15 Uplifting and Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now

15 Uplifting and Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now

Life can be hard sometimes. The stress of work or school, the pressures of family, or even the evening news is enough to make anyone feel down.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just launch Netflix and find an uplifting or inspiring movie to lift your spirits and make you feel better about everything?

Netflix hosts a massive library of movies, so in this article you’ll find the most recent offerings that’ll lift your mood and make you feel inspired.

  • Released: 2010
  • Rating: R
  • Director: Dan Rush
  • Stars: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace
  • IMDB Rating: 6.4/10

It shouldn’t surprise that a comedy would make this list. But it should come as even less of a surprise that one starring Will Ferrell would.

Will Ferrell plays salesman Nick Halsey is fired from his job after 16 years because of his ongoing issue with alcoholism. To make matters worse, when he arrives home he discovers that his wife has left him and locked him out of his own house.

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Most of the movie centers around Nick stubbornly camping out on his front lawn and enlisting the help of a neighborhood boy named Kenny to sell off his possessions. Through conversations with his new neighbor Samantha, we learn how Nick may not have been the terrible person we were led to believe.

The moral of the story in this uplifting movie is that however bad any moment in life may seem, those struggles could result in a better outcome and a more fulfilling life in the end.

  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken
  • IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio), this story details how in the 1960s, Frank managed to expertly forge checks to the tune of millions of dollars. In the process of spending money he didn’t actually have, Frank convinced everyone around him that he was a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and even an attorney.

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Pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanraty (Tom Hanks), Frank eventually comes face to face with the consequences of his actions at his check-printing factory in France. In the end, we learn that while your skills and knowledge could be put to nefarious purposes, you could instead do a great deal of good for the world in any circumstance.

  • Released: 2016
  • Rating: R
  • Director: Matt Ross
  • Stars: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler
  • IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

Ben Cash is an anti-capitalist who raised six children, with his wife, off the grid. They teach their children not only survival skills but also politics, philosophy, and far more than they ever would have learned in the school system.

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However, when Leslie dies, Ben and his children are faced with attending the funeral and Ben getting arrested for being an unfit parent or avoiding their mother’s funeral entirely.

This inspiring movie touches upon the bonds of a father, a mother, and their children. And it also teaches that sometimes taking an alternative path in life and appearing “different” may not be such a bad thing.

  • Released: 2016
  • Rating: PG
  • Director: David L. Hunt  
  • Stars: Neal McDonough, Leslie Easterbrook, Christopher Severio 
  • IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

Imagine being a kid who dreams of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but everyone says he is far too short and fat to play Division I football. Pursuing his dream against all odds, Brandon worked harder than any other player and transformed all doubts about him into respect and admiration.

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Just eleven days after getting drafted for the NFL, Brandon died in a car accident. This movie seeks to answer the question: How can such a terrible thing happen to such a good person with a promising future? The answers uncovered in this inspiring movie will give you tremendous hope and inspiration that there is a path and a reason for everything. 

  • Released: 2007
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Richard LaGravenese
  • Stars: Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey
  • IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

Living in Long Beach, California, in 1994, students at Woodrow Wilson High School had lost hope that their lives would ever amount to anything. At first, doubting and taunting a new young idealistic teacher named Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank), the students eventually come to respect and even love their new teacher.

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Touching on social issues that are still relevant today, like inner city gangs, racial prejudice, and the disenfranchisement of minorities, Freedom Writers will leave you with something to think about long after the credits roll. Most important is the significant impact someone can have when they simply choose to stop believing stereotypes and instead choose to see and listen to other peoples’ stories. 

  • Released: 2021
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • Director: Julio Quintana
  • Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jimmy Gonzales, Miguel Angel Garcia 
  • IMDB Rating: 6.7/10 

In this film, Omar (Jimmy Gonzales) runs a Mexican boys’ home called Casa Hogar, steeped in financial troubles. To save the orphanage, Omar and the orphans get an opportunity to save the orphanage if they compete in a local fishing competition with a washed-up boat captain (Dennis Quaid).

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While many critics call the plot “streamlined” and “predictable,” this is still a heartwarming film for the family. You will find yourself compelled to cheer for the boys, not only because you feel bad for their circumstances but because they are such underdogs that it would be a joy to see them win. But will they save the orphanage? You’ll have to watch this uplifting movie to find out!

  • Released: 2008
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Gabriele Muccino
  • Stars: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson
  • IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is a tax collector with the IRS. Seemingly unimpressive at first glance, Ben harbors a deep secret from his past. Seeking redemption, he sets out to change the lives of seven strangers in ways they could never expect.

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One of those people is Emily, a baker with a heart condition and a poor prognosis. Emily and Ben fall in love, but what Emily doesn’t realize is that Ben’s pursuit of redemption is larger than their love, and in the end, she is that much more inspired by it.

