Image from Pixabay

Movies, which appeal to different personalities and moods, can be a source of entertainment, motivation, and learning. The most common types of movies include thrillers, romance, comedy, drama, and horror.

Comparison Table

Once in a while, you’ll come across motivational movies. Even though they might not be so popular, chances are you need them at some point in your life. In fact, inspirational movies are good for your health.

How We Chose Our Ratings

pop corn for movie time

Image from Pixabay

Here are 15 movies that can to help you maintain a positive attitude towards life. The movies were chosen based on how they promote positivity and motivate people to reach their full potential. Ratings from movie review sites were also considered.

15 Popular Must-See Movies

When you first hear of a motivational movie, you may start to think that the movie is about a budding entrepreneur who didn't have enough finances to run a business but later succeeded due to his ambition and determination.

Or, about a young individual who turned out to be a great athlete by constantly practicing and believing in himself or herself. But not all storylines are this familiar. If you are looking for something fresh that will get you inspired right away, here are 15 must-see movies.

The Straight Story is a heart-touching film produced by Canal Productions about Alvin Straight, a 73-year-old who learned that his brother had a stroke. He hadn't been in contact with his sick sibling for several years. Even without a valid driving license, Alvin travels miles in a lawnmower to see his brother. On his way, he interacts with hospitable and kind people who encourage him to press on and achieve his goal.

Sycamore Pictures succeeded in making this film refreshing, motivational, sad, and funny – all in one. The Way Way Back is based on the developmental stages that turn a boy into a full-grown man. The film features Duncan – an awkward teen facing a lot of family and personal problems.

However, he makes new friends who constantly encourage him to press on as he grows up. The boy's mentor, Sam Rockwell, and the cruel stepfather, Steve Carell, are some of the characters that make the movie notable and memorable with their outstanding performances.

Coach Carter, produced by Paramount Pictures, is a film about an outstanding basketball coach and his not-so-perfect team. Ken Carter, the coach, makes a tough decision that prevents some good basketball players with poor grades from playing. His decision attracts severe criticism and partial approval from the school staff and parents. However, against all odds, he leads his team to one of the biggest tournaments yet.

Just as the title suggests, this New Zealand Film Commission movie is about Burt Munro and his ambition to become the world's best motorcycle racer. Munro dedicates decades of his life trying to turn his dreams into reality. He goes on to fine tune an old motorcycle into a high-power machine that helps him beat the world record. The film is notable for its fascinating pilot and Anthony Hopkins' outstanding performance.

As one of the must-see movies produced by Fox Searchlight,Bend it Like Beckham revolves around Jess – an 18-year-old and her enthusiasm for soccer. Her family thinks that she is a Sikh girl who shouldn't play a game that is male-dominated. Despite her parents' disapproval, Jess goes on to prove that her dream is worth her efforts. She relies on the support from her soccer coach and friends.

Gifted Hands is about Ben Carson's humble beginnings and career advances. Despite growing up without a father, his determination and talent made him one of the best neurosurgeons in the country. Carson's main source of inspiration was his mother. This movie will motivate you to turn your dreams into reality regardless of the odds at hand.

This Miramax movie follows Frank, a loving father, who decides to visit all of his children based in different states after the demise of his wife. Throughout his visits, he gains unexpected and interesting insights about his family. Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, and Robert De Niro are some the featured cast members.

Begin Again is a film about Gretta, an ambitious composer who is trying to stay positive after breaking up with her boyfriend. Gretta's life changes for the better after meeting a former music label executive, Dan. The two music enthusiasts focus on making an independent album despite the lack of necessary instruments, band, or funds.

Their efforts of succeeding in the New York music scene makes Begin Again one of the must-see movies of this decade.

One Chance tells the story of a down-to-earth British guy whose lifelong dream of becoming a renowned opera singer comes true. The film focuses on how the guy applied and participated in the hit TV show, "Britain's Got Talent", and instantly rose to fame. The film teaches people to utilize every single opportunity that comes their way, regardless of the hurdles.

This Walt Disney Pictures movie features an 11-year-old boy, Alexander, who is having a particularly bad birthday eve. His birthday wish was for his family to experience what it’s like to be him for just day. The wish becomes true, and the very next morning the Cooper family starts to experience a lot of challenges. This movie is humorous, sad, and – of course – motivational. You’ll learn that everybody has a bad day!

Love & Basketball is a film about Monica and Quincy, two basketball players who have been friends since childhood. Their friendship grows into an emotional affair, and the two start dating. However, the relationship is put to test when Quincy pursues a professional basketball career and forgets about Monica.

The film gets more interesting and inspirational when they finally try to rekindle the love they have for each other.

