25 Movies That Will Inspire You

Looking for inspiration? I’ve got just the thing.

When I’m feeling uninspired, I turn to film. The way certain stories can make me feel — whether they’re true or fictional — gets the gears moving in my head. So, I’ve compiled a list of twenty-five of the most inspirational movies I’ve seen to hopefully inspire somebody else.

(WARNING: Some spoilers ahead.)

1. Big Fish

Memorable quote: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

Message: Everybody has daddy issues. What makes you think yours are any worse than somebody else’s? Also, sometimes your dad’s a fish.

2. The Shawshank Redemption

Memorable quote: “Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Message: Don’t have hope in anything — except our justice system, because clearly it works.

3. Life of Pi

Memorable quote: “If it happened, it happened. Why should it have to mean anything?”

Message: Sometimes, you need to live a lie to be happy.

4. Pay It Forward

Memorable quote: “I think some people are too scared, or something. I guess it’s hard for people who are so used to things the way they are — even if they’re bad — to change. ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses.”

Message: If you ever try to change the world, you WILL get stabbed.

5. Forrest Gump

Memorable quote: “You have to do the best with what God gave you.”

Message: If you have sex with anyone from Alabama, you WILL get HIV and have a kid who sees ghosts. Also, sometimes that weird kid in your class grows up to do amazing things.

6. Slumdog Millionaire

Memorable quote: [the part when they all dance at the end]

Message: Every experience is meaningful in its own way. Also, dancing is fun.


7. Schindler’s List

Memorable quote: “Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.”

Message: Liam Neeson saved just as many people as he killed in those Taken movies. And you should always make lists so you don’t forget stuff. (I’ve never seen the whole movie.)

8. Field of Dreams

Memorable quote: “If you build it, he will come.”

Message: Commit to something and follow through with it.

9. 8 Mile

Memorable quote: “Do you ever wonder at what point you just got to say ‘fuck it,’ man? Like when you gotta stop living up *here*, and start living down *here*?”

Message: It’s just nice to see a Caucasian from a poor area succeed and go on to make as much money as his African American counterpart for once.

10. The Rookie

Memorable quote: “If you don’t have dreams, you don’t have anything.”

Message: You’re never too old to pursue a dream.

11. Up

Memorable quote: “Adventure is out there!”

Message: You’re never too old to pursue a dream.

12. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Memorable quote: “I need some poon! I need genital to genital connections!”

Message: You’re never too old to pursue a dream.

13. Clockstoppers

Memorable quote: [something about a watch, probably]

Message: I don’t know if this movie is “inspirational” per se, but it definitely makes me think about what I would do if I could slow down time.


14. Jurassic Park

Memorable quote: “Life, uh… finds a way.”

Message: Evolution is real but so is God. Nothing makes sense.

15. Good Will Hunting

Memorable quote: “You know what the best part of my day is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, ’cause I think, maybe I’ll get up there and I’ll knock on the door and you won’t be there.”

Message: Getting up and leaving solves everything.

16. The Graduate

Memorable quote: “It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”

Message: If you go through the trouble of breaking up a wedding, she almost has to choose you — even if you’ve been porking her mom.

17. Love Actually

Memorable quote: “Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”

Message: Love only exists when you have a British accent. Also, when you’re in love with your best friend’s wife, that shit comes back to bite you in the ass. Your other best friend will bang your wife while you’re in a coma during the zombie apocalypse.

18. Captain America: The First Avenger

Memorable quote: “Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing — that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

Message: If you can’t beat ’em, cheat. (Weird how Chris Evans is a Patriots fan, huh?)

19. It’s A Wonderful Life

Memorable quote: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Message: Commit to something and follow through with it.

(Screenshot/National Telefilm Associates)

20. Finding Nemo

Memorable quote: “Just keep swimming.”

Message: Don’t give up. Also, a lot of fish look the same. So if you’re looking for a specific one, good luck. Better hope they have a fucked up fin or something.

21. Beauty and the Beast

Memorable quote: “As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

Message: When you’re attractive, people don’t ask questions about why you were a hideous beast. They just go with it… Oh, Just Go With It — now that’s a movie.

22. Just Go With It

Memorable quote: “Just go with it.”

Message: Just go with it.

23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Memorable quote: “What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she’s a stranger.”

Message: How well does anybody really know Kate Winslet?

24. Crash

Memorable quote: “I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Message: Everybody is a little bit racist.

25. The Social Network

Memorable quote: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”

Message: Screw over your best friend and he’ll become Spider-Man.

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You can find more of Ryan’s work in Human Parts, The Coffeelicious, Absurdist, and The Bigger Picture. You can follow him on Twitter here or check out his website here. He’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!