unlikely tale of bravery, hope, and the reclamation of passion after the worst tragedies imaginable.
You’ll soon realize how good you have it and how small your problems really are.
Trip (African American Soldier): “If we win you get to go back to Boston, big house and all. What about us? What do we get?”
Colonel Shaw: “Well, you won’t get anything if we lose.”
Set during the American Civic War, Glory tells the story of the men fighting in the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first African American Army units in the country’s history. Despite facing execution at the hands of Confederate soldiers, the 54th, led by Col. Robert Gould Shaw perseveres in the face of untold adversity, fighting bravely to take Ft. Wagner from enemy soldiers.
The film is filled with case studies in leadership, character, and tolerance and will leave you with tears in your eyes and the inexplicable urge to attend a local Civil War Re-enactment.
“One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there’s nothing but unanswered pain. That death’s got the final word, it’s laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it.” – Private Witt
After U.S. Army Private Witt goes AWOL, he is discovered and imprisoned by his company’s First Sergeant and forced to resume his place in combat as his company prepares for the battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. What follows is a harrowing look at the bleak realities and often pointless nature of war, regardless of the outcome. Filled with heroism, sacrifice, and plentiful lessons to ponder, The Thin Red Line is an instant classic that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll.
Most have got nothing. They’re poor. They’re the unwanted. Yet they’re fighting for our society and our freedom. It’s weird, isn’t it? At the bottom of the barrel, and they know it. Maybe that’s why they call themselves ‘grunts’, ’cause a grunt can take it–can take anything.”
Offering a gritty and emotional look at the horrors of the Vietnam War, Platoon follows the story of Chris Taylor, a privileged University drop out who enlisted in the military and volunteered for combat overseas. Upon arriving in Vietnam, his idealism fades and he is quickly faced with the grim reality that, as it is often said, “War is hell”.
Few movies are able to so brilliantly and painfully detail the realities of war and Platoon is one of the only war films that will leave you with no desires to march on infantry lines. It’s not glorious and it’s not heroic. It’s simply one Veteran’s take on the harsh world that he experienced in war.
Death and honor are thought to be the same, but today I have learned that sometimes they are not. ~Col. Edmund Munro
Filmed in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, few films rival The Last of the Mohican’s incredible cinematography and portrayal of (quasi) historical battle scenes of the French and Indian War.
As a Mohican father and his son attempt to follow Poland’s policy of neutrality the war, they are unwittingly lured into the battle after rescuing two daughters of a British Officer during a conflict. What follows is a gripping and heroic tale of loyalty, duty, and integrity in the face of grave peril and real-world consequences that will go down in cinematographic history as one of the greatest films of its time.
12. Lone Survivor
Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards. ~Shane Patton
Few stories are more empowering than the true tale of Marcus Luttrell and Operation Red Wing. In June of 2005, a small team of SEALs was dispatched to the mountains of Afghanistan for a routine reconnaissance mission. After their location was compromised by local goat herders, the team came face to face with a decision that would cost many lives. Take out the goat herders or cut them loose and make a run for it.
The squad is soon attacked by Taliban forces and their quick reaction force is called in to join the fight but, what results is one of the greatest losses in U.S. special forces history to date. With his entire team killed in action, Luttrell (played by Mark Wahlberg) is forced to fight through hordes of Taliban soldiers and escape to safety through some of the most challenging and horrifying obstacles known to man. A true story of heroism, sacrifice, and bravery, Lone Survivor will leave you with the realization that, if your spirit is strong enough, there is nothing that you cannot endure. Keep going!
13. Hurt Locker
The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug. Chris Hedges
At first glance, The Hurt Locker seems to be nothing more than a film about an insubordinate a-hole who foolishly leads his bomb disposal unit into unnecessarily dangerous situations. Classy, right? But upon further inspection, you will realize that, at its heart, The Hurt Locker is a brilliant expose about the dangers of fixation on your job and the real world consequences that arrogance and obsession can have on the people closest to you.
Filled with gritty combat sequences and unorthodox characters (for a military movie), The Hurt Locker will force you to reconsider your relationship with your work and mission and ask yourself the difficult but important question, “Is this really worth it?”
14. We Were Soldiers
I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me, God.
Few characters epitomize the Grounded Man more fully than Hal Moore, an officer in the Vietnam War who led the 1st Battalion in the Battle of la Drang valley. The film rarely relents on the incredible battle sequences, but when it does, Moore leads his troops with an uncommon degree of loyalty and compassion.
Filled to the brim with beautifully filmed fire fights and intense scenes, We Were Soldiers offers one of the best character studies in being a Grounded Man showing both strength and vulnerability in a leader that I’ve ever seen in a war film.
Ideals are peaceful. History is violent. ~War Daddy
Following the story of Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Fury tells the story of an American tank crew during the final days of World War II that undergoes a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered, outgunned, and stuck with inexperienced soldiers, the battles and escapades that follow tell a tale of heroism, bravery, and brotherhood that few films are able to so brilliantly capture.
The film depicts the power of “you become your environment” as Don can barely shoot a gun in the beginning of the film to becoming a battle hardened soldier by the films end.
16. First they Killed my Father (Netflix Movie)
I think how the world is still somehow beautiful even when I feel no joy at being alive within it. ~Loung Ung
One of the most gripping and disturbing films to come out of 2017, First They Killed My Father, is based on the true events that happened to Laoung Ung, a young Cambodian girl who watched helplessly as the Khmer Rouge invaded her home country and turned their lives completely upside down.
When her father is murdered and she is sent to live in a primitive working camp, Loung must do whatever it takes to survive the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime. Utterly heartbreaking, First They Killed my Father will have your eyes glued to the screen from the first to last second and will show you that, as the old saying goes, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to stand by and do nothing.”
I’m not going to lie to you…This is going to hurt like a f***er. ~Eamon
Following a young British soldier during the Belfast riots of 1971, 71 tells a gripping tale of willpower, perseverance, and survival. After he is separated from his platoon due to the mistakes of his commanding officer, Gary Hook is forced to survive on the streets of Belfast alone, confused, and in the middle of some of the most violent rioting, the city had ever seen.
Filled with suspense, plot twists, and more than a healthy dose of applicable life lessons, 71 is a fantastic war film that will keep you hooked until the very end.
General Helmuth Weidling: My Führer, as a soldier I suggest we try to break through the encirclement. During the fight for Berlin we’ve already lost 15-20,000 of the younger officers.
Adolf Hitler: But that’s what young men are for.
The vast majority of war movies follow the journey of the victorious side. What’s that old saying? “History is written by the victors”. In Downfall, however, we are given a different view of World War II and thrown into the tumultuous final days of Hitler’s Third Reich. Not all of Nazi Germany supported Hitler and his “fight tell the last man” mentality.
Offering an interesting and unconventional look at one of the most despised individuals in all of human history, Downfall presents a gritty analysis of Hitler’s final days and the harsh consequences that Germany suffered for allowing Hitler to rise to power.
19. Elite Squad
You have to fight if you want to win. ~Lt. Col Nacimiento
Elite Squad is Brazil’s most successful film in it’s history and is considered it’s Godfather. Set in the sprawling slums of Rio De Janiero, what was once one of the most dangerous cities on earth, Elite Squad tells the story of Captain Nascimiento, the head of the Special Operations Police Battalion who is caught in an epic power struggle, not only with local gang and drug lords, but with the corrupt cops and political officials who seek to exploit the city’s plight for their own personal gain.
The lesson to look out for is that the problems and challenges you are fighting in your own life may not lie externally but internally. Once the internal issue is fixed the external disappears. Where in your life can you apply this?
Every man dies, not every man truly lives ~William Wallace, Braveheart
Whip out your blue face paint because it’s time to take a stand and reclaim your freedom with Scotsman William Wallace. After the King (mistakenly) enacts Primae Noctis and demands to sleep with Wallace’s wife on their wedding night, William takes action into his own hands resulting in the tragic death of his beloved and a mission to free Scottland from English oppression.
