(Photo by Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection)

24 Most Inspirational Movies

Whether it’s a new year or just time for a new you, here’s 24 of the most inspirational movies for 2024, to fill up your motivational watch list as you’re looking to become more active, make time for loved ones, learn new hobbies and skills, engender change at work, improve mental health, and travel more.


(Photo by Amazon Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO ENERGIZE HEALTHY HABITS

Fight Club is a Russian roulette of life lessons, but visualize on less the Pixies’ song part, and more on the part with Brad Pitt shirtless, on a chicken and broccoli diet. Brittany Runs a Marathon can’t be accused of false advertising. And Rocky and Chariots of Fire have been inspiring athletes and lay-folks since each winning Best Picture for 1976 and 1981, respectively.

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 97599%
Critics Consensus: Brittany Runs a Marathon is an earnest and hilarious dramedy that finally gives Jillian Bell a role worthy of her gifts.
Synopsis: A hard-partying woman receives a startling wake-up call when a visit to the doctor reveals how unhealthy she is. Motivated... [More]
Directed By: Paul Downs Colaizzo

#2

Chariots of Fire (1981)
83%

#2
Adjusted Score: 94495%
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, Chariots of Fire nevertheless makes effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#3

Fight Club (1999)
80%

#3
Adjusted Score: 89437%
Critics Consensus: Solid acting, amazing direction, and elaborate production design make Fight Club a wild ride.
Synopsis: A depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#4

Rocky (1976)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101409%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Synopsis: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen


(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO INSPIRE CAREER GOALS & SUCCESS

The cycle of employment is here: The Pursuit of Happyness is the job search, The Devil Wears Prada is about navigating the new position, Up in the Air is when you’re a veteran taking stock, and Office Space is when you start thinking of other (hopefully legal) opportunities.

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 82847%
Critics Consensus: A rare film that surpasses the quality of its source novel, this Devil is a witty expose of New York's fashion scene, with Meryl Streep in top form and Anne Hathaway more than holding her own.
Synopsis: Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a recent college graduate with big dreams. Upon landing a job at prestigious Runway magazine, she... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#2

Office Space (1999)
81%

#2
Adjusted Score: 85811%
Critics Consensus: Mike Judge lampoons the office grind with its inspired mix of sharp dialogue and witty one-liners.
Synopsis: Corporate drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his soul-killing job at software company Initech. While undergoing hypnotherapy, Peter is left... [More]
Directed By: Mike Judge

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 73988%
Critics Consensus: Will Smith's heartfelt performance elevates The Pursuit of Happyness above mere melodrama.
Synopsis: Life is a struggle for single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith). Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son... [More]
Directed By: Gabriele Muccino

#4

Up in the Air (2009)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101700%
Critics Consensus: Led by charismatic performances by its three leads, director Jason Reitman delivers a smart blend of humor and emotion with just enough edge for mainstream audiences.
Synopsis: An idea from a young, new co-worker (Anna Kendrick) would put an end to the constant travel of corporate downsizer... [More]
Directed By: Jason Reitman


(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH & HEART

Good Will Hunting, Groundhog Day, and Yes Man are about breaking out of mental shackles and chains that can hold one back, with The Big Lebowski revealing what achieving that elevated plane of existence might look like.

#1

The Big Lebowski (1998)
80%

#1
Adjusted Score: 92246%
Critics Consensus: The Big Lebowski's shaggy dog story won't satisfy everybody, but those who abide will be treated to a rambling succession of comic delights, with Jeff Bridges' laconic performance really tying the movie together.
Synopsis: Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Lebowski who insists on being called "the Dude," a laid-back, easygoing burnout who happens to have... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 103011%
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#3

Groundhog Day (1993)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 108431%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#4

Yes Man (2008)
46%

#4
Adjusted Score: 51968%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey's comic convulsions are the only bright spots in this otherwise dim and predictable comedy.
Synopsis: Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut with his negative ways. Then he goes to a self-help seminar... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed


(Photo by A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO REMIND YOU TO CHERISH THE MOMENTS

Family is at the core of Big Fish, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Click, with The Intouchables happy to report that you can find your family in the most unexpected places.

#1

Big Fish (2003)
75%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82635%
Critics Consensus: A charming father-and-son tale filled with typical Tim Burton flourishes, Big Fish is an impressive catch.
Synopsis: When Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) becomes ill, his son, William (Billy Crudup), travels to be with him. William has a... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#2

Click (2006)
34%

#2
Adjusted Score: 40806%
Critics Consensus: This Adam Sandler vehicle borrows shamelessly from It's A Wonderful Life and Back To The Future, and fails to produce the necessary laughs that would forgive such imitation.
Synopsis: Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) seems to have it all but his wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale), is increasingly frustrated by the... [More]
Directed By: Frank Coraci

#3
Adjusted Score: 115186%
Critics Consensus: Led by an outstanding Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once lives up to its title with an expertly calibrated assault on the senses.
Synopsis: Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, the film is a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action... [More]
Directed By: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

#4

The Intouchables (2011)
76%

#4
Adjusted Score: 80684%
Critics Consensus: It handles its potentially prickly subject matter with kid gloves, but Intouchables gets by thanks to its strong cast and some remarkably sensitive direction.
Synopsis: An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.... [More]


(Photo by Open Road Films/Courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO ENCOURAGE LEARNING A NEW SKILL

Becoming better a cooking is a frequently desired self-improvement, and Chef and Julie & Julia certainly illuminate the way. Learning an instrument (or adding to your repertoire) is another, and School of Rock and The Visitor will have you following and finding your rhythm.

#1

Chef (2014)
87%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95696%
Critics Consensus: Chef's charming cast and sharp, funny script add enough spice to make this feel-good comedy a flavorful -- if familiar -- treat.
Synopsis: After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#2

Julie & Julia (2009)
78%

#2
Adjusted Score: 87010%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Frustrated with a soul-killing job, New Yorker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) embarks on a daring project: she vows to prepare... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 99004%
Critics Consensus: Black's exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time.
Synopsis: Overly enthusiastic guitarist Dewey Finn (Jack Black) gets thrown out of his bar band and finds himself in desperate need... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#4

The Visitor (2007)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 94471%
Critics Consensus: The Visitor is a heartfelt, humanistic drama that deftly explores identity, immigration, and other major post-9/11 issues.
Synopsis: When professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) travels to New York for a lecture, he's stunned to find illegal immigrants Tarek... [More]
Directed By: Tom McCarthy


(Photo by Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection)

MOVIES TO MOTIVATE NEW ADVENTURES

Get your steps in, whether it’s converting your daydreaming sojourns into reality (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), getting out of town (The Truman Show), walking up and down the coast (Wild), or going overseas and making a little history (Forrest Gump).

#1

Forrest Gump (1994)
76%

#1
Adjusted Score: 87937%
Critics Consensus: Tom Hanks' rigorously earnest performance keeps Forrest Gump sincere even when it gets glib with American history, making for a whimsical odyssey of debatable wisdom but undeniable heart.
Synopsis: Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field),... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#2
Adjusted Score: 60967%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't lack for ambition, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty fails to back up its grand designs with enough substance to anchor the spectacle.
Synopsis: Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#3

The Truman Show (1998)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 104176%
Critics Consensus: A funny, tender, and thought-provoking film, The Truman Show is all the more noteworthy for its remarkably prescient vision of runaway celebrity culture and a nation with an insatiable thirst for the private details of ordinary lives.
Synopsis: He doesn't know it, but everything in Truman Burbank's (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#4

Wild (2014)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101365%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their respective powers.
Synopsis: Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée