15 Motivational Movies for Self-improvement

In each of these films you will find the inspiration and learning necessary to achieve your dreams and walk hand in hand with success.
15 Motivational Movies for Self-improvement

Last update: 15 December, 2023

Inspiration can come from different sources: a book, a talk, a course, a mentor… and documentaries or motivational movies, of course! Therefore, in this article, we’re going to give you a list of the best motivational or self-improvement movies, with the aim that they inspire you to fight to achieve your dreams.

Have you just set up your own business? Are you self-employed or do you want to embark on a new direction? A little boost of inspiration to achieve our goals always comes in handy, and cinema has that magic that inspires us with its protagonists and stories.

A selected list of the best motivational movies

Learning about other people’s experiences can help in many ways: knowing how to act in a situation, understanding that your problems are sometimes not as serious as you may think, looking for mentors or references, etc.

Those who want to achieve professional success should watch some of these films. Each of them transmits different qualities and values to start a new path: hope, willpower, optimism, joy, perseverance, and honesty… So here we go!

1. The Social Network

This film narrates the beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg, who went from being a Harvard student to the owner of the most successful social network in the world.

Although the movie has more drama than what, apparently, actually happened, the truth is that it allows us to see how what a  so-called “startup” is really like. It also shows what are the main characteristics that must be met to resist the face of the passage of time and problems.

2. Citizen Kane

This is a masterpiece by Orson Wells that never goes out of style. The plot emerged in 1941 and the film tells the story of Charles Foster Kane, a fictional newspaper magnate who understands what is important in life.

The character is based on William Randolph Hearst, and more precisely on his quest for power and fortune. It’s recommended to watch it to understand that achieving professional success is not the only goal that entrepreneurs should have.

3. The Pursuit of Happyness, one of the most successful motivational or self-improvement movies

This is a great performance by Will Smith, who played a man who gave everything to achieve his dreams.

It’s based on a true story taken to the movies because of the perseverance, effort, and results achieved by this father (often desperate), who did the impossible so that he and his son could get out of poverty. It’s ideal to demonstrate the values of passion and sacrifice (two necessary ingredients to be successful).

4. Rocky

Apart from the story of the boxer played by Silvester Stallone, this movie provides an inspiring message: never give up and strive harder and harder to achieve your goal.

In this case, Rocky Balboa prepares like never before to fight Apollo Creed to become the new heavyweight champion.

The competitive spirit can go a long way. Also, when you finish watching the movie, we recommend you listen to the soundtrack if you need even more motivation!

5. Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise stars in this story about Jerry Maguire, a man who had it all: friends, a fiancée, career, etc. However, one day he has an epiphany: sports agents should take better care of their clients and not just think about finding more money. That’s how he loses what he owns and ventures on a journey to get it back.

This movie talks about how to chase dreams and not take anything for granted.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: 6 Thoughts that Will Help You Go from Scared to Motivated in Minutes

6. The Godfather

We won’t pretend that this movie will inspire you to join a mafia and get into organized crime, but it will help you learn from Michael Corleone (starring the spectacular Al Pacino).

The protagonist started with a small family business and then became one of the most influential and powerful in the country. Moreover, this is a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime.

7. The Wolf of Wall Street

It can’t be missed in this list of movies to be more successful for being an excellent film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It tells the life story of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker blinded by ambition.

But, without a doubt, the highlight of the character (and DiCaprio’s performance) is the confidence he has in himself and his work, and how he transfers it to his partners and employees.

This film teaches many things: selling, being good leaders, and recognizing the talent of others.

8. Glengarry Glen Ross

This story is based on Davil Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. It depicts the world of real estate in the city of Chicago. Its lies, backstabbing, and all that must be endured to become more successful in business.

It’s important to watch, as business life can be brutal and cutthroat. It’s always best to be prepared.

9. Moneyball, one of the best motivational or self-improvement movies

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to take a cue from Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland Athletics.

Since the team didn’t have the money to buy good players, a new way to compete and achieve good results must be found.

It’s essential for those who want to innovate or for those who never give up on their dreams or give in to pessimistic comments. Go for professional success!

10. The Bucket List

A bucket list made by two terminally ill people. This is the plot of two men who become friends when they enter the hospital for lung cancer treatment. Both decide to escape to do all those things they always wanted to do.

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman make viewers ask themselves what are their priorities in their lives. And what about you? Do you dare to follow in their footsteps and complete your list?

11. Eat Pray Love

This film motivates us not to dwell on tragedy, abandonment, and depression, just as the main character of the novel of the same name, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, did.

The protagonist of this story is left on the street with no belongings. At that moment, she decides to visit three countries where she will live experiences that will help her to value herself. Viewers, through her example, will be able to find the inspiration they need to find new paths and achieve their goals.

12. Slumdog Millionaire

This film won eight Oscars (including a nomination for “Best Picture of the Year” in 2008) and four Golden Globe Awards, and there’s no wonder. This impressive movie provides fundamental lessons for everyone.

The protagonist of the story is Jamal, a young Hindu boy who has experienced child exploitation and extreme poverty first-hand. One day, he decides to participate in a quiz show on a television program. If he wins, he will be able to get out of poverty.

A clear message: activate the engine of faith to get ahead and always trust in everything you set your mind to.

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13. Dead Poets Society

This is a classic of the big screen, but the values it transmits are still valid in the new entrepreneurial generations.

Robin Williams gives life to the new literature teacher who has arrived at the most traditional school to revolutionize teaching beyond books. The students will have to think for themselves in order to advance. Just like us.

14. Pay It Forward

Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Jon Bon Jovi are part of the cast of this wonderful movie, which has served as an inspiration for generations. The goal is clear: to help others.

Each student has to come up with an idea to change the world in social studies class. Trevor, 11, has an initiative that is gaining more and more followers.

  • Each person has to help three people.
  • Those who have been helped must assist three others, and so on, in a chain of good deeds.

This gesture is the living image that a small contribution is enough for everything to start to change. It’s all about a personal change that translates into a social change.

15. La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful )

A film with all the qualities to make the spectator fall in love: laughter, tears, love without limits, etc. And it has a profound message, where the search for positivity in the face of adversity becomes the main objective.

Guido is an Italian Jew, the owner of a bookstore. He and his family have to go to a Nazi concentration camp. Knowing that his son’s life is at stake, he decides to protect him while creating playful situations.

These motivational movies can help inspire you to go for your dreams

Working for what you want isn’t always easy. There are struggles along the way that sometimes become uphill. However, the important thing is not the circumstances, but one’s own will to change them.

So, once you watch these motivational or self-improvement movies, take some time to reflect. Your ending is not written; the story you have to live has just begun.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.