The 40 Most Inspiring Movies You Can Stream Right Now
Baking banana bread, sharing memes, and learning new TikTok dances have helped countless people (us included) get through the chaos that is 2020. But let’s face it: Sometimes we need a little pick-me-up to lift our spirits—and indulging in that extra piece of dessert doesn’t always cut it. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up a few of the most inspiring movies that just might do the trick. From feel-good rom-coms (hello, Love Actually!) to underdog classics, here are a few inspiring movie titles that you can rent or stream right now.
Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) uses her telekinetic powers to confront her dysfunctional family and the most terrifying school principal. From Miss Trunchbull’s (Pam Ferris) comical tantrums to Matilda’s heartwarming moments with Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), the childhood favorite is sure to leave you smiling from ear to ear.
2. ‘Legally Blonde’
It’s hard not to love Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), what with her contagious optimism and her flawless sense of style. After getting into Harvard Law, Elle’s sole purpose is to win her ex-boyfriend back. But when he shuts her down and fails to take her seriously, Elle finds her motivation elsewhere and realizes her full potential.
3. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’
You’ll probably need to keep a few tissues handy for this one. A single dad, Chris Gardner (Will Smith), and his son are forced to deal with the harsh realities of homelessness as Chris tries to pursue a better life for them both.
When the kingdom of Arendelle is stuck in eternal winter, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) embark on a wild journey to break the spell, encountering trolls, snow monsters and the lovable Olaf (Josh Gad) along the way. For the record, very few things are as freeing as belting the words to “Let It Go” from the comfort of your couch.
5. ‘Ferris Bueller's Day Off’
The classic teen comedy follows class-cutting connoisseur Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to have one last skipping session before graduation by using a fake sick day. What better way to be reminded that it’s okay to let loose and have some fun once in a while?
6. ‘Queen of Katwe’
In Kampala, Uganda, 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) is presented with a rare opportunity to escape poverty after learning to become a skilled chess player. It’s a touching and powerful story with the simplest message: Don’t give up, no matter your circumstances.
7. ‘Good Will Hunting’
Meet Will Hunting (Matt Damon), the brilliant yet misguided young man who, with the help of a gifted therapist, finally gets out of his comfort zone and realizes his true potential. Might we add that Robin Williams is an absolute joy to watch in this classic?
8. ‘Hidden Figures’
Had it not been for three talented African-American women—Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—astronaut John Glenn wouldn't have made it into space. Though this film deals with serious topics, it's still got charm.
9. ‘Sister Act’
Fair warning: This could easily turn into a karaoke night if you already know the songs by heart. After Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) accidentally witnesses a murder, she's placed in protective custody, where she pretends to be a nun. But when she's assigned to lead the convent's choir, she challenges the status quo and turns them into a colorful, popular act.
On the surface, Cher (Alicia Silverstone) has it all: the social status, the looks and the kind of charm that gets her almost anything that she wants. But when the new transfer student, Tai, becomes more popular after her makeover, Cher learns that there's more to life than popularity.
11. ‘Love Actually’
Seeing an emotional Mark (Andrew Lincoln) declare his love for Juliet with giant poster cards just never gets old. Get your full dose of wit, charm and romance with this beloved holiday classic, which focuses on nine different love stories. (Did we mention that it features an impressive line-up of A-listers?)
12. ‘Always Be My Maybe’
It's got heart and humor with a dash of social commentary. In the film, after 15 years apart, exes Sasha and Marcus run into each other in San Francisco. They discover that there's still an attraction between them, but rekindling their old flame proves to be quite the challenge, considering their opposite lives.
13. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
As the present-day Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) answers questions on India's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, flashbacks of his dark past are revealed to show how he became a contestant. It's a great blend of feel-good comedy, romance and adventure (complete with a Bollywood musical number).
14. ‘Palm Springs’
Not only does it have a refreshing take on Groundhog Day, but it also highlights a love story that doesn't feel super cliche. When Nyles and Sarah find themselves reliving the same day after a random wedding encounter, their lives start to get a bit complicated.
15. ‘Remember the Titans’
When an all-black school integrates with an all-white school, causing the football teams to merge and be led by a black coach, racial tensions arise. Based on true events, this sports flick carries a life-changing message about equality and the importance of teamwork.
Two couples who have mixed feelings about giving birth decide to all share one baby as a compromise. And, of course, this turns out to be way more complicated than they expected. This film is a unique (and equally funny) take on modern parenting.
When Jordan (Regina Hall), a tyrannical businesswoman, has a bad encounter with a young girl, the kid proceeds to cast a spell on Jordan by having her turn into her 13-year-old self (Marsai Martin). Awkward flirting attempts, snappy comebacks, breadstick karaoke and an inspiring message ensue.
18. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’
Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is in for the surprise of a lifetime when she travels with her boyfriend to his home country of Singapore. After learning that he and his family are basically royalty, she's forced to deal with the spotlight and his unconventional relatives.
19. ‘13 Going On 30’
From all the '80s nostalgia to Jennifer Garner's adorable, wide-eyed innocence, this delightful rom-com will take you back to your own childhood days. When 13-year-old Jenna is granted her wish to be "30, flirty and thriving,” she magically wakes up on her 30th birthday and discovers that she has turned into a completely different person.
