Chances are that you're treating the beginning of a new year as an opportunity for intense self-improvement. If you need a little help to swerve the received wisdom on the topic (namely, that your resolutions will be broken before the year is out) via the joy of the silver screen, I've got you. The following are movies to help you keep your new year's resolutions, no matter what those resolutions may be. Because pep talks are fine and dandy and I'm not shading self-help books, but sometimes you really take lessons seriously if you engage emotionally with the material that teaches you them.
It's worth scheduling one of the below in the first time you slip up, because, according to behaviour specialist Paul Marciano, keeping a New Year's resolution has less to do with being perfect and more to do with being resilient about failure. So whether you want to finally channel your inner Serena Williams and get sporty, fight for political change, or write that novel, 2017 is your year.
When you're crushing it at Wimbledon, don't forget to pen that thank you note to your favorite directors. You couldn't have done it without them.
1. Run A Marathon: The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
There are so many great running movies, which makes it hard to opt for just one. But ignore the poignant title; this movie celebrates running as a form of defiance and a way to carve out an emotional space for yourself even in the toughest circumstances.
2. Engage More With Politics: All The President's Men
Whether you're planning on joining a pressure group, marching in protest, or joining a political party, it's more important than ever to hold the government to account. This iconic 1976 thriller about political corruption serves as a valuable lesson about how vital it is that citizens and journalists alike serve to check those in power.
3. Cultivate Mindfulness Via Meditation: The Tree Of Life
Mindfulness isn't just a buzzword. Studies show it can help students do better on tests, could decrease the levels of stress hormone cortisol, and could even improve focused engagement with music. So if you're planning on taking up regular meditation this year, that's one change that could have lasting impact on all areas of your life. In my opinion, master filmmaker Terrence Malick offers up one of the closest experiences available to us via film to meditation in his unique style, in which the emphasis is firmly placed on close-focus and abstract visuals.
4. Adopt A Pet From A Shelter: Marley & Me
OK, so this isn't exactly a resolution you need to keep working at through the year — but maybe you need a gentle push to head down to the shelter, fill out the paperwork, get the shots, etc. If so, this is the film for you. When John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) adopt a dog to see if they're ready for a family, they have no idea how pivotal the dog will be in their life.
5. Stop Dating Assholes: The Apartment
This film, though. If you haven't seen it and you're happily coupled up, you should still give it a spin. The Billy Wilder classic follows one hapless nice guy in love with an elevator girl who can't seem to catch a break when it comes to the opposite sex, thanks to her predilection for terrible dudes (married, way older, serial cheaters). Watching this film is going to cure you of your tendency to date people who are the actual worst forever.
6. Finally Nail Cat's Eye Liner: Cleopatra
Or, indeed, any tricky, totally-over-the-top '60s eye make-up. Elizabeth Taylor's eye looks here are going to make you swoon and keep you getting up 15 minutes early each morning to play with eyeshadow before work.
7. Take Up Self-Defense: Come Drink With Me
Hopefully, you don't live in a cartoonish action movie. But the world can be a tricky place for women sometimes and a self-defense class is a great way to keep fit while also increasing the probability that you might be able to protect yourself in a worst-case scenario. Martial arts classes require a lot of sweating, so no judgment if you need a little inspiration to keep going. Come Drink With Me features Cheng Pei Pei (AKA Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), whose performance should have you covered.
8. Start Volunteering: Pay It Forward
This movie centers on an 11-year-old boy who creates a school project that aims to change people's lives by paying it forward, creating a chain of good deeds with the recipient of the favor going on to do favors for three new people rather than returning the favor. Kevin Spacey also stars as a teacher who is essentially the psychic opposite of his House Of Cards character.
9. Fall In Love: Muriel's Wedding
So. Damn. Good. Young Toni Collette as a socially-incompetent romantic, Muriel, who dreams of nothing more than getting married. Great for that lesson that you're probably not getting your happy ending romantically until you've made peace with yourself first, and you're OK with flying solo for a bit.
10. Cultivate Body Positivity: Pitch Perfect
Because honestly? Fat Amy's the most watchable character in the movie. She calls herself fat before anyone else can ("So twig b*tches like you don't do it behind my back"), she's multifaceted, charismatic, and sexy.
11. Write Your Screenplay: Adaptation
This eccentric meta-meditation on the joys and immense frustrations of the writing process is a great kick up the butt to just sit down and write. While protagonist Charlie Kaufman spends much of the film agonizing over absolutely everything (writing, interactions with the opposite sex, how successful he is), his goofy twin brother Donald just goes for it in all areas of life and has a great time.
12. Go Vegetarian: Babe
I'm sure there's any number of blood-curdling documentaries I could list here to make you gag at the sight of meat for the next year. But watching an adorable kids' movie about a pig is, IMO, way more likely to keep you at a safe distance from a bacon sandwich for a while.
13. Spend Less Time Online And More Time IRL: Her
Because seriously: what if you fall madly in love with your smartphone? This movie genuinely asks that question. But before you laugh, think for a second – if your smartphone had the voice and smarts of Scarlett Johansson, would you be strong enough to date a real person instead?
14. Crush It At Work This Year: The Pursuit Of Happyness
If San Francisco salesman Chris Gardner could overcome his many, many, many obstacles in this movie to find a way of making a living, you can crush it at work this year. Yes, even if that means working late a few nights.
15. Save Money: Confessions Of A Shopaholic
Oh my goodness, even the trailer to this movie gives me stress sweats. When you're that person who has to get that cashmere sweater in both colors, you need to watch this.
16. Spend More Time With Family: The Family Man
When successful Wall Street executive and bachelor Jack Campbell is given a glimpse into what life would have been like if he'd married his high-school girlfriend and had kids, he's initially horrified. But as the days pass, he realizes that the joys of family outweigh the stresses.
17. Be Your Beautiful Weirdo Self: Napoleon Dynamite
If 2017 for you means no more editing out the weird, awkward parts of yourself, here's your go-to film and your go-to scene. Napoleon and Pedro are just two in a cast of fun weirdos, and if Napoleon can let his freak flag fly to Jamiroquai in front of the whole school, you can finally admit you hate The Wire or have a thing for feet or secretly find the idea of being in a cult kind of appealing.
So get ready to embrace your resolutions over the next 12 months with the film classics above.