Wallace is, bar none, one of the greatest movie heroes to ever grace the big screen and Braveheart masterfully tells the (almost) true tale of how a single peasant defied and defeated one of the most powerful empires in history.
Wallace was a simple farmer with dreams of quietly raising a family in the countryside with his wife. Instead, he became the face of a resistance and the voice of freedom for an entire battered nation. Historical inaccuracies not withstanding Braveheart is one of the greatest films of all time and will have you screaming “Freedddommmm” at the top of your lungs for days and wondering what it’s like to charge an open field screaming at the top of your lungs.
Dan Millman: What time is it?
Dan Millman has everything a man could ask for. Great grades, a shot at the American Olympic Gymnastics team, and a plethora of women lining up to date him. However, when fate intervenes and he meets a gas station attendant named Socrates, his entire world is turned upside down and he’s left questioning every assumption he’d made about life.
When a car crash shatters Dan’s legs and future, Socrates coaches Dan through the process of letting go and revising his ambition. The Peaceful Warrior is like watching a personal growth video on steroids. Watch it, take notes, and use the lessons you learn to grow into your strongest self. Everything that Socrates shares is worth listening to and applying into your own life.
I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity. ~Terrence Fletcher
As he seeks to carve out his place in the music industry, a young and talented drummer named Andrew finds himself under the tutelage of one of the world’s most infamous and critical musical instructors, Terrence Fletcher.
Stopping at nothing to ensure that his students reach their full potential, Fletcher’s abuse and profanity-laden outbursts are boundless causing many of his students to break down in tears and quit. But not Andrew. Persevering in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, Andrew will stop at nothing to achieve the greatness he desires and the film brilliantly chronicles the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears (literally) that go into making someone an “Overnight Success”.
I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived. ~Neil Perry
Carpe Diem. The phrase has been so overused that it’s turned into something of a cliche. However, it’s the central theme of The Dead Poet’s Society and is delivered in such a masterful and poetic way that you can’t help but come away with a new perspective on life.
A group of young men at an all-boys prep school are challenged to think about life and success in an entirely new way when their unconventional English teacher, John Keating (played by Robin Williams) inspires them to pursue a life on their own terms and free themselves of the shackles of social expectations.
Heartbreaking, inspiring, and truly masterful The Dead Poet’s society will challenge you in a way that few films can and will leave you with the unshakable desire to seize the day and live your life to the fullest.
24. Into the Wild
When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it. ~Christopher McCandless
With a simultaneously heartwarming and heart-wrenching plot, Into the Wild tells the true and tragic story of Christopher McCandless, a young man with a silver spoon in one hand and a lifetime of opportunities in the other.
Shunning the conventional path, Christopher sells (or burns) all of his possessions, straps on a backpack, and sets out on an adventure of a lifetime to uncover life’s meaning and his place in the world.
What ensues is a timeless tale of taking the road less traveled and pursuing your dreams at any cost. While Christopher’s unorthodox way of traveling may cause many of you to second guess your dreams of vagabonding and adventure, the film serves as an iconic tale of freedom and the search for happiness in a world gone mad.
25. Money Ball
When your enemy’s making mistakes, don’t interrupt him. ~Billy Beane
Moneyball is, bar none, one of the most powerful films to ever chronicle the entrepreneurial journey. Following the story of Billy Beane, Oakland A’s general manager, as he attempts to assemble a winning baseball team on a shoestring budget, Money Ball will teach you more about hiring all star talent and successfully innovating your industry than darn near any other film on the planet.
After avoiding the film for nearly 3 years (I’m not a baseball guy) I finally caved and decided to watch it one night with my girlfriend. As soon as the credits rolled I queued it up to watch later with a pen and a pad. It’s that good.
26. The Big Short
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
Following the true story of a small group of bankers, investors, and traders leading up to the market crash of 2008, The Big Short reveals in painstaking detail just how corrupt our modern financial system has become and the real world ramifications when it fails.
As the film’s lead protagonists wrestle with the realities of the American economy and seek to exploit the inevitable crash for massive financial gain, we are presented with an intriguing look at how our system works and how to spot and leverage market trends for huge pay days. The film also reveals that the main problem of the 2008 financial crisis is still continuing today and the economy is likely to fail again…
Get busy living or get busy dying. ~Red
Wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit Andy Dufresne receives two-lifetime sentences in one of the country’s toughest prisons and vows to escape captivity. The Shawshank Redemption is a gripping tale of perseverance, wit, and the unbreakable optimism of the human spirit.
Despite his suffering at the hands of the Warden, the guards, and the other prisoner’s Andy maintains his integrity and executes his brilliant escape plan (which I won’t spoil) day by day for 19 years. I could spend an entire article picking apart all of the lessons that can be learned from this film. But I think it would better if you simply watched it and experienced them for yourself.
Do or do not. There is noy try. ~Yoda
There’s little that I can say about the (original) Star Wars trilogy that hasn’t already been said. This classic film brings “The Hero’s Journey” to life in a stunning and captivating way, exploring the story of Luke Skywalker, a simple farm boy who becomes the leader of the intergalactic rebel alliance and sets out to topple the tyrannical government that killed his family.
Although you’ve probably seen these movies 100 times (or more), I encourage you to watch it again paying special attention to the life lessons and character studies provided by the film. Notice Luke’s growth from a reluctant hero into the voice of a galaxy and how it relates to your own heroes’ journey. Observe Han Solo’s calm and demeanor and witty dialogue and think of ways that you can apply his confidence and suave style in your interactions with clients, potential partners, and friends. Pay attention to the myriad of life lessons that Yoda imparts to Luke during his training on Dagobah and really sit with what he says (e.g. Fear is the path to the dark side, do or do not there is no try, if you choose the quick and easy path… you will become an agent of evil). Beyond its cultural significance and record-breaking sales, Star Wars is a film filled with applicable and powerful life lessons… If you’re willing to look for them.
29. The Impossible
“When I came up and I was all on my own. That was the scariest part. Then I saw the two of you, clinging to that tree, I didn’t feel so scared anymore because I knew I wasn’t on my own.” –Henry
Henry and Maria are just your average couple. They have great careers, beautiful children, and are getting ready to enjoy a relaxing vacation on the stunning coast of Thailand. Until, unexpectedly, a massive Tsunami hits the coastline where they are staying and leaves them stranded with a young boy named Daniel who has been separated from his family.
Based on the incredible true story, Henry and Maria stop at nothing to ensure the safety of the young boy and their bravery and selflessness result in one of the most inspiring and heart-wrenching stories I’ve seen in years about survival.
You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period ~Chris Garnder
An inspiring and motivational film based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness chronicles the journey of Christopher Gardner a medical device salesman who loses everything in a crippling divorce and is forced to live on the streets with his son.
Taking an unpaid internship as a stockbroker while continuing his medical device sales, Chris is forced to brave the odds and rise as a man despite the odds. No matter where you are in life, this film will inspire you to get off your butt, take action, and pursue your dreams at any cost.
No such thing as bad student,only bad teacher. ~Miyagi
“Wax on, wax off”. The Karate Kid follows the journey of Daniel, an underdog who has recently moved to California and faces constant abuse at the hands of local bullies.
Karate master Mr. Miyagi takes Daniel under his belt and offers to teach him martial arts so that he can protect himself from the school thugs and stand a chance at leading a normal life. What follows is a heart warming tale filled with life lessons about the process of success, the power of perseverance, and the importance of integrity in the face of failure.
“A scar is the proof of a healed wound.” – Jamal
Jamal Malik is not your normal teenager. An 18-year-old orphan living in the slums of India, he’s preparing for the biggest night of his life when he enters into India’s Kaun Banega Crorepati (India’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire).
Unfortunately, when he’s only one question away from winning 20 million rupees, (~$300,000) he’s arrested by the police on suspicion of cheating. In an effort to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum and what ensues is one of the most inspiring stories ever to come out of British cinema.
Slumdog Millionaire will help you realize just how much you have to be grateful for and will inspire you to pursue your dreams despite overwhelming circumstances.
