Movies have the ability to tug at our heart-strings in memorable ways. They can inspire us to be better people by helping us to see the value of having faith in God and in each other. They fill us with hope and allow us to connect to beauty in ways that can not only be seen but felt with the heart. Movies can also inspire us to make amends with those we have wronged or offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us.

Listed below are 10 heartfelt movies that are uplifting and inspirational. I give you fair warning, though: You’ll want to grab a box of tissues. Many of these movies are inspired by true stories. In my opinion, they are the best ones to watch. Some of these films are based on Christian beliefs exclusively, while others are of a more secular nature.  

#1 – I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine is the true story of the band Mercy Me’s lead singer and his inspiring song “I Can Only Imagine.” Growing up with an abusive father, Bart Millard has finally had enough and leaves home. After struggling to find a song to sing that speaks about what’s on his heart, Bart returns home to make peace with his past. Offering forgiveness wasn’t originally in Bart’s plan. After discovering that his father found Jesus and is dying of pancreatic cancer, Bart and his father are able to mend their relationship.  After his father passes away, Bart writes “I Can Only Imagine,” which becomes a triple-platinum hit. The song raises the band’s status to new heights.

The acting in the movie is profound. J Michael Finley (Bart) and Dennis Quaid (Bart’s father, Arthur) play their roles authentically. I could feel the tension and brokenness of their relationship throughout the movie. The power of the faithful prayer of a father wanting to make amends toward his son was also memorable. It proves that God’s grace is never too far away from those who truly want to make things right.

#2 – Breakthrough

Fourteen-year-old John Smith is a typical teenager who loves basketball and goofing off with his buddies. On January 19, 2015, John and two of his friends venture out onto the frozen Lake Sainte Louise for a little bit of fun. Tragedy strikes and the ice breaks, and all three boys fall in. While his two friends make it out, John stays under for more than 15 minutes until a firefighter pulls him from the ice. For nearly 45 minutes the doctors try to revive him to no avail. After being pronounced dead, John’s mother (played by Chrissy Metz) goes into the trauma room and prays for the Holy Spirit to breathe life back into her son. Miraculously, her prayer is answered. John is kept in a medically induced coma to help his body recover. The Smiths’ church members and community pull together and pray for John’s full recovery. Because of answered prayer, sixteen days later John is able to beat the odds and go home.  

This incredible true story is based on a book by John’s mother, Joyce Smith, and Ginger Kolbaba called The Impossible. Director Roxann Dawson did a wonderful job bringing this emotional film to life. I could feel what each person was going through. I couldn’t help but shed some tears, especially toward the end when John wakes up after the dedicated prayers of the crowd. It goes to show that God really can do the impossible if we just believe.

#3 – Letters to God

Letters to God is based on a true story about a young boy named Tyler who is dying of brain cancer. Brady, a temporary postman with troubles of his own, starts a new route where he meets Tyler. Tyler sends letters to God as a way of praying to Him. At first, Brady doesn’t know what to do with Tyler’s letters. After talking to the pastor at church, he decides to use them to touch the lives of others around him. The letters end up bringing the community together in faith, prayer, and love for Tyler and his family. 

This is a story of one boy’s faith and how he brought hope to his community. Tanner Maguire does justice to his role of Tyler. This boy’s bravery in the face of his illness is commendable. The soundtrack to this film is also inspirational and beautiful. 

#4 – Only God Can

Only God has the capability to mend people’s lives and make them whole the way nothing else can. This movie is about 5 women who have been friends since college. Each of them struggles with something unique yet relatable. New Christian, Grace, elaborates on this during a weekend get-together, saying she once felt empty inside. She felt like a “dead soul” and knew something in her life needed to change. After giving her testimony about how Jesus saved her from that emptiness, she leaves her non-Christian friends something to think about. Sadly, she ends up dying in a car crash on her way home, which tests the faith of her friends in different ways.

