40 Inspirational Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime

40 Inspirational Movies to Watch on Amazon Prime

May 2, 2024

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With so many movies marketed as “inspirational,” it’s important to note that inspiration can come from anywhere—while still trying to weed out the films that don’t really have much hope or motivation to offer. To make sure that you make the right decisions on what to stream or what to purchase or rent through Amazon, we’ve put together a list of lesser-known, high-quality films available through the service that should give you the boost you’re looking for. But again, remember that these inspiring films aren’t just feel-good fantasies; some can inspire empathy, others can leave you on a high from the creativity and passion they display. Either way, a healthy dose of inspiration is always good for your streaming rotation.

31. Man on Wire (2008)

7.9

Country

UK, United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

James Marsh

Actors

Annie Allix, David Forman, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau

Moods

Inspiring, Mind-blowing, Thrilling

Man on Wire is a true technical masterpiece. You can almost feel the director telling the cameraman what angle to choose, or thinking about the questions that will generate the most resounding answers. However, this does not diminish the story this documentary tells one bit. It’s one that is glorious, riveting, and fun. It’s one where you feel like an insider to a world lived on and below wires, with high-stake risks. Hopefully the edge of your seat is comfortable, because this is where the movie will keep you till the very end.

32. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

7.9

Country

Argentina, Brazil, Chile

Director

Walter Salles

Actors

Antonella Costa, Constanza B. Majluf, Cristián Chaparro, Erto Pantoja

Moods

Feel-Good, Heart-warming, Inspiring

Let’s fight! I’m not a fan of “Into the wild” okay okay, calm down… Maybe we can fix this. Maybe we could watch “The Motorcycle Diaries” together. Watching this heartwarming movie, you will get the travel bug. I got it and I never got rid of it. I even want to go on a motorcycle tour through South America although I would have never dreamed of getting on a motorbike. Have fun with it. Oh and… this film is about the young Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado by the way.

33. Stop Making Sense (1984)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Jonathan Demme

Actors

Alex Weir, Bernie Worrell, Chris Frantz, David Byrne

Moods

Easy, Inspiring, Sunday

Widely regarded as one of the finest concert movies of all time, Stop Making Sense depicts musical innovators The Talking Heads at the height of their game. Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia), and starring the eccentric and energetic David Byrne, the show is a marvel of perfectly executed choreography and mid-eighties musicality. Halfway through the set, one might think they’ve heard all of the hits, but they keep coming and coming. Before Beyonce was Queen, before Bieber was conceived, this film shows what is capable with a camera, a guitar, and some genius.

34. Just Mercy (2019)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Destin Daniel Cretton

Actors

Adam Boyer, Al Mitchell, Alex Van, Andrene Ward-Hammond

Moods

Character-driven, Dramatic, Inspiring

This drama is based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a young Harvard graduate who moved to Alabama in the 80s to defend wrongly accused prisoners on death row. He’s played by Michael B. Jordan, who brings to the surface the unstoppable determination and ambition of the character. Components that were necessary to go on such a difficult task, especially with the racist barriers at the time. Not to mention, no one had ever been released from death row in the history of Alabama at that point. An inspiring and well-acted movie, made by Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton.

35. The Great Buster: A Celebration (2018)

7.9

Country

United States of America

Director

Peter Bogdanovich

Actors

Ben Mankiewicz, Bill Hader, Bill Irwin, Buster Keaton

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Funny, Inspiring

In his last film, American Serb film historian Peter Bogdanovich celebrates silver screen legend Buster Keaton. The subject alone is compelling to watch. It would be easy to pull clips from Keaton’s works, dig through the headlines, pull in some celebrity interviews, and call it a day. However, in Bogdanovich’s hands, this documentary handles Keaton with respect. Instead of focusing on the scandals, Bogdanovich focuses on Keaton’s brilliant work. Instead of reciting facts, Bogdanovich highlights how his bits influenced film today. Excellent editing – cuts, structure, and scoring – helps us glide through Keaton’s work. The film truly understands Keaton’s life and exactly why he’s brilliant. Comprehensive yet very focused, this documentary honestly feels better than film school.

36. Film, The Living Record of Our Memory (2023)

7.9

Country

Canada, Spain

Director

Inés Toharia Terán

Actors

Ben Mankiewicz, Costa-Gavras, Fernando Trueba, Jonas Mekas

Moods

Inspiring, Instructive

It’s impossible not to be moved by this passionate love letter to the medium of film and its singular abilities to witness, commemorate, connect, educate, and, yes, entertain. The Living Record is more than that, though: it’s also an urgent clarion call for better support of the infrastructure and people who preserve and restore the celluloid reels that contain so much of our history.