“You keep telling me how little I am, but see how clever I am.” – Saroo
In 1986, a young boy by the name of Saroo is separated by his family in the middle of Calcutta, 1500 miles from his home. Lost, afraid and too young he’s unable to identify himself or his home to the authorities and struggles to make it on the harsh streets until he’s sent to an orphanage.
He’s soon adopted by the Brierley family in Tasmania and is raised in a loving and healthy home. However, despite his newfound luck, the (now) grown Saroo is haunted by memories of his lost family and decides to set out on a quest to find his lost family. What follows is a heartening tale about love and family that will break you down to tears and inspire you to show up more fully with your own loved ones.
34. City of God
“To be a real hood, you need more than guns. You need ideas.” – Ze
Set in the brutal streets of Rio De Janiero, Brazil in the 1960’s, City of God follows the paths of two young men as they rise up in their respective fields. One of them a photographer, and one a ruthless drug dealer.
The movie portrays the very real violence of the Brazilian Favelas in graphic and often disturbing ways, City of God tells a gripping and calamitous story about crime, love, and the friendship. Pay special attention to the evolution of the characters throughout the movie and how, despite his desire to become a professional photographer, ‘Rocket’ is pulled into a world of drugs, crime, and violence because of who he chooses to associate with. Few films more beautifully capture and portray the truth that Jim Rohn so famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend time with most”. So you’d better choose your friends carefully.
35. Amores Perros
Being tough won’t make you smart. ~Octavio
A horrific car accident irrevocably intertwines the lives of three complete strangers. And what follows is a gut-wrenching story of hope, aspiration, and ultimately the harsh realities of life that sometimes get in the way of our dreams.
Although it’s far from an easy film to watch, Amores Perros will force you to reconcile with the often harsh realities of life and learn to accept that, despite our best efforts, there will be times in our lives where there is no “Happily Ever After” and dealing with sorrow is apart of the human experience.
36. American Beauty
I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. ~Lester Burnham
His wife hates him, his daughter despises him, his boss is a pr*ck and his life is a mess. Meet Lester Burnham, an emasculated and depressed man who has lost all hope in his life until, one day, he meets one of his daughter’s attractive friends and embarks down an immature sexual path that results in the total destruction of everything he once loved.
Provocative, intense, and more than a little disturbing, American Beauty, sheds light on the destructive dark side of the American Dream and will leave you thinking that much more about the life you are creating and the legacy that your daily actions will leave. You could make it to the promised land, but will you enjoy it?
Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a rich man and I’ve been a poor man. And I choose rich every f*cking time. ~Jordan Belfort
While it might surprise you to see The Wolf of Wall Street included on a list of movies that men should view, I actually consider this film to be one of the most important studies of greed and power in film history. The Wolf of Wall Street tells the true story of stock broker (and former podcast guest), Jordan Belfort, as he sets out to make his millions in the market.
Consumed by his greed and lust for power, Jordan quickly falls from grace and enters into a life of drug addiction and debauchery that the film (apparently) doesn’t even begin to cover at the slightest lol. What results is a brilliant and (admittedly) dark masterpiece that will wake you up to the simple fact that “Money isn’t everything”.
38. Forest Gump
I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happenin’ at the same time. ~Forrest Gump
A simple man who makes up for what he lacks in brains with plenty of heart, Forest Gump is drafted into the Vietnam War, making plenty of friends and living on of the most interesting lives imaginable.
From creating a shrimping fleet, to inspiring a fitness and ping pong craze, to meeting the president not once but twice, to writing bumper stickers and song lyrics, his accomplishments don’t reflect his I.Q., but that’s not what matters to Forest.
All he cares about is his childhood sweetheart Jenny whose life has spun wildly out of control during the 60s counter culture drug craze. Funny and heartwarming with a touch of tragedy, Forest Gump teaches us how to reconnect with the simplicity of life and embrace the chaos of existence.
Opportunity does not knock. It presents itself when you beat down the door. ~Coach Taylor
Set in the small Texan town of Odessa, Friday Night Lights follows the story of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team that gives hope and distraction to an economically dying city.
However, when the star quarter back suffers a career ending injury during the first game of the season, Coach Gary Gaines is forced to lead his team to the State finals without their star player. Sharing an encouraging story of grit, perseverance, and giving it your all Friday Night Lights will inspire you in ways that few films can and leave you feeling encouraged and push towards your goals despite not being fully ready.
You can’t change your situation. The only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with it. ~Katherine
Cancer sucks. And when 27-year-old Adam, a radio writer is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, he is forced to confront and battle a disease that he could never have expected. Somehow, the film manages to strike the perfect balance between funny and considerate and what unfolds is a heartwarming story about perseverance, love, and friendship in the face of an uncertain future.
41. A Beautiful Mind
Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart. ~John Nash Jr.
He’s a got a genius level IQ, intense anti-social tendencies, multiple mental disorders and enough confidence to make the notorious Connor McGregor blush. Meet Mr. John Nash, a world-renowned mathematician with a beautiful mind and an empty heart. Based on a true story, A Beautiful Mind follows Nash’s story after a groundbreaking mathematical discovery earns him international renown within the scientific community and a unique career opportunity with the Department of Defense.
What he doesn’t know is that his new cryptography career will change his life forever and plunge him into a world he could never have imagined. Gripping, thought-provoking, and powerful to the very end, A Beautiful Mind explores the realities of mental health, genius, and love in a way that few films ever have and it will force you to ask a simple question, “Is it better to be important or better to be loved?”
42. 12 Years a Slave
Laws change. Social systems crumble. Universal truths are constant. It is a fact – it is a plain fact that what is true and right is true and right for all. White and black alike. ~Bass
Based on the incredible true story of one man’s fight for freedom, 12 Years a Slave is a semi-biographical film detailing the journey of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.
When he arrives at the plantation, he is brutally beaten and subjected to some of the most horrific living conditions known to man. As he struggles to survive, Solomon has a chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist who will change his life forever. One of the most gripping and intense films to come out of the 21st century, 12 Years a Slave is jam-packed with life lessons on survival and freedom.
You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something. ~Graham
An intense and politically charged film following the strained race relations in Los Angeles, Crash tells a story of racism, humanity, and redemption. With a multifaceted plot that grants viewers a unique look at individuals from every race, creed, and socioeconomic status, Crash follows the story of several disparate families whose lives are inextricably entwined following a series of accidents and criminal acts.
What follows is a heart wrenching and thought-provoking story of race, equality, and the universal realities of the human condition.
Anyone can lose one fight, anybody can lose once, you’ll come back from this you’ll be the champion of the world. ~Eddie Durpis
Maggie Fitzgerald is just your everyday girl. That is if your average girl is a rough around the edges badass with an unquenchable thirst to make boxing history. After convincing a lonely but highly renowned boxing coach named Frankie Dunn to train her, Maggie’s career accelerates and she becomes one of the greatest female boxers in the world… until an accident in the ring changes her course forever.
Telling a story of grit, compassion, and determination, Million Dollar Baby will get you off your butt and encourage you to go after your dreams even when the world is telling you that you can’t.
At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you. ~Juan
Moonlight chronicles Chiron’s struggles as he seeks to rise above his circumstances and create a life for himself. Gripping and heart breaking, Moonlight will challenge the nature and meaning of manhood. How tough are you suppose to be? How cruel? How nice? And how are you supposed to learn all of this and from who?
Pay attention to the beautiful cinematography, the vivid shots, the slow camera movements are all apart of the message of self-discovery and vying to answer the most profound question every man must come to grips with – who am I?
Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
While The Lord of the Rings might seem like little more than a beautifully filmed fantasy epic with battle sequences of unprecedented proportions… it’s far more than that. The trilogy brilliantly chronicles the hero’s journey of the protagonist Frodo Baggins and his group of companions who are tasked with destroying the Ring of Power, an ancient artifact with the potential for worldwide destruction.