  • Released: 2016
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Taika Waititi
  • Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
  • IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
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Rick, a troubled youth from the city, has become a foster child to Bella and Hector, who live a reclusive life in the country. Unfortunately, Hector and Rick don’t have the greatest relationship. And after Bella passes away, Child Services launches an effort to take Ricky back to the orphanage. Fearing this, Hector and Ricky decide to run away together, sparking a massive manhunt. But this unexpected common purpose creates a growing bond that neither of them ever expected.

  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner
  • IMDB Rating: 7.8/10

While this is an older film, it’s one you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking for a feel-good movie. Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is a physician at a Brox hospital, overseeing a ward of patients who have all been catatonic for decades. Sayer administers an experimental drug that awakens the first patient. This film explores the experience of patients waking up after years of coma and how their own relatives react to their family members waking up as a changed person.

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It’s an intriguing plot that will make you appreciate what it really means to be human and the complexity and beauty of human relationships.

  • Released: 2008
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Stars: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper
  • IMDB Rating: 6.8/10

Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) has been turning things down his whole life. He says no to his friends, no to relationships, and no to any opportunities. When he’s lured into attending a seminar with a friend, he’s challenged to start saying yes to everything.

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What Carl learns is that sometimes saying yes to life can open up unexpected wonders, including love. But he also realizes that the decision to say yes or no should not be an obligation but should instead come from the heart.

  • Released: 2021
  • Rating: PG
  • Director: Manjari Makijany
  • Stars:  Amy Maghera, Waheeda Rehman, Rachel Saanchita Gupta
  • IMDB Rating: 6.6/10

In a village in Rajasthan, India, Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta) lives a traditional life with her parents. However, the arrival of an English advertising executive Jessica (Amy Maghera), and her friend introduces a small wrinkle into Prerna’s life.

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The friend introduces Prerna and other local children to the sport of skateboarding. The local community doesn’t appreciate their newfound obsession, and this is exacerbated further when Jessica decides to build a skateboarding park. This film follows Prerna’s inspiring pursuit of her dream to compete in the National Skateboarding Championships. It teaches crucial lessons about how sometimes, conforming to society’s standards may not always be the best choice.

  • Released: 2008
  • Rating: R 
  • Director: Adam McKay
  • Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen
  • IMDB Rating: 6.9/10

This is an unlikely choice for an inspiring film, but once you watch it you’ll understand why it’s made the list. Both Brennan Huff and Dale Doback are two middle-aged men still living at home. When Brennan’s mother and Dale’s dad marry, the two become brothers. 

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At first, the two become enemies, and their disputes threaten to turn the entire household into chaos. However, once Dale’s dad gives an ultimatum that they must find a job or leave home, the two find an unexpected friendship in their career pursuits. 

After their mutual dream falls apart, the two men finally find their way into adult life. However, this stability is short-lived when Dale’s dad has a change of heart and encourages the boys to never give up their dreams. 

  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Richard Linklater
  • Stars: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack
  • IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

Dewin Finn (Jack Black) gets kicked out of his rock band. Facing debts and a growing depression, an opportunity appears. He accepts a substitute teaching job meant for his roommate Ned Schneebly and encounters a classroom of students he doesn’t know how to teach. 

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Capitalizing on his love of music, he decides to turn the class into a full-fledged rock band, entering the students into a rock and roll contest worth $10,000. This pursuit for money soon takes second stage to his attachment to his students and ultimately realizing that maybe his former life priorities were not exactly the right ones.

  • Released: 2011
  • Rating: R
  • Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
  • Stars: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny
  • IMDB Rating: 8.5/10

This is one uplifting film that not many people know about, though everyone should see it. The story centers around a Parisian quadriplegic millionaire named Philip, interviewing candidates to become his live-in carer. 

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One candidate, Driss, only asks Phillippe to sign a form proving that he’s seeking work so that he can receive unemployment. Phillippe instead offers Driss the job for a month, letting Driss decide if he wants to keep the job after one month.

The result of this unexpected pairing is a series of events that transform Phillipe’s formerly dull life. This is one uplifting movie that will not fail to cheer you up.

  • Released: 2010
  • Rating: PG
  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Stars: Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Rebecca De Mornay
  • IMDB Rating: 7.7/10

This is a 1950’s love story between a boy named Bryce Loski and a girl named Julianna Baker. It follows the pair from 1957 when they’re in the second grade, through 1963 when they’re in the eighth grade. While Juli has been in love with Bryce since the first day they met, Bryce continues trying to avoid anything to do with her.

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The storyline intertwines through family events, conflicts, and other relationships that all affect the feelings between Bryce and Juli. It’s a story that is sure to bring back any memories you may have about your own first love and the emotions that you might still remember even into your adult years.

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