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21 Inspirational Movies That Every Student Must Watch

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Traditional classroom teaching alone cannot motivate every student. Given that children love entertainment, inspirational movies are an effective and easy medium to motivate them.

If you are a teacher or a parent, you might understand this very well. It is essential for students to feel affection towards learning.

It is not difficult to screen a movie today. We have smart classrooms with projectors and screens. Here are some good inspirational, educational Hollywood & Bollywood movies that can motivate students from schools and colleges alike. These teach students the value of hard work and proper education.

Here is our list of best inspirational movies of all time for students:

1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

IMDb rating – 8.3/10

Cast & Crew: Good Will Hunting boasts an illustrious cast including Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Stellan Skarsgard. This American film was written by Affleck and Matt Damon while it was helmed by Gus Van Sant.

Story: Matt Damon played the title role of a 20-year old young man. The hero is gifted with high potential in mathematics and chemistry but doesn’t realize what his potential can offer.

The film will inspire students to discover hidden talents they have.

IMDb rating –7.6/10

Cast & Crew: Starring Denzel Washington, “The Great Debaters” is an inspirational American movie movie released in 2007. It was directed by Denzel Washington himself and its producer was Oprah Winfrey.

Story: It is based on an article written about the Wiley College debate team.

Thinking of teaching or training others? This movie is the dramatic retelling of the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor who inspired his students to challenge Harvard at the debating championships.

This is a heart-warming tale to lift the study spirits of the students, especially if they have been inspired at some point by a wonderful teacher who saw their potential.

2. Lean on Me (1989)

IMDb rating –7.4/10

Cast & Crew: Written by Michael Schiffer and stars Morgan Freeman, directed by John G. Avildsen.

Story: Do you need a second chance at study or your career?

Based on a true story, Lean on Me is a dramatized biographical film An unorthodox teacher returns to the idyllic high school from which he had been fired as the principal, only to find it devoid of the success it used to be.

This movie will help build you up and get you through that pile of study! There is nothing like a true story to really lift your spirits.

3. The Paper Chase (1973)

IMDb rating –7.2/10

Cast & Crew: Directed by James Bridges, The Paper Chase is an inspirational Hollywood movie starring Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, and John Houseman.

Story: Sometimes study does not come easily – often we need to learn to “set the mode”.

The Paper Chase focuses on the hardworking and studious James T. Hart who faces many challenges during his first year at Harvard. The movie is perfect for anyone struggling and finding it difficult to keep the motivation alive.

4. 21 (2008)

IMDb rating –6.8/10

Cast & Crew: 21 is a 2008 American movie directed by Robert Luketic starring Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey.

Story: The film is inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team as told in Bringing Down the House, the best-selling book by Ben Mezrich.

There is a typical situation: a talented student entered Harvard University, but he has to demonstrate his unique experience no other students have in order to get a scholarship.

Taking into account the fact that last year this scholarship was won by a student from Korea who had no leg, this task appears to be not easy at all. But the student is lucky to meet a math teacher who has noticed his talent to count and offered an unusual deal to him…
If you don’t know what to write in your motivation letter for all professors to notice you, this movie is a real must-watch for you then.

5. Forrest Gump (1994)

IMDb rating – 8.8/10

Cast & Crew: Directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks

Story: This Tom Hanks movie tells the inspiring story of a man with low IQ who achieves many incredible feats. He wins the Medal of Honor for bravery, becomes an expert Ping Pong player, inspires the famous dance of Elvis Presley, and makes money by selling shrimps.

It is a truly inspirational story that every student should watch. The movie conveys that nothing is impossible if you are willing enough. There is a famous in the movie – “ Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get”

6. Theory of Everything (2014)

IMDb rating –7.7/10

Cast & Crew: James Marsh directed this movie starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones

Story: This Movie depicts the story of Stephen Hawking, the greatest cosmologist and physicist of our time. As a brilliant student of Astrophysics, he shockingly learns that he is suffering from motor neurone disease. Doctors predict just 2 more years for him to live.