But what makes The Lord of the Rings so special isn’t the stunning New Zealand landscapes, the intense battles, or even the incredible CGI monsters and villains. What sets the series apart is the way in which the characters exemplify important character traits throughout the trilogy.
From Samwise Gamgee’s undying loyalty to Frodo to Aragorn’s unwillingness to be defined by his family’s mistakes to the unlikely friendship that develops between the elf Legolas and the dwarf Gimli (two races with a hate-filled history) the film is so packed with character studies and life lessons that you’ll want to watch and rewatch it every single year.
So pull out your favorite elf costume (you have one, right?), and get ready to embark on an epic quest that will leave you not only entertained but a better man.
“Silence is the most powerful cry.” – Elisio
Guido is a carefree Jewish bookkeeper living in Italy during the 1930’s with his wife and young son. But when German forces invade his home country and ship him and his family to a death camp, he is forced to help his son come to terms with new reality by gamifying the horrors that they experience and telling his son that they are on a holiday and trying to win the grand prize of a Tank.
This powerful film imparts an equally powerful lesson that, no matter how bad things may seem, you can always find purpose in your suffering and you have a choice to either cope with life’s challenges or allow them to overcome you.
48. 21 Grams
How many times do we die? They say we all lose 21 grams… at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? When do we lose 21 grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? ~Paul Rivers
Three well-intentioned but ultimately flawed (aren’t we all) people are brought together by a terrible accident that will change their lives forever. One man is a convict turned born-again Christian. Another is a happy housewife with a “Picture Perfect” life, and the third is a disease-ridden mathematician in a loveless marriage.
What ensues is a gut-wrenching and tragic tale that details the unexpected relationship between these three individuals and the harsh truths of love, faith, guilt, and courage. Although it’s not easy to watch, 21 Grams will leave your head spinning and your mind racing both from the Tarantino style filming and the incredibly down to earth and applicable life lessons that fill the entire runtime. Pay special attention to the themes of addiction and redemption throughout the movie and notice how Cristina Peck (who loses her husband and two daughters to the accident) processes her grief and learns to forgive the man who took everything away from her.
Memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts. ~Leonard
While Memento appears, to the common observer, to be little more than a glorified quest for vengeance, the film has a number of powerful and applicable life lessons lurking underneath its dark exterior. After his wife is brutally murdered former insurance investigator named Leonard begins to suffer from memory loss and is unable to remember his wife or her murderer.
What ensues is a violent quest for vengeance that forces audience members to ask a simple question, “Why?” Why are we where we are, doing what we’re doing? Memento will encourage you to take an objective look at your life and actions and remember the famous words of Socrates that “The unexamined life is not worth living”
“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done and not done.” – Hubert Selby
A powerful and heart-wrenching story about the reality of addiction, Requiem for a Dream follows the story of widow Sarah Goldfarb and her druggie son Harry. As she sets out to become a famous self-help speaker and her son sets out to become one of the city’s top drug dealers, Requiem for a Dream shines an uncomfortable light on the dark path that addictions, of any sort, can cause and will leave force you to reevaluate your relationship with any addictive substance or mentality. It’s not an easy film to watch, but the lessons that it teaches are invaluable and can save you from wasting years of your life pursuing your next fix.
51. The Matrix
You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. ~Morpheus
Few films are more iconic than The Matrix. Often considered to be one of the greatest sci-fi films to ever grace the silver screen, The Matrix tells a story that hits closer to home than most of us want to believe.
Serving as both an unforgettable action flick and a fully charged expose on the reality of our society, The Matrix will leave your brain hurting, your palms sweating, and your heart racing.
Few films are able to deliver such a poignant message without seeming trite, however, The Matrix manages to strike the perfect balance and give viewers 2 hours of heart-thumping entertainment while still leaving you with countless lessons to ponder.
Carl- “Let’s play a game. It’s called See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest.”
Russell- “Cool! My mom loves that game!”
It’s rare for me to recommend an animated movie to my grown friends. However, with Up an exception had to be made. This surprisingly funny and stirring tale of adventure follows widower Carl Fredrickson after the tragic loss of his wife.
Upon meeting a young boy scout named Russel his entire life changes and what follows is a brilliant spin-off of the hero’s journey that will teach you how to overcome loss, reclaim your lust for life, and create meaning and purpose even in the face of extreme adversity.
What’s Washington like? Well its like Calcutta, surrounded by beggars. The only difference is the beggars in Washington they wear fifteen hundred dollar suits and they don’t say please or thank you. ~Robert Wakefield
Following the intense realities of the American “War on Drugs”, Traffic beautifully interweaves the lives of four main characters, a conservative judge with a crack-addicted daughter who is tasked with bringing down the drug trade in his new town, the wife of a drug kingpin, and two DEA agents tasked with protecting an informant. What ensues is an action-filled drama filled with death, betrayal, and the quest for justice in a world filled with corruption.
You believe what you want. You work your side of the street, and I’ll work mine. ~Frank Bullit
One of Steve McQueen’s most iconic movies of all time, Bullit is a brilliant 1960’s action flick that follows the journey of police Lieutenant Frank Bullit (Steve McQueen) as he attempts to cripple one of the city’s most vicious mob bosses.
Although the car chases and action scenes might not be as intense as some of the more modern action films, McQueen’s brilliant performance will provide you with a go-to template for how to be a more alpha or “Grounded” man. Pay special attention to the way he interacts with the women in the movie and how he holds himself in intense conversations… You might just learn a thing or two.
55. The Godfather Trilogy
I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse ~Don Vito Corleone
Considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather is perhaps one of the most important films for any aspiring Grounded Man to watch. Despite the film’s 3 hour runtime, you will be on the edge of your seat during this cinematographic masterpiece and will walk away pondering the many life lessons presented in this iconic classic.
With a brilliant script and some of the most iconic acting in Hollywood history, The Godfather will leave you questioning the meaning of duty, family, honor, and life itself as the memorable tale unfolds. Pay special attention to Corleone’s character and the multitude of life lessons that he shares throughout the film from never making promises you can’t keep, to putting your family first, to acting on logic and reason instead of emotion. He’s a powerhouse of a man (despite his criminal activities) and you can learn more from watching his character throughout the trilogy than you will from watching any inspirational YouTube video or Instagram post.
Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.
Following the (semi) true story of outlaws Robert Parker (Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid), Butch Kassidy and the Sundance Kid is a classic film depicting the timeless struggle of two friends trying to find their place in an evolving and harsh world.
Filled with hidden gems and life lessons Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid offers excellent case studies in leadership, success, and staying grounded in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Despite the main character’s choice of profession (e.g. Lifetime robbers and criminals), the films excellent script will make you fall in love with the unsavory hooligans and stay on the edge of your seat until the very end.
57. Cinderella Man
If we can’t stay together, that means we’ve lost, that means we’ve given up! ~Jim Braddock
Few movie characters epitomize the Grounded Man more than James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man. Set in the Depression Era of the late 1920’s, Cinderella Man tells the true story of a hard-working family man and former professional boxer and his struggles to provide, protect, and pursue his dream of re-entering the ring. Like Rocky meets The Pursuit of Happiness, Cinderella Man will make you scream, cry, and feel motivated to go after your passions all at once.
58. Fight Club
You are not your job. You are not the money you have in your bank account. You are not the car you drive. You are not your f****g khakis ~Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Fight Club follows the journey of a nameless main character (played by Edward Norton) who is stuck in a soul-crushing office job until he meets an unexpected friend named Tyler Durden.
After his apartment explodes (it’s a long story), our hero meets up with Tyler Durden and the band creates a local fight club where men can get together and rekindle their primal spirit.
This expertly filmed masterpiece is both an intense action thriller and a brilliant expose of the state of masculinity in the 21st century. It will challenge your views on what is important in life and encourage you to reconnect with the primal man that is caged inside of you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do in your life.
