The Rio Summer Paralympics opening ceremony starts today, kicking off eleven days of sport in which athletes with physical disabilities compete. China will be looking to retain their top spot after finishing first for the last three competitions in a row, whilst the UK will be trying to capitalise on and possibly even better their Olympic success. In honor of the Paralympics, and to get you in the sporting mood, we here at Movie Pilot have compiled a list of the five most inspiring films featuring disabled characters. Each one shows that disability does not mean an impediment to success but can even be a means of inspiration.
1. Harold Russell - The Best Years of Our Lives
The Best Years of Our Lives goes down in the history books as being the only film to have won two Oscars for the same role, and only one of two Oscars won by a non-professional actor. World War II veteran Harold Russell - who lost both hands while handling an explosive, later to be replaced by hooks - plays a variation of himself, having come back from serving in the Navy. The emotional impact of his performance launched the film into popular consciousness, especially coming only one year after the end of the war, making it the 79th highest grossing domestic movie (adjusted for inflation) of all time.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis - My Left Foot
Daniel Day-Lewis won his first Oscar for his soul-stirring performance as Christy Brown in My Left Foot, playing a man who has severe cerebral palsy. The only part of his body that he can control being his left foot, he still manages to become an award-winning painter. Inhabiting his role with grace and verve, coupled with a fair amount of Irish ribaldry and black humour, My Left Foot is an unforgettable story of courage over extreme adversity.
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3. Tom Cruise - Born On The Fourth Of July
In what is arguably Tom Cruise's best performance in what is one of Oliver Stone's most impassioned films (in a career full of them), Born On The Fourth Of July uses its main characters disability and the change of character it induces in him to rail against the injustices of the Vietnam war. Initially being incredibly upset about his disability, Cruise's character eventually uses it as a motivating force, eventually becoming a highly important person in the anti-war movement of the 70s.
4. Jamie Foxx - Ray
Ray Charles lost the use of his sight at the age of seven, before going on to be one of the greatest musicians of all time. His life serves as a deeply motivational tale of pursuing your passion no matter what. In an Academy Award-winning portrayal of the famous singer, Jamie Foxx brings this man's story to life, showing that the mere fact of being blind doesn't mean having to give up your dreams.
5. Mathieu Amalric - The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Mathieu Amalric plays a man, who despite having locked-in syndrome (therefore rendering his entire body bar his eyes completely unworkable) manages to use what he has left in order to write his memoir, reflecting on his eventful and varied life in the fashion industry. Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure, the true story of Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby reminds us to appreciate the smaller and more beautiful things in life.