If you’re feeling down and in need of a pick-me-up, sometimes all it takes is a good movie to lift your spirits. Fortunately, Netflix has a wide selection of inspiring movies that can help you feel better and regain your optimism. From heartwarming stories of courage and resilience to tales of personal growth and self-discovery, there are plenty of uplifting movies available on the streaming giant that can help you renew your faith in yourself and motivate you to achieve your goals. Below are 15 of the best inspirational movies on Netflix today.
Directed and written by John Carney, Begin Again tells the story of Gretta James (Keira Knightley), a songwriter who is left alone on her own by her songwriting partner and lover after the latter gives in to the temptations of success after landing a record deal with a major label in New York. Things take a turn for the better for Gretta when a disgraced record executive named Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo) discovers her performing in a club.
As they work together on her first album, Gretta and Dan find a renewed sense of purpose and direction in their lives and learn to believe in themselves and their talents once again. The film also offers a powerful message about the importance of taking risks, following one’s passions and finding one’s own unique voice and creative vision.
The 2013 film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for the song Lost Stars written by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois.
Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, Forrest Gump follows several decades in the life of the titular character, a slow-witted and kindhearted Alabama man, and his experiences in the 20th-century United States. The 1994 movie stars Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, along with Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field in supporting roles.
Forrest Gump is one of the best inspirational movies of all time because it tells the story of an underdog who overcomes adversity. Despite his intellectual and physical challenges, Forrest never gives up on himself, and through sheer determination and hard work, achieves great success in life. The character’s unshakable faith in the goodness of people and his ability to see the world in a simple and uncomplicated way also remind viewers of the power of positivity and the potential for greatness in everyone.
In 1995, the movie earned a total of eight Oscar nominations and won the following awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Zemeckis), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Hanks), Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.
The Forty-Year-Old Version
Named one of the 10 best movies of 2020 by the National Board of Review, The Forty-Year-Old Version is loosely based on the life of Radha Blank — the writer, director, producer, and the main star of the film. In the movie, Blank plays a playwright and teacher who turns to rapping when she finds herself nearing her 40th birthday.
Despite facing numerous obstacles, including ageism, sexism, and cultural appropriation, Blank perseveres and ultimately finds her voice. Through her journey, the film inspires viewers to take risks, pursue their passions, and embrace their unique talents and perspectives. The movie also touches on themes of identity and belonging by celebrating the power of self-expression and the importance of staying true to oneself.
Released in 2022 as an original Netflix movie, Hustle stars Adam Sandler as Stanley Sugerman, a down-on-his-luck NBA scout who discovers Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez), a raw but talented basketball player in Spain. As Stanley tries to prepare Bo for the NBA draft, the two connect on and off the court, with their passion for the game and as loving family men who want to prove they can win, in basketball and in life.
Also starring Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Robert Duvall, Heidi Gardner, and current NBA player Anthony Edwards, the film received positive reviews from critics for Sandler’s impressive performance and the movie’s inspiring story about the value of second chances.
Directed by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story has been dubbed as the epic divorce saga. The 2019 movie stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple going through a grueling divorce and custody battle. Despite the bitter disputes and heartbreaking moments in the film, many people still consider it one of the most uplifting movies on Netflix today, as it effectively shows that growth, healing, and new beginnings are all possible even in the most challenging situations.
In 2020, the Noah Baumbach-directed movie received six Oscar nominations, namely Best Picture, Best Actor (Driver), Best Actress (Johansson), Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern), Best Original Screenplay (Baumbach), and Best Original Score (Randy Newman). Out of these nominations, only Dern took home an Academy Award trophy.
Based on the stories of the character Paddington Bear created by Michael Bond, the 2014 live-action animated movie tells the story of the titular anthropomorphic bear who migrates from the jungles of “Darkest Peru” to the streets of London. Despite facing many setbacks while in search of a new home, Paddington remains optimistic and determined, never losing his sense of wonder and enthusiasm for life. Paddington is ultimately adopted by the Brown family – an ending that highlights the importance of family, kindness, and acceptance, as well as the power of human connection.
