We all need a dose of good cheer once in a while, whether it comes from a song, a book, or even a quote. We all seek something to inspire us and motivate us toward a better life. Falling into a rut can be painful, and finding a remedy can be challenging. During such times, we look for signs of comfort and motivation. Inspirational movies can be particularly helpful in these moments, as we can resonate with the characters and their journeys. Hollywood is replete with tales of underdogs striving for success, providing just the right kind of boost to make us pursue our goals despite the hardships. Moreover, films from around the globe offer paths to betterment with relatable characters who face emotional struggles just as we do. If you are in search of such inspirational movies, we’ve got you covered.

Here are ten inspirational movies that you shouldn’t miss:

1. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The cast of Little Miss Sunshine (2006) – L to R: Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, and Greg Kinnear.

‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is an uplifting comedy-drama that showcases a dysfunctional family embarking on a road trip, solely to fulfill young Olive’s pageant competition dreams, yet finding themselves bonding in unexpected ways. They each grapple with personal insecurities and struggles. Steve Carell’s character, Frank, contends with the loss of his lover and the numbing pain of rejection from others. Paul Dano’s Dwayne faces the heartbreak of losing his long-held dream, while Greg Kinnear’s Richard must shed his façade of a conventional go-getter to confront reality. Toni Collette’s Sheryl tirelessly steers her family through turbulent waters.

Michael Arndt’s Oscar-winning screenplay for this film delicately crafts these characters’ stories, offering a heartwarming narrative of their journey toward connection. Despite the pain and loss they encounter, they come together in a beautiful display of mutual support and uplifting solidarity. It’s a poignant exploration of overcoming fears through the power of unabashedly comforting acceptance from loved ones. If you’re seeking a film that embodies the essence of motivational movies and feels like a tight hug, this 2006 masterpiece is the perfect choice.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Recommended: 10 Best Film Performances of Paul Dano

2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Donna Reed and James Stewart in 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)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Moneyball (2011)
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in 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.

Also, Read: All Aaron Sorkin Screenplays Ranked

4. Good Will Hunting (1997)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon in 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)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Udaan (2010)
Rajat Barmecha in 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.

Checkout: The 25 Best Bollywood Movies on Netflix Right Now

6. La La Land (2016)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - La La Land (2016)
Emma Stone with Ryan Gosling in 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)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Rocky (1976)
Sylvester Stallone in 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.

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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.

Also, Read: The Top 25 Best Sports Movies of All-Time

8. Groundhog Day (1993)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in 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)

10 Best Inspirational Movies That You Need To Watch - Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Michelle Yeoh in 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.

Also, Read: Everything Everywhere All at Once Explained: Ending & Themes Analyzed

10. Air (2023)

Matt Damon in Air (2023)

Ben Affleck’s ‘Air’ is a dramatic and refreshing take on the true story of Nike, presenting an inspirational tale of how this brand became a household name. Fans of Phil Knight’s ‘Shoe Dog’ will find ‘Air’ equally motivational, as it delves into the ambitious efforts of Knight’s associate, Sonny Vaccaro (played by Matt Damon), to onboard Michael Jordan as their brand ambassador. This movie, released on Amazon Prime Video, highlights the relentless pursuit behind the iconic Air Jordans, showcasing the shoe’s journey to becoming a status symbol.

Matt Damon embodies Vaccaro with undeniable affability, making his drive and ambition the focal point of this inspiring movie. However, ‘Air’ transcends the narrative of Nike’s strategic move to capitalize on Michael Jordan’s star power. It also celebrates the bold actions of a Black woman whose decisions forever changed the shoe market, alongside the collaborative spirit of a team, including Peter Moore’s (played by Matthew Maher) passion for shoe design and Phil Knight’s (played by Ben Affleck) unconventional thinking. Together, they dreamt big and turned their vision into reality, making ‘Air’ a compelling addition to the genre of motivational and inspirational movies.

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