Nearly 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. told us he had a dream. And, to this day, the civil activist’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 remains one of the most famous — if not the most famous — in history. The speech itself was very similar to King — it excited, it brought hope, it inspired.
So as we toast the late civil rights activist, who was born a little over 84 years ago, we have to no choice but to also pay recognition to one of King’s biggest contributions: His words. See his entire “I Have a Dream Speech” embedded below.
And now that you have a tear-soaked Kleenex to go along with your dream, prepare for these 10 inspirational movie and TV speeches. None come close to measuring up to King — but they sure made for dream TV and movie moments.
President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), Independence Day: Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Welcome to Earth!” but it’ll do.
Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: “Hold your ground!” And try to hold in your tears watching Aragorn rile up the troops for a final Middle Earth battle. For Frodo!
Mikey (Sean Astin), The Goonies: “Down here, it’s our time!” The perfect end to the only inspiring speech to be punctuated with an inhaler.
Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), Miracle: Of course Coach Brooks’ Olympic ice hockey speech would slide onto this list. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), Community: Jeff Winger speeches are about as expected as crying girls at a One Direction concert, but at the end of Season 3, Jeff delivered one of his best speeches yet: a lecture about the power of friendship. Did we feel something after watching a speech from a silly little sitcom? Yes, I believe we just did.
Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino), Any Given Sunday: In a speech as confessional as it is inspiring, a perfectly manic Pacino scores a touchdown with his itch for some extra inches on the field.
Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), Designing Women: Not quite as sweet as sugar, but Julia’s speech about her sister’s beauty pageant history deserved as much applause as Suzanne’s baton-twirling.
William Wallace (Mel Gibson), Braveheart: They may take away your good reputation (following an Anti-Semitic arrest, rage-fueled tapes, and much more), but they can never take away your classic speech, Mel Gibson.
King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), 300: A battle speech half as impressive as the Spartans’ collective abs.
Everything Ever Said By Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), Friday Night Lights: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Stop Crying.
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