Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do

Are you a movie buff? Here are some must-watch inspiring films to motivate you to be a bigger and better person than you already are!

Updated 04 Jun 2019

Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - Feature-Image

Movies are a great source of entertainment (who doesn’t love some eye candy in the form of Chris Hemsworth in Thor), but they can also be deeply inspiring and spur us to become better versions of ourselves too.

So if you’re a movie buff, grab some popcorn and sit tight as we take you through a list of movies that will change the way you see the world, and galvanise you into taking action to do better in life.

#1. Ola Bola

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 1 Ola Bola

Based on a true story, Ola Bola tells the tale of how the Malaysian national football team rose to fame by qualifying for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Besides the underlying message of the importance of teamwork, hard work, perseverance and overcoming social issues, Ola Bola also portrays the players’ love for their country. You’ll definitely be bursting with Malaysian pride after this uplifting movie!

#2. Freedom Writers

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 2 Freedom Writers

Erin Gruwell is a high school teacher posted to teach a classroom of troubled teens. Despite the disapproval from her fellow teachers and husband, she attempts to change the lives of her students and encourages them to start journalling, ultimately compiling their entries and naming it The Freedom Writers Diary.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Erin exhibits traits such as drive, passion and patience in her work, which results in her successfully transforming her troubled students for the better. While her success did not happen overnight, this tells us that it pays to go the extra mile and to be patient for the results. While nothing comes easy, having grit will help us achieve our goals and overcome our problems.

#3. Dead Poet’s Society

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Released in 1989, Robin Williams’ character is a teacher at a private school for boys who adopts unconventional teaching methods for his students, including encouraging them to stand on tables to look at the world from a different perspective and to never conform to society’s idea of “normal”.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Dead Poet’s Society tells us to stand by our beliefs, even if it differs from others, to set our own goals and to follow that path before it’s too late.

“Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is, one day, going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.” — Prof. John Keating

#4. Drumline

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After being offered a full scholarship to attend a university famed for its marching band, Devon Miles, a young and cocky college freshmen, is determined to prove himself despite not being able to read music. Despite his talent, Devon gets kicked out of the band due to his poor behaviour but eventually learns to redeem himself by making things right again.

Why it’s so inspiring:

This movie highlights the metamorphosis Devon undergoes, from a brash, young man who is eager to rise to the top and showcase his talent, to someone who learns to respect his leaders, instead of undermining them. Similarly, in life, it’s important to do some self-reflection to learn from our mistakes and grow from the experience. Talent alone is insufficient for us to succeed, but qualities such as patience, self-reliance and drive can take us far in life.

#5. Hidden Figures

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 5 Hidden Figures

Gender and racial discrimination in the early 1950s may have been the norm, but that didn’t stop 3 African-American mathematicians from playing a key role in NASA’s first mission to send an astronaut into space despite being women and people of colour.

Why it’s so inspiring:

The film features women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field who shatter misconceptions that women (especially women of colour) aren’t intelligent and talented enough to work for NASA. The determination and emotional strength exhibited by them in the face of racism and sexism teaches us about the importance of pursuing your goals and never giving up on your dream even in the face of hardships.

#6. The Theory of Everything

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 6 The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything may be about the life of great physicist Stephen Hawking, but the movie goes beyond explaining science to its audience. Instead, it focuses on the slow development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in Stephen, and his personal and professional journey throughout the movie.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Although faced with the possibility of death, if not long-term suffering, Stephen refocused his prodigal brain to the one thing he enjoys the most — physics. He chooses to spend his time in this world to make important scientific discoveries that are still being used today, and has never allowed ALS to hamper his research and theories — mind over matter!

