There’s nothing like a good motivational movie to get you pumped! Rooting for the underdog as they face impossible odds. Becoming attached to a character as you watch them grow through their journey. They encompass many of our favourite films and for good reason! 

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to watch next as there are a huge amount of choices. Fortunately, we’ve decided to write a list of our personal favourite, 50 best motivational movies. Listed in no particular order, they include brief plot outlines, just to get you extra excited about watching them.

There’s well over 100 hours of motivation featured below, so get into something comfy and jump right in!

50 Best Motivational Movies

1. Dead Poets Society

Best motivational movies - Dead Poets Society

John Keating (Robin Williams), is a new English teacher that begins working in an all-boys preparatory school, that he himself once attended. It is set in 1959 and the school is known for its ancient traditions and high standards. John Keating uses his unorthodox methods to reach out to his students, inspiring them to be themselves and act like individuals. These students, who face enormous pressures from their parents and the school, are taught to “seize the day”. With Keating’s help, students Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) and others learn to break out of their shells and pursue their dreams. With the boys having a new way of viewing life, they follow there thoughts, and form a new Dead Poet’s Society.

2. The Pursuit Of Happyness

best motivational movies - The pursuit of happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness is a beautiful rags to riches tale about happiness, love and reaching for one’s dream. Chris Gardner played by Will Smith, is a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them. The best thing about this movie? It’s based around real life events – really inspiring stuff!

3. Good Will Hunting

best motivational movie - Good Will Hunting

Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, has an incredible gift for mathematics but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves a difficult graduate-level math problem, his talents are discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), who decides to help the misguided youth reach his potential. When Will is arrested for attacking a police officer, Professor Lambeau makes a deal to get leniency for him if he will get treatment from therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). This psychologist helps Will to find direction in his life. This movie is a moving & inspirational journey of determination, beating odds & powerful relationships.

4. A Beautiful Mind

best motivational movies - A Beautiful Mind

If you are after a truly emotionally charged movie, A Beautiful Mind is definitely the one for you! This film displays the life of an amazing mathematician, John Nash, who after accepting secret work in cryptography, soon finds himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. It is inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. It is also partly based on the biography “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar.

5. Braveheart

best motivational movies - Braveheart

Braveheart depicts the story of the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero named William Wallace (Mel Gibson). He begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist. Braveheart is a film that will captivate you from the beginning. The passion and determination of Wallace throughout the movie is profound against the impossible odds they faced against the English. “FREEEEEDDOMMM!!!”

6. The Kings Of Summer

Best motivational movies - The Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer takes us on a journey where three teenagers (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) seek the ultimate act of independence. These three friends decide to leave their dysfunctional parents, build a house in the woods and live off the land. This is a gorgeous story with incredible cinematography. You’ll be treated to some amazing visuals along with the captivating story line!

7. Stand And Deliver

best motivational movies - Stand and Deliver

Stand and Deliver is a 1988 American drama film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. Edward James Olmos, who portrays Jaime Escalante’s life, is a no-nonsense mathematic teacher in a tough East LA high school. Handed a classroom full of “losers” and “unteachables,” Escalante is determined to turn his young charges’ lives around. This is a classic “bad kids, given up on” kind of story. You’ll have an idea how it goes but it is definitely worth the watch. The journey all characters go through and the remarkable growth they achieve, leads to a thoroughly engrossing movie.

8. About A Boy

best motivational movies - About a Boy

About a Boy is a comedy – drama. Will, who is played by Hugh Grant, is a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties. In his search of available women,  he invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings. As a result of one of his liaisons, he meets Marcus, an odd 12-year-old boy with problems at school. Gradually, Will and Marcus become friends, and as Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid, Marcus helps Will to finally grow up. This is a heart-warming story based around the relationship of the two main characters, and the lessons the are able to teach each other.

9. Rush

Best motivational movies - Rush

Rush is a film based on the 1970’s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. James Hunt is played by Chris Hemsworth and Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda is played by Daniel Brühl. Both Hunt and Hemsworth’s physical and mental endurance is pushed to the limits as that risk death on every lap. The women (Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara) in their lives can do nothing only watch. This is a motivational film with loads of faced paced action for those of you partial to action-films. 

10. Of Mice And Men

best motivational movies - Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men tells a tale about what it means to be human. It is based on Steinbeck’s story about two drifters, one a gentle but slow giant, who try to make money working the fields during the Depression so they can fulfill their dreams. It displays George and Lennie’s ambition of owning their own ranch, and the obstacles that stand in the way of that ambition, reveal the nature of dreams, dignity, loneliness, and sacrifice. Ultimately, Lennie, the mentally handicapped giant who makes George’s dream of owning his own ranch worthwhile, ironically becomes the greatest obstacle to achieving that dream.

11. October Sky

best motivational movies - October Sky

October Sky is a 1999 American biographical film directed by Joe Johnston. John Hickam (Chris Cooper) is a West Virginia coal miner who loves his job and expects his sons, Jim (Scott Miles) and Homer (Jake Gyllenhaal), to follow in his footsteps. But Jim gets a football scholarship, and Homer becomes interested in rocket science after seeing Sputnik 1 crossing the sky. John disapproves of his son’s new mania, but Homer begins building rockets with the help of friends and a sympathetic teacher (Laura Dern). Rocketry, he hopes, will prove his ticket to a better life. t is based on the true story of Homer H. Hickam, Jr., a coal miner’s son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes, and who eventually became a NASA engineer.

12. Peaceful Warrior

best motivational movies - Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior is a 2006 drama film directed by Victor Salva. It is based on the novel Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Dan Millman , played by Scott Mechlowicz, is a college gymnast whose desire for success drives everything he does. A chance encounter with a  mysterious stranger (Nick Nolte) opens Dan’s eyes to a new vision of strength and understanding.

13. The Illusionist

best motivational movies - The Illusionist

The Illusionist is a film written and directed by Neil Burger.  A master magician named Eisenheim (Edward Norton) uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. However, a police inspector named Uhl (Paul Giamatti) tries to warn Eisenheim that he is playing a very dangerous game. It is inspired by Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist”. This film offers many elements and will keep you engrossed the whole way through.

14. Warrior

best motivational movies - Warrior

Warrior is a 2011 American sports drama film directed by Gavin O’Connor in which an estranged family finds redemption in the unlikeliest of places: the MMA ring. Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine with a tragic past, returns home and enlists his father (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic and former wrestling coach, to train him for “Sparta,” the biggest MMA tournament ever held. But when Tommy’s underdog brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), fights his way into the tournament, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart.

15. Coach Carter

best motivational movies - Coach Carter

Coach Carter is a 2005 American biographical sports drama film directed by Thomas Carter. Ken Carter returns to his old high school in Richmond, California, to get the basketball team into shape. With tough rules and academic discipline, he succeeds in setting the players on a winning streak. But when their grades start to suffer, Carter locks them out of the gym and shuts down their championship season. When he is criticised by the players and their parents, he sticks to his guns, determined that they excel in class as well as on the court. It is based on a true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter who is portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson. In 1999 Carter made headlines for benching his undefeated high school basketball team because of poor academic performance. 

16. Life Of Pi

best motivational movies - Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a 2012 American adventure drama film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel.  The storyline revolves around an Indian man named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, telling a novelist about his life story. After him and his family decide to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi (Suraj Sharma), as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive. This is a truly beautiful movie, with the stunning cinematography sure to take your breath away through out.

17. Remember The Titans

best motivational movies - Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film is directed by Boaz Yakin. In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And with such recognition, comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all black school with an all white school, the very foundation of football’s great tradition was put to the test. s based on the true story of African American coach Herman Boone. 

18. The Shawshank Redemption

best motivational movies - The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written. It is directed by Frank Darabont. Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. This film initially didn’t do too well, but has since gained a cult following. It combines elements of everything, action, mystery, comedy etc! The plot is extremely clever and you’ll find yourself routing for Andy, and marvelling at his growing strength through the duration of the movie. A definite, must see!

19. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

best motivational movies - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), editor-in-chief of French fashion bible Elle magazine, has a devastating stroke at age 43. The damage to his brain stem results in locked-in syndrome, with which he is almost completely paralyzed and only able to communicate by blinking an eye. Bauby painstakingly dictates his memoir via the only means of expression left to him.

20. Awakenings

best motivational movies - Awakenings

The story of a doctor’s extraordinary work in the Sixties with a group of catatonic patients he finds languishing in a Bronx hospital. Speculating that their rigidity may be akin to an extreme form of Parkinsonism, he seeks permission from his skeptical superiors to treat them with L-dopa, a drug that was used to treat Parkinson’s disease at the time.

21. Rocky Balboa

best motivational movies - Rocky Balboa

Now long-retired, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) runs a Philadelphia eatery and mourns the loss of his beloved wife, Adrian. Yearning to recapture a bit of his glory days, he plans to re-enter the ring for a few low-profile, local matches. All that changes when Rocky accepts a challenge to fight the world’s reigning heavyweight champion, Mason “the Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver). For sports lovers, this is a particular favourite. Rocky has to overcome many challenges in his journey. His strength of character and determination are inspiring and you’ll get sucked into the film from the get go. This film was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, and is a true master piece!