This is Jason Bourne, the toughest target that you have ever tracked. He is really good at staying alive, and trying to kill him and failing… just pisses him off. ~Pamela Landy
There aren’t many things that appeal to men more than the prospect of being a highly paid international assassin. Whether we’re attracted to the plethora of epic weapons and gear, the mystique and confidence that comes from being a secret agent, or simply the fact that we all want to be at the top of the food chain and know that we can take on anyone who threatens us, there’s something in a man’s DNA that draws us to this prospect.
And while the Bourne movies are filled with plenty of gratuitous action and over the top fight scenes, what sets this movie apart from its counterparts (I’m looking at you John Wick) is the internal struggle and character development that Bourne undergoes throughout the trilogy. As Bourne wrestles with who he is and how the world works, we are presented not with a tale of a killing machine gone rogue but of a man searching for meaning, morality, and his place in the world.
You’re either somebody or you’re nobody. ~Frank Lucas
American Gangster tells the semi biographical story of Gang leader and heroin kingpin Fank Luca, and is one of the few films where audience members have as much to learn from the “bad” guy as they do the good guys.
Filled with fantastic acting and spot on dialogue, the film is fueled by the exceptional cast including Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. While you watch this film, pay careful attention to the way that Lucas carries himself in tense situations and remains grounded despite the adversity (and impending prison sentence) facing him.
“I have a theory why women like racing drivers. It’s not because they respect what we do, driving round and round in circles. It’s our closeness to death. You see, the closer you are to death, the more alive you feel, the more alive you are. And they can see that in you, they feel that in you.” ~James Hunt
Telling the amazing true story of rival Formula 1 drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Rush is a gripping film that details two completely antithetical approaches to life and success. What unravels is some of the most entertaining and inspirational storytelling ever to come out of Hollywood. From Hunt’s “No f*cks given” attitude to Lauda’s analytical and success driven mindset, Rush will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll and leave you with more than a few ideas about how to improve your game with the ladies, become a more successful man, and live the life you truly want.
62. The Outsiders
You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There’s still a lot of good in the world. ~Johnny Cade
Based on SE Hinton’s infamous novel, The Outsiders is a beautifully written and filmed case study that brilliantly portrays the challenges of youth, modern tribalism, and friendship. After Johnny, the Greaser kills a Soc (the Greaser’s rich nemesis) a whirlwind of tragic and unforgettable events are set into motion and perfectly captured in this hard-hitting classic.
Filled with (now) A-list celebrities like Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Diane Lane, The Outsiders is a film that is filled with life lessons about friendship, honor, and the perilous slopes of hatred.
I’m your Huckleberry, that’s just my game. ~Doc Holliday
When former Marshall Wyatt Earp decides to end his law enforcement career and retire quietly in the small town of Tombstone, Arizona with his brothers and best friend Doc Holliday, his plans are interrupted by a rowdy gang of local criminals known as ‘The Cowboys’.
What follows is one of the best Western films to come out of Hollywood that is jam packed with intense action, brilliant one-liners, and applicable life lessons. Tombstone will teach you what it means to be a true friend, the value of family, and the importance of doing what is right… Even when it’s not easy.
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done ~Rocky Balboa
The ultimate underdog story and Sylvester Stallone’s acting debut, Rocky follows the story of Rocky Balboa, a working-class boxer who is given the rare opportunity to face the heavyweight champion of the world.
This film has it all. Epic training montages? Check. Brilliant banter and insightful lines about the realities of life? Check. Brutal fight sequences that will leave you on the edge of your seat? Check. Get ready for a face full of motivation and the overwhelming urge to hit a heavy bag. This film is one for the ages.
Where were you when it mattered? I needed this guy back when I was a kid, I don’t need you now. You know? It’s too late now everything has already happened. ~Tommy Conlon
Ever since Rocky was released, filmmakers of all stripes and colors have attempted (quite unsuccessfully) to create a fight movie of the same caliber. Warrior, however, breaks the traditional model and instead tells an emotional and intense story of two brothers who are destined to fight one another in the octagon.
Filled with lessons about family, discipline, and perseverance, Warrior will motivate and inspire you like nothing else and will probably leave you with the uncontrollable desire to sign up at your local MMA gym… yesterday.
66. The Dark Knight
Madness, as you know, is like gravity, all it takes is a little push. ~The Joker
It’s rare for me to find a superhero movie that has real depth and contains anything more than gratuitous action sequences and cheesy one-liners.
The Dark Knight is the exception to this rule. Outside of having one of the most memorable villains in all of movie history, The Dark Knight presents its viewers with countless life lessons about the importance of adhering to a personal code, leveraging adversity to grow, and pursuing the highest good at any cost.
Well, you know what my dad always said, Having dreams is what makes life tolerable. ~Pete
Despite this film’s intention to portray the power of persevering towards your dreams, I personally found the main lesson contained in Rudy to be rather counterintuitive. Following a rough and tumble blue-collar kid who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame despite being short and unathletic, Rudy tells a gripping story of the rise of the underdog and the power of perseverance.
I also believe it teaches an important lesson about not only following your dreams but facing reality and having the self-awareness to pursue a vocation that lies at the intersection of your passions and natural talents. While critics laud Rudy as a “The Classic Underdog Story”, I saw it differently. Had Rudy focused his efforts on a path and skillset where he had some natural ability, his results would have been far greater than 5 minutes of fame and a single touchdown. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful film, watch the movie and decide for yourself.
68. Training Day
You gotta control your smiles & cries because that’s all you have & nobody can take that away from you. ~Jake Hoyt
What happens when a rogue detective with a disdain for the rules takes a rooky cop under his wing in one of the most violent districts of Los Angeles? 122 minutes of pure, unbridled, adrenaline pumping good cop vs bad cop drama.
Following the story of rookie cop Jake Hoyt and his first day on the job with Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), Training Day forces viewers to come to terms with a simple truth. Right & Wrong, Good & Bad, they aren’t always what they appear and when the lines get blurred, decisions have to be made that will have a lasting impact on your life and legacy.
69. Enter the Dragon
Don’t think! FEEL. It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. ~Bruce Lee
The first and (unfortunately) final Hollywood Kung Fu film from Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon tells the sordid tale of a Bruce Lee’s journey to avenge his sister’s death and restore the honor of the Shaolin Temple. Entering into an underground Kung Fu tournament in order to gain access to the gang leader who was responsible for the murder of his sister, Enter the Dragon is filled with some of the most entertaining martial arts sequences in all of Hollywood history carving the path for the fight sequences we all come to enjoy today in cinema.
Sure, there are plenty of life lessons to be gleaned from the film about honor, presence, and service, but let’s just be honest… The real reason to watch Enter the Dragon is to enjoy a bag of popcorn and 99 minutes of nonstop action from a legend who left us all too soon.
70. The Untouchables
There’s was an old saying in my neighborhood that you would get further with a kind word and a gun then you would with a kind word. ~Al Capone
Set in Prohibition-era America, The Untouchables follows the true(ish) story of Eliot Ness, a U.S. Treasury Agent on a mission to bring down one of the most notorious mob bosses in all of U.S. history, Mr. Al Capone. Filled with brilliant dialogue, witty exchanges, and a masterful plot, The Untouchables is a gripping crime film that will teach you that you should never bring a knife to a gunfight and that sometimes the good guys have to do bad things to ensure that justice is done.
Mayor Tilman: Do you like baseball, do you, Anderson?Rupert Anderson: Yeah, I do. You know, it’s the only time when a black man can wave a stick at a white man and not start a riot.
Based on the true story of the murder of 3 civil rights workers in 1964, Mississippi Burning details the FBI’s attempts to bring the murderers to justice. The movie’s poignant and unfiltered look at the racism of the 1960’s will open your eyes to the dangers of tribalism and deindividualization and illustrate in crystal clear detail that blind hatred (of any kind) stems, first and foremost, from insecurity and self-loathing not from the actions of others. Mississippi Burning is a classic tale of the pursuit of justice and will leave you with a deeper understanding of a fact that should be self-evident, “Never judge a man by his color. Only by his actions”.
