Inspirational Movies

Inspirational movies. These are the films that make you believe that life is worth living. Good things actually happen and sometimes the underdog wins. I love films. How they can take you away from your troubles and create magical fantasy worlds. Or they can tell true life stories in ways that makes you feel you were actually there. Iíve broken them up into three top ten lists. These are completely subjective.

Feel Good Films, Mind Blowing Movies, Triumph Inspirational Movies

Top Ten Feel Good Movies

Itís A Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, as we see in flashback. But in the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan and the machinations of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. George meant so much to so many people; should he really throw it all away?

Every list of inspirational movies has this film on it. And for good reason. It may be one of the most life affirming movies ever made.

Singing In The Rain (1952)

In 1927, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a famous on-screen romantic pair. Lina, however, mistakes the on-screen romance for real love. Don has worked hard to get where he is today, with his former partner Cosmo. When Don and Lina's latest film is transformed into a musical, Don has the perfect voice for the songs. But Lina - well, even with the best efforts of a diction coach, they still decide to dub over her voice. Kathy Selden is brought in, an aspiring actress, and while she is working on the movie, Don falls in love with her. Will Kathy continue to "aspire", or will she get the break she deserves ?


White Christmas (1954)

After leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General.

Cuddle up with your entire family to watch this crowd pleasing inspirational movie. One of the greats.


While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Lonely Chicago "L" ticket seller Lucy has fallen in love with a commuter who passes her by every day. On Christmas day, the handsome commuter named Peter falls onto the rails and is saved from certain death by Lucy. Peter's family is mistaken into thinking Lucy is Peter's fiancie. Peter's brother, Jack, is skeptical, but very much attacted to Lucy. Written by Rob Hartill


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Based on the classic novel by 'CS Lewis' . Four London children are sent to a professor's country home in order for protection during World War II. There they find a magic wardrobe which leads to a mystical land called Narnia, which is being ruled by an evil witch. To defeat the witch, they must join forces with Aslan, the lion God of Narnia. Written by Brett Walter {StreepFan126@cs.com}


Field of Dreams (1989)

Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his corn field tell him, "If you build it, he will come." He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out a reclusive author to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field. Written by Scott Renshaw {as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu}


Sound of Music (1965)

In 1930's Austria, a young woman named Maria is failing miserably in her attempts to become a nun.When the Navy captain Georg Von Trapp writes to the convent asking for a governess that can handle his seven mischevious children,Maria is given the job.The Captain's wife is dead,and he is often away,and runs the household as strictly as he does the ships he sails on.The children are unhappy and resentful of the governesses that their father keeps hiring,and have managed to run each of them off one by one.When Maria arrives,she is initially met with the same hostility,but her kindness,understanding,and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives--including the Captain's.Eventually he and Maria find themselves falling in love,even though Georg is already engaged to a Baroness and Maria is still a postulant.The romance makes them both start questioning the decisions they have made.Their personal conflicts soon become overshadowed,however,by world events.Austria is about to come under the control of Germany,and the Captain may soon find himself drafted into the German navy and forced to fight against his own country. Written by LOTUS73


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state's senior senator--presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal. Written by James Yu {jamestyu@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu}


Lady and the Tramp (1955)
The romantic tale of a sheltered uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a streetwise downtown Mutt.

This is the only cartoon on our list of inspirational movies. It is impossible to watch this story of puppy love and not have a thoroughly good time.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

While visiting the Earth at Night, a group of alien botanists is discovered and disturbed by an approaching human task force. Because of the more than hasty take-off, one of the visitors is left behind. The little alien finds himself all alone on a very strange planet. Fortunately, the extra-terrestrial soon finds a friend and emotional companion in 10-year-old Elliot, who discovered him looking for food in his family's garden shed. While E.T. slowly gets acquainted with Elliot's brother Michael, his sister Gertie as well as with Earth customs, members of the task force work day and night to track down the whereabouts of Earth's first visitor from Outer Space. The wish to go home again is strong in E.T., and after being able to communicate with Elliot and the others, E.T. starts building an improvised device to send a message home for his folks to come and pick him up. But before long, E.T. gets seriously sick, and because of his special connection to Elliot, the young boy suffers, too. The situation gets critical when the task force finally intervenes. By then, all help may already be too late, and there's no alien spaceship in sight. Written by Julian Reischl {julianreischl@mac.com}

Top Ten Mind Blowing Inspirational Movies

These are the films that make you think. That stretch what you believe may be true. I include fantasy and science fiction in this category.