22. The Green Mile

best motivational movies - The Green Mile

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) walked the mile with a variety of cons. He had never encountered someone like John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a massive black man convicted of brutally killing a pair of young sisters. Coffey had the size and strength to kill anyone, but not the demeanour. Beyond his simple, naive nature and a deathly fear of the dark, Coffey seemed to possess a prodigious, supernatural gift. Paul began to question whether Coffey was truly guilty of murdering the two girls. Based on the series of books by Stephen King, the Green Mile meshes together a dark fantasy come inspirational film that really examines human behaviour and growth. It’s a long one, but a must see. It is epic on a multitude of levels!

23. Seven Pounds

best motivational movies - Seven Pounds

A life-shattering secret torments Ben Thomas (Will Smith). In order to find redemption, he sets out to change the lives of seven strangers. Over the course of his journey, he meets and falls in love with a cardiac patient named Emily (Rosario Dawson), and in so doing, complicates his mission. This film is full of mystery and loose ends that you’ll find yourself wondering how on earth they will manage to tie up everything by the end. It is a wonderfully moving story and didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the time of it’s release.

24. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

best motivational movies - One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

This is a classic! When Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes it will be a less restrictive environment. But the martinet Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) runs the psychiatric ward with an iron fist, keeping her patients cowed through abuse, medication and sessions of electroconvulsive therapy. The battle of wills between the rebellious McMurphy and the inflexible Ratched soon affects all the ward’s patients. Randle is the classic anti-hero, but you’ll be routing for him the entire way. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a must watch, if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?!

25. My Left Foot

best motivational movies - My Left Foot

No one expects much from Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), a boy with cerebral palsy born into a working-class Irish family. Though Christy is a spastic quadriplegic and essentially paralyzed, a miraculous event occurs when, at the age of 5, he demonstrates control of his left foot by using chalk to scrawl a word on the floor. With the help of his steely mother (Brenda Fricker) — and no shortage of grit and determination — Christy overcomes his infirmity to become a painter, poet and author. Christy’s determination and creativity is thoroughly inspiring. This is based on a true story, and is all the more heart warming because of it.

26. Rescue Dawn

best motivational movies - Rescue Dawn

During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive by enemy soldiers. Interned in a POW camp, Dengler and his fellow prisoners (Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies) endure torture, hunger and illness while they await their chance to escape. Herzog does a magnificent job of depicting instances of humanity and dignity shining through the most inhumane conditions, and how the will to survive can triumph over death.

27. Chariots Of Fire

best motivational movies - Chariots of Fire

In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God’s glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart Sybil (Alice Krige) in his single-minded quest.

28. Field Of Dreams

best motivational movies - Filed Of Dreams

When Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come,” he feels the need to act. Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan). Afterward, the ghosts of great players start emerging from the crops to play ball, led by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. But, as Ray learns, this field of dreams is about much more than bringing former baseball greats out to play. Field Of Dreams is a favourite of many people, including mine. It’s a fantastic story, one that will stay with you for a long time after.

29. Invincible

motivational movie - Invincible

Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. While teaching at his high-school alma mater in Pennsylvania, the 30-year-old gets a chance to try out for his favourite team and, except for kickers, becomes the oldest rookie in NFL history who never played football in college. Mark Wahlberg gives a heartfelt performance with his portrayal of Vince Papale. This is an excellent ‘underdog’ film where not a single scene goes by, without the raw emotion and quiet strength that Wahlberg exudes on-screen.

30. Fearless

best motivational movies - Fearless

Fearless opens in Shanghai, China, circa 1910, when wushu master Huo Yuanjia (martial arts superstar Jet Li) prepares to battle one Japanese opponent, Tanaka (Shidou Nakamura), and three American opponents (Anthony de Longis, Jean-Claude Leuyer, and Brandon Rhea) in a massive tournament. The picture then cuts back to Huo’s boyhood in the city of Tianjin, in North China, circa 1880, when his father forbids him from engaging in martial-arts training. He must therefore slip off and train covertly. Around 1900, Huo — then in his twenties — continues to fight in tournaments. His determination is such that his entire life begins to revolve around championships, and the prospect of becoming the top-ranked fighter in Tianjin turns into a die-hard obsession, despite the repeated warnings of his best friend, Nong (Dong Yong), to cut back.

