Top 5 Inspirational Movies That Every High School Student Must Watch

Do you feel our current life getting more and more monotonous amid the social distancing?  Need some extra motivation?  Do you need to keep a focus on your studies and get motivated for the weeks ahead?  Let’s give yourself a “brain break” by watching our hand-picked movies.

Movies are a perfect medium for exploring the concepts and issues, addressing the topic, and inspiring viewers to do profound research on their own.  There are many inspirational movies that force us to think outside the box, evoke powerful emotions, challenge us to push our limits and become better people.  Sometimes films are entertaining without a hidden message or meaning, but you still can find something that brings you comfort and encourages you.

This article compiles a list of the best inspirational movies of all time for students.  There are no limits to the genre, and they will surely bring you genuine joy or boost your energy with their story.  Take a journey with these lead characters – women and men, teachers and students.  The one thing they have in common?  They all want to achieve something significant and contribute to the world in a big way.

1. Forrest Gump (1994)

IMDb rating: 8.8/10

“Life is a box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get.” 


This is a truly inspirational story that every student should watch.  Based on a 1986 novel, Forrest Gump stands at the top place in our list of motivational movies for students.  Forrest Gump depicts the journey of a man who despite having an IQ of only 75 wins an accolade for bravery, becomes an expert ping pong player, and makes money by selling shrimps.  From being bullied in school due to his disability to taking part in the Vietnam Wars, the film beautifully illustrates how anyone can tackle life’s obstacles with patience and poise.

In this cheerfully straight-arrow moral tale, Tom Hanks stars as the “wise fool” Forrest Gump and delivers yet another Oscar-level performance.  Although his IQ is 75, he sees the world far clearer than most.  Through his decent, childlike eyes, we too see things in a less confused and muddled way.  The movie conveys that nothing is impossible if you are willing enough.

Did you know that Forrest Gump was filmed on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC)?  Only 30 mins away from Hollywood, the University of Southern California (USC) is not only an ideal place for entrepreneurs and business aspirants but also a top choice for students who have an interest in film, video and photographic arts.

>> What would it be like to study at USC? Listen to the Chuyện Du Học Podcast with Lincoln – our College Compass student – a sophomore at USC. In this podcast, Lincoln will share about his enjoyable journey getting accepted, and learning at USC:

2. 3 Idiots (2009)

IMDb rating: 8.4/10

“Learning is not memorizing the exact words from the book. Learning is understanding it and being able to explain it in your own words.”


Loosely based on a novel written by Chetan Bhagat’s novel “Five Point Someone”, the story of 3 Idiots revolves around three youngsters who join an Engineering college in Delhi.  Hailing from different backgrounds, they end up becoming friends and the film depicts the highs and lows of student life plus the fun and inspirational lessons that you will never forget. 

3 Idiots is one of those best motivational movies for students which not only makes you realize your potential but helps you discern the value of friendship, tackling life challenges and thinking outside the box.  On top of that, 3 Idiots is definitely a must-watch movie for engineering students.  The story revolves around 3 students, all of who aspire to different things but unfortunately join engineering due to parental pressure.  3 Idiots teaches us that life may be a race but ‘all can be well’ only if we excel at what we love doing the most.  The movie’s satirical take on the education system, family pressure, and day-to-day challenges that students face is spot on!

3. The Theory of Everything (2014)

IMDb rating: 7.7/10

“There should be no boundaries to human endeavor.  We are all different.  However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at.”


The Theory of Everything details the extraordinary life of Professor Stephen Hawking – one of the greatest minds to be born in our lifetime.  This movie is about the brilliant cosmologist and physicist who achieved greatness, beating all odds.  A brilliant student in his school and college, Hawking was diagnosed with a degenerative motor neuron disease. Despite being wheelchair-bound and barely mobile, he made path-breaking contributions in the field of cosmology and physics.  From his youthful days as a Ph.D. University student defying all the odds both physically and scientifically, this film reminds us that anything is possible.  His story teaches us that disabilities can seldom stop you from succeeding if you have the will to succeed.  There simply isn’t a boundary for what you can achieve with what you have.

The Theory of Everything is a truly inspirational movie for students, especially for those studying science degrees. Portrayed by the brilliant and award-winning actor, Eddie Redmayne, this British biographical romantic drama is set in Cambridge University, where we get a telling insight into the timeline of events of Stephen Hawking’s life.

4. The Social Network (2010)

IMDb rating: 7.7/10

“We lived on farms, and then we lived in cities, and now we are going to live on the internet.”


While the idea of a “Facebook movie” sounded like a bad idea to many people, the combined talents of David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and a talented cast made The Social Network into one of the best movies of the 21st century.  The Social Network” is an American drama movie – a biographical drama based on the life of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of “Facebook”.  His extraordinary journey from being a Harvard student to becoming a multi-millionaire is really inspiring for every student.

The Social Network is a very appropriate film for this day in the age of computer science and technology.  You will have a chance to explore the journey of Mark Zuckerberg from a Harvard student to a multi-millionaire is really an inspiring one for everyone.  The Social Network tells that every student can turn their dream into reality.  The movie allows us to see how this internet giant came into existence and inspires us to work hard and turn our dream into reality.  The movie also conveys the message that sometimes you need to take risks in life in order to achieve something great.  With 4 Golden Globes and 3 Oscar titles to its name, The Social Network is certainly one for those who hold big dreams.

5. The Great Debater (2007)

IMDb rating: 7.5/10 

“We must never ever bow down before the tyranny of the majority.”


If you love to see empowerment prevailing, The Great Debaters is your must-watch.  This is an inspirational fact-based drama that includes unvarnished discussions and representations of 1930s racism. It was directed by Denzel Washington himself and its producer was Oprah Winfrey.

The Great Debaters retells the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor who managed to inspire his students to become the first black debate team to challenge Harvard at the debating championships.  Produced by Oprah and starring Denzel Washington, this is a heart-warming tale to lift your study spirits, especially if you’ve been inspired at some point by a wonderful teacher who saw your potential.  This film ignites warmth and spirit and is certainly one to watch if you are involved in the study of teaching.

Parting words

In the words of Thomas A. Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  Life is certainly a beautiful mess and students, especially high schoolers, have to go through a lot of rough patches that ultimately transform us into mature individuals.  Patience and perseverance are the keys to tackle arduous situations but we often long for that push that can drift us in the right direction.  Movies have been, and still, are the best source of inspiration for us of all ages. 

We hope that this interesting blog detailing the best motivational movies for students provides you with the cinematic marvels that will encourage you to never give up on your dreams no matter how many people make fun of your career aspirations. 

So, next time you find yourself stuck with all those assignments and projects, watch one of the five movies listed below to reduce your stress. These movies are inspirational, deliver a strong message, and we believe that every student can learn a lesson (or two) from them.

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