Star Wars (1977)

In a galaxy far, far away, a psychopathic emperor and his most trusted servant - a former Jedi Knight known as Darth Vader - are ruling a universe with fear. They have built a horrifying weapon known as the Death Star, a giant battle station capable of annihilating a world in less than a second. When the Death Star's master plans are captured by the fledgling Rebel Alliance, Vader starts a pursuit of the ship carrying them. A young dissident Senator, Leia Organa, is aboard the ship & puts the plans into a maintenance robot named R2-D2. Although she is captured, the Death Star plans cannot be found, as R2 & his companion, a tall robot named C-3PO, have escaped to the desert world of Tatooine below. Through a series of mishaps, the robots end up in the hands of a farm boy named Luke Skywalker, who lives with his Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru. Owen & Beru are viciously murdered by the Empire's stormtroopers who are trying to recover the plans, and Luke & the robots meet with former Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi to try to return the plans to Leia Organa's home, Alderaan. After contracting a pilot named Han Solo & his Wookiee companion Chewbacca, they escape an Imperial blockade. But when they reach Alderaan's coordinates, they find it destroyed - by the Death Star. They soon find themselves caught in a tractor beam & pulled into the Death Star. Although they rescue Leia Organa from the Death Star after a series of narrow escapes, Kenobi becomes one with the Force after being killed by his former pupil - Darth Vader. They reach the Alliance's base on Yavin's fourth moon, but the Imperials are in hot pursuit with the Death Star, and plan to annihilate the Rebel base. The Rebels must quickly find a way to eliminate the Death Star before it destroys them as it did Alderaan. Written by Derek O'Cain

Mindwalk (1990)

A US politician (Sam Waterston) visits his poet friend (John Heard) in Mont. St. Michael, France. While walking through the medieval island discussing their philosophies of life they happen upon Sonja (Liv Ullman), a scientist in recluse, who joins in their conversation. The two men listen to the ideas of this brilliant woman and discuss how her ideas can work in their own politician and poet lives.

This is the ultimate thinking manís film.


My Dinner With Andre (1981)

A US politician (Sam Waterston) visits his poet friend (John Heard) in Mont. St. Michael, France. While walking through the medieval island discussing their philosophies of life they happen upon Sonja (Liv Ullman), a scientist in recluse, who joins in their conversation. The two men listen to the ideas of this brilliant woman and discuss how her ideas can work in their own politician and poet lives.


Like Water For Chocolate (1992)

Tita and Pedro want to get married, but Tita has to take care of her ageing mother and is not allowed to marry. Pedro ends up marrying Tita's sister, but lets Tita know he only married her sister to be closer to her. When Tita is forced to make the wedding cake, the guests at the wedding are overcome with sadness... Tita has discovered she can do strange things with her cooking.

I love the fantasy of this film. I also like the American remake of this film. Simply Irresistible


2010 (1984)

In this sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a joint American- Soviet expedition is sent to Jupiter to discover what went wrong with the U.S.S. Discovery against a backdrop of growing global tensions. Among the mysteries the expedition must explain are the appearance of a huge black monolith in Jupiter's orbit and the fate of H.A.L., the Discovery's sentient computer. Based on a novel written by Arthur C. Clarke. Written by Keith Loh {loh@sfu.ca}


Contact (1997)

Dr. Eleanor Arroway has spent her life searching for truth in the study of radio astronomy. Palmer Joss has spent his searching for truth through faith in God. When Ellie and her fellow scientists are able to decipher a stunning message from an extraterrestrial intelligence and discover detailed instructions for building a mysterious Machine. discovers, they and everyone on Earth are forced to challenge their convictions.


What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004)

Amanda (Marlee Maitlin) is a divorced woman who makes a living as a photographer. During the Fall of the year Amanda begins to see the world in new and different ways when she begins to question her role in life, her relationships with her career and men and what it all means. As the layers to her everyday experiences fall away insertions in the story with scientists, and philosophers and religious leaders impart information directly to an off-screen interviewer about academic issues, and Amanda begins to understand the basis to the quantum world beneath. During her epiphany as she considers the Great Questions raised by the host of inserted thinkers, Amanda slowly comprehends the various inspirations and begins to see the world in a new way.


