Five films that’ll inspire you to make the most of your year

January 05, 2016
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It’s that time of year once again when your sloth-like inactivity can’t be justified by the throwaway line, “It’s Christmas/New Year’s”. You know you have to start planning for the year to come, but the mixture of overwhelming heat and leftovers from the festive season simply keeps you in bed doing sweet FA. While the future may seem too distant right to bother worrying about, these cinematic comforts will help put things into perspective.

The Social Network

The Social Network shows us that most great ideas begin in the formative years of university. Now multibillionaires Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) founded Facebook with simply a formula and some resentment towards a recent ex-girlfriend. If only creating multibillion-dollar companies were always that easy. While the destruction of a friendship and two court cases isn’t the ideal road to take, it is a cautionary tale. Essentially, it tells us that success means nothing if there aren’t friends with which to share it.

Essential quote: “If you were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Good Will Hunting

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s script for Good Will Hunting paints a beautiful picture of a mathematical genius who doesn’t want to stray from the status quo for others. Will (Damon) is a blue-collar worker with an extraordinary mind who’s afraid of his potential. He reluctantly accepts the help of a psychologist, Sean (Robin Williams), to realise his dreams. While it’s unlikely you’re a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy, the movie does teach you that experiences come before skills, and that the love of others has to come before excellence.

Essential quote: “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Sean Maguire


The effects of excessive motivation are displayed in brutal detail in Whiplash, while the benefits of pushing oneself are left ambiguous. Andrew (Miles Teller), a first-year drummer at a famous jazz school in New York, is trying to become the world’s best, but his dreams are crushed by an overbearing teacher, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). While it represents the fact that people can do anything they want, the film leaves it up for you to decide whether or not being extraordinary is worth the harrowing means.

Essential quote: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.” – Terence Fletcher

The Graduate

The Graduate follows aimless college graduate, Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman), as he chooses to rebel against what’s expected of a tertiary graduate by having an affair with an older woman. It resembles a desire we all have: wanting to have no place of belonging or to accept that what others say is inevitable. In the end, the film implies that each individual never truly fits any singular hole, but instead needs to constantly question the system in which they find themselves.

Essential quote: “It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me.” – Benjamin Braddock

Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York is, admittedly, not your typical inspirational film. A theatre director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) aims to capture humanity, but eventually detaches himself from those he loves. Feel inspired yet? Despite this appearing to be a depressing drama, it’s instead a reassuring look at how we all play a leading role even if we’re just a cog in a larger machine. Ultimately, it expresses that no matter how much we try to make life perfect, sometimes it’s better to just experience it.

Essential quote: “And they say there is no fate, but there is: it’s what you create.” - Minister

Matthew Sims

Matthew Sims is completing a Bachelor of Journalism at Monash University, with a passion for film, TV, and the arts.

Image: Whiplash official Facebook page