There comes a time in life when inspiration is needed. Especially with the coming of a brand-new year, people feel the need for a little motivation, something that would start the pursuit of bigger dreams and goals. Oftentimes, fans seek inspiration from movies, whether these are based on true events or even controversial pieces that are actually inspiring.
The point is they make us feel good. And more importantly, motivated. In case you’re still trying to figure out which inspirational movies to watch over the holidays, here are some that subscribers can readily watch on Netflix.
Updated on April 28th, 2021 by Mark Birrell: Netflix is always updating its catalog of movies to keep things fresh for subscribers so, as it loses some of its best inspirational movies, it replaces them with even more. We’ve updated this list for 2021 so every movie fan looking for a motivational experience can find an uplifting and relatable story to move and inspire them. From true stories of life-affirming courage and friendship to heartwarming comedies with the power to fire audiences up, there’s something to inspire and motivate anyone on Netflix.
10 Soul Surfer (2011)
Soul Surfer is a movie based on the real-life story of surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm following a shark attack. AnnaSophia Robb plays Hamilton in the story while Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid play her parents. While speaking with Santa Monica Mirror, Robb revealed that it was Hamilton and her mother who had “recommended her for the role.”
The events in the movie are all real, except for the part of the storyline regarding the fierce rivalry among surfers. That said, Hamilton explained, that “in professional and amateur surfing you do have competitive rivalries” and the added drama makes the movie all the more inspiring.
9 The Theory Of Everything (2014)
The Theory of Everything is based on the inspiring life of the modern-day genius Stephen Hawking. The late theoretical physicist was portrayed by actor Eddie Redmayne. And although he seemed perfect for the role, it turns out that the actor was turned down several times before he managed to book the part.
According to Insider, Redmayne told Gentleman’s Journal that “five or six other actors said no” before filmmakers considered him. Meanwhile, today, the movie is recognized as one of Redmayne’s best movies by critics. Even more inspiring still, Redmayne also won an Oscar for his performance in the film.
8 Greater (2016)
This 2016 biopic tells the story of Brandon Burlsworth, the Arkansas Razorbacks lineman. Christopher Severio portrays the player while Neal McDonough portrays Brandon’s older brother, Marty.
The movie may not be considered one of the best football movies of all time, but Brandon’s heartwarming story is enough to inspire people to pursue their goals even if they seem impossible.
7 Miracle (2004)
Also based on real-life events, this sports movie tells the story of how the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team went on to defeat the Soviet team under the leadership of player-turned-coach Herb Brooks.
Unfortunately, Brooks passed away in 2003 and didn’t get to see the movie but it successfully stirred the spirits of audiences and was widely beloved. Miracle would go on to become considered as one of the best movies of Russell’s prolific career.
6 The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Will and Jaden Smith star as father and son in this biographical drama about the struggles of businessman and motivational speaker Chris Gardner on his road from homelessness to success.
One of the most popular movies of Will Smith’s career, The Pursuit of Happyness has inspired many people with its emotionally convincing story of perseverance in the face of hardship.
5 Yes Man (2008)
Very loosely adapted from a memoir of the same name by comedian Danny Wallace, Yes Man is as wacky a comedy as would be expected from star Jim Carrey and Ant-Man director Peyton Reed. However, its premise houses an infectiously upbeat idea about positivity and adventure that Carrey’s famously effervescent personality is perfect for.
The movie revolves around a man who chooses to say yes to every proposal made to him in an effort to start getting more out of life and the zany scenarios that he lands himself in are ultimately sweet and life-affirming. Yes Man is one of those movies that wasn’t a big hit with critics on release but got a lot more love from audiences. It’s an irresistible feel-good comfort that is overflowing with the electrifying energy of its lead star.
4 Lagaan (2001)
A beloved underdog sports movie, Lagaan is set in a village in late 19th century India that gains the opportunity to forgo the tax that they owe to the British Raj if they can defeat a villainous British soldier and his team in a game of cricket, a game which is the unknown to the villagers.
Filled with comedy, music, and all the charm of producer and star Aamir Khan, it’s a must-see story of teamwork and triumph that anyone can enjoy.
3 Defiance (2008)
Defiance is a dramatized account of the Bielski partisans in Eastern Europe during the Second World War who saved Jewish locals from the Nazis and recruited them to fight.
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, and George MacKay lead the cast as the Bielski brothers, who form the resistance group and overcome impossible odds through an inspiring will to live and acts of heroic bravery.
2 The Impossible (2012)
The 2012 movie tells the story of how one family managed to survive a tsunami while vacationing in Thailand. It stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as the parents and a younger Tom Holland plays one of their children. Watts’s character, Maria, is based on a real-life tsunami survivor who was left badly injured.
The emotional drama from the talented cast is as showstopping as the devastation of the tsunami itself. But it’s the focus on the inherent goodness of all those who helped in the aftermath that really makes The Impossible an inspiring story of an unthinkable tragedy overcome by simple courage and kindness.
1 The Intouchables (2011)
An iconic feelgood movie of the modern age, The Intouchables follows a wealthy quadriplegic man who forms an uplifting friendship with his carer, who helps him learn to get joy out of his life once again.
Elevated by brilliant performances from François Cluzet and Omar Sy, the movie captured the hearts of audiences around the world with its stirring story of respect and seizing the day. It was eventually remade in the English language as The Upside with actors Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in the lead roles.
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