The feel-good movie stars Ben Whishaw as the voice of the titular character, with Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Nicole Kidman appearing in live-action roles.
The 1976 sports drama film Rocky tells the story of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a working-class, Italian-American small-time club fighter and debt collector for a Mafia loan shark who gets an unlikely shot at the world heavyweight championship held by Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
A story of an underdog who rises to greatness through hard work and determination, Rocky is a timeless classic that has inspired generations to pursue their dreams and never give up, no matter how difficult the challenge may seem.
Also included in the list of most uplifting movies on Netflix is Shawshank Redemption. Based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the 1994 movie tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money laundering operation led by the prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton).
The film is a testament to the human spirit, showing that no matter how difficult or unfair life may seem, there is always hope for a better tomorrow. The character arcs of both Andy and Red are particularly inspiring as they effectively show the power of personal growth even during the darkest hours. At the start of the film, Andy and Red are broken and hopeless men, but as the movie progresses, both men gradually find purpose and hope for the future.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Kurt Sutter, Southpaw stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy “The Great” Hope, a boxer who sets out to get his life back on track after losing his wife in an accident and later his young daughter to child protective services. A story of redemption, perseverance, and finding the strength to move forward, the film shows how Billy overcomes his struggles through hard work, determination, and the support of those who believe in him.
In addition to Gyllenhaal, the 2015 movie also stars Forest Whitaker Naomie Harris, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Oona Laurence, and Rachel McAdams.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Based on the memoir of the same name by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells the true story of William (Maxwell Simba), a young Malawian boy who overcomes tremendous obstacles to bring electricity and hope to his impoverished village. Despite being forced to drop out of school due to financial difficulties, William becomes fascinated by science and engineering and begins to experiment with building windmills out of spare parts in order to generate electricity for his village.
The feature filmmaking debut of Chiwetel Ejiofor, the 2019 movie was well-received by critics and audiences alike for its powerful message of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.
The Legend of Drunken Master
Also known as Drunken Master II, the 1994 Hong Kong movie The Legend of Drunken Master stars Jackie Chan as Wong Fei-hung, a martial artist who must use his skills to defend his community against a gang of ruthless thugs. Through his bravery and determination, Fei-hung becomes a hero to his fellow citizens and serves as an inspiration to anyone facing difficult challenges. The movie also features themes of family, honor, and redemption, making it a powerful and uplifting story of personal growth and triumph over adversity.
An adaptation of d Matthew Sklar’s 2018 Broadway musical of the same name, the film tells the story of a group of Broadway actors who travel to a small Indiana town to help a high school student attend her prom with her girlfriend. The movie makes it to our list of most inspirational Netflix movies because it promotes the idea that everyone should have the right to be who they are and to love who they choose, regardless of their background or sexual orientation.
Starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington, and Jo Ellen Pellman, the 2020 movie celebrates the power of love and the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
The Pursuit of Happyness
The 2006 drama film The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who becomes homeless with his young son in San Francisco while trying to make a better life for himself and his family.
Starring Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith, the movie showcases Gardner’s resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Despite the numerous setbacks he faces, Gardner never gives up on his dreams and manages to turn his life around through hard work, perseverance, and a strong belief in himself.
The Social Network
Based on the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network portrays the founding of the social networking website Facebook, with Jesse Eisenberg portraying the role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Although The Social Network focuses on the cut-throat nature of entrepreneurship and the negative consequences that come with it, the movie is inspiring in terms of its depiction of innovation and the power of technology to revolutionize society, and how anyone with an innovative idea can make a significant impact on the world.
Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, Undefeated is a 2011 documentary film that tells the story of Manassas Tigers of Memphis, an underdog high school football team that attempt a winning season under the guidance of coach Bill Courtney after years of losses. Despite facing numerous personal and collective struggles, the team learns to come together, trust in each other, and push themselves beyond their limits to achieve success.
The movie was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, it’s likely that you will find yourself wiping off tears at least a few times before the credits roll.