20. ‘The Truman Show’
Unbeknownst to Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), his entire life has been on full display via a live 24-hour TV show. The satirical comedy offers commentary on privacy and the media (which, interestingly enough, is still relevant today), while promoting a strong message: Always listen to your heart.
21. ‘Forrest Gump’
Despite childlike tendencies and a low IQ, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) leads a pretty full life, but challenges arise when it comes to his relationship with his childhood sweetheart. It's clever, it's sentimental and, overall, such a fun watch.
22. ‘Same Kind of Different as Me’
Based on a true story, Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) and his wife Deborah (Renée Zellweger) are inspired to save their struggling marriage after they cross paths with a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou).
23. ‘Life of Pi’
When a young teenager, Pi (Suraj Sharma), lives through a deadly storm, he soon realizes that he's not the only survivor. He develops an incredible bond with a Bengal tiger, who also braved the disaster. With its breathtaking visuals and complex themes, this film is a true classic.
24. ‘Inside Out’
A feel-good animated film that offers a refreshing (and realistic) take on important issues? Um, YES please. When Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) moves with her parents to San Francisco, her emotions (which happen to be her guide) start to get quite messy. You'll definitely go through a rollercoaster of emotions right along with Riley.
Moana (Auli'i Cravalho), a fearless teenager who's determined to save her people, embarks on a challenging quest to become a wayfinder, with the help of the mighty demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Moana is the personification of "you can do anything you put your mind to."
When an ex-wrestler fails to win the gold title for India, he later recognizes that there's potential in two of his daughters. This inspires him to train them both as wrestlers, with hopes that they will achieve what he himself couldn't. Who can say no to a feel-good Bollywood flick that inspires girls to fearlessly pursue traditionally male-dominated fields?
27. ‘Set It Up’
Two overworked assistants, Harper and Charlie, decide to play cupid with their bosses in hopes that it will make their jobs less stressful. It's a light-hearted comedy with cheesy meet-cutes (and as an added bonus, Lucy Liu does a stellar job of playing Miranda Priestly reincarnate).
28. ‘Coming to America’
Anyone else tempted to sing “She's your queen to be?” Akeem, a sheltered African prince, gets a major reality check and learns a lot about himself when he travels to America for his new bride. Clever one-liners, impressive celebrity cameos and the iconic 'Soul Glo' commercial are just a few reasons to watch this gem.
29. ‘To All the Boys I've Loved Before’
It's surprisingly satisfying to be a part of Lara Jean's world—even if it's just for an hour and 40 minutes. Based on Jenny Han's 2014 novel, the teen romance follows Lara, whose life spirals out of control when all the love letters to her past crushes get mailed out.
30. ‘The Lion King’
It'll take you back to your childhood days, when you didn't have to worry about things like long work days or paying bills. Relive Simba's inspiring journey from lost runaway to fearless king (and for the record, there's absolutely no shame in singing “Hakuna Matata” at the top of your lungs).
31. ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’
After getting bitten by a radioactive spider, teenager Miles Morales develops powers that turn him into Spiderman. But when he encounters Peter Parker, he discovers that there are different Spider-Men from alternate universes. The heartwarming scenes, brilliant animation and comic one-liners will definitely win you over.
32. ‘50 First Dates’
Anything that involves Adam Sandler is guaranteed to deliver some hearty laughs, but with this breezy rom-com, you can also expect some pleasant surprises. When Henry Roth falls for Lucy, a woman with no short-term memory, he realizes that he'll have to win her over every single day.
33. ‘The Proposal’
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds have such great chemistry in this film and, if you ask us, it's impossible not to root for their relationship to work out. In order to avoid getting deported, book editor Margaret convinces her assistant, Andrew, to pose as her fiancé. However, convincing immigration officials proves to be way harder than they expect.
34. ‘Back to the Future’
The sci-fi comedy still stands out as one of the most iconic films ever made, and it's easy to see why. When Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally time travels back to the '50s, he complicates things and risks changing his own future. Cringey mother-son kissing scene aside, you're up for quite the adventure.
35. ‘Dead Poets Society’
With his unique teaching methods, English professor John Keating (Robin Williams) encourages his students to take chances and to seize the day. Such wise words to live by.
36. ‘Black Panther’
T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has finally taken his rightful place on the throne as king of Wakanda, a vibrant and technologically advanced nation in Africa. But when an enemy comes to steal his title and put Wakanda at risk, he has to fight to protect his country. *Cue the “Wakanda Forever” salutes*
37. ‘Mary Poppins’
We can't be the only one who wished that we had a nanny as fun as Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). The beloved nanny proves to be a breath of fresh air when she starts working for an uptight family.
38. ‘The Miracle Season’
Based on the true story of the Iowa City West High School volleyball team, West Valley High's all-girl squad works hard to win the state championship after losing their best player in a sudden accident.
39. ‘School of Rock’
Dewey Finn (Jack Black) may be the definition of a slacker, but he sure has a knack for inspiring his students to reach their full musical potential. Who's ready to rock?
40. ‘Home Alone’
Although the premise is wildly far-fetched, it's by far one of the most entertaining holiday classics to this day. And underneath all the intricate schemes and feel-good humor, there are definitely some important life lessons (such as the biggest don'ts of parenting).