Huo ignores these admonitions, then turns conceited and ultimately refuses to hear an additional word of caution, until his arrogance leads to the death of a fighter and Nong’s decision to abandon him as a friend. Driven into exile, Huo journeys to southeastern Asia, where he works alongside rice farmers and divests himself of conceit, then gently touches the spirit of a blind girl. When he finally returns to Tianjin, he has transformed, internally, into a different person altogether. A huge hit in Hong Kong when originally released into theaters in 2006, Fearless was often touted as Jet Li’s final film in the wushu school of martial arts. The picture is based on the real-life story of Huo Yuanjia, founder of the Jingwu school of martial arts. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

31. The Bucket List

best motivational movies - Bucket List

Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in the same hospital room. The men find they have two things in common: a need to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives, and a desire to complete a list of things they want to see and do before they die. Against their doctor’s advice, the men leave the hospital and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.

There are some laugh out loud moments and hilarious one-liners, but there are also some strong moments of drama and sincerity … death has a way of creating those. The Bucket List is a combination of road trip, buddy film and coming-of-age story, featuring two amazing actors.

32. Billy Elliot

best motivational movies - Billy Elliot

The life of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, a coal miner’s son in Northern England, is forever changed one day when he stumbles upon a ballet class during his weekly boxing lesson. Before long, he finds himself in dance, demonstrating the kind of raw talent seldom seen by the class’ exacting instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson. With a tart tongue and a never-ending stream of cigarettes in her hand, Mrs. Wilkinson’s zest for teaching is revived when she sees Billy’s potential. Billy Elliot is a true rag-to-riches story that unfolds amazingly well without pulling your heartstrings shamelessly as other movies love to do.

33. Forrest Gump

best motivational movies - Forrest Gump

Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save — his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny (Robin Wright). This is a powerful yet charming movie; fun for its special effects and profound in how it keeps you thinking long after it’s over. Forrest’s simplicity is almost zen-like, and causes the audience to become incredibly attached to him and his journey.

34. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

best motivational movies - The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero. Walter fancies a fellow employee named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and would love to date her, but he feels unworthy. However, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life’s new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.

The concept – of an underachieving dreamer finally discovering the world – is something most of us can relate to. Accompanied by a truly beautiful soundtrack, Oscar-worthy camera work, and a series of incredible performances, this is heart-warming and truly special.

35. 127 Hours

best motivational movies - 127 Hours

While exploring a remote canyon in Utah, mountaineer and adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco) becomes trapped when a boulder falls on his arm. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and considers his options, leading him to an agonizing choice: to amputate his arm so that he can extricate himself and try to make his way back to civilization or remain pinned to the canyon wall and likely die. Based on Ralston’s book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” 127 Hours is not just a film – it is an experience.

36. Leon: The Professional

best motivational movies - Leon: The Professional

Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade. Mathilda and Léon are unexpectedly thrown together, but learn to value life from their chance encounter, and how valuable a friendship can be. As a gritty, suspenseful thriller, this film won’t leave action fans feeling cheated, but the film is so much more than that. At the center of “The Professional” is a wonderful father and daughter-like relationship between two damaged strangers who find solace in each other.

37. The Truman Show

best motivational movies - The Truman Show

He doesn’t know it, but everything in Truman Burbank’s (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive producer Christof (Ed Harris) orchestrates “The Truman Show,” a live broadcast of Truman’s every move captured by hidden cameras. Cristof tries to control Truman’s mind, even removing his true love, Sylvia (Natascha McElhone), from the show and replacing her with Meryl (Laura Linney). As Truman gradually discovers the truth, however, he must decide whether to act on it. The film raises some interesting points about our fascination with life as seen through the magnifying lens of tv, and the morality of real lives viewed as so much entertainment.

38. The Great Gatsby

best motivational movies - The Great Gatsby

A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbour. Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” is fairly accurate to the classic novel and keeps most of its themes intact. However, Luhrmann’s own flair adds a new dimension to the story. Visually this film is incredibly stunning. From grand sets to the detailed period dresses, this film is a treat for the eyes.

Jay Gatsby has achieved success on a massive scale. In true Horatio Alger tradition, he has worked hard to improve himself, but when his past creeps up on him and threatens his well crafted self image, he suavely and effortlessly changes it, and inhabits the change until it becomes the reality. He is the self made American man in every way. However, unlike Alger’s heroes, he has not followed the straight and narrow. He has acquired his fabulous wealth through bootlegging and stock swindles.

The belief  that he can change his past, has given him a veneer of respectability that has put him in good stead with his underworld connections. But it is not for them that Gatsby has made this remarkable metamorphosis. He did it all for the love of a woman.

