18 Inspirational Movies To Watch On Netflix In 2020

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18 Inspirational Movies To Watch On Netflix In 2020

We all need a little feel-good moment these days.

The world is so filled with things that bring us down and make us feel hopeless. But humans are powerful entities with the ability to persevere through even the most challenging moments in life.

Nothing demonstrates this better than an uplifting film that reminds us of our strengths. 

The art of film has a unique ability to move us, causing us to laugh, cry and even get angry. But it also has the power to motivate us, and leaves us with a lasting impression that makes us feel inspired long after the credits roll.

These 18 movies inspirational movies on Netflix will prompt you to push for self-acceptance and greatness in your own life.

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They’re perfect for a movie night at home — and all you need is a Netflix login!

1. Moonlight

Moonlight is a raw, emotional coming-of-age film told in 3 acts. It avoids the shiny sentimentality of other Hollywood films and, instead, shows the gritty reality of finding joy, love, and life in seemingly hopeless circumstances.

It’s the kind of film you could watch on mute just to enjoy the aesthetic alone. It follows a main character in his youth, adolescence, and adult life as he navigates an abusive childhood, and develops an understanding of his identity and sexuality.

2. The Theory Of Everything

Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of the incredible Stephen Hawkins rightfully won him a Best Actor Academy Award.

The famed physicist, grappling with a motor neuron disease, defied all odds to make revolutionary scientific discoveries. The film follows his career, marriage, and everything in between. 

3. Silver Linings Playbook

This is mental health as you’ve never seen it before. David O. Russel’s comedic masterpiece tracks two characters falling for one another while trying to overcome personal trauma.

The film is an unflinching look at family life and how our society combats, or fails to combat, mental illness. It's hilarious without mocking, and joyful without oversimplifying mental illness.

The message here is heartwarming: love and healing are constant processes, and when you fall you can always get back up again.

4. Living On One Dollar

This is a reality-style documentary film that follows 4 college students attempting to survive for 8 weeks in Guatemala on as little as $1 per day. It's estimated that over 1 billion people in the world are forced to live like this.

Throughout the experiment, the students face illness, parasites, unexpected expenses and the reality of living in poverty. But they also discover friendship and their own resilience along the way.

The film will confront you with your own privilege and remind you that you’re lucky to even own a Netflix account that enables you to watch this documentary. 

5. The Spectacular Now

Cast in the early stages of their careers, this film is an opportunity to see Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, and Brie Larson before they became household names.

It’s rare that dramas about young people actually capture teenage years outside of the patronizing lens of adult screenwriters or filmmakers, but this film, based on the Tim Tharp novel of the same name, does just that.

It follows a destructive alcoholic teen falling for an introverted girl. It will tug at your heartstrings and leave you looking through old photos of your senior year summer before college.

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6. The Martian

Abandoned and assumed dead, an astronaut struggles to survive on Mars and make a connection with home. Matt Damon plays this NASA astronaut as he attempts to make life on Mars and fight for survival.

It might be a futuristic imagination, but the film resonates with present-day audiences in its ability to represent our relationship with our mortality. Survival instincts are a powerful force that can keep us going in the most challenging of times. 

7. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor makes his directorial debut in this astonishing true story of a 13-year-old boy who is forced to leave school after his parents fall behind on payments. In a fight for survival, he sets out to save his Malawian village from famine.

The film is both tender and poignant, capturing childhood innocence against a backdrop of poverty and struggle. If you have a kid who’s always complaining about school, sit them down with this film so they can see that education is a blessing. 

8. Spotlight

Spotlight is among the best films on Netflix due to its star-studded cast and emotional plot.

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams are part of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team who bravely exposed a child sex abuse scandal perpetrated by Catholic priests in Boston.

Steeped in cover-ups and conspiracies, it tells a story of abuse by those in power and the resilience of those determined to end this violence. It reminds us of the power of the media when used for good, and the bravery of the survivors who took on their abusers. 

9. The Fundamentals Of Caring

This Netflix original stars Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, and Craig Roberts as an unlikely trio on a journey of self-discovery.

Roberts plays Trevor, a teen suffering from muscular dystrophy who is in the care of Rudd, when they encounter misfit teen, Dot, played by Gomez.

The story is a light-hearted, soul-warming story of letting go and loving freely. It’s full of laughs, and a few tears, so it will definitely leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. 

10. Zootopia

An animated Disney film might seem like an unlikely entry to this list, but this one isn’t what it seems.

In a world without humans, a spunky country bunny takes on a life of law enforcement in a big city she's unfamiliar with. It's a compelling story about prejudice, racism, and xenophobia that can be enjoyed by adults and children.

In a world full of hate, it’s important to educate and empower our children from a young age so they are inspired to do what’s right as they grow up. 

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11. The King’s Speech

Colin Firth is King George VI, the father of the current Queen of England, who comes to power unexpectedly after his brother abdicates the throne. Thrust into power with little preparation, the King must overcome a lifelong speech impediment.

The film cleaned up the Academy Awards in 2011 after 12 Oscar nominations, taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. It’s a surprisingly hilarious tale of determination, hard work, and the value of believing in yourself.

12. The Pursuit Of Happyness 

A father struggles with homelessness while raising his young son in emotional rollercoaster, based on Chris Gardner‘s eponymous memoir. It's probably Will Smith’s best performance, made all the more natural and raw by his co-star and real-life son, Jaden Smith.

The film earned Smith an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. It's a tale of resilience and the strength of a father-son bond.

If you’ve seen it before, watch it again. This is one that needs to be played on loop.

13. The Pearl Of Africa

This riveting documentary demonstrates the joys and hardships of the trans and LGBTQ community in Africa.

It follows Cleopatra Kambugu, a Ugandan woman who makes the courageous decision to live openly as a trans woman, despite the incredible hostile attitude towards the LGBT community and rampant transphobia present across the country.

14. Steve Jobs

There’s a good chance you’re reading this article on a device designed by the man at the center of this biopic!

This film hones in on 3 crucial points in Jobs’ career and captures the fearlessness of the man who reshaped technology as we know it. Michael Fassbender plays the visionary tech-giant and captures the complexities of what was going on behind the scenes at 3 famous product launches. 

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15. The Shawshank Redemption

This is arguably one of the greatest films in history and was a welcome addition to Netflix.

Within the walls of a prison, Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman) strike up a friendship that keeps them going through dark times. Their bond becomes an unlikely source of hope that pushes them in search of better days.

Full of plot twists and revelations, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat and gives you one of the best, hard-earned endings of all time.

16. Lion

This one is what you might refer to as a “good cry.” 

Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara tell the true story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian family. After getting lost on a train, he cannot make his way back to his family.

Twenty-five years later, he sets out to find his birth family using only vague memories and Google maps. It's a turbulent story of a love that stretches for miles and an identity lost. It's both heart-wrenching and deeply comforting. 

17. The Impossible


When a tsunami hits Southeast Asia on Christmas in 2004, a British family on holiday is swept violently through the current. Separated from each other and their young children, Maria and Henry must fight for their own lives and that of their children.

It's a harrowing watch as the family swim through rubble and devastation, in search of safety.

18. To The Bone

Lily Collins is mesmerizing in her portrayal of Ellen, a 20-year-old suffering from anorexia nervosa. The film unflinchingly portrays the inner workings of the mind when grappling with body dysmorphia.

Ellen struggles with her illness and personal relationships, making it as much a film about growing up as it is about an eating disorder. It's devastating yet uplifting, and has many surprising moments of hilarity, thanks to the eclectic characters at a group home run by an unusual doctor. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.