Here are 33 of the most inspirational movies of all time, many of which are inspirational in a round about way. Many of these movies have also been ranked as the greatest movies of all time on major sites such as IMdb.com. Since “most inspirational movies” is subjective, different movies may impact people in different ways. (feel free to add any other inspirational movies to our comments, and after review we may add them to the list).
Why is Shawshank Redemption so inspirational? For two main reasons, it’s filled with bits of wisdom throughout by Morgan Freeman, and the movie itself is about the mental struggle of a prison inmate and what it takes for him to be “free.”
Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is motivated by his dead fathers’ will money, which was donated to his mentally disabled brother Raymond”s (Dustin Hoffman) mental institution to take Ray out of the institution and move to L.A with the money. However, the road trip changes the lives of the two brothers.
Dead Poet’s Society
The legendary Robin Williams who plays John Keating teaches an all boys English class, but in a very unconventional way. His style of teaching really inspires the students about life, and doesn’t just teach them poetry and writing logic. Robin Williams’ epic speech will forever be remembered.
It’s A Wonderful Life
The plot itself sounds heartfelt, the main character George Bailey wishes he was dead, and because of this wish, an angel from heaven comes down to make his wish a reality, however he soon realizes how many lives he’s impacted when he was living.
Rocky is a cinematic classic it brought to life many similar movies. It’s the classic David vs Goliath story, a rookie boxer vs the heavyweight champ. This movie has an amazing history as to how it came about, check out Tony Robbins talking about the Rocky story here, the movie is what made Sylvester “Sly” Stallone a Hollywood A-Lister.
Remember The Titans
The inspirational movie, Remember The Titans, blends sports motivation with the civil rights movement as the team learns to cooperate after feeling separated from each other because of their race. A story that shows how team sports can reduce racism.
This movie was inspired by a true story, an actual horse named Seabiscuit. The plot takes place during the Great Depression, where actor Jeff Bridges who plays a businessman struggling to get over the tragedy of his son’s death, Tobey Macguire who plays a prone-to-injury Jockey, and Chris Cooper who plays a “beaten by life” horse trainer get together to help an undersized thoroughbred horse, Seabiscuit become a race champion.
The message of this story, “it’s NEVER too later.” Jim Morris who had to give up on his dreams of becoming an Major League Baseball player twelve years ago due to a shoulder injury. Now married with a kid teaching chemistry whilst coaching a baseball team, Morris finds motivation from his team to try out for the Major Leagues as a pitcher despite his age.
Life Is Beautiful
A truly compelling story about the power of optimism and imagination to get over life’s extreme hardships. When a family is sent to a concentration camp where the husband (who’s with his son) and wife are separated, the husband shelters his son from all of the torture by turning the hell-like experience into a game.
Good Will Hunting
This inspirational movie is all about a person realizing his own potential by the help of a professor. A janitor (Matt Damon) with an extremely high IQ who works at one of the most prestigious Universities, MIT, is soon recognized by a professor for his genius level IQ when he solves a math problem and decides to guide the misguided youngster.
This story is all about leadership. William Wallace (Mel Gibson), gathers a group of amateur warriors to battle against an English army in the thirteenth century. If you’ve seen Braveheart already and want to be re-inspired check out this motivational scene.
A convicts love story. Mud (Matthew Mcconaughey) is a fugitive looking to reconnect with his love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) with the help of two Arkansas boys Ellis and Neckbone.
A young Indian kid on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has flashbacks on the adversity he fought through to get to the game show. The flashbacks are of him and his brother barely surviving on the rough streets of Mumbai.
A tough coach, Ken Carter (Samuel Jackson), goes back to his high school in Richmond California to whip up the basketball team which he succeeds in doing however the teams grades begin to suffer. Coach Carter, determined to make these kids’ future bright decides to shut down the team until their grades improve. One of the greatest movie speeches ever was in the Coach Carter watch it here.
The Green Mile
Based on the book with the same name by Stephen King, The Green Mile is about not judging a person by their appearance. When Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) meets John Coffey (Michael Duncan) a convict accused of killing two young sisters, he’s at first convinced that Coffey committed the crime due to his sheer massive size. However, as he gets to know the convict, he slowly sees a different side to the “gentle giant” who seems to be completely harmless which gets Paul to question his accusation. (Watch the trailer here)
E.T The Extra Terrestrial
This inspirational movie brought life to the many alien movies after it. A sensitive alien is left stranded on Earth only to be found by a kid, Elliot who decides to take care of the alien and keep his existence secretive. However, when the alien becomes ill, the government must intervene for it’s survival which creates a whole mess of problems.
Based on the true story of Michael Oher, Sandra Bullokc plays the compelling role of Leigh Anne Tuohy who sees football potential in a young African American kid living in a ghetto area and decides to adopt the kid. The family teaches Michael about how to become an NFL offensive tackle.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
When one is told “Santa isn’t real” the best thing to do would be to watch this movie. An inspirational tale of Santa Clause being on trial, where some believe he’s “delusional” but a few believe he’s the real deal. Find out if his lawyer can convince the judges that he is in fact, the real Kris Kringle.
