29 Feel-Good Movies to Watch for Motivation

Movies can inspire us in so many different ways. For example in one of my most recent posts, we talked about how fashion can influence film and vice versa. To take that a step further, I wanted to put together a list of movies that can motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest and pursue your passions. Each of these movies feature bold, brave women and girls who took risks (big or small) and learned important, life-changing lessons. Stories like that can be so inspiring when you’re going through some of the toughest time with work, school, relationships, or just life in general. So if you’re feeling unmotivated and you’re in need of a pick-me-up, pick a few of these movies to try!

1. Legally Blonde (2001)

Directed by Robert Luketic, starring Reese Witherspoon. Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority girl, enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. Along the way, she discovers her true potential and proves that being true to oneself is the key to success.

2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Directed by David Frankel, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. Aspiring journalist Andy Sachs lands a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the formidable editor of a top fashion magazine. Through trials and tribulations, Andy learns about the cutthroat world of fashion while discovering her own strength and ambition.

3. Hidden Figures (2016)

Directed by Theodore Melfi, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. This film tells the untold story of three African-American women mathematicians who played pivotal roles at NASA during the Space Race. Their determination and brilliance defy racial and gender barriers, inspiring generations to pursue their dreams against all odds.

4. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Directed by Ryan Murphy, starring Julia Roberts. After a painful divorce, Liz Gilbert embarks on a journey of self-discovery through Italy, India, and Bali. Along the way, she finds inner peace, happiness, and love, teaching us the importance of self-care, exploration, and embracing life’s adventures.

5. Wild (2014)

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, starring Reese Witherspoon. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, this film follows Cheryl’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail as she confronts her demons and finds healing after personal tragedies.

6. The Help (2011)

Directed by Tate Taylor, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. Set in 1960s Mississippi, aspiring writer Skeeter Phelan interviews African-American maids about their experiences working for white families, exposing racial injustices and forging unlikely friendships. It’s a poignant story of courage, empowerment, and the fight for equality.

7. Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Timothée Chalamet. Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel is brought to life, following the March sisters as they navigate love, ambition, and sisterhood in Civil War-era America. It’s a timeless tale of resilience and female empowerment.

8. Julie & Julia (2009)

Directed by Nora Ephron, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Parallel narratives follow Julia Child as she discovers her passion for cooking in postwar France and Julie Powell, a woman who sets out to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s cookbook. It’s a delightful celebration of food, passion, and pursuing dreams.

9. Queen of Katwe (2016)

Directed by Mira Nair, starring Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o, and David Oyelowo. Based on a true story, Ugandan girl Phiona Mutesi discovers her talent for chess and rises from poverty to become a champion with the support of her family and community. It’s an inspiring tale of resilience and determination.

10. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, and Pierce Brosnan. Set on a picturesque Greek island, a young woman invites three of her mother’s former lovers to her wedding in hopes of discovering her father’s identity. It’s a joyful celebration of love, family, and ABBA’s music.

11. Miss Congeniality (2000)

Directed by Donald Petrie, starring Sandra Bullock and Michael Caine. Gracie Hart, an FBI agent, goes undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant to thwart a potential terrorist threat. Along the way, she embraces her femininity and challenges stereotypes, proving that strength comes in many forms.

12. Sister Act (1992)

Directed by Emile Ardolino, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith. Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge singer, witnesses a crime and is placed in a convent under the witness protection program. Through music and sisterhood, she transforms the choir and finds redemption, proving that everyone deserves a second chance.

13. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley. Jess, a British-Indian girl, defies her traditional family’s expectations to pursue her passion for soccer. With determination and skill, she challenges stereotypes and cultural norms, proving that girls can play just as well as boys.

14. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Directed by Audrey Wells, starring Diane Lane. After a divorce, writer Frances Mayes impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany, Italy. As she renovates her new home and embraces the local culture, she finds healing and romance, proving that sometimes the best adventures come when you least expect them.

15. Erin Brockovich (2000)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Julia Roberts. Based on a true story, Erin Brockovich fights against a powerful corporation accused of contaminating a town’s water supply. With determination and perseverance, she uncovers the truth and delivers justice, proving that one person can make a difference.

16. The Princess Diaries (2001)

Directed by Garry Marshall, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. Awkward teenager Mia Thermopolis discovers she is heir to the throne of a European kingdom. With the help of her grandmother, she undergoes a transformation and learns the responsibilities of royalty, proving that anyone can be a princess.

17. Steel Magnolias (1989)

Directed by Herbert Ross, starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, and Julia Roberts. Set in a small Louisiana town, a group of Southern women support each other through life’s joys and sorrows. With laughter and tears, they prove that friendship and resilience can overcome any obstacle.

18. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Based on Jane Austen’s novel, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy navigate societal expectations and misunderstandings to find love. With wit and charm, they prove that true love transcends class and prejudice.

19. The Joy Luck Club (1993)

Directed by Wayne Wang, starring Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, and Kieu Chinh. The film interweaves the stories of four Chinese-American immigrant families and their daughters. Through tradition and heritage, they navigate cultural differences and find strength in their shared experiences, proving that family bonds are unbreakable.

20. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, starring Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette. A dysfunctional family embarks on a cross-country road trip to support their daughter in a beauty pageant. With humor and heart, they learn valuable lessons about love, acceptance, and the importance of being true to oneself.

21. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Directed by Jon Avnet, starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, and Mary Stuart Masterson. Set in the Southern United States, two women form an unlikely friendship, bonding over shared experiences and empowering each other to overcome adversity. Through love and courage, they prove that friendship knows no bounds.

22. The Color Purple (1985)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover. Based on Alice Walker’s novel, the film follows Celie, an African-American woman who finds her strength and voice amidst oppression and abuse. Through resilience and sisterhood, she learns to stand tall and embrace her worth.

23. Enchanted April (1991)

Directed by Mike Newell, starring Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, and Joan Plowright. Four women from different walks of life embark on a journey to Italy, where they rediscover themselves and find renewal in the beauty of the Italian countryside. Through friendship and laughter, they learn to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.

24. The First Wives Club (1996)

Directed by Hugh Wilson, starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton. Three divorced women seek revenge on their ex-husbands while rediscovering the power of friendship and sisterhood. With humor and determination, they prove that women can triumph over heartbreak and emerge stronger than ever.

25. Last Holiday (2006)

Directed by Wayne Wang, starring Queen Latifah and LL Cool J. After learning she has a terminal illness, Georgia Byrd embarks on a luxurious European vacation, indulging in all her wildest dreams. Through adventure and self-discovery, she learns to live life to the fullest, inspiring others to do the same.

26. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

Directed by Ken Kwapis, starring Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, and Blake Lively. Four best friends share a magical pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly, staying connected as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. Through love and sisterhood, they learn to embrace their individuality and support each other’s dreams.

27. A League of Their Own (1992)

Directed by Penny Marshall, starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna. Set during World War II, this film follows the members of an all-female baseball team as they defy expectations and prove themselves in a male-dominated sport. Through teamwork and determination, they show that women can excel in any field.

28. The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, and Alicia Keys. A young girl runs away from home with her caregiver and finds refuge with three beekeeping sisters. Through love and acceptance, she discovers the power of family and learns to heal from past traumas.

29. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Directed by Forest Whitaker, starring Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon. Four African-American women navigate love, friendship, and career challenges in Phoenix, Arizona. Through laughter and tears, they lean on each other for support, proving that true sisterhood can weather any storm and empower women to find their inner strength.

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