Few movies are quite as life-affirming as Forrest Gump. The 1994 Tom Hanks film walked away with six Oscars at the 67th Academy Awards, including wins for Best Picture and Best Leading Actor — all while spawning a genre of chocolate jokes that still hold up today. While the movie has been on the receiving end of its share of parodies and criticism since its release, the story of a man with an intellectual disability who plays a role in historical events throughout the ’60s and ’70s remains beloved by many viewers. And it’s easy to see why; even though it’s not a perfect film, Forrest Gump is a sweet one with a gentle message about the power of love and kindness. In many ways, the film is a product of its era, which makes it tricky to find modern movies like Forrest Gump — but that didn’t stop us from compiling a list of (mostly) classic movies with a heart just as big as Forrest’s.
These days, it’s rare to find movies as unabashedly earnest as Forrest Gump. There’s no denying the movie has a sense of humor, but it also takes its subject matter seriously. Whether that means exploring Forrest’s time in Vietnam or not shying away from the inherent sadness of his doomed love affair with Jenny (Robin Wright), the movie wants you to feel the epic, but all too human journey that its lead character goes through across multiple decades.
Movies like Forrest Gump are few and far between, but there are plenty of films that cover a large swath of history from an everyman’s point of view or that are unafraid to tell heartfelt stories. And we swear the fact that many of them are set in the South just like Forrest’s tale is just a coincidence. From The Green Mile to Slumdog Millionaire, the films on this list are perfect for Forrest Gump fans, which also means they’ll leave you reaching for the tissues.
Movies Like Forrest Gump
1. The Green Mile (1999)
Like Forrest Gump, The Green Mile stars Hanks in a role that will leave you openly weeping. In this film, the actor stars as Paul Edgecomb, a prison guard who doubts a death row inmate named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is guilty of murder. The late Duncan is superb as a gentle man with a magical gift who teaches Paul to see the humanity in the prisoners he guards each day, and there’s no doubt the actor walks away with the film. Duncan’s scene-stealing performance gives this prison movie its heart and soul — and its ability to leave you viewers sobbing.
2. Big Fish (2003)
Directed by Tim Burton, Big Fish is a sweeping film full of magical realism. At its heart, it is a story of fathers and sons, but along the way it manages to squeeze in an unforgettable love story, a stint at a traveling circus, and, of course, a quest to catch a whopper of a fish. This modern tall tale spans multiple decades and leads with its heart, which should make it an instant favorite for Forrest Gump fans.
3. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
A portion of Forrest Gump takes place against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, and if that part of the movie fascinates you the most, then you should give Good Morning, Vietnam a try. The film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ who is sent to Vietnam to lighten the spirits of the soldiers. His arrival receives a mixed response, with the troops enjoying his energetic broadcasts and their superiors believing he’s too much of a wild card. As a result, his stay in Vietnam is a dramatic — but impactful — one.
4. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Spanning two timelines and multiple decades, Fried Green Tomatoes is the ultimate Southern movie (no offense, Forrest). With its powerhouse lineup of female performers including Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Cicely Tyson, Fried Green Tomatoes is an emotional, funny, and ultimately poignant story of female friendship and love. At its center are Idgie (Masterson) and Ruth (Parker), two women whose love is so powerful it ends up inspiring another woman, Evelyn (Bates), to take charge of her life.
5. The Butler (2013)
Part of what makes Forrest Gump so unique is the way it views major historical events through the eyes of a normal person. Lee Daniels’ The Butler takes a similar tactic by focusing on Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who spends most of his adult life working in the White House. As the movie recounts Cecil’s life story, viewers see multiple administrations, the Civil Rights Movement, and more major social and political events through his eyes.
6. Cast Away (2000)
If it isn’t obvious by now, most Tom Hanks movies are designed to give you all the feels. Cast Away is about a FedEx executive who gets stranded on a deserted island after his plane goes down. He spends years on the island, adapting and hoping to one day be saved. Eventually, he takes a leap of faith and sets off into the ocean, hoping to find help.
More Movies Like Forrest Gump
- Rain Man (1988)
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- Water for Elephants (2011)
- The Terminal (2004)
- I Am Sam (2001)
- Life Is Beautiful (1997)
- The Notebook (2004)
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
- Edward Scissorhands (1990)
- Atonement (2007)
- Benny and Joon (1993)
- Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
- Road to Perdition (2002)
- The Shawshank Redemption (2004)
- The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
- Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
- The Other Sister (1999)
- Of Mice and Men (1992)
- Saving Private Ryan (1998)
- The Truman Show (1998)
- Big (1988)
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