According to Greek mythology, the Titans were greater even than the gods. They ruled their universe with absolute power! Well, that football field tout there tonight, that’s our universe. Let’s rule it like Titans! ~Coach Herman Boone
Following a recently desegregated Virginian school system, Remember the Titans follows the story of two formerly segregated schools that are forced to combine to comply with federal legislation. When Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) a black man, is selected as the head coach of the new football team the entire town, school, and football team lose their minds.
What takes place is a heartwarming and memorable tale of compassion, hard work, and the breakdown of racial tensions as Coach Boone leads his team towards their most successful season ever.
If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working? ~Tuco
An iconic Western masterpiece that concludes Sergio Leone’s film trilogy, The Good the Bad and the Ugly is filled with some of the most iconic characters, soundtracks, and dialogue ever to grace the silver screen.
Following the journey of three Civil War-era cowboys attempting to double-cross one another on their quest for Confederate gold, the film doesn’t offer much in the way of inspiring life lessons or a heartwarming plot. It’s just a helluva fun film to watch and Clint Eastwood’s swagger will leave you wishing that you could be a cigar munching, poncho-wearing, gun slinging badass in the 21st century.
74. The Truman Show
We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that. ~Christof
One of the most eerily accurate exposes of the modern American condition, The Truman Show, tells the story of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) a seemingly average man who has become the victim of a giant Hollywood scheme. Although he doesn’t know it, Truman is actually a part of a 24/7 television series that broadcasts his every move out to the world.
The executive producer of the show Christof (Ed Harriss) attempts to control Truman’s mind in order to create the greatest show known to mankind. As he slowly uncovers the truth, Truman is left with a decision about what he’s going to do. Provocative, timely, and all too relatable, the Truman Show will make you reconsider how you live your everyday life and cause you to question the way that our society distracts itself through the only life we have.
The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can only do the right as we see the right and reverently commit our cause to God. ~King George VI
Born with a debilitating speech impediment, King George VI is faced with the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of leading and inspiring an entire nation with nothing but his voice.
The King’s Speech chronicles the true story of King George’s fight to overcome the adversity before him and become the man that his country so desperately needs. What unfolds is one of the most inspiring tales ever told that will teach you how to persevere in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds and rise to the occasion to be the strong grounded man that this world needs.
“All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don’t break em for no one.” ~Tony Montana
Tony Montana is the antithesis to the strong grounded man. He’s angry, violent, and obsessed with money and power. And the result? 170 minutes of pure dark entertainment that will teach you exactly how not to become a grounded man and will leave you realizing that there’s more to life than accumulating money, power, and women. He might not be the best example to follow, but dammit does Tony Montana’s story make for an entertaining movie.
77. Gran Torino
“Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have messed with? That’s me.” – Walt
Walt Kowalski is the angry, grizzled, and racist grandfather that you (hopefully) never had. A Korean War vet and recent widower, Kowalski’s life is turned upside down when an Asian family moves in next door and is victimized by a local gang.
As he is unwittingly sucked into a life he never asked for, Walt is forced to overcome his prejudices and find new meaning and purpose in his life in unexpected ways. A gritty but ultimately heart warming tale of loss, friendship, and growth, Gran Torino will teach you that it’s never too late to change who you are and become a better man.
“If we stop breathing, we die. If we stop fighting our enemies the world will die.” ~Victor
Possibly one of the most iconic and frequently quoted films in all of Hollywood history, Casablanca tells the tale of Rick Blaine, an American living in Casablanca during World War II. When his former lover Ilsa Lund walks into his club with her husband begging for Rick’s help to escape to gain German transit papers allowing them to travel freely through Europe and escape the German officers on their trail. What ensues is a gripping tale filled with challenging decisions and a battle between what is good and what is easy.
79. Iron Man
Christine Everhart: You’ve been called ‘the DaVinci of our time’. What do you say to that?Tony Stark: Absolutely ridiculous; I don’t paint.
While you probably won’t learn any radical life lessons about honor, integrity, or sacrifice from Iron Man that you couldn’t find in another run of the mill superhero movie, Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of billionaire Tony Stark provides men with a valuable character study in being a strong grounded man.
Tony’s demeanor, carefree attitude, and commitment to doing the right thing (even if it costs him his entire fortune) provide a powerful template that men can use to accelerate their dating lives, social circle, and business success. Pay careful attention to how Tony stays grounded during tense social situations and holds himself with confidence and swagger no matter what is going on around him.
And once you’re done with the movie, check out a few of Robert’s interviews and media appearances where he details his journey from cocaine and heroin addiction to becoming the highest paid actor in Hollywood. His life and comeback story is an inspiration for men all over the world and he will teach you how to overcome your failures and create your dream life.
80. The Revenant
As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe…keep breathing. ~Hugh Glas
No matter how difficult your life is right now, chances are probably good that you haven’t been mauled by a pissed off Mamma Bear, betrayed by your best friends, and been attacked by a roaming band of Native Americans… in the same calendar week.
Enter The Revenant, an incredible true story about survival against all odds and mankind’s relationship with the natural world. When frontiersman and fur trader Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is mauled by a bear and left to die by his team, he’s forced to undergo one of the most arduous journeys in recorded history, literally crawling his way to vengeance and retribution.
The film will leave you with the powerful realization that, no matter how terrible things might be right now, if you can just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, you will eventually succeed.
Don’t be immoral with money, do what’s right, you understand ~James Conway
One of the most gripping and well-written gangster flicks to ever come out of Hollywood, Goodfellas tells the story of three friends and professional criminals as they seek to rise through the ranks in the local mob. As the plot unfolds, the characters are forced to make a choice between looking out for themselves and staying loyal to the men they consider brothers.
Despite the fact that it’s a bona fide gangster movie, Goodfellas contains a number of highly applicable business and life lessons for the conscious observer. Notice how the film expertly illustrates the importance of trust (in business and in friendship), frugality with your finances, and staying the hell away from debt (especially if your lenders have a habit of putting people in body bags).
“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” – Neil McCauley
Neil and his crew of professional criminals play the game to win it. Banks, vaults, armored cars, if there’s a target with a big payday attached to it, you can be certain that they will be there. But when a botched job puts the cops on their trail, team joins up for one final heist to ‘earn’ their retirement and achieve their happily ever after.
As you can probably guess, this doesn’t go quite according to plan. Intense, action-packed, and entertaining to the last second, Heat will teach you to that money isn’t everything and that sometimes, the wisest choice is knowing when to walk away while you’re ahead.
83. The Departed
I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. ~Frank Costello
An intense action thriller from the opening scene to the closing credits, The Departed follows the stories of Billy and Colin, two police academy graduates with wildly different pasts (and motives).
As the movie unfolds the two disparate characters are put at odds with one another and we are left with an intriguing and entertaining crime thriller that illustrates the dangers of seeking validation from other people and the consequences of allowing your identity to become entwined with another person’s dreams and aspirations.
84. Bleed For This
…the biggest lie I was ever told: “It’s not that simple.” And it’s a lie they tell you over and over again. ~Vinny
What do you do when everything that you’ve ever dreamed of is taken away from you in an instant? That’s the question that Bleed for This sets out to answer. And boy does it do a good job.
Based on the true story of Vinny Pazienza, a fighter who suffers from a near-fatal car accident, Bleed for This chronicles Vinny’s journey back into the ring and tells a story of hope, ambition, and an indomitable will to persevere at all costs when everyone is telling you to give up.
85. Only the Brave
There are two things that can make a man move. Fear and greed. ~Duane Steinbrink
Eric Marsh, the leader of the Prescott Arizona Fire Department becomes frustrated with his career and the tasks he and his crew are assigned to, he takes matters into his own hands and receives approval from the town’s Mayor to organize a certified municipal based ‘Hotshot’ crew for his hometown.
As he and his team embark on some of the most rigorous training and qualification testing on the planet, they forge a brotherhood that will be put to the tests when the notorious Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013 ensues and he and his men are called into the line of duty.
Gripping, intense, and action-packed from beginning to end, Only the Brave will teach you about the power of perseverance, brotherhood, and a willingness to knock down the walls when life slams a door in your face.