In two hours, it packs in a lot — perhaps even too much, because there is so much fascinating material here that it’s almost overwhelming to take it in all at once. The doc draws on a sweeping line-up of contributors who collectively illuminate every facet of the need for preservation and restoration, from archivists to filmmakers like Jonas Mekas, Ken Loach, and Costa-Gavras. Its scope is just as commendably exhaustive, featuring nuanced discussions of the dangers politics poses to preservation efforts, as well as the particular need for archives in formerly colonized countries to prevent “cultural amnesia.” Despite all the challenges it highlights, its tone isn’t hopeless, as the film draws strength from the tireless efforts of archivists and cinematic saviors like Martin Scorsese. It’s impossible to watch this and not come away affirmed or converted into similarly passionate champions of preservation.

37. Finding Vivian Maier (2014)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Charlie Siskel, John Maloof

Actors

Daniel Arnaud, John Maloof, Mary Ellen Mark, Phil Donahue

Moods

Inspiring, Sunday

Vivian Maier was a French-American photographer whose art, like many of the greats, only gained widespread success after her death. Most of her life was spent working as a maid for families in Chicago. Her masterpieces were only introduced to the world when the director of this documentary purchased a box of her negatives. This movie is about him trying to put together the pieces and retrace her life by interviewing the people that knew her. Right from the beginning of this documentary her photos will have you in awe. They gave me chills and made me feel exactly what I needed to feel to understand each photo. Cue Vivian’s unexpected dark side along with really messed up backstory, I was completely absorbed. Interviews, along with Vivian’s own photos and home videos show the complexity and mystery of the artist.

38. The World Before Your Feet (2018)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Jeremy Workman

Actors

Matt Green

Moods

Inspiring, Sunday, Uplifting

An incredible documentary about Matt Green, a man who decided to walk every street in New York City. That’s more than 8000 miles (more than the diameter of Earth) that he had been walking for six years up to the point of making this movie.  

Matt stops. And that’s the beauty of this documentary, where the filmmaker joins him for part of the journey. You quickly realize that the intrigue is not so much about Matt’s challenge, but about who he meets and what kind of experiences he goes through. You also realize (if you didn’t already) that New York is a place of unimaginable size, with incredibly lively and diverse human stories. Plus lots of other forms of life too: Matt doesn’t have a fixed place, so he cat-sits for shelter.

Fun fact: this is the first movie that actor Jesse Eisenberg ever produced!

39. The Earth Is Blue as an Orange (2020)

7.8

Country

Lithuania, Ukraine

Director

Female director, Iryna Tsilyk

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Inspiring, Original

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange chronicles the lives of a single mother and her four children as they live in the war-torn Donbas region of Ukraine. Despite the constant threat of violence, the family finds solace in the arts (more specifically in filmmaking). While striving for normalcy in these tumultuous times, they channel their efforts into creating a film about the effect of war on their family. Even as they try to lead individual lives, nurturing this collective project, bombs, debris, and their reality is unavoidable. 

This film is a moving testament to the power of art, creativity, and hope in the darkest times. 

40. David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (2023)

7.8

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Dan Hartley

Actors

Andy Holmes, Bonnie Wright, Chris Columbus, Daniel Radcliffe

Moods

A-list actors, Emotional, Heart-warming

The Harry Potter movies undoubtedly changed the lives of its young stars forever — but a stuntman whose future the films had more tragic consequences for is the deserved focus of this moving documentary. David Holmes was just 17 when he was hired as Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double, a role he held throughout the series. The two formed a close brotherly bond on set, growing up alongside one another for 10 years until a terrible accident during the final movie’s filming left him paralyzed from the chest down, a condition that has deteriorated over the years following post-surgery complications. 

This doc is an inspiring portrait of David, from his fearless childhood and dream-fulfilling work to the incredible resilience he’s shown since the accident. It’s also, though, a poignant testament to the loving, supportive community that Holmes inspired at work — friendships that only reached greater depths following the accident and the end of the movies. The doc’s focus empathetically expands from Holmes’ story to include its impact on his bond with Radcliffe (who features prominently here) and Holmes’ fellow stunt doubles — and, while the sheer force of Holmes’ personality would make for a compelling documentary on its own, it’s the tenderness and honesty that all of these participants show that makes this so poignant.

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