But, he remarkably defied medical calculations and went on to live up to 76 years of age. During this period he became the famous man he is today with his eminent contributions to the world of Cosmology and Physics.
This movie is inspirational for all students, especially ones with special needs. There simply isn’t a boundary for what you can achieve with what you have.

7. 42 (2013)

IMDb rating –7.5/10

Cast & Crew: This Brian Helgeland helmed movie featured Chadwick Aaron Boseman in the lead role also starring Harrison Ford.

Story: This inspirational sports drama portrays the real life story of America’s baseball icon Jackie Robinson. He was the first Black player to feature in the Major League in the Modern Era.

The movie can teach students a lot about racism that was in practise in the USA. It can help students understand how difficult it can be to overcome challenges and why they should persevere.

8. The Social Network (2010)

IMDb rating –7.7/10

Cast & Crew: “The Social Network” is an American drama movie written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher in 2010. Jesse Eisenberg depicted facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg while Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield played supporting roles

Story: This Inspirational Hollywood movie shows the journey of Mark Zuckerberg from a Harvard student to a multi-millionaire is really an inspiring one for everyone; it might inspire you to become an awesome genius like the man himself. The Social Network, tells that every student can turn their dream into reality.

9. The Breakfast Club (1985)

IMDb rating –7.7/10

Cast & Crew: It’s an American comedy drama directed, written and produced by John Hugges in 1985.

Story: This movie is about how 5 students from different backgrounds end up together for a detention and open up to each other.

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The Breakfast Club shows that students can find friendship in the most unexpected ways. Regarded as an evergreen teen cult movie, it is a must watch for every student.

10. Freedom Writers(2007)

IMDb rating –7.6/10

Cast & Crew: This movie was directed by Richard LaGravenese and featured Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey

Story: “Freedom Writers” is an inspirational movie based on a young teacher who inspires her troublesome class to pursue studies even after high school. She has to contend with at-risk students who are divided among themselves, opposing teachers, struggling marriage and money shortage.

Students who watch this movie are bound to see their teachers in a new light.

11. Life of Pi (2012)


IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

Cast and Crew: Released in the year 2012, this movie directed by Ang Lee features both Indian and foreign actors. The film stars Suraj Sharma as Pi, Irfan Khan, Tabu, Rafe Spall, and Gerard Depardieu. The film won many awards at premiere film festivals around the world. It won the Golden Globe awards for the Best Director and Best Picture – Drama.

The Story: The plot of the movie revolves around the life of Pi Patel, a 16-year-old born a Hindu but follows all three religions for the love of God. The film talks of the boy’s life story as rendered to a novelist about how he survived a shipwreck and marooned in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger for companionship on a lifeboat.

The film will teach students how to realize hidden strengths when pushed to a corner.

12. Stand and Deliver(1988)

IMDb rating –7.9/10

Cast & Crew: Directed by Ramón Menéndez, starring Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Will Gotay and Vanessa Marquez

Story: This movie is based on the real story of a high school mathematics teacher named Jaime Escalante.

It shows how an idealistic maths teacher supports his “no-hoper” students to study by adopting unusual teaching methods. “Stand and Deliver” is really an inspirational movie for those who think they are hopeless in their studies.

13. Rush (2013)

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Cast and Crew: Written by Peter Morgan and directed by Ron Howard, the movie stars Chris Helmsworth and Daniel Bruhl. Produced on a budget of 38 million USD, the film is a racy one which won the BAFTA Award for Best Editing.

The Story:  The plot of the movie is centred around two F1 racers of the 1970s – James Hunt and NikiLauda who are intense rivals and how they stretch to their very limits to prove their supremacy on the tracks. The movie is for the driving buff with exhilarating race sequences on the screen.

Students can get a feel of the gruelling conditions during an F1 race and how the rivalry spurred the other to fine-tune their skills.

14. Boyhood (2014)

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

Cast and Crew: Written and directed by Richard Linklater, who is famous for his ‘Before’ trilogy, the movie stars Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater. The film was lauded for its extraordinary undertaking of being shot for over 12 years. The stars showed up and the film every year when their schedules allowed them to do so.

