Walter Mitty

(Photo by @ Fox/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: 20th Century Fox Film Corp)

22 Most Inspirational Movies

A new year can represent opportunity for new hopes and resolutions, and movies have the gift to inspire that personal change. If you’re eager to turn the page on 2021, here’s 22 of the most inspirational movies to charge your 2022.

Diet and exercise are always high contenders on new year’s resolutions lists, and movies like Brittany Runs a Marathon or Chariots of Fire will get you in motion. There are movies for getting in touch with inner hope (The Shawshank Redemption) and your roots (Lion), along with picking up new skills (Julie & Julia) and rekindling determination (Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures). And those entering 2021 with open hearts ought to seek out Wild and Groundhog Day. And some movies guide us through trauma and disaster, like Life of Pi, and Soul Surfer.

If it’s a new year, it’s a new you: Here’s 22 movies to inspire your 2022. Alex Vo

#1

A Beautiful Mind (2001)
74%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82778%
Critics Consensus: The well-acted A Beautiful Mind is both a moving love story and a revealing look at mental illness.
Synopsis: A human drama inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., and in part based on the... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 99421%
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

#3

The Bucket List (2007)
41%

#3
Adjusted Score: 48341%
Critics Consensus: Not even the earnest performances of the two leads can rescue The Bucket List from its schmaltzy script.
Synopsis: Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#4

Chariots of Fire (1981)
83%

#4
Adjusted Score: 91803%
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

#5

Chef (2014)
87%

#5
Adjusted Score: 94136%
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

#6

Forrest Gump (1994)
71%

#6
Adjusted Score: 76887%
Critics Consensus: Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.
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

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 100037%
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

#8

Groundhog Day (1993)
97%

#8
Adjusted Score: 102934%
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

#9

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 118031%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#10

The Intouchables (2011)
76%

#10
Adjusted Score: 81003%
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]

#11

Julie & Julia (2009)
78%

#11
Adjusted Score: 86697%
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

#12

Last Holiday (2006)
55%

#12
Adjusted Score: 59968%
Critics Consensus: Although Queen Latifah's bountiful life-affirming spirit permeates the film, director Wayne Wang is unable to revive this remake with any real flair.
Synopsis: The discovery that she has a terminal illness prompts introverted saleswoman Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) to reflect on what she... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Wang

#13

Life of Pi (2012)
86%

#13
Adjusted Score: 97467%
Critics Consensus: A 3D adaptation of a supposedly "unfilmable" book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible -- it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding.
Synopsis: After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#14

Lion (2016)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 101358%
Critics Consensus: Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.
Synopsis: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home... [More]
Directed By: Garth Davis

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 74588%
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

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 76869%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#17

Rocky (1976)
91%

#17
Adjusted Score: 97571%
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

#18
Adjusted Score: 59236%
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

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 96101%
Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.
Synopsis: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#20

Soul Surfer (2011)
46%

#20
Adjusted Score: 48847%
Critics Consensus: There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese.
Synopsis: A natural talent in the sport of surfing, teenager Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses an arm in a shark attack.... [More]
Directed By: Sean McNamara

#21

Wild (2014)
88%

#21
Adjusted Score: 99821%
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

#22

Yes Man (2008)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 52310%
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