Everybody, students especially, needs a dose of inspiration, hope, positivity, and motivation from time to time. One of late actor Robin Williams’ most iconic characters, John Keating, once said: “Medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.”

Life’s deeper and more personal side has a profound impact on people, and what better way to get inspired than to watch great educational and heartening movies?

There are numerous films that students should watch, but we have compiled a list of our top five recommendations. You might already be familiar with some of them, and some you need to watch for the first time; you might even consider them to be true “discoveries.”

Before you start watching these movies

If you love streaming movies online, your options of providers are a mile long these days. To get an overview of what’s popular with viewers these days, ExpressVPN has compiled a streaming wrap-up for 2022. While Netflix lost subscribers at the beginning of the year for the first time in a long while, its movies and shows still dominate. Those numbers are most heavily influenced by new releases, but you can’t go wrong with a classic like the ones below.

1. Lean on Me (1989)

‘Morgan Freeman Portrait Wallpaper’ – Michael Kelso via HDwallpapers (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This is based on a true story. Morgan Freeman stars as a teacher who returns to the high school after they fired him from his role as principal. What does he discover? That the very school that fired him is now devoid of the success it used to have. The film will help you build up your character and get you through that stack of books.

2. Forrest Gump (1994)

This film tells the story of a man with a low IQ who has performed many remarkable feats in his life. He becomes an expert Ping Pong player, inspires Elvis Presley’s iconic dance, makes money by selling shrimp, and receives the Medal of Honour. It is a motivational story since the bottom line of the movie is that with determination, you can achieve anything.

3. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Robin Williams stars as John Keating, a progressive English teacher at the strict all-boys Welton Academy. He is not an ordinary teacher, and he makes that clear from the very start. He understands his students and encourages them to be free thinkers and transcend the boundaries of normalcy decided by society. He uses poetry as a medium to teach and inspire his students to celebrate their youth, seize the day, and live life to the fullest.

4. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)

‘Will Smith’ – John Mathew Smith via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, who, with the power of perseverance and hard work, takes himself from sleeping on the subway all the way to becoming the millionaire founder of his own brokerage house. The bottom line of this film is to never give up, never miss an opportunity, study hard, and never lose hope, no matter how bad things get.

5. Good Will Hunting (1997)

‘Matt Damon 66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)’ – nicolas genin via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Our list would not be complete without ”Good Will Hunting” from 1997. Hollywood celebrities such as Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Ben Affleck are all in this movie.

Good Will Hunting is a tender and poignant story about building relationships, maintaining mental health, and realizing one’s endless potential. Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a young and poor janitor with a genius-level IQ working at MIT.

Despite his intellect, he is misguided and troubled by his past and emotions. Behind his tough facade, he faces his inner demons, a broken heart and an identity crisis. Robin Williams plays Sean Maguire, who is the driving force of this movie and a mentor to help young Will realize who he is, what his true worth is, and what he wants from life. The film has received critical acclaim and a great score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Our closing words to our readers

There are many heartening, educational, and inspiring movies students could potentially watch to lift their spirits, improve their motivation, and see the greater and more profound side of life, but our top 5 recommendations are: ”Lean on Me” (1989), ”Forrest Gump” (1994), ”Dead Poets Society” (1989), ”The Pursuit of Happiness” (2006), and ”Good Will Hunting” (1997).