12 Most Inspirational Movies of All Time

What are the most inspirational movies of all time? Before I answer this question, I need to define “what is inspirational”? Each one of us could have our own interpretation of what “being inspired” means to us. So, when I sat down to put together this list, the first thing I did was to answer the question that I put to myself: “how to classify a film as inspirational ?”. And here’s what I came up with: “An inspirational movie should not just make you feel good, but it should encourage you to work towards making this world a better place to live. It should instill a sense of hope and possibility within you. And most importantly, it should inspire you to become a better human being.”

After pruning down a list of more than 100 movies, I came up with the following top inspirational movies ever. You might be able to find some these best inspirational movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

12. Braveheart (1995)

William Wallace begins a revolt by leading Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant after his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her. Wallace, a rebel, creates a legend with courageous defence of his people against Englishmen. It is a film that teaches you that no matter how big or how difficult the obstacle is, if you have the courage to follow your heart in the end you will emerge as a winner.

11. Saving Private Ryan (1997)

Saving Private Ryan

Whenever someone lists out his/her favorite war movies of all time, a certain Steven Spielberg’s 1998 classic can be found languishing at the very top of the table. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is a universally appreciated movie and one of the few to be loved by the critics and fans alike. This is apparently one movie which you cannot possibly hate. A war drama like no other, the mission to save Private First Class James Ryan is a tale everybody likes to watch and the emotion it displays is resonated thousand times fold. After prevailing in an uphill battle against a parading German convoy with few weapons and ammunition, Captain John Miller was shot dead tragically by the same German whom they had freed post Wade’s death. Upham, who was the reason he had been let go, confronts and shoots him fatally before letting the rest leave unharmed. It was a perfect mainstream anti-climax. When Miller tires to shoot at a tank despite his fatal injury, a bomber plane throws it out of the game. The timing couldn’t have been better as it gives Miller a chance to tell Ryan his dying words, ‘Earn this’. An aging Ryan honors his late Captain at Normandy several years later by tearfully saying that he became a better man indeed. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ inspires you to care for one another, and that bravado is the most important virtue that a man can possess. Easily one of the most inspirational movies ever made. Read more ..

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10. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society

In a school, where discipline is revered, a new english teacher comes in a breather among the strict disciplinarians. To a motley group of students, he reaches out and asks them to come out of their shell. He tells them to live their lives in their own way and not to someone’s expectations. One’s life duration is limited and eventually everyone will die. What will be left, is his legacy. So instead of living a dull life, one should do something to make it extraordinary. That’s the essence of Carpe Diem. The character of John Keating was played by the late Robin Williams, who demonstrates the importance of individuality to the students through this inspiring speech. He inspires them to be achieve greatness rather than to be successful. A story of an English teacher who motivates his students to look at poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings, ‘Dead Poets Society’ inspires you to challenge the status quo, to avoid herd mentality and to carve your own path to success.


9. Ali (2001)


An autobiographical adaptation of the life of one of unrated sports heroes Mohammed Ali, who knew exactly what he wants from the world, reaches out to take it. He fights the wrongs, fought racial discrimination and he did not fight his way for fame, but for his rights and the rights of all black people in the world. One of the important things to keep in mind while you strive for your success is that fight for what you deem right, embrace controversies and be loud about what you want.

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8. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 

It's a Wonderful Life

One of the best Christmas movies ever made, this film has stood the test of time and the message is timeless. Your life is not just yours and a thoughtful consideration would make you realize all the stakeholders in your life. Even if we won’t ever have an angel to help us realize the fact, this movie can serve the same purpose equally well. So the next time you’re thinking of giving up on something, just think about how things would change due to your decision and remember what compelled you to take up the task in the first place. The key is to keep going. Good times may be just around the corner and giving up on anything is never the key. It is a film that invokes goodness and hope inside you. It teaches you that no matter what the circumstances you are in, life’s precious. Cherish it.