Wings of Desire / Der Himmel Łber Berlin (1987)

This Wim Wenders film centers around the story of two angels wandering in a mixture of post-war and modern Berlin. Invisible to humans, they nevertheless give their help and comfort to all the lonely and depressed souls they meet. Finally, after many centuries, one of the angels becomes unhappy with his immortal state and wishes to become human in order to experience the joys of everyday life. He meets a circus acrobat and finds in her the fufillment of all his mortal desires. He also discovers that he is not alone in making this cross over, and that a purely spiritual experience is not enough to satisfy anyone. Written by Nell Rehn {NRehn@aol.com}

Note: This is a heady film. If you hate subtitles you may want to skip it. But donít even THINK of renting the America remake City of Angels in the hope of getting an english version of the film. It isnít the same story. It has none of the beauty, symbolism, grace and wonder of the original German film. Wings of Desire is a truly inspirational movie.


Annie Hall (1977)

After breaking up with his girlfriend Annie Hall, neurotic comedian Alvy Singer goes on a stream of conciousness journey through his memories of their relationship, trying to find out what caused them to part ways. He often breaks the fourth wall, speaking to the camera, entering peoples' stories, and even using animation. Written by rmlohner


Dead Poetís Society (1989)
English professor John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day. Painfully shy Todd Anderson has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil, although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and are changed for life. Written by Liz Jordan {c9310494@alinga.newcastle.edu.au}

Top Ten Triumph Over Adversity
Inspirational Movies.

Most of these inspirational movies were based on true stories and true events. The ones that arenít make us wish the stories could have been true.

Life is beautiful / La vita Ť bella (1997)

In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish book keeper named Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand prize for winning is a tank. A truly inspirational movie.

All the Presidentís Men (1976)

In the run-up to the 1972 elections, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward covers what seems to be a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National headquarters. He is surprised to find top lawyers already on the defense case, and the discovery of names and addresses of Republican fund organizers on the accused further arouses his suspicions. The editor of the Post is prepared to run with the story and assigns Woodward and Carl Bernstein to it. They find the trail leading higher and higher in the Republican Party, and eventually into the White House itself. Written by Jeremy Perkins {jwp@aber.ac.uk}


Norma Rae (1979)

Norma Rae is a lively, but dependable, wife and mother in an Alabama mill town. Like her father, her mother and most of her friends, she works at the Henley mill, spinning and weaving cloth as the days go by without much apparent purpose. Her "nothing special" life changes when she and her coworkers meet Reuben, a dedicated, smart-mouthed labor organizer down from New York to teach the Henley crew about solidarity in a place where workers and owners alike think "union" and "trouble" are synonymous. Written by Mike Rogers {MICHAELPEM@aol.com}. This inspirational movie applauds the spirit of the worker and reminds us we do have power to create change in our lives.


Schindlerís List (1993)

Oskar Schindler uses Jews to start a factory in Poland during the war. He witnesses the horrors endured by the Jews, and starts to save them. The true story of Oscar Schindler, a German businessman who owns a factory. He witnesses the horrifying visions of the Holocaust and the toll it takes on the Jewish people. Eventually, he creates a list of over 1100 Jews whom he saves from death. Written by David Landers {dml@gwis.com}


Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. Andy Dufresne is a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940's, the film shows how Andy, with the help of his friend Red, the prison entrepreneur, turns out to be a most unconventional prisoner. Written by Martin Lewison {milst1@cislabs.pitt.edu}

Ghandi (1982)

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest. A remarkable man and an inspirational movie that shows his life in a very personal and beautiful way.


The Killing Fields (1984)
A photographer is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's bloody "Year Zero" cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million "undesirable" civilians. Sydney Schanberg is a New York Times journalist covering the civil war in Cambodia. Together with local representative Dith Pran, they cover some of the tragedy and madness of the war. When the American forces leave, Dith Pran sends his family with them, but stays behind himself to help Schanberg cover the event. As an American, Schanberg won't have any trouble leaving the country, but the situation is different for Pran; he's a local, and the Khmer Rouge are moving in. Written by Murray Chapman {muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au}

Philadelphia (1993)

When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his conservative law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller. During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case before AIDS overcomes him. Written by Geoffrey A. Middleton {gamidd01@morehead-st.edu}


Milk (2008)
The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official. This inspirational movie makes you wish you had been a part of these events.



Chariots of Fire (1981)

This inspirational movie tells the story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the son of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society. In a warmup 100 meter race, Eric defeats Harold, who hires a pro trainer to prepare him. Eric, whose qualifying heat is scheduled for a Sunday, refuses to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee. A compromise is reached when a nobleman allows Eric to compete in his 400 meter slot. Eric and Harold win their respective races and go on to achieve fame as missionary and businessman/athletic advocate, respectively. Written by Joe Jurca

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