#7. The Man Who Knew Infinity

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Inspired by Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity tells the tale of a poor man from India gaining admittance to Trinity College at Cambridge despite lacking physical writing proofs of his mathematical genius. Encouraged by his professor, Srinivasa’s mathematical theories have been published and are still being used to this day.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Through hard work, determination and grit, Srinivasa proves himself to be the mathematical inspiration that he is. He also overcomes racial discrimination from his peers and professors in university, and gains recognition for his work, proving that your background doesn’t determine your intelligence.

#8. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 8 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Set during World War II, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is told from the perspective of a young boy whose family is relocated because of his father’s promotion in the army. In his new home, Bruno befriends another young boy, Shmuel, from the “farm” behind his house albeit surrounded by an electric fence. Bruno regularly visits Shmuel who reveals that he and his fellow “farmworkers” are Jews imprisoned in a camp.

Why it’s so inspiring:

This story is shown from the innocent eyes of an 8-year-old who has been shielded from the disturbing ongoings in Europe where the Jews were persecuted by the Nazis. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas implores us to question issues such as racial discrimination, and what we can learn from the innocence of children and their unbiased friendship that transcends religious and racial barriers.

#9. Legally Blonde

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 9 Legally Blonde

Inspiring movies don’t always have to be serious or broody!

Legally Blonde is a comedy surrounding Elle Woods, an American sorority girl who has it all — she’s popular, beautiful, a natural blonde and wears a lot of pink clothes. Breaking out of the “dumb blonde” stereotype, Elle enrols into Harvard University after her boyfriend breaks up with for not fitting in with his political aspirations.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Besides breaking stereotypes, the movie highlights Elle’s motivation and determination to stay ahead of her peers and professors while staying true to herself. Elle does right by people despite not always being accepted for her colourful personality, showing us that we can still succeed in life while staying true to ourselves.

#10. The Blind Side

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The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless youth who was adopted by a well-to-do family. His adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, pushes him to excel even though he was discouraged to the point of giving up. Ultimately, he blossoms to become an athletically and academically successful NFL prospect.

Why it’s so inspiring:

There are many life lessons in this movie, including how showing compassion to a person in need can change their life for the better, and the importance of helping others, regardless of the recipient’s history, skin colour or capabilities. Sometimes, a little help goes a long way.

#11. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 11 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

The Lorax is about 12-year-old Ted Wiggins, who lives in Thneedville, a town devoid of real greenery and where everything is made of plastic, metal and synthetics. His quest to find a “real tree” for his crush leads him to explore the world and learn about the history of trees to satisfy his curiosity.

Why it’s so inspiring:

The movie discusses environmentalism, and explores the dangers of rapid industrialisation and the effects of greed in a capitalist society.

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#12. WALL-E

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 12 WALL-E

Pixar’s WALL-E is about the life of a lonely robot tasked to clear the trash on Earth, long after humans abandoned the planet. He then falls in love with a probe, EVE, that was sent to check for life on Earth. WALL-E’s feelings for EVE leads him to follow her across the galaxy.

Why it’s so inspiring:

This movie implores us to think about the irreversible effects of our negative actions towards the environment, and how Earth can potentially look like in the future if we don’t take action to protect it now. It also teaches us that life becomes more meaningful when we have friends and loved ones to share our moments with, and of the importance of protecting that relationship.

#13. Pay It Forward

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 13 Pay it forward

In this day and age where people are living individualistic lifestyles, we often forget that our actions can have an effect on others. Pay It Forward shows 11-year-old Trevor McKinney whose 3 random acts of kindness set a domino effect when he asks those who have been on the receiving end of a person’s good deed to do the same for 3 other people.

Why it’s so inspiring:

This film highlights how even the smallest gestures can affect the lives of others. By treating people kindly, you’ll never know how you have impacted their day, or even their life.

#14. Slumdog Millionaire

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 14 Slumdog Millionaire

Growing up in the slums of Mumbai, India didn’t stop young Jamal Malik from becoming a participant in the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? where he manages to answer each question correctly, much to everyone’s surprise. Suspected of cheating, he is questioned by the police but was let go when there wasn’t enough evidence against him.

