10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch: We all need good cheer once in a while. It may just be a song, a book, or even a quote, but we all use something to inspire ourselves and strive for a better life. It can be painful to fall into a rut and not be able to find a remedy for it. At such times, we look for signs of comfort and motivation. Movies can be especially helpful in such cases since we can resonate with the characters and what they go through.
Hollywood is filled with tales of underdogs working toward attaining success. They can give us just the right kind of boost to make us want to pursue our goals despite the hardships. Even films from across the globe can lead us on a path of betterment with relatable characters that also have emotional struggles as we do. In case you are in search of such movies, we’ve got you covered.
Here are ten films that you can watch to inspire yourself:
1. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
‘Little Miss Sunshine’ shows a dysfunctional family going on a road trip. They travel only to fulfill young Olive’s pageant competition dreams but end up bonding with one another. They all have their own insecurities and struggles to deal with. Steve Carell’s Frank has to contend with the loss of his lover and a numbing pain due to rejection from other people. Paul Dano’s Dwayne has to deal with the loss of his long-held dream. Greg Kinnear’s Richard has to go beyond his put-on persona of a conventional go-getter to grapple with reality. Toni Collette’s Sheryl, meanwhile, has to do a tiring job controlling the ship of this family.
Michael Arndt’s Oscar-winning screenplay for this film presents grounded portraits of all these characters. The film boasts a heartwarming mix of their journeys toward finding a connection with each other. Despite all the pain and loss that comes their way, they stick together, support and uplift each other. It’s a gorgeous display of people overcoming their fears after finding unabashedly comforting acceptance from others. So, if you want something that feels like a tight hug, this 2006 film is just the right choice.
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2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is an absolute tear-jerker. Released back in 1946, it still manages to resonate just as strongly as it must have done at the time. The James Stewart starrer boasts a good-willed optimism backed by an idealistic drive. It shows a frustrated businessman, George Bailey (played by Stewart), who becomes suicidal since several incidents keep crushing his spirit. All he wants is to do good for people. But one or the other thing goes wrong, and he feels terrible for believing in doing things for the good of others.
The premise in itself is the plight of many of us, where we want to pursue something with noble intentions, but the reality kicks in and makes us question whether we should abandon our faith in the betterment of the world and just be utterly selfish. Capra’s journey may seem utopian to a realist, but it is a sheer delight to see George Bailey come to terms with what matters in his life. He finds a pure human connection with a joyous reunion of all the hearts he has touched.
3. Moneyball (2011)
Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bennett Miller, ‘Moneyball’ is an un-Hollywood-like inspirational film despite coming from the same industry. It follows a down-on-luck baseball general manager Billy Beane, who makes attempts to assemble a competitive team for the sport. However, he is faced with the obstacle of low budgets for this job. So, he and his economics-graduate assistant manager, Peter Brand, built a team with undervalued baseball players.
It’s a classic Sorkin set-up of a hero trying to beat a formidable obstacle with every possible card in his hands. Brad Pitt gives a remarkably grounded performance in Billy’s role, who yearns to get out of the bottomless pit of despair. Besides building this team, Billy also tries to win over his daughter’s confidence in his capability to be worthy of her respect. Isn’t that what we all strive for? To be accepted and loved by others? The film non-melodramatically puts forth that point and inspires us to write our own chapter of sweet success.
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4. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The 1997 release – ‘Good Will Hunting’ may always be known as the movie that earned the young duo of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon their first Oscars for their wonderful screenplay. They wrote this script so that they could get an acting gig. While doing so, they carved a highly resonating portrait of a young lad – Will Hunting, who grapples with his internal conflicts despite his unsurmountable capabilities as a genius.
Will is fantastic at Mathematics but does not get an outlet to show his intelligence because of his humble background. A professor notices his skills but soon realizes that Will has a long way to go to realize his potential. One thing leads to another, and he is put opposed to psychiatrist Dr. Sean Maguire to help him recover from his emotional crisis. Robin Williams’ endearing character makes Will have faith in radical acceptance.
Besides Will’s journey on paper of beating the internal & external odds, Good Will Hunting ignites a spark also because of the voices behind it. Ben and Matt achieved something that people dream of for their entire lives while only wanting to make something to get more work. That energy translates into this film, which can surely lift your spirits.
5. Udaan (2010)
The Indian Hindi-language film – ‘Udaan’ (English translation: Flight) follows the journey of seventeen-year-old Rohan, who dreams of making it big as a poet. His authoritarian father, Bhairav, does not allow him to be anything but a mirror of himself. He wants Rohan to strive to gain muscular strength and considers his artistic drive vain and unmanly. Basically, vulnerability is a sin for him, and so is openly exploring one’s feelings and emotions. It burdens Rohan, who finds an emotional outlet in writing. It gives him an opportunity to escape from the trenches of Bhairav’s unnecessarily strict parenting regime.
