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11 Nostalgic Inspirational Movies From the 2000s

Published on February 27, 2020 9:00 AM EST
11 Nostalgic Inspirational Movies From the 2000s

The 2000s: the era of low rise jeans, unbreakable cell phones, and, of course, tons of inspirational movies. A curated list of some of my favorite inspirational movies of the 2000s is featured below. 

What is your favorite movie from the 2000s? 

From 2000 to 2009, inspirational films were being released from Hollywood studios left and right. Audiences were constantly leaving movie theaters with their hearts warmed and shirts stained from happy tears. One of my favorite decades to revisit, when it comes to film, is the 2000s. Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, a good laugh, or a solid cry, I pop in one of my favorite inspirational films. 

11 Nostalgic Inspirational Movies From the 2000s

If you are like me, and you enjoy your 2000s nostalgia with a side of motivation, then you have come to the right curated list of movies. Watching a movie from this list is like revisiting an old friend, one who knows exactly what to say and still wears one of those snazzy Von Dutch hats. 

Check out a selection of some of my favorite 2000s inspirational movies below. 

Inspirational movies from the 2000s that will make your day

1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of an 18-year-old waiter living in the slums of Mumbai named Jamal, played by Dev Patel. This movie vibrantly illustrates his rags-to-riches journey to becoming a contestant on one of India’s most popular game shows, their version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. An exhilarating ride from start to finish, Slumdog Millionaire is a movie that will have you cheering for Jamal’s highs and weeping at his lows. 

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2. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 

Based on entrepreneur Chris Gardener’s memoir of the same name, The Pursuit of Happyness details the year that Gardner, played by Will Smith, spent homeless with his young son as he pursued his million-dollar idea.

Smith’s portrayal of Gardner radiates infectious perseverance and resilience from the silver screen. If you are looking for motivation to get back up after a misstep, then you should certainly watch The Pursuit of Happyness

3. Freedom Writers (2007)

Freedom Writers is based on another inspirational true story involving teacher Erin Gruwell and the journaling assignments she gave her students at a Long Beach high school. The main conflict of the film centers around the school’s heightening racial tensions.

There are many relatable character arcs to see yourself reflected in, especially in Gruwell’s students. One particular scene in the film where Gruwell encourages the class to particular in a Walk the Line activity is extremely powerful. 

4. Cast Away (2000)

One of the best survival tales ever told on the silver screen, Cast Away, tells the story of a FedEx employee’s survival on a deserted island after a plane crash. The film stars Tom Hanks as Chuck, the movie’s only character for 90% of the film’s run time.

With the roller-coaster of events Chuck experiences throughout the movie, there is not a need for another character. During Cast Away you’ll laugh, cry, laugh, and then cry some more as you search for your own “Wilson” around the living room. 

5. Finding Nemo (2003) 

If there is one thing Pixar knows how to do, it is creating gorgeous, emotionally rewarding, hilarious animated movies that will probably make you cry. Finding Nemo is a perfect example. Starring Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres as Marlin and Dory, Finding Nemo centers around the duo’s sea-wide search for Marlin’s son, Nemo.

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Although technically a children’s movie, Finding Nemo explores mature themes adults can appreciate, including the ups and downs of friendship and the struggle to fit in. 

6. 8 Mile (2002)

 8 Mile is based on the real-life story of rapper Eminem, starring Eminem himself as white rapper B-Rabbit. Although this is his first starring role, Eminem gives a solid, emotionally intense performance during the movie.

Whether you are a rap fan or just love the 2000s, 8 Mile is a movie you have got to make time for. The soundtrack of this movie also birthed arguably the most inspirational song on the planet: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. The song was so great that it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song back in 2002. 

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More inspirational movies from the 2000s

7. Holes (2003)

Based on the 1998 novel of the same name, Holes surrounds unlucky teenager Stanley Yelnats and the adventures he experiences at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center. Holes features a hilarious ensemble cast you grow attached to throughout the movie’s run time.

The talented cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Sigourney Weaver, and Jon Voight. The 2000s gem is a rewarding and fun experience from start to finish that is equal parts fantastical and down-to-earth. 

8. Coach Carter (2005) 

Adding to the long list of 2000s uplifting sports films, Coach Carter tells the true story of Richmond High School 1999 basketball team’s coach Ken Carter. The coach made headlines when he suspended the team during their undefeated season for their less-than-stellar test results.

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Although the beats are formulaic in the realm of sports movies, the performances of Samuel J. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, and Channing Tatum are moving and will leave you overflowing with inspiration. 

9. Erin Brockovich (2000)

Erin Brockovich is a powerful sticking-it-to-the-Man tale that will inspire you to speak up for what is right. The movie is based on the real-life story of legal clerk and environmental activist Erin Brockovich and her fight against the Pacific Gas and Electric company.

Julia Roberts’ passionately determined portrayal of Erin Brockovich brought her a ton of awards at the beginning of the decade, including the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001. 

10. Spirited Away (2001)

A unique coming-of-age story, Spirited Away tells the tale of 10-year-old girl Chihiro Ogino and her journey through the world of Kami, otherwise known as the spirit world. As Ogino fights to free herself, as well as her parents, from the spirit world she learns more about her internal fears surrounding love and loss.

The film is an enchanting fantasy that keeps one foot in reality at all times while remaining a visual masterpiece. If you plan on watching this with friends or family members, chances are there will not be a dry eye in the house. 

11. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Akeelah and the Bee is about the life of a black 11-year-old girl named Akeelah Anderson, played by Keke Palmer in her first breakout role, as she participates in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Accompanied with a stellar performance by Laurence Fishburne as her spelling bee coach, Akeelah and the Bee will have you more invested in a spelling bee than you ever have in your life.

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Akeelah teeters between two separate worlds: the inner-city neighborhood she grew up in and the privileged suburbs of her spelling bee friends. The stark juxtaposition and how Akeelah meshes the two worlds into one is incredibly touching. 

Which of these movies from the 2000s will you watch first?

Inspirational movies, a staple of Hollywood, were a fantastic part of the 2000s pop culture. From feel-good real stories to insightful children’s animation, the above list showcases some of my favorite selections from this subgenre of film.

Whenever you are feeling down and out or looking for an inspirational story for your weekly movie night, turn to this list to give you exactly the satisfying stories you are looking for. 

Is there an inspirational movie from the 2000s you can’t believe we missed? What decade of inspirational movies should we feature next? Tell us your thoughts below!

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