Why it’s so inspiring:

A simple man whose life experiences have led him to the present shows us that life is a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs. Despite that, he found contentment by living in the moment and by never asking for more or less, something which we could all take from.

#15. Hacksaw Ridge

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 15 Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond Doss enlists in the army as a combat medic following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour but refuses to handle firearms because of his beliefs. This causes his unit members to subject him to gruelling tasks while he was also beaten by his fellow comrades.

Why it’s so inspiring:

The lead character demonstrates courage and an unshakeable belief in himself and in his stance to avoid using firearms despite being incarcerated for his actions. Despite that, he goes on to save countless of lives without even handling a gun. This movie shows us that we might suffer consequences when exercising our courage. However, if it’s the right thing to do, it becomes important to stand up for your values.

#16. Talentime

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A secondary school teacher organises a talent search competition for students, in which main character Melur auditions for. Throughout the movie leading up to the day of the contest, the characters are faced with situations that cause them pain and emotional turmoil.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Talentime explores the emotional hardships faced by secondary school students, and how they persevere through it. Similarly, in life, we’re bound to face hardships but what’s important lies in how we overcome them and learn from the experience.

“As humans, we have to go through a lot of pain and some measure of suffering before we can reach greater heights.” — Yasmin Ahmad on Talentime

#17. The Soloist

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 17 The Soloist

Nathaniel Ayers, a successful musician, develops schizophrenia and becomes homeless but is discovered in a hospital by a journalist named Steve Lopez. Enthralled, Steve decides to get the musician’s story out to the world, only to be met with a series of complications. This leads him to extend a helping hand to the musician.

Why it’s so inspiring:

The Soloist addresses how the actions of one man can turn another person’s life around by simply believing in himIn the words of German writer Johann Woflgang Von Goethe, “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

#18. Holes

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 18 Holes

Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Stanley Yelnats IV is accused of stealing a pair of sneakers. Instead of going to jail, he opts for a juvenile detention camp at a dried-up lake where he and the other juveniles are made to dig holes every day to “build character”. The comedy also features a series of flashbacks featuring Stanley’s paternal side of the family, including how they have been “cursed” with bad luck for generations.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Holes features a family’s constant perseverance and determination to move forward in life despite their family “curse”; friendships forged in the most unusual circumstances; and facing racial discriminations and the importance of overcoming them.

#19. 42

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 19 42

42 is about the racial divide in American baseball, faced by the first professional African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson, who wore the jersey number 42 throughout his Major League career.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Although presented with racial discrimination for being a person of colour, Jackie was determined to play ball, silencing the naysayers and gaining the respect of his teammates. Similarly in life, we might encounter various discriminations. However, it’s important to rise above the negativity and maintain our focus towards achieving our goals.

#20. Soul Surfer

Feeling Demotivated? Here Are 20 Movies That Will Inspire You to Get Up and Do - 20 Soul Surfer

The movie is based on a true story about a 13-year-old surfer whose arm was bitten off by a shark while surfing, along with her journey to recovery. Throughout the movie, Bethany Hamilton proves that a disability doesn’t hinder her love for surfing and helps others come to terms with their fears as well.

Why it’s so inspiring:

Soul Surfer addresses a girl’s determination to surf again. In her plight, she also helps others overcome their fear along with her own, which helps her to compete in surfing competitions again. So if you’ve recently suffered a setback in life, be sure to channel your focus and energy towards something positive as it will influence where you end up in life!

If you ever find yourself feeling like your life has little meaning and that you can’t make an impact on the world in your lifetime, remember that small actions can go a long way towards making you a better person. Just like the characters in these movies, you may encounter failures from time to time, and the fruits of your labour will not always be immediate, but the exhilaration that comes from within is ever-rewarding.

Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to help others? Here are 14 ways you can be a superhero!

Caught a movie that is equally as inspiring? Share them with us in the comments below!

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.