Movies That Change Lives

We share your nominations and introduce you to a special film that’s close to our hearts.

We believe movies can touch lives. It’s clear that you agree, judging from the responses received on the Panera Facebook page when we asked about movies that have changed your life. Before we share those responses, we’d like to let you know about a new film worthy of your attention: A Place at the Table.

What’s so powerful about this film is how it takes us inside what 50 million people in the U.S. (including one in four children) are going through by introducing us to three struggling families. Their battle: food insecurity. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from. You’ll connect with:

  • Barbie, a Philadelphia single mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids;
  • Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and
  • Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

It’s a serious issue, but you’ll come away inspired that hunger could be solved once and for all if we decide that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all. 

Looking for more inspiring movies? Here are selections from Panera fans. 

Appreciating Life  

Life Is Beautiful. “Finding beauty in life even in a concentration camp, a mother following her son and husband into that horror when she didn’t have to… beautiful!”
—Andrea S. 

It’s a Wonderful Life. “We could all learn from it.”
—Charlotte M. 

Saving Private Ryan. “Seeing the invasion of Normandy on D-Day gave me a visual of what my grandfather survived.”
—Brenda C. 

Sharing Hope

Pay It Forward. “It gave me a movement name for what my grandmother taught me to think was the right way to live—doing the best I can for whomever I can, because I can, period. I’ve bought the movie many times to give to people who have helped me in ways they usually don’t know.”
—Lila L.  

Brave. “I don’t know if this really changed my life so much as affirmed I would be OK. The film came out just after I was divorced and moved and was starting a new chapter in my life. I saw it the day it came out, went by myself—something I had never done before. As cheesy as it sounds, I realized how brave I really was for finally standing my ground and ‘changing my fate.’”
—Stacy L.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “Makes you feel like you’re not alone, no matter what age you are and what you’re dealing with in life.”
—Grace E.  

Celebrating Love 

Ever After: A Cinderella Story. “My husband asked me to marry him right after it ended. We got a round of applause from the audience, and I got an amazing hubby more than 13 years ago. We now have four great kids and are even more in love… enjoying our own ‘ever after’ together.” 
—Sandy L.  

The Notebook. “Love is eternal. I could not stop crying and am crying typing this!”
—Ann C. 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. “I love it—shows that love has no bounds and is completely limitless.”
—Rick D.  

Inspiring Adventure 

Under the Tuscan Sun. I never had a desire to go to Europe until I saw this movie and the magical countryside. Now I am going to Europe in the spring! This is a big step for me—doing something for myself.”
—Cindy W.  

27 Dresses. “It inspired me to become a cake decorator!”
—Caketopia Cakes  

Cinema Paradiso. “Taught me to follow my passions, but not at the exclusion of the people I love.”
—Amber W.  

Teaching Lessons 

The Devil Wears Prada. “You can reach your dreams without compromising your integrity.”
—Jared T.  

The Five People You Meet in Heaven. “It teaches you that a) there are no random events and everyone is connected in some way, b) people should be willing to make sacrifices for others and do so without hesitation, and c) you should get rid of your anger and forgive.”
—Janet C.  

To Kill a Mockingbird. “The power of doing right!”
—Deanna B.-H.  

Other Standouts 

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Braveheart
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Forrest Gump
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Remember the Titans
  • What Dreams May Come