86. V for Vendetta
The past can’t hurt you anymore, unless you let it. ~V
Transforming the Guy Fawkes mask from little more than a Halloween costume into a symbol of hope and freedom, V for Vendetta is possibly one of my favorite films on this entire list.
Set in a dystopian London in the not so far off future, the film chronicles the journey of V, a faceless hero of the common man on a quest for vengeance and the emancipation of London and his unlikely sidekick Eve Hammond.
What unfolds is one of the most gripping and brilliantly filmed stories to ever hit the big screen. When the credits roll, you’ll be left questioning the current direction of our world’s political ecosystem and understanding the true value of freedom and your mandate to protect it.
You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kinda thinking it’s the other way around. You know, like the moment seizes us. ~Nicole
An unprecedented project in film history, Boyhood was filmed over the course of 12 years (the only film to do this), following the same cast of actors as they grow up and begin to make their way through life.
Telling the story of childhood and growth through the eyes of a boy named Mason, Boyhood charts the difficulties of life and childhood in a way that no film has ever captured. Filled with valuable life lessons and an intriguing journey of a child’s growth from boyhood to manhood, Boyhood showcases the journey that all men must undergo in a fascinating and inspiring way that will leave you reminiscing about your youth and (possibly) reconsidering how you will raise your kids.
88. Top Gun
You can be my wing man anytime.
I probably don’t need to tell you how amazing or iconic a film Top Gun is. You can quote the whole thing from beginning to end, right? However, for the younger members of my audience, Top Gun follows the story of an arrogant Navy Pilot nick named Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) after he is selected to train at the infamous Navy flight school dubbed “Top Gun”.
Cheesy? You bet. Filled with laughable homoerotic overtones? Heck to the yes. Unforgettable, insanely quotable, and filled with atrociously funny ’80’s one-liners and iconic theme songs? Absolutely. And that’s just a small part of what makes Top Gun the cultural classic it is today. (Fingers crossed that they don’t screw up the upcoming sequel).
If you haven’t seen this movie already, then shut this article out now, give it a watch, and come back later. You can thank few in a few hours.
89. The Wrestler
When you live hard and you play hard and burn the candle at both ends… in this life, you can lose everything you love, everything that loves you. ~Randy Robinson
While you don’t typically hear the words “Real” and “Wrestling” in the same sentence, The Wrestler is about as real of a movie as they come.
Following the story of Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a washed-up wrestler with deteriorating health who attempts to make ends meet by working at a grocery store, The Wrestler tells a gritty tale of one man’s fight to rise from the ashes and become the man he knows he can be. A surprisingly heartwarming and lesson-packed film The Wrestler will teach you about the importance of family, the power of persistence, and indomitable strength of determination.
The only feeling of real loss is when you love someone more than you love yourself. ~Will Hunting
A powerful story of identity, purpose, and finding your direction in life, Good Will Hunting follows the story of Will Hunting a janitor at M.I.T. who is, as the movie says, “Wicked Smart”. Despite his inherent genius, Will struggles to find an aim in life and floats aimlessly through his days, until a professor notices his genius and attempts to help the young man achieve his potential. After assaulting a police officer, Will is forced to see a psychologist and what unfolds is a truly inspirational tale of redemption, purpose, and living this life with all you’ve got.
When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I’m five, I know everything! ~Jack
Telling the moving story of a young boy named Jack and his loving mother, Room is an admittedly dark and disturbing film that hits all too close to home with some of the recent headlines. Confined to a 10 x 10 room with only a handful of possessions, Jack’s mother is forced to create a loving home for her child despite their circumstances of being kidnapped.
Despite the films dark overtones, the overarching theme of the movie is one of optimism, sacrifice, and unconditional love that will have you in tears by the end of the film. The way the boy views the world with his sense of awe and wonder will make you appreciate life’s simplest moments.
Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it. ~Danny Vinyard
Following the story of reformed Neo-Nazi Dereck Vineyard who was recently released from a 3-year prison stint that he served for brutally murdering two black men who were attempting to steal his truck American History X is a brilliant expose on the resurgence of white supremacy and the power of redemption.
As he sets out to prevent his younger brother Danny from making the same mistakes that he did, Dereck is once again entered into a world of violence and hate, despite his best attempts. What unfolds is a tragic story that will highlight the (often unrecognized) power that each of us possess with the example we set for the people in our lives and the senselessness of hatred.
“Money is not real. It does not matter. It only seems like it does.” – George
Growing up in an impoverished family during the 1950’s, George Jung learns from an early age that poverty sucks and he commits to doing anything and everything he can (legal or otherwise) in order to ensure that he never has to struggle for money again.
After discovering the “easy” money there is to be made in the illicit drug trafficking trade, George joins forces with the Medellin cartel to bring cocaine to America in a big way. What follows is a dark and twisted tale that will illustrate the depths of depravity to which greed can take you and reveal, as many of the other films on this list have done so well, that money isn’t everything.
I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. ~Ron Burgundy
Following the shenanigans of the Channel 5 News Team led by Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrel) Anchorman might not teach you much in the way of becoming a stronger more grounded man, but it’s irreverent and hilarious humor will brighten your day and leave you saying “I love lamp” for weeks to come. And more importantly than anything, ITS FUN! Life doesn’t always have to be so serious. You don’t need to be so serious, growing and learning every second of the day. Life is short and we only live it once, so take the pressure off of yourself and enjoy a film that will make your stomach hurt. You’ll be glad you did.
95. Skyfall (James Bond)
Gareth Mallory: M, you’ve had a great run. You should leave with dignity.
M: Go to hell with dignity. I’ll leave when the job’s done.
list of the best movies for men without including at least one James Bond film, did you? While there are (literally) dozens of amazing James Bond movies that have a plethora of life lessons and character studies you can learn from, Skyfall is by far my favorite. In the most intense and action packed 007 movie yet, Bond is forced to come out of retirement to help MI6 defeat an ex-agent turned supervillain named Silva. As with every Bond film, you can brace yourself for a healthy dose of action, epic gadgetry, and seductive dialogue that will rekindle your lifelong dream of becoming a secret agent. However, if you pay close attention, Skyfall offers much more to the attentive observer than mere entertainment.
Throughout the film, Skyfall presents a number of important life lessons that will help you on your journey as a man. From Bond’s struggle with addiction to his ability to make split-second decisions (and follow through on them) to his loyalty to his team to his yearning for real connection in a world of fake people and a life of lies, Skyfall shows a side to the hero that isn’t often revealed in some of the character’s more classic portrayals. As always, pay close attention to Bond’s attitude and charisma and see if you can’t pick out a few applicable tactics that you can use to boost your social prowess and seductive powers.
‘X’ never, ever marks the spot. ~Indiana Jones
Get out your fedora, bullwhip, and trusty pistol because it’s time to go on an adventure. Few films more brilliantly epitomize the rugged adventurer and grounded man than the Indiana Jones trilogy. Following the story of Indiana Jones (duh) a professor of archeology, expert in the occult, and how you say… obtainer of rare antiquities, the epic trilogy is filled with enough action, seduction, and suave dialogue to give Mr. Bond a run for his money. While the film is undeniably awesome, it’s also filled to the brim with lessons about how to be a stronger grounded man (if you know what to look for).
One of my favorite parts about the film is how Indiana beautifully balances education and real-world experience. Sure, he’s a professor at a prestigious university and spends days and weeks researching artifacts and the lore behind them, but he doesn’t hesitate to get out into the real world and actually do what he teaches. In addition to his book and street smarts, Indy is also a master of improvisation, unexpectedly resourceful, and committed to living his life by a code, even when it’s not easy.
I have loved her even when I hated her… only married couples’ll understand that one… ~Cal
While the movie might sound like a die-hard chick flick, nothing could be further from the truth. After finding out that his wife had an affair and wants a divorce, Cal Weaver (played by Steve Carrell) is sent spiraling into the world of pick up after meeting the mysterious and charismatic Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).
