Top Ten Lessons I Learned From My Favorite Films

Movies have helped shape me into the woman I am today. Sometimes I even make life decisions based on advice I’ve learned from movies. Here’s the biggest lessons I’ve learned from movies that are near and dear to me. 

10. “Grease” 

If you haven’t seen “Grease,” you better shape up. I love “Grease” because it’s a coming of age story for Sandy (Olivia Newton-John). She goes from being bullied for her purity to giving herself a complete makeover. Sandy realizes the only thing keeping her from being with Danny (John Travolta) is her own insecurities, and to be with him she embraces a side of hers that was always there, just deep down. She becomes someone who is strong and empowered, and I love that for her. Lesson learned: A little self confidence goes a long way. 

9. “Dirty Dancing” 

Baby, oh baby. Thanks to this movie, I feel as though I should never settle for less than a Patrick Swayze. Baby (Jennifer Grey) is another female character that I feel is overlooked. She’s a kind person with a big heart. This is shown throughout the film in several scenes, but the bravest thing Baby does is admit she was with Johnny (Swayze) to clear his name, even though she knew it meant getting in big trouble with her father. Lesson learned: Always do the right thing, no matter the consequences. 

8. “Silver Linings Playbook” 

Somehow, this chaotic, raw and unique film left its mark on me. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, two characters that suffer from a mental illness. Pat (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence) get close as they practice for an upcoming dance competition. Their dance seems mediocre to the judges, but to Pat and Tiffany, they couldn’t be more proud of themselves. It wasn’t about the score, it was about the progress they made together. Lesson learned: You can find beauty in the little things. 

7. “Clueless” 

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) just wants to do right by her friends. She’s popular, beautiful and rich so she feels she’s in a good position to help out. What Cher doesn’t realize is sometimes her judgement is a bit off. She fails many of her missions throughout the movie. Her biggest misjudgment of all is about Josh (Paul Rudd). At first thinking him to be dry and nerdy, she discovers Josh has been the one for her all along. Lesson learned: Things may not always go as originally planned. 

6. “Cast Away” 

If you read this and thought “Wilsonnnn,” let’s be friends. In this film, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) brings a terrible fear to life: being the only survivor of a plane crash and washing up on a deserted island. Chuck has to learn how to survive on his own. After four years, Chuck realizes he can either die on the island or take his chances of getting rescued. Chuck bravely decides not to give up and puts together a raft in hopes of being saved. Lesson learned: You are stronger than you think. 

5. “Beauty and the Beast” 

Okay, I’ll say it. “Beauty and the Beast” is the best Disney Princess movie, with Belle being the superior princess. I was beyond excited for the live action remake of this film starring Emma Watson, and boy, were my expectations blown out of the water. Watson is a perfect Belle; it amazes me every time. Belle is able to look past the Beast’s appearance and loves him for who he truly is on the inside. Lesson learned: True beauty lies within. 

4. “Good Will Hunting” 

I simply love watching the touching relationship progress between troubled Will Hunting (Matt Damon) and his therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). This movie shows that even the smartest people may still lack opportunities. Will has a lot of emotional walls up, preventing him from getting hurt, that no one has been able reach … except for Sean. Don’t even get me started on the “it’s not your fault” scene. Chills, everytime. Lesson learned: It’s okay to be vulnerable. 

3. “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” 

If I could recommend one movie everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime, it would be this one. It’s about Neal Page (Steve Martin) trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner, but a series of misfortunes causes delay after delay. Neal travels with Del Griffith (John Candy) and the duo are absolutely hilarious together. The soundtrack on this film is impeccable. I can confidently say this movie is perfect in every way, shape and form. Lesson learned: Perseverance is rewarded. 

2. “The Shawshank Redemption” 

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is an innocent man convicted to prison for life. The Shawshank Redemption follows Andy’s life in prison over the course of 19 years. Andy remains hopeful throughout the film because he believes he can devise an escape plan. Lesson learned: Good things come to those who are patient. 

1. “When Harry Met Sally” 

Ah, my favorite movie of all time. It centers Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) as two people who at first seem a very unlikely match, then become best friends and later fall in love. This movie is the reason why I’m a hopeless romantic. Your soulmate could be standing right next to you, and if you don’t take the time to get to know someone you may never know. Lesson learned: First impressions aren’t always correct.

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About Emily O'Neil 114 Articles
Emily O’Neil is a third-year public relations major with a minor in creative writing, originating from Clifton Park, NY. This is her sixth semester on the Oracle and second as Sports Editor. Her favorite team is the New York Yankees even though they keep disappointing her. You can reach her by emailing