15 Movies to Inspire a Spring Reset

Certain inspirational movies immediately energize you. By the time the credits roll, you’re already off the couch, plotting how you can completely overhaul your life. My favorites are early 2000s rom-coms featuring the iconic mid-movie montage. You know the ones: the main character undergoes a game-changing makeover and suddenly, everything just clicks. As satisfying as these scenes may be, we’ve come a long way in our understanding of meaningful growth. But still, the impact resonates.

It’s because movies don’t exist solely to entertain. They instill in us a sense of promise—prompting us to believe that we can attract and achieve whatever we want in our lives. Whether it’s love, friendship, a fulfilling career, or the flexibility to travel and discover new places, movies have the transformative power to help us trust in our ability to create a life of continuous wonder.

15 Inspirational Movies to Nurture Your Best Self

Movies also call us to question the grass-is-always-greener adage. They help us play out the potential of the endless life paths available to us. While we may find ourselves dreaming about a months-long solo trip around the world, a simple Eat, Pray, Love rewatch may be enough to satisfy that itch. And by getting your fill through a feature-length film, you have space to embrace other truths about yourself—and explore those more aligned paths instead.

For however you’re looking to feel expanded, our list of inspirational movies has you covered. From overcoming the odds to embracing an unconventional journey, these films will encourage you to become your best self—and lean into all the possibilities along the way.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

I’ll say it: this is Diane Lane at her finest. Under the Tuscan Sun set the standard for women-finds-herself-post-divorce films of the mid-aughts. Based on the book of the same title, the movie follows 35-year-old Frances, who, on a whim, buys a dilapidated Tuscan farmhouse after learning her husband is cheating on her. Overwhelmed with repairs, Frances reconnects with her sense of empowerment, inspiration, and desire to craft a beautiful life. It’s perfect for anyone feeling stuck or stifled by their current circumstances, reminding us that sometimes, a change of scenery is exactly what we need.

Available on: Hulu

Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

As a Smith alum, Mona Lisa Smile—set at my rival women’s college, Wellesley in the 1950s—stands as a reminder of the beauty and power that exists in female relationships. Julia Roberts is excellent as always playing Katherine Ann Watson, a young art history professor who encourages her students to seek more from their lives than marriage. If you’ve ever felt the pressure to conform, Mona Lisa Smile will inspire you to get clear on what truly makes you feel whole.

Available on: Max

ittle Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Perhaps the quirkiest pick in this roundup, Little Miss Sunshine does the family dramedy to unexpected perfection. With a star-studded cast including Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, and Steve Carrell, the film offers poignant commentary on how we view beauty and success.

Available on: Hulu

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

There’s no better movie to exemplify the makeover trope. Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, and Stanley Tucci (and Emily Blunt, for that matter) all play iconic characters engaged in the day-to-day battle of surviving the fashion industry. Not only is the film full of instantly quotable lines (“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”), but The Devil Wears Prada reveals the shortcomings of American hustle culture. It asks viewers to reflect upon their lives as they are, encouraging us to question whether they bring us true happiness or only look good from the outside.

Available on: Max

Milk inspiring movies

Milk (2008)

Milk recounts the inspiring true story behind Harvey Milk’s successful bid to become the first openly gay man elected to a notable public office in California and the third in America. It’s an incredible reflection not only of what it means to be unapologetically yourself, but how that same self-acceptance can inspire others to do the same. Through his determination and commitment to gay rights and supporting other minority groups, the resonance of Harvey Milk’s political career continues to echo long past his assassination.

Available on: Apple TV+

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia (2009)

If you haven’t yet seen this Nora Ephron masterpiece, stop what you’re doing and press play. The film is based on the late author, Julie Powell’s (played by Amy Adams) experience finding purpose in the seminal classic, The Art of French Cooking. Challenging herself to cook all 524 recipes in a year, Powell learns to embrace her sense of passion and fearlessness—in and outside of the kitchen.

Available on: Sling

Up in the Air

Up in the Air (2009)

George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man employed to fire others for a living. Ryan is required to travel constantly, spending much of his time in hotels and on planes as a result. With this framework, the film explores topics like loneliness, unemployment, and the fear of becoming redundant as we age. But by re-examining his life in a new light, Ryan ultimately learns to find greater purpose and meaning beyond his career.

Available on: Max

Chef inspiring movies.

Chef (2014)

After feeling that his creativity is being stifled while working under a controlling restaurant owner, Carl (played by Jon Favreau, who also wrote and directed the film) sets off on his own. With his love of Cuban food reignited, Carl is now slinging Cuban sandwiches and yuca fries from his food truck, going on to open a successful restaurant of his own. Chef is proof that when you operate within alignment, the universe will reciprocate.

Available on: Hulu

Selma inspiring movies.

Selma (2014)

Ava DuVernay is one of the most acclaimed and accomplished filmmakers of our time, and that’s perhaps best evidenced through her work in creating Selma. Based on the historical 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, the film was nominated for best picture and features Oprah among its producers. While not as “feel-good” as other films on this list—that’s not exactly its purpose. Instead, Selma highlights the extent of the sacrifices civil rights leaders had to make in order to realize equal voting rights for Black American citizens.

Available on: Paramount+

Wild movie

Wild (2014)

Does this film need an introduction? (If you’ve seen the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life remake, absolutely not.) For those not in the know, Wild chronicles Cheryl Strayed’s hike across the Pacific Crest Trail to rediscover herself following her mother’s death and subsequent self-destruction. Along her journey, Strayed connects with people and undergoes experiences that remind her of the woman she used to be—and who she can still become.

Available on: Apple TV+


Whiplash (2014)

I’m sorry, but if it was Top Gun that inspired your Miles Teller crush, you’re about eight years behind. Whiplash brought Teller out of the teen romance genre and solidified his place as a true, serious actor. It follows a young drummer whose talent lands him at a competitive music conservatory. He quickly builds an intense mentor-student relationship with an intense and ruthless instructor. The film comments on the lengths we go to in realizing success and the blurred lines between mentorship and abuse. It’s difficult to watch at times, but offers an important lesson in setting boundaries and understanding what you need to experience happiness.

Available on: Netflix

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (2016)

This biographical drama highlights the work and lives of three female African-American NASA mathematicians during the Space Race. It gives voice to the inequities and racial and gender-based injustices the three women face, showing how they each overcome these challenges by leaning into their strengths and vocalizing their rights to further their educations and explore their passions. And ultimately, push the achievements of American space travel forward.

Available on: Disney+

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Absurdist and sci-fi, Everything Everywhere All At Once was *the* film of 2022—with the hype continuing well into the present. The film is deeply psychological, exploring themes such as surrealism, existentialism, depression, and the Asian American experience. Aptly titled, the film helps viewers see the limitless possibilities our lives and worlds contain, asking us to find beauty and meaning in it all.

Available on: Netflix


Nyad (2023)

My mom and I watched this film just a few days ago and wow—mic, drop. Nyad details the incredible true story of Diana Nyad, who at 60 completes her lifelong goal of making the 110-mile open swim from Cuba to Florida. Annette Bening and Jodie Foster are a powerful pair, proving that it’s never too late to see your dreams materialize.

Available on: Netflix

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat (2023)

This much-talked-about film (based on the critically acclaimed book) follows the real-life story of the University of Washington rowing team as they compete for gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It’s a true David and Goliath tale, underscoring the importance of continuing to believe in yourself despite the odds.

Available on: Apple TV+

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