Over the course of the film, you will witness Cal’s transformation from a bonafide “Nice Guy” into a strong grounded man who makes a stand for the life he wants and reclaims his lost masculinity.
98. Jerry Maguire
You play for the money. You play with your head, not your heart. When you get on the field, it’s all about what you didn’t get. Who’s to blame. Who’s got the contract you didn’t get. That is not what inspires people! Shut up! Play the game from your heart. Then I’ll show you the kwan. And that’s the truth! ~Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire has it all. He’s a successful sports agent with some of the world’s most successful clients, his finances are all but perfect, and he’s getting ready to marry his beautiful fiancee.
Until, one night, he begins to question his purpose and place in the world and creates a personal ethos to guide his decisions. Unfortunately, his ethos isn’t received well by his superiors and he is fired from his job, losing all but one client and being forced to start over again with nothing.
What follows is an intense and relatable tale of a man rebuilding his life from the ground up and struggling with harsh realities he’d never faced before. Inspiring, down to earth, and heartwarming, Jerry Maguire will give you the motivation that you need to jump off the cliff and build your plane on the way down.
“You know how they say we only use 10% of our brains? I think we only use 10% of our hearts too.” – John Beckwith
When the wedding bells chime, lawyers and pathological playboys, Jeremy Grey and John Beckwith know that it’s go time. Following the duos sordid wedding crashing adventures, Wedding Crashers appear, at first glance, to be little more than a film glorifying the fun and debauchery available to the ethically ambiguous.
However, upon closer inspection, Wedding Crashers presents the audience with two incredibly valuable character studies that will teach you how to interact with women, the importance of honesty, and how not to be a man. (Wait for the meatloaf scene and you’ll know what I mean).
Filled with hilarious dialogue, quotable one-liners, and some of the best acting in comedy, Wedding Crashers will leave your stomach hurting from laughter and give you several great lessons to consider.
Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death ~Hitch
The OG dating coach, Alex Hitchens, a.k.a. Hitch is a professional “Date Doctor” who helps his struggling clients land dates and win the hearts of their fair ladies.
Unfortunately, Hitch’s moves don’t go over too well with the woman that he likes and what ensues is a hilarious 2 hour debacle that is the comedic equivalent of my book, The Dating Playbook for Men. With an all star cast, witty dialogue, and jokes that will have you on the floor in tears, Hitch is a must watch for any aspiring (or recovering) ladies man.
Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a f*cked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours. ~Clementine
Joel Barish is your typical stonewalled man. He’s emotionally withdrawn and completely out of touch. Inexplicably, he’s infatuated with a loving free spirit named Clementine and after a tumultuous and challenging relationship, the young couple splits and decides to undergo a medical procedure to have their memory of one another erased.
While unconscious, Joel has second thoughts about the procedure as he remembers all of the good times he enjoyed with Clementine. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind tells a rocky but ultimately heartwarming tale with lessons of love, redemption, and learning to face your problems head on instead of hiding them.
The only way to beat my crazy was by doing something even crazier. ~Pat
Following the story of Pat Solanto Jr. (Bradley Cooper), a recovering mental health patient who was institutionalized for beating the ever living crap out of his ex wife’s lover, The Silver Linings Playbook, tells an intriguing and ultimately inspiring story about making the best of a terrible situation and learning to look for the good in everything.
After leaving his institution, Pat moves back home with his parents (per the orders of the court) and begins to rebuild his life, attempting to recover from his issues without the aid of medication.
When he meets a young woman named Tiffany (with plenty problems of her own), his world is flipped upside down and what follows is a heartwarming and encouraging story about recovery, personal development, and love
You know what? I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them! ~Andy Stitzer
While it might surprise you to find a film like The 40 Year Old Virgin on a list of movies for the grounded man, the flick, surprisingly, chronicles one of the most iconic journeys a man can undergo.
From Mr. Nice Guy to OMG who is THAT Guy? Following the story of Andy Sitzer, a classic “Nice Guy” who enters into his 40’s as a virgin, the movie chronicles Andy’s journey to lose his virginity and find love.
What follows is a joyous, often inappropriate, and downright hilarious voyeur through Andy’s foibles that will leave you crying with laughter and pondering more than a few lessons on love, romance, and sexuality.
104. 500 Days of Summer
Just because some girl likes the same bizarre crap like you do doesn’t make her your soulmate. ~Rachel Hanson
Does true love exist? Or is it just a fantasy that we invented to give our lives meaning? That is the question that 500 Days of Summer poses. After meeting Summer Fin at the gift card store where he works, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt) falls head over heels in love at first sight and what ensues is an interesting and unconventional take on your typical rom com.
The film is filled with valuable lessons about romance, love, and vulnerability and will open your eyes to the reality’s of romance in a way that few other movies can.
“The saddest people are the ones who don’t know what they want.” ~Larry Bejarano
Does love have to be exclusive? Is monogamy truly the best approach to love? What happens when two individuals push the boundaries on conventional relationships and try to “open” things up?
These are the questions that Newness explores. Following the story of Martin Hillock and Gabi Silvia, Newness takes an unconventional look at love, relationships, and intimacy,
106. The Butterfly Effect
You can’t change who people are without destroying who they were. ~Jason Treborn
One of the most mind-bending and confusing films on the entire list, The Butterfly Effect tells the story of Evan Treborn, a young boy who is sexually abused and begins suffering from blackouts during important moments in his life.
When the love of his life is tragically killed, he begins reading the journal entries he wrote during his blackouts and discovers that he can go back in time and alter events as they unfold.
What follows is an intriguing and gripping tale that teaches a powerful lesson. Control what you can and accept the rest.
107. The Notebook
You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love. ~Nicholas Sparks
While many people laud The Notebook as one of the greatest romance films of all time, I respectfully disagree. In fact, the reason that I included this movie on the list is so that you can have a clear example of what not to do.
In The Notebook a young impoverished man named Noah (Ryan Gosling) falls deeply in love with a young rich girl named Allie. However, Allie’s posh parents aren’t exactly pleased with this situation and attempt to undermine the relationship at every turn.
What ensues is (intended to be) a heartwarming tale of undying love and the power of commitment. Personally, I thought the whole thing was a little trite and told a story of clinginess, codependence, and a big dose of the scarcity mindset. Maybe I’m wrong. Watch it for yourself and let me know.
108.Romeo and Juliet
Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn. ~Romeo
When it was initially written, Romeo and Julietwas intended to be a satire about the dangers of young (and dumb) love. However, through centuries of bastardization, it’s been turned into the classic romance story about “True Love”.
Leonardo DiCaprio and director Baz Luhrmann (who also directed The Great Gatsby) breathe a breath of fresh air into the old story and illustrate, in a more modern context, the dangers of blind love and building your entire identity upon another person.
Watch it, learn from it, and promise yourself that you will never be so smitten with another person that you’d commit a double suicide to be with them, m’kay?
109. The Wedding Singer
You’ll know when you meet the right girl because it’s not how you feel about her, it’s how she makes you feel about yourself. ~Rosie
While you won’t find many hyper-masculine characters, epic battle sequences, or goosebump inducing speeches in The Wedding Singer, what you will find is a funny, quirky, and down to earth comedy that explores just how easy it is to fall in love with the wrong person and the importance of truly contemplating your feelings before saying “I do”.
If you’ve ever been in a long term relationship with the wrong person (or suspect that you might be now) this film will help lift the veil from your eyes and wake you up to the importance of choosing the right partner.
You’re so money and you don’t even know it! ~Trent
Enter Swingers, the hilarious story that follows Mike, a recently single 20 year old living in Sunny Las Angeles. His confidence is gone, the woman he loved has left him, and he feels like he has nothing to live for. That is, until his silver-tongued companion, Trent (Vince Vaughn) takes Mike under his wing in an effort to help him regain his self esteem and get back on top.
What follows is one of the funniest films in Hollywood history that will help you level up your life and your “Game” (I really do hate that term). Just watch Vince Vaughn’s epic portrayal of a classic Hollywood playboy and I promise that your conversations and flirting abilities will improve by matching his demeanor.
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