The Most Inspirational Movie of the Past 100 Years

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

Movies usually are divided into several genres: musicals, westerns, international films (for people who live in the United States), dramas, animated movies, horror and so on. The effects movies have on people rarely are categorized. Certainly, people are horrified by some films, comforted by others, brought to tears or gifted by joy.

Another reaction to movies is inspiration, although it is harder to put neatly into a list. Certainly, people can be inspired to action to change their lives or change the way they feel about some subjects.

Using information generated by the American Film Institute, 24/7 Tempo has picked the most inspirational movie of the past 100 years. Since this look back is over the period of a century, it is harder to compare these than if the period was shorter. Most of the movies are dramas, but quite a few are comedies that inspire people never to give up. The AFI has several lists, and the most important is the list of the greatest movies of all time, which has “Citizen Kane” in the top spot.

Unlike happy comedies, however, some inspirational films do not have a happy ending. That is not surprising, considering that good films often forge an emotional connection between the viewer and the characters, making it all the more impactful when tragedy strikes.

To determine the most inspirational movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on several measures from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. The index is a composite of the movies’ IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings were weighted equally. Supplemental data on acting and directing credits came from IMDb.

The most inspirational film of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” released in 1946. Many people consider it director Frank Capra’s masterpiece. Here are the details:

  • RT critics score: 94% (87 votes)
  • RT audience score: 95% (219,179 votes)
  • IMDb rating: 8.6/10 (422,508 votes)

This Hollywood classic, and one of the most beloved Christmas movies, is about knowing that every person’s life has a purpose, even if it doesn’t feel like that. James Stewart plays a small savings bank owner who runs into financial trouble. An angel from heaven is sent to show him what the lives of the people he loves would have been if he never existed. It also stars Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore.

Click here to read about all the most inspirational films of the past century

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