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7. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 

The Pursuit of Happyness

Watching ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ is quite an emotional experience. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a man broken and beaten down by the events happening around him. The film shows how he and his son (Jaden Smith) get on with life during these rough patches using all that they have. Based on true events, this film assures the viewer that if they use their wits and talents, no matter how little they have of it, they will ultimately succeed. It is a film that inspires you to keep trying hard and keep pushing boundaries till the time you achieve your goal.

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6. Forrest Gump (1994)

The film tells the story of an intellectually disabled man who fights against all odds and becomes a national pride, joining the army, attending many iconic political and cultural events but is unable to forget his childhood sweetheart. Part of the film’s brilliance could be attributed to Tom Hanks’ iconic portrayal of the titular character as his performance clearly elevates the film beyond its inherent kitsch and turns it into something delightfully funny and endlessly entertaining. The life-lesson that you can learn from ‘Forrest Gump’ is best summed in its quote: “Life’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. Basically, it inspires you to live in the moment rather than worry about the future.

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5. Rocky (1975)

rocky 2

Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. Despite all the hardships he has to go through, he emerges the winner in the end. The lesson you can learn from the film is that the world is not a very kind place. It will keep hitting you to the ground. But as Rocky Balboa says in one of the sequels of ‘Rocky’: “It ain’t about how hard ya hit.  It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”. ‘Rocky’ is not just a story of a struggling boxer; it is a story of any struggler who is trying to make a mark. Period. It is a film that motivates you to keep working towards your ultimate goal. It also teaches you the importance of self-respect. Read more ..

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4. Good Will Hunting (1998)


‘Good Will Hunting’  makes you realize the whole futility of the notion that there can’t be happiness without success or vice versa. The truth is there can be no happiness if all that we are worried about is happiness. The same is true for success as well. Similarly, worrying about your future isn’t going to improve your present. Therefore, it is always better to lead life in the present moment; because in the end, what matters is the journey, and not the destination. inspires you to lead life in its moment; because in the end, what matters is the journey, and not the destination. It also teaches you that there can be no happiness if all that we are worried about is happiness. Read more ..

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3. Schindler’s List (1999)


This highly acclaimed film highlights our duties towards humanity and fellow humans and how our life is about so much more than just existence. If you ever feel lost in life, remember how privileged you are compared to some others and try to find out ways of helping the underprivileged. The film depicts the lengths to which a wealthy industrialist goes in order to save the lives of some of the Jews in Nazi Germany. He sacrificed everything he has and takes a break from his extremely comfortable life in order to change things for the better for some of the people around him. It is not very hard to find purpose and meaning in life and when we do so, we can create a huge impact and leave behind a legacy just as Oscar Schindler did. ‘Schindler’s List’ is not about hatred; but rather it is about hope; it is about humanity; it is about goodwill. In the end, it is a film that will inspire you to be like Oscar Schindler .. a good human being. Read more ..

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2. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

to kill a mockingbird

In a racially divided country, when an African-American man got accused of rape, of that of a white woman. At the peak of racial injustices, it came down to one man to fight the case. One white man, named Atticus Finch. He fought valiantly. To put forward the fact that all men are equals in the court of law, be it coloured or not. His efforts go futile, as the court pronounces the man guilty. But what stays back with the viewer is the lesson that Atticus Finch inculcates into his children. That is, ‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view’. Based on Harper Lee’s bestseller of the same name, it stars Gregory Peck as the protagonist. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is one of the greatest movies of all time. A film that’s inspires you to rise above the petty prejudices that society breeds and be a better human being.

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1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

inspirational movies

Frank Darabont’s 1994 classic is a deeply uplifting tale of hope, liberation, and friendship. The brilliance of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ lies in its simplistic and humane treatment of the universal themes of camaraderie, human compassion, fierce determination, and willpower. I cannot recall a lot of films that speak about companionship and human intimacy with the warmth and profundity of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. There have been countless films that are well and truly ahead of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ but there is no film that continues to inspire, uplift and move people from around the world with its astonishing simplicity like this film does. Well, the most inspirational movie of all time inspires you to be several things. Some of them you can find here. It is a film that motivates you to be true to yourself because in your darkest and most difficult moments it is your “will” and “courage” that will help you to fight back. 

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