The Wizard of Oz
A classic that needs no explanation. But if for some reason you’ve never seen the wizard of oz, just watch the trailer here
This inspirational movie can be a real eye-opener. Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) is an up-and-coming boxer who constantly struggles from the uncertainty of his half-brother Dicky (played by Christian Bale) who’s a washed up boxer facing his own personal struggles. Micky is advised by his girlfriend to cut ties with his family to focus on boxing which gains him a chance at the world title.
Life Of Pi
Long story short, a guy from India gets himself stranded on a boat with a tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and a orangutan. The story is about coping with intense struggle, patience, and how a man with “courage” can survive in even the worst of situations.
A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind is the inspirational true story of John Nash (played by Russell Crowe), the man who came up with the economic concept of Nash Equilibrium. The movie is partially based from the biography with the same name.
Pursuit Of Happyness
The true story of Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith), a stockbroker who was at one point homeless, struggling to make ends meet while taking care of his son. The story shows the power of perseverance, and puts the human soul to the test. (watch a powerful clip from the Pursuit of Happyness here)
A young kid with a big dream, to one day play football for the University of Notre Dame. However, his skills and size are not up to par with the other all star athletes. Not only that, he doesn’t have the money nor grades to even attend the university, but with big hopes, goals, and extreme passion to make his “over-the-top” dream a reality, Rudy will do what ever it takes. The movie is based on the true events of Rudy Ruettiger who later became a motivational speaker. Watch one the greatest scenes from the Rudy movie here.
The inspirational movie of two MMA fighting brothers (one played by Tom Hardy, the other by Joel Edgerton) who get torn apart from the harsh life events they go through as a family. There dad a recovering alcoholic (played by Nick Nolte) trains one of the brothers, while the other brother crawls his way to the top as the underdog. Fighting becomes much deeper than appears on the surface, it becomes about facing the inner demons that have left the brothers scarred as kids. The ending scene will have you in tears, no matter how strong you think you are.
The Karate Kid
Who hasn’t seen the Karate Kid? If for some reason you haven’t it’s a light-hearted movie full of wisdom where a young kid who’s new to a city and is finding it hard to fit in, learns all about the art of karate from an old repairman. The kicker, the old repairman isn’t just teaching him “karate” but also about life.
The Color Purple
Based on the novel with the same name, the movie is about Celie (played by Whoopie Goldberg) and the ridiculous amount of adversity she faces. The only way she’s able to survive is by persevering through abuse, bigotry, and hate.
Field of Dreams
The famous saying “if you build it, they will come” gain major popularity from this movie. A movie starring Kevin Costner who hears a mysterious voice saying “if you build it, he will come” and therefore decides to intuitively create a baseball diamond in his farm. What happens after is magical.
Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) is a bit “slow.” However, due to his optimistic mentality, and curiosity he experiences much, much more of a life than an average person. Whether it’d be taking part in the World War, playing college football, being a part of the hippie movement, and much more.
Rebel Without A Cause
For the very short career (and life) that James Dean had, he put a dent in the movie industry that Hollywood will never forget. Much of the name James Dean is associated with his role in Rebel Without A Cause. The inspiring movie of a teen who rebels against his parents, can’t seem to fit in at school, and doesn’t really understand why things are the way they are. He finally finds a friend who’s also an outsider at school named Plato, and gets a crush on a local girl (who’s also dating a school bully) which makes matters worse.
The Imitation Game
Genius – The perfect word to describe this movie, as well as describe the synopsis. This is a true story about a genius, Alan Turing who creates a machine to “crack the Nazi code,” crack an enigma that shows where they plan to attack so that the British can plan accordingly. While this is going on, Alan learns more about himself revealing that sadly, in a time of oppressed human rights, he is blackmailed for “who he is” (we don’t want to give away too much).
Gone With The Wind
Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara is the focus of the movie as the movie follows her through her struggles during the Civil War, as well as her love affairs.
Chariots of Fire
A classic movie about two young runners train for the Paris Olympics.
On the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na’vi, beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved. Because the planet’s environment is poisonous, human/Na’vi hybrids, called Avatars, must link to human minds to allow for free movement on Pandora. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paralyzed former Marine, becomes mobile again through one such Avatar and falls in love with a Na’vi woman (Zoe Saldana). As a bond with her grows.
The inspirational true story of Prince Albert (Colin Firth) and his rise to the throne after King George VI. The only issue, he has a major speech imediment. Due to his position, his wife Elizabeth knows that he needs to learn how to talk so she hires an actor and speech therapist Lionel Logue. Albert and Lionel become close friends, and Lionel uses unique teaching methods to teach the Prince how to become a confident talker.
Dances With Wolves
A soldier learns the way of the Indians as he becomes intrigued by their simple way of living. He becomes so in love with the lifestyle that he leaves his old life behind to join the tribe. The tribe names their new member “Dances With Wolves” and he soon falls for a white woman who was also raised by the tribe.
There you have it, 33 of the most inspirational movies in history, feel free to add on to the list below!
Image Source: By In-house publicity still [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons