Top 10 Inspirational Movies of Hollywood



There’s nothing most of us like more than a good old Inspirational movie to teach us that humans after all aren’t that bad. These are the movies you will watch from the first second all the way through just so you can experience the wonder of human triumph. All of the below mentioned inspirational flicks will either inspire you to move out of your comfort zone to go for your goals or remind you to appreciate the things, people and events around you. All these movies cut across genres and styles, and also have the unique ability to evoke powerful emotion in you.

10. Schindler’s List (1993)

Can a greedy industrialist and womanizer do saintly things? Speilberg’s uncompromising Holocaust tale “Schindler’s List” says yes. For decades, the words “Spielberg film” have become synonymous with “sweet and escapist” But as a shocking reversal, a master of cinematic toys has tackled the most hideous subject of the century and emerged with a genuine work of art.Thomas Keanelly’s real-life hero of the 1982 historical novel, Oskar Schindler is a paradox. He is a Czech born industrialist, who owns a factory in Poland. He sets up a supplies factory, employing Jews as unpaid workers. It is slave labor, but at least the Jews, as “essential workers” in the war effort, stay clear of the death camps. Schindler isn’t aware of the death camps at first, but when he witnesses the atrocities in Auschwitz, he creates a list – turning his factory into a safe haven and rescuing over 1,100 Jews.Liam Neeson as Schindler depicts the metamorphosis from self-centered businessman to driven messiah, while Fiennes’ Amon Goeth has the rare ability to both mesmerize and repulse. Schindler’s List must be watched for Janusz Kaminski’s black and white cinematography, which brings the enormity of the tragedy into excruciating focus, and for Spielberg’s raw depiction of Holocaust than what we usually get from fiction films.A wealthy industrialist saving poor Jews from the war machine. Now this might seem like your average inspirational flick that has so much hope in it you feel on top of the moon while watching it. But, to down play the scenario in any way would be an insult to the memory of six million murdered Jews. So, Schindler’s List barely lays all the characteristics of human nature — hatred, greed, lust, envy, anger, and, most important of all, empathy and love – and uncovers a kernel of hope and dignity in the midst of a monstrous tragedy.“Schindler’s List” delivers a powerful message for today’s hate-driven world: “By saving one life, you save the entire world”. There never has been, and there probably never will be a more inspirational, life-affirming and emotionally wrenching film than this one.Schindler’s List was nominated for 12 Oscars and won seven, including Best Picture and Best Director.


9. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

What’s your idea of a powerful story? For me, it is the soulful tales that teach us not to despair, not to be swamped by sorrow. The stories that can give hope and as well give our lives a substance and meaning.  Frank Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” – based on Stephen King’ novella — is a testament to overcoming odds. And, if you don’t love this hopeful prison story, then you are beyond redemption. Andy Dufresne (Robbins), after charged for killing his wife, is shipped to the gothic corridors of the Shawshank State Prison for life. The movie charts his experiences, friendships and influences on the prison whilst maintaining his innocence. Shawshank gives uplifting chrams, but its story is primarily based in a depressing subject. It is not without its darker side. Bloodshed, rape and profanity are just a way of life in there. However, even in that place as Andy says we should hope for better things.You might think that ‘Shawhsank’ works fine as a prison drama, but the influence of this inspirational drama doesn’t stop there. It serves as s a metaphor for overcoming our own private prisons. The movie is also blessed with Morgan Freeman’s exceptional, unshowy performance and Tim Robbins’ subdued presentation of Andy.Watch “The Shawshank Redemption” for the friendship between two men that isn’t based in crude jokes or chasing girls.  For a redemption that is carved out of the stone walls of the prison, just as in life where people struggle to find and give meaning to their lives. This is a very rare inspirational film that goes beyond all kinds of entertainment, and reaches you so deeply that you’ll never be quite the same.


8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – a terrific adaptation of Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel – is a grim as well as an inspirational satire of institutionalized authority. The movie is set in an insane asylum, where it oppresses all the individuals, with a set of routines and medicines. A struggle is spearheaded by a high-spirited McMurphy (Nicholson), and he leads his fellow-inmates against the sinisterly well-meaning Nurse Ratched (Fletcher).Nurse Ratched’s exists everywhere in our world. They are in asylums, in educational profession or in government institutions. They are the control freaks who heartily transform the rules into a rigid dogma and squeeze the humanity out of their sub-ordinates. The genius of the film is that you never feel you’re being preached at these themes, but rather being allowed a fly-on-the-wall view of a systematic crushing of humanity.If you want to know the standard of an iconic movie character, then watch Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy. He oozes out quick wit, energy and a flashy smile that signals a rebel’s will not to be broken by the system. Fletcher as Ratched really gets under your skin. Her performance is so good that, when she gets strangled in a scene you might actually feel excited. This is one of the best inspirational movies which teaches you about not giving up and standing up for what you believe is right. The movie’s emotionally high-pitched finale, which strikes a note for freedom, still brings tears to my eyes.I think, instead of being lobotomized by the obsessional psychological tyranny of being normal, anyone should be able to flee over his own cuckoo’s nest.  “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” won five Oscars for Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Milos Forman), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.


7. To Kill a Mocking Bird (1962)

When the AFI – American Film Institute offered its picks of the top movie heroes in its 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains, it didn’t pick James Bond or Indiana Jones for the first spot, it picked the soft-spoken protagonist, Atticus Finch, of “To Kill a Mocking Bird.” That’s one of the few tributes to the inspirational, memorable character created by Harper Lee in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The movie is set in Alabama, USA, in 1932. The story is said from the point of view of Jean Louise, nicknamed Scout, a six-year-old child.  Scout and her 10-year old brother Jem begin to learn the ways of the world – America’s color prejudiced south in particular – as their father, lawyer Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.Gregory Peck’s inspirational and fantabulous performance forms the base of this classic movie. Some might call this a “courtroom drama”, but that would be marketing the film short in so many areas: scope, tone, and thematic content, to name a few.  The movie doesn’t restrict itself into a court-room; it’s a movie about honor and bravery, memory and regret, decency and determination. Most importantly, “To Kill a Mocking Bird” leaves you with a much-needed belief in hope, ignited anew by the eyes of children.To Kill a Mockingbird had the misfortune of being released in the same year as David Lean’s epic “Lawrence of Arabia”, but still attained three Academy Awards for Best Acting (Gregory Peck), Best Art Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote).


6. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Why is that we get teary eyes every time watching Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”? I think the title says it all. In spite of its reputation as Christmas classic, Capra’s film succeeds because it doesn’t forget about the other eleven months of the year and it truly is about life, and what makes it wonderful.The charismatic James Stewart stars as George Bailey, the kind of nice guy who does so much for others that he ends up with almost nothing. When a mistake of his uncle Bill causes George’s business to go belly up, he starts thinking that he’s done enough, and that everyone would be better off without him. There comes a elderly angel from heaven to interfere with the suicide business of Bailey. The elderly chap offers Bailey the opportunity to see what life would have been like has he not lived.Capra’s orchestrated images in the movie weave the upbeat “no man is a failure who has friends” message together with a darker, bleaker “life is always a struggle” thread. When the movie first released in post-world war theaters, critics blasted it for the sentimentality that characterizes a Capra film, and it lost $525,000 at the box office, but since then this classic is played countless time around the month of December.If I tell you that you’d love a film about an angel showing a suicidal mortal that it really is a wonderful life–that one person really makes a difference –you might scoff at me. But you know what? It works.  It works as the epiphany of movie sentiment and gives us a transcendent experience. It is warm and comforting like a scarf knit by your mother.


5. Forrest Gump (1994)

Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump” is an inspirational heart-breaker of oddball wit and startling grace. This movie shows us a portrait of America — its awfulness and beauty, promise and pain – through the eyes of an innocent. The always likeable Tom Hanks stars as Gump, who is short on I.Q. points but long on heart — a pure and simple soul who follows a straight path through the world, ever true to the homely advice of his mother. Forrest Gump will be disliked by those who think this is a satire. The movie rather attempts to reflect upon nearly thirty years of American pop history, the turbulent era from the mid fifties to the mid eighties, complete with appropriate songs of the day and it’s all seen through the eyes of a man who understands very little of what he sees.If you want to know about American history: from the beginnings of cold war to the Watergate mistrust, watch some other political or satirical movie. But, if you can take a lot of sentiment without any kind of cynicism, then “Forrest Gump” will provide you a magical journey. One of the most recurring themes in this inspirational fable is the admonition not to give up on life. It asks: Why surrender your life when you don’t know what lies ahead?  Whenever you feel that the day-to-day struggle is threatening to drag you under, watch “Forrest Gump.” It might replenish your energy and refresh your outlook.Forrest Gump won six Academy Awards for Best Actor (Hanks), Director (Zemeckis), Visual Effects, Editing, Screenplay and Best Picture.



4. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Based on Don Pearson’s novel, Rosenberg’s “Cool Hand Luke” is a story of an individual’s need to persevere, to struggle for personal freedom, to be oneself and to live as an individual within a world that does its best to impose conformity on all its citizens. The movie perfectly captures the ’60s America, as a whole generation was rebelling against the establishment.Luke gets sent to prison, after merely destroying parking meters. Soon he becomes an inspiration to the other prisoners by refusing to let the guards get the better of him. He is up in arms against the wardens and the outcome in the end makes him a symbol of modern existential Man. This is one of the few inspirational movies with lot of ‘Great Moments’ for us:  the egg-eating contest, Warden Martin complaining “what we got here is a failure to communicate”, George Kennedy’s Academy Award winning performance as the toughest con and an innate likeable hero Paul Newman.One of the important characteristic of this inspirational tale is that it doesn’t seem dated, even 45 years after its initial release. This is your quintessential “Cool guy” film. With “Cool Hand Luke”, you get engaging characters, an involving plot, exciting action, touching relationships, first-rate acting, an intriguing parable, and a slate full of thoughtful ideas.


3. Big Fish (2003)

Have you read “Arabian Nights” and “Grimm’s fairy tale”? Or watched “Forrest Gump” and “Wizard of Oz”? Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” is touch of all these tales tossed in for good measure. The movie is masterful at transporting us to the edges of our imaginations, and the world Burton created here is so appealing that one wishes it existed. The story deals with the father-son relationship in Bloom family. Will Bloom, returns home to be at his dying father’s bedside and is once again forced to listen to the tall tales of his larger-than-life dad that plagued his youth. Baffled by the barriers of these fanciful yarns, Will tries to uncover the facts behind the fiction.The father-son reunion will bring forth shudders of recognition to those who have sought to reconcile with distant or difficult parent. The stories told by the elder Bloom might seem preposterous or wild; however you will find yourself chanting: “Tell me more.” “Big Fish” is a story about stories. The stories that has given our lives a meaning. The stories that has allowed us to reconstruct the past, to invoke things which has grown distant, and to open up to the great mysteries.And like every good inspirational story, Big Fish is your medicine in times of trouble and hopelessness.


2. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

There are few movies which convincingly portray the enormous struggle that some people face day in and day out just to survive.  This is your unsentimental biopic, which is not about overcoming all obstacles but instead a frank discussion of how overwhelming those odds can be.“The pursuit of Happyness” bases its story on the real life of Chris Gardener Chris peddles a bulky, portable bone-density scanner, doctor to doctor. He has invested all the family money into these things. And nobody really wants these things. His angry wife leaves him, but Chris doesn’t let her to take his son. Eviction after eviction, stumbling through the subway with suitcases and unpaid bills, Chris sinks further into the abyss.  So, how did he become an entrepreneur, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist from being homeless?  There comes the inspirational part which definitely deserves our attention.  Few father-son relationships, on-screen, have felt more authentic like the one depicted in this movie by Will Smith and his real-life son, Jaden Smith A whole lot of people in Chris Gardner’s situation can’t do what he did. They might have determined that it is hard to break the cycle of poverty. They would have never got off the street. But this is the story of one man who made it. You may watch it, rebuking yourself for your laziness or your choices or your fatalism or your fears, but you will very glad that you saw this movie.


1. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Peter Weir’s “Dead Poets Society” is an inspirational film that celebrates the importance of inspiration. It makes each one of us to take a long hard look at what inspires us, what governs our motivations and determines our actions. John Keating (Robin Wiiliams) who in the fall of 1959 arrives at Welton Academy, a private boy’s prep school, to teach English. His unflinching passion for poetry inspires some of his students to revive a secret club that he led when he was a student at the Academy. The movie is a clash between the ardent belief of Keating, that words and ideas can change the world vs. the conservative play-it-by-the-book administration.The heroes and villains are placed conveniently for our viewing pleasures. But Robin Williams’ performance, Weir’s adroit direction and John Seale’s superb cinematography takes care of that banality. “Dead Poets Society” is an uplifting movie that rings a bell for intellectual freedom, creativity and nonconformity – definitely not your usual theme in movies. This dramatic inspirational tale will really stir both your heart and your mind.



In a universe, where our lives are defined by what we turn into, instead of who we are; it is such a pleasure to bathe in the warmth of these timeless classic inspirational movies. So, sit back with your hankies in hand as we take a look at the inspirational stories that have taken our hearts by storm through the big screen.


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