20 Best Inspirational Movies of All Time
Movies are like life – each person will see something different as the story unfolds as each person comes from a different background. What speaks to one person, does not speak tot another. There are, however, some stories that seem to speak to almost everyone’s heart. Below you will find a list of movies that I personally found extremely inspirational, so if the rain starts pouring, pick one form the list and watch it to bring some sunshine to your life!
For the Career Seeker – Dead Poets Society
If you are looking for inspiration regarding finding a career you will love as well as finding the courage to pursue it, or if you are looking to change careers, there are few movies as inspirational as Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams gave one of his most brilliant performances in this much loved movie about teenage boys in a private school. The boys are deciding where they want their future to take them with the help of the inspiration from their teacher, Mr Keating (Williams) and the poetry he presents.
It’s also a brilliant movie if you simply want to find inspiration to walk your own path in life; finding your own truth and following your heart.
Keating: No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
Keating: Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, [imitating a goat] “that’s baaaaad.” Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in the wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
For Those who Want to Be Their Own Boss – Jerry Maguire
An inspired moment in the middle of the night leads to Jerry Maguire printing out a new life and work manual for his colleagues at the sports agent firm he works for. The next day he is asked to leave the firm and asks who will come with him to start a new life. Turns out only one woman is willing to do so (Zellwegger). Also turns out he only has one sports star willing to work with him at first. And so starts a long journey to what it means to live life at your own terms, being your own boss.
Maguire: But if anybody else wants to come with me, this moment will be the ground floor of something real and fun and inspiring and true in this godforsaken business and we will do it together! Who’s coming with me besides… “Flipper” here?
Unleash Someone’s Heart – The Blind Side
To be honest when I first watched this movie I wasn’t too impressed. I thought it fell flat. It was a true story and everyone was raving about it, so I was very eager to see it and finally got to do so on a plan ride between LA and London. The story was good, it was touching – a semi-homeless boy is taken into a good school and a good home, which starts the long journey of adjustment and learning to go beyond difficulties – yet, it didn’t grip me. Now, just re-reading the plot line though I got tears in my eyes as I am now a foster mom to a pair of twins going through a lot of what happened in the movie. Whether you find the filmmaking to be to your liking or not, it’s a story that gained critical success all over the world and the storyline itself is incredibly inspiring.
Sometimes you might not even know why you’re doing something. I mean any fool can have courage. But honor, that’s the real reason for you either do something or you don’t. It’s who you are and maybe who you want to be. If you die trying for something important, then you have both honor and courage, and that’s pretty good. I think that’s what the writer was saying, that you should hope for courage and try for honor. And maybe even pray that the people telling you what to do have some, too.
Life Isn’t Just About Your Grades – With Honors
This is the movie about a Harvard student who loses his only copy of his thesis as his laptop breaks down and he drops the copy he has. The copy is picked up by a bum who asks for one night of food and lodging for each paper he hands back. And so starts an unusual friendship, teaching what truly matters in life – it’s not all about graduating from Harvard with honors, after all. I was watching this movie in the midst of doing my IB exams, so maybe it gained a special place in my heart thanks to that, but it truly is an inspirational story.
Courtney: We’re not lovers, we’re roommates and we respect each others’ space.
Simon Wilder: You respect each others’ empty air? That’s very profound for a couple of Harvard students.
From Rags to Riches – Slumdog Millionaire
The filmmaking is extraordinary. The tale one of the most inspiring in the history of moviemaking. A boy from the slums ends up on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and we watch how he came to know the answers to the questions asked on the show, by seeing flashbacks from his life – a life filled with struggle and hope.
One Man’s Journey from hatred to Love – Invictus
The story of Nelson Mandela’s presidency shot in an almost documentary like style, showing how his faith in a united South Africa led to the Springboks taking home victory and, indeed, a much more united South Africa. It’s, to say the least, inspiring to see a man who was imprisoned for years, leave behind him hatred and call for a united country where each and every man supports the other. Living in South Africa today myself I can only pray that one day all South Africans will see that what makes a true difference in the world is not revenge – it’s love and integrity.
Brenda Mazibuko: You’re risking your political capital, you’re risking your future as our leader.
Nelson Mandela: The day I am afraid to do that is the day I am no longer fit to lead.
Get Off That Train – Before Sunrise
Life is a lot about the chances we take and Before Sunrise is one such chance – a young man meets a girl on a train and asks if she would like to get off the train with him for one night wandering around Vienna. He could have failed even starting a conversation with her. He could have chickened out on asking her to get off. Thankfully for everyone who loves this movie, he didn’t. Every day in our lives is a chance to get off that train – to stop and do what we truly wish we had the courage to do.
Jesse: Yeah, right, well, great. So listen, so here’s the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here in Vienna, and come check out the capital.
Jesse: Come on. It’ll be fun. Come on.
Celine: What would we do?
Jesse: Umm, I don’t know. All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30 and I don’t really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just going to walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me. And if I turn out to be some kind of psycho, you know, you just get on the next train.
Jesse: Alright, alright. Think of it like this: jump ahead, ten, twenty years, okay, and you’re married. Only your marriage doesn’t have that same energy that it used to have, y’know. You start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you’ve met in your life and what might have happened if you’d picked up with one of them, right? Well, I’m one of those guys. That’s me y’know, so think of this as time travel, from then, to now, to find out what you’re missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you’re not missing out on anything. I’m just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and, uh, you made the right choice, and you’re really happy.