Life can be a little bit challenging for a low-income gardener who has a dream of becoming an international soccer player.Goal!, produced by Touchstone Pictures, focuses on Santiago Munez, his gardening job, and ambition to play professional soccer.

Santiago eventually gets a lucky break and travels to England to showcase his talent to the world. He takes advantage of the opportunity to build a name for himself in the soccer world.

Have you ever imagined what it is like to go salmon fishing in Yemen? Well, this movie will take you on that journey. The movie tells the story of a mysterious Arab Sheikh who dreams of holding a big salmon fishing contest in Yemen. He approaches Dr. Alfred Jones to help him turn his idea into reality. The film will entertain and motivate you with its enthralling storyline.

TheWimbledon movie by Universal Pictures follows the unexpected love affair between Peter and Lizzie. Lizzie is a young American tennis star, while Peter is a retiring tennis player with a vision to play at the Wimbledon tournament for the last time.

They fall in love during the tournament. Peter manages to win several matches thanks to the motivation from the newfound relationship he has with Lizzie.

Overture Films released Last Chance Harvey which focuses on the romantic relationship between Harvey and Kate. As the title suggests, Harvey is divorced and living with no ambition for the next chapter of his life. However, his life turns around for the better when he meets Kate at an airport. Though he didn't see the relationship coming, he decided to hold on to the special bond he has with the new love of his life.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing a Motivational Movie to Watch

There are hundreds of motivational movies out there waiting to be watched, the 15 above are just some of the best ones. To help you sieve through the mediocre and remain with the best, you should consider a number of aspects of the movie including the theme, setting, characters, budget, and filming process.

As a movie lover with preferences, you might also want to consider the film title, year of release, main performers or stars, rating, director, studio, genre classification, running time, awards, tagline, and brief. Here is an in-depth look at some of the important factors.

1. The Production Company

Camera man entering a door

Image by Kyle Loftus via Pexels

The production company responsible for making the film determines whether you’ll watch a movie or not. Was the must-see movie made by an independent, minor, or major studio? Look at some of the reasons why the production company made the film and decide whether it’s worth watching.  

2. The Film's Rating

Film ratings help to protect the viewing interests of movie lovers. For instance, a film that’s marked PG can be watched by kids but only under parental guidance, while the one rated PG-13 is only for viewers who are 13 years and above. Other MPAA ratings include unrated, NC-17, and G.

3. Genre

A motivational movie can fall into different genres depending on its themes. It can be classified as a musical, comedy, adventure, or action. The film can also be a combination of two or more genres. Therefore, if you want to watch a motivational movie with some comedy or romance on the side, just check where it’s categorized.

4. Reviews

Woman holding remote control while eating popcorn

Image by via Pexels

You can get reviews for must-see movies online. One of the most popular sites for the movie reviews is Rotten Tomatoes. You can also subscribe to local film magazines and read reviews on upcoming or released movies. Use this information to get more motivational films to watch.

5. Title and Credits

When you hear the title "One Chance" for the first time, you'll most likely think that the movie is about the limited chances that life offers. And that’s absolutely right! Ask yourself why a specific title was chosen and how the credits help to foster the film's mood and tone. Also, look at the cover picture and decide whether it’s something you can watch.

​6. Carefully Listen to the Soundtrack

You can also check the soundtrack of a particular movie. In fact, some of the best-rated songs are from high-ranking movies. The soundtrack of a movie comprises the list of songs used in the movie to enhance the mood. Most production companies release the soundtrack as an online album available for purchase. Spare some time to go through the songs and compare their composition to roles played by the characters in the film.

​7. Overall Quality

Assorted movie case titles

Image by Lucas Pezeta via Pexels

A good film should be meaningful and cohesive in its entirety. Take time to watch the trailer of the movie and pay close attention to the overall quality of scenes. Don't judge it by what your friends say.

​8. The Original Screensize

Technology has made it possible for people to watch movies across different devices rather than going to the theaters. Before the late 1950s, popular movies had a 1:33:1 or 4:3 width-to-height aspect ratio, which is the same as that of a standard TV screen. Today, modern motion pictures have wide and non-standard aspect ratios.

​9. The Film's Context

Look at the historical, political, and social context of the movie. Does it remain consistent in selecting events at the specific contexts included? Check whether the themes used are of any interest to you. Some people like to watch movies set in the modern times, while others prefer classical settings.

Let These Must-See Movies Inspire Your Life

Movie watching near the beach

Image by Quark Studio via Pexels

It takes a lot of resources to make a motivational movie that appeals to its intended audience. As a movie lover, you need to carefully watch the trailer, look at the credits and title, go through the soundtrack, and look at the main theme to get the most suitable movie for you.

Since your goal is to be motivated, ask yourself if you can relate to certain scenes or the storyline of a motivational movie. Stay inspired!