39. Intouchables

best motivational movies - Intouchables

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. This is one of the most unique, beautiful and honest friendships ever committed to film. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry… a delightful celebration of everything in life that makes it worthwhile.

40. Million Dollar Baby

best motivational movies - Million Dollar Baby

Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm’s length, except his old friend and associate Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman). When Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) arrives in Frankie’s gym seeking his expertise, he is reluctant to train the young woman, a transplant from working-class Missouri. Eventually, he relents, and the two form a close bond that will irrevocably change them both. The film is a masterpiece, and the performances remarkable. This is a story about values and truths that far exceed sports and movies

41. The Descendants

best motivational movies - The Descendants

Native islander Matt King (George Clooney) lives with his family in Hawaii. Their world shatters when a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma. Not only must Matt struggle with the stipulation in his wife’s will that she be allowed to die with dignity, but he also faces pressure from relatives to sell their family’s enormous land trust. Angry and terrified at the same time, Matt tries to be a good father to his young daughters, as they too try to cope with their mother’s possible death.

42. A League Of Their Own

best motivational movies - A league of their own

As America’s stock of athletic young men is depleted during World War II, a professional all-female baseball league springs up in the Midwest, funded by publicity-hungry candy maker Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall). Competitive sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty) spar with each other, scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) and grumpy has-been coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) on their way to fame. Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell co-star as two of the sisters’ teammates.

43. Freedom Writers

best motivational movies - Freedom Writers

A dedicated teacher (Hilary Swank) in a racially divided Los Angeles school has a class of at-risk teenagers deemed incapable of learning. Instead of giving up, she inspires her students to take an interest in their education and planning their future. She assigns reading material that relates to their lives and encourages them all to keep journals. 

This story feels real. It is beautifully done. The acting of Swank, Dempsey and Glenn is professional and believable. More importantly the story highlights our society’s challenges in schooling the children of poor and one-parent families.

44. Music Of The Heart

best motivational movies - Music of the Heart

After being abandoned by her husband, depressed music teacher Roberta (Meryl Streep) lands a job teaching violin to underprivileged children in Harlem, New York. Despite initial friction from school principal Janet Williams (Angela Bassett) and the students, the program succeeds and attracts public recognition. After 10 years, however, the program is suddenly shut down following budget cuts — and Roberta, together with Williams and her former pupils, works to hold a fund-raising concert.

45. 300

best motivational movies - 300

In 480 B.C. a state of war exists between Persia, led by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas (Gerard Butler), king of the Greek city state of Sparta, leads his badly outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

46. Don Juan DeMarco

best motivational movies - Don Juan DeMarco

An aging psychiatrist (Marlon Brando) believes in a patient (Johnny Depp) who sees himself as the world’s greatest lover. The screenplay seems lovingly crafted around the two stars, Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp. They share scenes of relating, discovery and moving, personal respect. Don Juan DeMarco is a brilliant fairy tale of the differences between reality and fantasy. It leaves you wondering how exactly you can achieve such a thing as reality and fantasy co-existing in the same world. But, as Marlon Brando’s character put it in the closing lines of the movie….why not?

47. Into The Wild

best motivational movies - Into The Wild

Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), son of wealthy parents (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt), graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness. If you want a movie that will touch your heart forever and play on all of your emotions, then this is it. 

The story here ventures into the territory that drives all human experience. The search for authentic heart that all people, knowingly or not search for. The heart searches for heart, only to find itself treading in a sea of broken hearts, all cut from the same Divine Cloth. The One, and the many…forever lost within ourselves.

48. Rudy

best motivational movies - Rudy

Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for tuition nor the grades to qualify for a scholarship. Rudy redoubles his efforts to get out of the steel mill where his father works when his best friend (Christopher Reed) dies in an accident there. Overcoming his dyslexia thanks to his friend and tutor, D-Bob (Jon Favreau), Rudy gains admission to Notre Dame and begins to fight his way onto the school’s fabled football team.

49. The Blind Side

best motivational movies - The blind side

Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), take him in. The Tuohys eventually become Michael’s legal guardians, transforming both his life and theirs. Michael’s tremendous size and protective instincts make him a formidable force on the gridiron, and with help from his new family and devoted tutor, he realises his potential as a student and football player.

50. Pay It Forward

best motivational movies - Pay it Forward

The story of a social studies teacher who gives an assignment to his junior high school class to think of an idea to change the world for the better, then put it into action. When one young student creates a plan for “paying forward” favors, he not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness which, unbeknownst to him, has blossomed into a profound national phenomenon.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should get you off to a good start. Let us know what you think of the movies in the comments below, or suggest your own best motivational movies!

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