The Story: The unique point of this movie was that it was shot over a course of 12 years and renders the story of a boy’s life over 12 years’ time. Incidents that occur in MJ’s life when living with his mother after his parents’ divorce form the main part of the film. The film traces in all emotional depth the life of the boy during his teens. The film shows the poignant moments of fatherhood and motherhood as well.

The film provides a great chance for children to understand the happenings in their parents’ lives in the context of modern times.

15. The Blind Side(2009)

IMDb rating –7.7/10

Cast & Crew: The Blind Side is an American biographical sports drama film written & directed by John Lee Hancock in 2009. Sandra Bullock starred in the leading role.

Story: It is based on the real story of Michael Oher, who was adopted by a loving, supportive family – the Tuohys. Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband Sean offer him shelter for a day and extend their welcome indefinitely.

Leigh Anne discovers Michael’s strengths and helps him understand his strengths better. This, in turn, has a positive effect on his football skills. Finally, he becomes a successful football player, with strong support from the Tuohy family despite going through some rough patches.

Also Read: Top 12 Inspirational Animated Movies For Students

16. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

IMDb rating –7.7/10

Cast & Crew: Helmed by Gabriele Muccino, this biopic featured Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith as Chris Gardner and his son respectively.

Story: The Pursuit of Happyness is an American biographical drama film based on the life of entrepreneur Chris Gardner directed by Gabriele Muccino in 2006.

In this movie, Will Smith plays the role of Gardner who goes from being a homeless salesman to the owner of a brokerage house with his sheer determination and will power.

17.Warrior (2011)

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Cast and Crew: Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the movie stars Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, and Tom Hardy. Nick Nolte was nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

The Story: The film tells the story of two MMA champions who meet for a fight without knowing the fact that they are estranged brothers. The two brothers fight tournaments for different reasons and end up fighting one another. The brothers reconcile their differences in the end and the movie closes with the smiling shot of the father.

The film presents some great shots on MMA fighting with the major theme being reconciliation and redemption of the human spirit. The power of forgiveness and family bonds are well explored in the movie.

18. Half Nelson (2006)

IMDb rating –7.2/10

Cast & Crew: Half Nelson, is an American drama film directed by Ryan Fleck in 2006 and written by Anna Boden & Fleck. Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie played the lead roles.

Story: This movie focuses on an inner city middle-school teacher who becomes friends with one of his students after she finds out that he has a drug habit. As compared to other movies based on good teachers, Half Nelson tells the story of ordinary people facing genuine problems but still maintains hope.

19. The Internship(2013)

IMDb rating –7.2/10

Cast & Crew: It’s an American comedy movie, directed by Shawn Levy in 2013, written by Vince Vaughn & Jared Stern and it was produced by Vaughn and Levy.

Story: The Internship is about Billy and Nick, two middle-aged salesmen, played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, who lost their jobs due to the arrival of digital age and how they manage to get a chance to do internship with Google and prove their worth.

20. Everest (2015)

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Cast and Crew: This biographical adventure film was both produced and directed by BaltasarKormakur. The film was scripted by Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson. The movie stars Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, and Keira Knightley among others.

The Story: The story set in Everest and recounts the disaster that took place in the year 1996 in the mountain. Two expedition groups fight to survive as they are faced with difficulties during the climbing as well as the descent. The film portrays intense peril and the thrill of being able to view climbing up Everest.

The film shows, how in reality, things can go wrong, not in the way that one hopes and what is usually shown in happy-ending movies.

21. The Great Debaters (2007)

IMDb rating –7.6/10 

Cast & Crew: Starring Denzel Washington, “The Great Debaters” is an inspirational American movie movie released in 2007. It was directed by Denzel Washington himself and its producer was Oprah Winfrey.

Story: It is based on an article written about the Wiley College debate team.

Thinking of teaching or training others? This movie is the dramatic retelling of the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor who inspired his students to challenge Harvard at the debating championship

Also Read: 25 Motivational Movies For Students in Hindi

This is a heart-warming tale to lift the study spirits of the students, especially if they have been inspired at some point by a wonderful teacher who saw their potential.

Share your favorite inspirational movies with us in the comment section

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