Celine: Let me get my bag.
Celine: I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.
For Those Who Think They Don’t Matter – It’s a Wonderful Life
If you are having a down day thinking you couldn’t possibly matter to the world around you, it’s time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and see a suicidal Jimmy Stewart be taken on the journey of his life by an angel. Soon you realize that even the smallest acts of kindness you commit is constantly changing the lives of those around you.
Creating Change – Freedom Writers
A teacher in Long Beach decides to take on an unruly class and by doing so changes the kids’ lives forever. Based on a true story it goes to show that one person does matter and whether you are looking for inspiration to adopt a pet, spend an hour a week doing charity or take on an unruly child, this is a heartwarming tale that will give you all the inspiration you need.
I remember watching this thinking “but that’s what I want to do.” A few years later I’m teaching teens from a township in South Africa. Anything’s possible if you believe in the power of a good movie…
I don’t want excuses. I know what you’re up against. We’re all of us up against something. So you better make up your mind, because until you have the balls to look me straight in the eye and tell me this is all you deserve, I am not letting you fail. Even if that means coming to your house every night until you finish the work. I see who you are. Do you understand me? I can see you. And you are not failing.
Overcoming Grief – P.S. I Love You
I remember walking into an intimate private members’ club cinema with a friend who had invited me, thinking I was about to sit through some silly romantic comedy. In the first scene I had to fight tears and continued to do so throughout the movie, only to realize, when the lights went on, that tears were steaming down everyone’s face. The movie is a beautiful testament to what it means to move on after losing a loved one, without for that matter ever stopping to appreciate what the deceased brought you. It also shows that when we leave this world, one of the best things we can do for our loved ones is to tell them exactly how much we love them and how much we wish for them to find love time and time again till time immortal.
You made my life, Holly. But I’m just one chapter in yours. There’ll be more. I promise. So here it comes, the big one. Don’t be afraid to fall in love again. Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. P.S. I will always love you.
For the Broken Hearted – The Holiday
The story is about two women who, after brutal break-ups, swap houses in London and Los Angeles and whilst living each other’s lives realize that maybe there is more to life and love than they first expected.
I first watched this movie years ago I had just been dumped. The movie helped put a big grin on my face – sometimes you have to lose what you have to gain something much better. Since then I have watched the movie over and over again, because it always reminds me that when the Santa Ana is blowing, anything is possible…
And after all that, however long all that may be, you’ll go somewhere new. And you’ll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade.
The Underdog Wins the Game – The Karate Kid
The underdog learns to fight, proving his moral strength along the way and takes on the nasty kids in the end. Classic. Both the first and the second version of it.
It Takes More Than Talent to Sort Your Life Out – Good Will Hunting
All of us have been blessed with one gift or another, but as this tale shows – it takes more than talent to realize your potential. You have to let go of your past, face your demons and be willing to move beyond what scares you to realize your true potential.
So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.
Choosing Between Right and Wrong – Swing Kids
An early Christian Bale movie, this film goes to show how tough it can be to stick up for what’s right in a war torn country. We talk about Nazi Germany in the context of history, but what was it truly like to be there, trying to survive, whilst still standing up for what’s right? This movie gives a touching portrayal of the hardships of doing just that.
Can You Realize Your Dreams in Prison – The Shawshank Redemption
Do your dreams die when you are falsely accused of murdering your wife and put in prison, or can they survive and make you fight for justice?
Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Moving Abroad – The Hundred Foot Journey
If you love food and have ever felt like a foreigner in a foreign land, The Hundred Foot Journey by Lasse Hallstrom is bound to perk you up. It takes guts to overcome prejudice and set up a restaurant in a foreign country, but this movie shows it can be done and it shows it through beautiful cinematography and mouthwatering foods.
Changing Your Life – Julie and Julia
If you ever feel like everyone else is moving ahead with their lives and you are stuck, maybe it’s time to challenge yourself to achieve something remarkable in the coming 365 days? Like cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook for example, and writing a blog about it… True story about how a year can change a life, if you have the determination to do so.
When I watched this movie I had been thinking about setting up a blog and thanks to watching it I set up Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde and I fully credit this film for making me blog for 365 days that year!
For the Ones who Fall for the Wrong Ones – Frozen
Let’s face it: Disney is the master of family friendly inspirational stories and Frozen is one example of this. A girl falls for the first man who woos her, only to realize that love, true love, is a lot more than superficial attraction and flattery.
When You Want to Give Up on Love – The Vow
Who said love was easy? You’ve finally found the one, only they lose their memory and forget who you are. This movie shows it’s possible to win he heart of the one you love over and over again, but it takes time and dedication. Love is a fairy tale because of how it makes us feel, but to get there takes some work. And you have to find a person who is willing to do that work with you.
Image source: Pinterest.com
By Maria Montgomery – Maria is a freelance writer, director and social entrepreneur. She’s also the spokesperson for The Little Angels Community Center and an avid blogger. You can find her somewhere between Cape Town, London and L.A., where you will most likely find her in the hills, looking out over the city she loves. @OhMyMontgomery