Movies are powerful forms of art. They are the art form that can most closely emulate the life we live and show it to us on a screen. That is why when movies are great, they can touch and affect our lives in a very real way. Some of the best movies ever made are the ones that inspire us to be better, the ones that tell us that everyone has the potential to be great if they believe in themselves enough. Here are some of the best movies to motivate you to achieve success.
1. Slumdog Millionaire
This film shows us that it is our struggles that build our character, knowledge, and ultimately, our success. Slumdog Millionaire won the Best Picture at the Oscars in 2008 – and for good reason. The film revolves around the rags-to-riches story of Jamal, an 18-year-old who grew up in the slums. During his round on the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" game show, he is interrogated by the police after correctly answering every question without having had a proper education or an opportunity to learn about the things being asked. Through a series of flashbacks, he recounts the experiences on the streets that he had throughout his life that gave him the answers to the questions. Through his determination to overcome his struggles, he achieves success in life in more ways than one.
2. Forrest Gump
A list of motivating movies is not complete without Forrest Gump. It is quite possibly one of the sappiest, cliché love stories of all time, yet this tale of a dimwitted Alabama-born boy with a heart of gold and his quest to find his childhood sweetheart Jenny never ceases to put a tear in the eyes of even the most cynical of moviegoers. It’s hard not to be inspired by how a local idiot with leg braces eventually grows up to become a millionaire with a congressional Medal of Honor – all through his hard work, good heart, and his way of always putting the people he loves before him. The movie shows that success isn’t just about money or career; it’s about being able to do what you enjoy and being with the people you love.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
As Andy says, "the only thing they can’t touch is hope." The Shawshank Redemption is about the wrongly convicted Andy Dufresne’s life in prison, who befriends the local prison contraband smuggler Red – iconically portrayed by Morgan Freeman. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time by moviegoers and is the highest rated movie on IMDB. Shawshank is a movie that manages to inspire hope; even as Andy suffers through hell in the form of brutality, abuse and punishment, his spirit never dies. He manages to escape the prison and reclaim his freedom.
4. The Social Network
The Social Network is far from your typical inspirational rags-to-riches story: it is emotionally taxing, critical, and kind of cold. But as austere and as brutal this adaptation of the founding of the social network Facebook is, there is definitely something inspirational in the story of Mark Zuckerberg. Regardless of how he came up with Facebook, the fact that he turned a private profile website into a multibillion-dollar industry and the second most visited website on Earth, developed in his dorm room on a shoestring budget, is pretty damn incredible to think about. It just goes to show you that a little ingenuity and hard work goes a long way – whether your motivation is to impress your ex-girlfriend or make a few bucks.
5. Man on Wire
Exhilarating, thrilling and poignant, Man on Wire definitely makes a good case for the belief that the things you can’t do are only the things that you believe you can’t do. This Academy Award-winning documentary tells the story of Philippe Petit, a man who walked in between the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. In what director James Marsh describes as a gift to New York City, Petit managed to accomplish the impossible in an act that is both illegal and extremely dangerous, but also beautiful and inspiring.
"Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." These were the words of the film’s main antagonist, Anton Ego, towards the end of Ratatouille. At first, the film’s story of a rat being a culinary genius may seem farfetched, but as we see Remy turn his talent into something tangible and work his magic in the kitchen, we begin to understand the beauty of Ratatouille’s lesson. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or how much odds seem to be stacked against you, you can be just as brilliant or inspired as anyone else in the world if you have the passion for it.
7. The Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness is a drama starring Will Smith and his real-life son Jaden. The film chronicles the story of Chris Gardner, a homeless aspiring stock broker who – against all odds – manages to become a multimillion-dollar brokerage firm owner. Easily the most astounding and inspiring part of this entire story is that the film is actually based on a true story. This film’s story alone is enough reason to believe that you can turn even the most dire of situations around with a lot of hard work and persistence.
8. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
How does one man’s restaurant get more than three Michelin stars? It’s literally impossible, but he’d be damned if he didn’t try. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the greatest sushi chef of all time. He runs a small, 10-seat restaurant in a subway station in Tokyo which is visited by food aficionados from all over the world and is considered to serve the best sushi you will ever taste. Throughout the film, we see glimpses of his life, his work ethic, and his madcap, singular focus to creating the best sushi that is humanely possible. Even with all the accolades, the success, and the reputation, he still sees room for improvement. That should motivate viewers to keep striving to be better, even when you feel like you’ve already reached the top.
It seems a little cliché to mention Rocky when talking about motivational movies, but this film about Rocky Balboa’s rise from an uneducated Philadelphia working man to a professional, big-time boxer (and all the sequels that followed after) still holds up as one of the most inspiring movies ever made, almost 39 years after it first came out. With its powerful soundtrack, brilliant editing, and fantastic performance from Sylvester Stallone, the Academy Award- winning film is as timeless as it is inspiring. What’s even more inspiring is the production of the film itself. On a shoestring budget of only $1.1 million, the film would go on to gross $225 million and create a blockbuster franchise.
10. Dead Poets Society
In his iconic performance as John Keating in the film Dead Poets Society, the late Robin Williams says the legendary line, "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." Teachers are some of the most important people in our lives. They give us knowledge, they help build our characters, and they inspire us to grow up to be good people. In Dead Poets Society, the extraordinary character of John Keating inspires his students, through the power of poetry, to be passionate and inspired. Even if Mr. Keating has to leave at the end of the movie, he leaves with the knowledge that he has left a powerful legacy on the students he loves.
These are just a few of the movies that can motivate you to achieve success. There are many more out there with the power to inspire you to be your best self – and many more that are yet to come out. There are many tales left untold of ordinary people doing extraordinary tales. Who knows? Maybe someday your own life will be the basis for a movie, too.
Can you think of any other inspiring and motivating films you’d like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!