One of the first things we learn as children is that if you believe in something, it can happen. Even though you probably didn't get that pony you wished for way back when, who's to say that you're a nutjob for thinking it still might come galloping into your life? Some fantasies prove that your faith and dedication to something is strong enough to move mountains. Other times, those ideas turn into delusions and only the men in white coats can save you.

Crazy or not, filmmakers and screenwriters love these characters because we identify with them and always want to root for the underdog. The true believer in cinema faces incredible odds and obstacles -- making their vindication all the more gratifying when it finally comes.

The holidays are a season for believing -- a time when dreams can and do come true, not matter how long the odds. In celebration of this special season, we've selected 13 films that highlight the power of belief. Sure, some of these characters have a few loose screws, but each of them teaches us something about keeping the faith and holding on to our dreams. Judge for yourself after the jump. [spoilers ahead]
Time Bandits Movie Poster
Time Bandits
Based on 18 critics

Young history buff Kevin (Craig Warnock) can scarcely believe it when six dwarfs emerge from his closet... Read More

Contact Movie Poster
Based on 23 critics

In this Zemeckis-directed adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races... Read More

The Sixth Sense Movie Poster
The Sixth Sense
Based on 35 critics

Young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. Cole is frightened... Read More

Into the West Movie Poster
Into the West
In Theaters on May 1, 1994

Impoverished in Dublin, youngsters Ossie (Ciaran Fitzgerald) and Tito (Ruaidhri Conroy) live with their... Read More

Rudy Movie Poster
In Theaters on March 15, 1994

Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the... Read More

The Fisher King Movie Poster
The Fisher King
Based on 9 critics

After shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) inadvertently provokes a caller into murdering a group of... Read More

A Beautiful Mind Movie Poster
A Beautiful Mind
Based on 33 critics

A human drama inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., and in part based on the biography... Read More

Miracle on 34th Street Movie Poster
Miracle on 34th Street
In Theaters on 1947

In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an... Read More

Where the Wild Things Are Movie Poster
Where the Wild Things Are
Based on 37 critics

Feeling misunderstood at home and at school, mischievous Max (Max Records) escapes to the land of the... Read More

Coraline Movie Poster
Based on 38 critics

While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind... Read More

Cloak and Dagger Movie Poster
Cloak and Dagger
In Theaters on 1984

With his mother dead and his father, Hal Osborne (Dabney Coleman), busy working, 11-year-old Davey (Henry... Read More

Little Monsters Movie Poster
Little Monsters
In Theaters on 1989

Brian (Fred Savage) isn't scared of the monster living under the bed. On the contrary, when he gets to... Read More