5 British movies where people triumphed over adversity

Amidst the current avalanche of grim news, our lives can often feel like a bit of an endurance test, with hope and happiness distinctly absent. However, we can always rely on the magic of cinema to fire our imaginations and inspire our emotions, if only for a short while.

There's a rich tradition in the UK of triumph against the odds movies, so if you're in need of cheering up, here are five classics that will surely put a spring back in your step. And contained within each of the following films, there's a message that with a bit of grit and wherewithal, we can go on to achieve anything. That's a message we need to hear at the moment.

1. Chariots Of Fire (1981)

Slow-motion is cool. Fuse it with scenes of British sprinters being put through their paces and you get... no, not Cool Runnings, but Chariots Of Fire, the triumphant, Oscar-winning eighties smash.

This was the movie that inspired producer David Puttnam to announce at the Oscars that "the British are coming". Certainly, it's one of the most famous and heartwarming of all time, inspired by the true story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, two men from opposing backgrounds going for gold at the 1924 Olympics.

Vangelis' Oscar-winning score is now the de facto choice for any kind of inspirational sports story. But Chariots Of Fire remains on top precisely because the tale it spins is a factual one, and a reminder that fighting against the odds is a profoundly human endeavour.

2. The Full Monty (1997)

Not all achievements are rendered in terms of gold medals or athletic triumphs. In the classic crowd-pleaser The Full Monty, a group of unemployed Sheffield lads triumph by simply being brave enough to strip off in front of a crowd of people.

In a sharp about-face from his violent role in Trainspotting, actor Robert Carlyle is endearing as Gaz, the self-appointed leader of a group of losers who must be prepared to shed it all. The film's humorous slant is leavened with a sobering look at the collapse of the steel industry in England's north, but despite these challenges, our heroes still manage to club together.

Little wonder the movie was such a sensational hit the world over – it grossed more than $250 million against a $3.5 million budget, and was nominated for four Oscars, winning in the category for Best Original Score.

3. Billy Elliot (2000)

One boy's quest to defy his mining community and become a ballet dancer – that's the premise of the infectious and joyous Billy Elliot, which made an instant star out of Jamie Bell in the title role.

Directed by Stephen Daldry, the movie balances grit with scenes of euphoria, as Billy's tough, unsupportive family insist he follows the conventional route in the midst of the 1983 miners' strike. However, with the help of Julie Walters' supportive teacher (and The Jam's 'A Town Called Malice'), Billy realises that there's no such thing as a pipe dream.

It's a British classic (amazingly, turning 20 this year) that urges people to transcend their backgrounds and reach for the stars. And that go-for-broke spirit continued when Bell snagged the BAFTA for Best Actor from under the nose of Gladiator star Russell Crowe.

4. Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

Danny Boyle may not have directed Bond 25, which eventually came to be known as No Time To Die. But we can always revisit his Oscar-winning triumph Slumdog Millionaire if our spirits need to be lifted.

Not that this multi-stranded coming of age story goes easy on the audience. Based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, the movie criss-crosses the story of a young kid participating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with his early years in the tough Mumbai slums. It's an experience that shapes his knowledge, both academic and practical, eventually guiding him to triumph.

The movie has its feet planted very firmly in the discord and messiness of reality, while also reminding us that something better lies beyond. The movie won seven Oscars and propelled actor Dev Patel, previously best known for his role in Skins, to A-list status.

5. Pride (2014)

As with The Full Monty, the moving and engaging Pride recognises that the most profound success stories are often the most humble ones. Inspired by true events, the film is set in 1984, and recaps the efforts of a group of LGBT activists who rally to help families affected by the UK miners' strike.

Against all the odds, with prejudice, homophobia and abuse at loose in the culture, the two disparate groups manage to coalesce and form enduring bonds. That the film works as well as it does is largely down to its terrific cast of rising stars and established faces. 1917's George MacKay leads with memorable input from Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Andrew Scott. 

Looking for a movie that will put a smile on your face? This is it.

What is your choice for the most inspirational British movie of all time? Let us know @Cineworld.