“This is it. This is the day. The day I’m going to get things done.” 

Maybe these thoughts have crossed your mind before. You’re ready to start writing or building or creating something that you know will take you to the next level. Then somehow, as if swept up by a force of nature, an online listicle takes you down a rabbit hole and you end up watching a marathon of John Hughes movies instead.

Sound familiar? Then this list is for you. Yes, you want to accomplish things and become the best version of yourself. But you need an inspiration break first. These seven inspirational movies will help you visualize how good it feels to live up to your full potential. Just remember to watch them one at a time! You may need help tomorrow, too.

1. Pursuit of Happyness


Inspiring Quote: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

If you ever feel like giving up on your dream, this movie will stop you right in your tracks. The inspirational real life story of Christopher Gardner, an intern at a brokerage company—who is also homeless and caring for his 5 year old son—will have you fighting back tears. More importantly, it will put things into perspective. If Gardner kept working toward his dream while at times living out of a subway bathroom, you can make a few sacrifices on your journey toward a happier ending.

2. Jiro Dreams of Sushi


Inspiring Quote: “You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m eighty five years old, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s how I feel.”

This documentary takes you into the perfectly constructed world of Japanese sushi master, Jiro Ono. You may not be pursuing a career as a sushi chef, but the sheer will and purpose with which Jiro has built his life and career will take your breath away. He is a perfect representation of man’s quest to improve upon the self. Not for the money, not for the fame, but for the joy of doing something well. (On Netflix.)

3. Mulan


Inspiring Quote: “Look at me… I will never pass for a perfect bride. Or a perfect daughter. Can it be, I’m not meant to play this part? When will my reflection show who I am inside?”

This Disney classic will throw you back to a simpler time (1998). It’s also an inspiring tale of a teenage girl who doesn’t let her family expectations of who she should be stop her from becoming a straight-up hero. The path to fulfillment is hard, but the payoff is worth it. The greatest honor is having you for a daughter. (Enough said. (On Netflix.)

4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


Inspiring Quote: “All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for.”

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is a time-honored movie about an idealistic Washington newcomer who goes up against a corrupt political machine. It’s a must-see for those passionate about a political or civic cause. But beyond American political ideals, it’s about standing up for something you believe in even when the whole world is telling you not to. James Stewart demonstrates how invigorating it can feel to show your true idealistic colors. (On Netflix.)

5. Coco Before Chanel


Inspiring Quote: “I always knew I would be no one’s wife.”

This biopic explores the life of Coco Chanel before she built one of the biggest empires in fashion history. For a long time, the movie seems to be about Coco’s impossible love life. In fact, it is about a different kind of love affair: the one she had with fashion. Her path toward finding the courage to strike out on her own in a male-dominated field is inspiring. We learn through Coco that in order to live your vision, you can’t let anyone stand in your way. For those of you who know exactly who you want to become, Coco’s story will motivate you to persevere.

6. American Beauty


Inspiring Quote: “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.”

The opening narration in American Beauty reveals an important plot twist: the main character will die by the end of the movie. This one important detail turns pathetic Lester Burnham’s midlife crisis into a meaningful reflection on the American dream. As confused as his attempts to find happiness are, Lester takes ownership over his life for the first time in a long time. On his way, he discovers the beauty in the little things. His story cautions all of us not to let our lives pass us by without considering meaning.

7. Harold and Maude


Inspiring Quote: “Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

This 1970’s cult film explores the unexpected relationship between 19-year-old Harold and a 79-year-old Maude, and it’s full of surprisingly life-affirming moments. As Harold rediscovers the joy of living,  you’ll reflect on what really matters to you. Vibrant, unashamed Maude’s risk-taking spirit will inspire you brush off the haters on your path to finding your best self.  “Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves,” explains Maude. “You just can’t let the world judge you too much.”

Let us know if we missed any of your favorite inspirational movies in the comments!


Amanda Sol Peralta

Amanda is Live in the Grey's Editorial Specialist. She is a pop culture fanatic, social media baby and feeler of emojis. Tweet at her @amndsl.


  • Roseann

    This was a very inspring post and I thank you for it! Haven’t read about “Harold and Maude” in a long time and need to rewatch this flick.

  • Christian

    Vision Quest!

  • Jené

    I always love Good Will Hunting. There’s a lot of stuff going on in that movie, but the message of “take a risk, leave the safety net and cloaks you shroud yourself in behind and see how it goes,” always reminds me that I have the power to change the direction of my own life anytime, anywhere.

  • Rach

    Lovely post. Eric Brockovich is my inspiring movie. Whenever I watch this movie I feel like I can do anything, be anybody in this world and make my life matter.

  • The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

  • Samwello

    “The Social Network”. No?

    • I agree–although it’s a controversial choice. The movie portrays Zuckerberg’s personal life to be pretty sad, but his passion is still pretty admirable.

  • keli

    “The Big Kahuna” says it all, and more.
    Here’s a quote from it:
    “It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or ‘How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.’ That doesn’t make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are – just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore; it’s a pitch. And you’re not a human being; you’re a marketing rep. “

  • “As It Is In Heaven”. A great film about music, standing up for someone and finding your own inner voice.
    And it comes with a great soundtrack.


    Nice inspirational post, would like add a few of mine:
    JOBS the movie on Steve Jobs considering our era
    Social network
    Ultimate Gift
    Remember the Titans
    Slumdog millionaire quite did it for me, showing in practical terms that all things always work together for good, it’s only in retrospect we connect the dots. Life is perfect

  • I am so thankful to this post to share beautiful inspirational movies that I was looking for my team to watch and get motivated. The result is I am equally motivated and very eager to start watching every listed movie one by one from now.

  • David

    May I suggest ‘Million dollar baby’ and ‘Selma’.Million dollar baby has always been my favourite ever.A woman who tried her luck in the field dominated by men & even no other women in their rightful state of mind would want engaged themselves in it.Yet Magggie (the character) managed to prove that gender & age are nothing compared to her dreams. Though she died in the end, she died with all her dreams came true. I’ve never seen Selma but I know it is a must watch movie. It teaches us about fighting for what we believe in, courage and determination. There are a lot other magnificently inspiring movies, I.just couldn’t recall the movies right now. Sorry.

  • Joe

    What dreams may come

  • Shruti

    Peaceful Warrior …is a movie that inspired me greatly. It’s so complete with the message that in order to fulfill your dream, you need to be no less passionate abt your life than your dream.

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