Besides himself, Rohan also fears the disastrous impact Bhairav would have on his younger brother. Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and written by him and Anurag Kashyap, it is a brazen representation of the effect of toxic masculinity. The script finds many grounded un-Bollywood-like moments where the purity of their emotions has been given precedence over cheap manipulation. For anyone who is looking for a ray of light for their journey from any such emotional burden, Udaan is a must-watch.
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6. La La Land (2016)
Damien Chazelle’s dreamy romantic musical – ‘La La Land’ is food for the soul. It follows two dreamers – Mia (played by Emma Stone) and Seb (played by Ryan Gosling), who aspire to be recognized as Hollywood stars. While working on their odd temporary jobs, they come across each other and fall deeply, madly, and insatiably in love. Their drive to achieve their dreams becomes the driving force for their narratives in a city that either makes or breaks a person.
Despite all the reservations one may have about its merit, La La Land is an unabashedly cheerful love letter to dreamers. Mia and Seb’s stories are enough to make us want to give our own goals our best try. You can find many moments that can mirror your own journey, where you question whether yours is just a pipe dream and struggle with imposter syndrome. Scored by Justin Hurwitz and gorgeously shot by Linus Sandgren and his cinematography team, the film is a perfect antidote for the loss of hope on our gloomy days.
7. Rocky (1976)
Upon its release in 1976, ‘Rocky’ became a sensation. The sports drama beat the films like Taxi Driver, Network, and All The President’s Men to win the Oscars. While the opinions may differ on whether it deserved the honor or not, the Sylvester Stallone starrer stands the test of time. It is a phenomenally soaring drama built around an underdog. Stallone plays the titular character of Rocky Balboa, a small-time club fighter who belongs to a poor family. He collects debts for a loan shark to make a living but dreams of becoming a big-shot fighter.
Suddenly, he gets an opportunity to play on a much higher level and to prove what he is capable of. He devotes his days and nights to rigorously practicing to achieve a win at the world heavyweight championship. Albeit having a usual Hollywood structure, Rocky achieves a classic status for the timeliness of its themes. There are moments that stay etched in your mind, especially the montages of his practice, like the moment when he runs up the stairs and triumphantly looks back at the city. It’s just the right kind of boost if you want to inspire yourself.
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8. Groundhog Day (1993)
The premise of Harold Ramis’ comedy fantasy film – ‘Groundhog Day’ has almost become a trope by now. A character who is stuck in the endless loop of repeating the same day makes efforts to get out. Nevertheless, the film stays just as potent in its timeless central message. The story revolves around Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray), a cynical television weatherman who is supposed to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in a town in Pennsylvania. He gets trapped in a time loop that forces him to live on the same day.
The film makes us question ourselves – what would we do if we got caught up in a similar situation? What will we think of a possible solution to end this cycle? With Phil’s character, the screenplay aptly follows how one overcomes obstacles by making the necessary changes to be a better version of themselves. The film can certainly light up your spirits and motivate you to push your boundaries.
9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Due to its multiple-Oscar win, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ has already become a household name. Nevertheless, The Daniels’ creation is a great movie if you want to inspire yourself. It takes a poignant look into the lives of an Asian-American family and gives us so much to process. The family drama unfolds in a deeply fascinating manner, in a narrative style that is unlike big-budget Hollywood productions. The tour through the multiverses gives us a peek into the whimsical minds of its writers.
There is another factor why the film will inspire you. Its Oscar-winning editor, Paul Rogers, had a team full of self-taught creative professionals. It is also the first film that opened doors for Asian-American representation at the Oscars and was met with so much warmth. So, the multiverse saga is enough to take you through a rollercoaster of emotions and fill you with Serotonin by the end.
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10. Air (2023)
Ben Affleck’s ‘Air’ is a refreshing take on the brand of Nike and a highly inspirational tale of this company that has now become a household name. If you have read Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, you would have already found enough to get inspired by. Air focuses on Phil’s associate Sonny Vaccaro (played by Matt Damon), who takes the ambitious task of onboarding Michael Jordan as their brand ambassador. While Air Jordans have now become a sign of status, it would not have been possible without the endless pursuit by Vaccaro.
Damon plays this part with an undeniable affability where his drive strikes out more than anything else. But it is not just the story of how Nike capitalized on Michael Jordan’s star persona. It is also about how a Black woman dared to take a step that disrupted the shoe market forever. It is also the story of an entire team who collectively made the gigantic deal happen. Whether it is Peter Moore’s (played by Matthew Maher) insatiable love for shoe designs or Phil Knight’s (played by Ben Affleck) unorthodox thinking, the story is also about a team dreaming big and turning it into reality.