Along with the help of her pastor, one of the friends starts to pray for her non-Christian friends in the hopes that they will know the love and acceptance of Jesus. This movie shows how God’s saving power can reach anyone. After working through their issues, each woman discovers a faith in God that leads them to make different changes in their lives. They discover a relationship with Him that is incomparable to anything else this world has to offer.

#5 – Faith Like Potatoes

Angus Buchan (Frank Rautenbach) flees the political unrest of Zambia, leaving his maize and cattle farm behind. He moves his pregnant wife and children to South Africa to start a new farm and new life. Angus, a native Scotsman, has a fiery temper and stubborn nature. He and his new farm foreman, Simeon Bhengu, attempt to bring the land to life and grow potatoes. Laboring at a task that seems hopeless at first makes Angus’ temper flare up, until one day his wife insists he go to church. While there, Angus breaks down and admits to the pastor that he can’t do it all on his own. He needs guidance, grace, and the redemption of a higher power. That’s when he learns about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Frank Rautenbach pulls off a stellar performance in his convincing role in this movie, based on a true story. The power of Jesus reached Angus and touched his heart so much that he spreads the power of the gospel around Africa. He reaches people that normally wouldn’t listen to the pastors of the region. God used a simple farmer to reach out to the masses, just like He uses a variety of everyday people to do the same. He shows us you don’t have to have special abilities to share the Bible’s saving truth with others.

#6 – Gallows Road

Bob and Seth Collins are about to open a new antique store in Aledo, Texas. Everything is looking up until the Cain brothers and a man named Jake Knight start a fire at Bob’s home, killing Bob’s wife and two kids. Bob gives up on life and God, and he struggles to live without feeling alone. Meanwhile, Jake feels incredibly guilty for not stopping the Cain brothers. While the town Sherriff looks the other way, Snake Cain attempts to keep Jake from telling the real story.

Bob struggles to talk to God and find forgiveness for his enemies. Jake starts drinking and straying further from his family. When the Cain brothers cause Jake to get into a car accident, Jake’s boss (Kevin Sorbo) convinces him to confess what happened the night Bob’s family were killed. During a stand-off between the Cain brothers, Jake steps in to save Bob’s brother and son. Bob finally finds it in his heart to forgive Jake. Just minutes before, he was planning on killing all who were involved in his family’s death.

Gallows Road is a movie about faith lost and then found again. The struggles of Bob (Ernie Hudson) and Jake, actor and director Bill McAdams Jr. are very real and raw.  While our faith may seem lost for a little while, God always knows how to bring His children back to Him.

#7 – Remember the Titans

In 1971, T.C. Williams High School in Virginia is required to integrate the students of white and African-American schools. When African-American football coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) takes over as head coach, it creates friction with the school’s white coach, Bill Yoast (Will Patton). It isn’t until a two-week-long football camp that the team starts to bond, thanks to the cooperation of team captains. Captains Julius and Gerry set their differences aside for the team. 

After returning to school, the team experiences racial tension, and they have to decide whether they want to stick together or be pulled apart. They work together and end up with a winning streak of 13-0 for the season, going on to the state championship. Because the team put their faith in each other and their coaches, they were able to overcome the obstacles of racial prejudice.  

The acting in this movie does credit to the story, which is also based on true events. Denzel gave a strong performance as the no-nonsense coach of T.C. Williams High, and the friendship of Julius and Gerry was inspiring. I can see why this is one of the best football films out there.

#8 – I Am Potential

Born without eyes and a form of dwarfism that affects his joints so he can’t walk, Patrick Henry has many obstacles to overcome. One day his father, Patrick, plays the piano and discovers his young son loves it. This begins Patrick Henry’s love for music and he becomes an accomplished piano and trumpet player. Patrick is determined to make sure Patrick Henry fulfills his God-given purpose. He works hard throughout the years to support his son’s dreams.

After high school, Patrick Henry goes to the University of Louisville where he is determined to join the marching band and play his trumpet. He and his father end up becoming a two-man team. Patrick pushes his son’s wheelchair while he plays on the field with the band. This movie proves that, even with limitations, God can use us in great ways.  

#9 – The 5th Quarter

This is a true story of Luke Abbate, a 15-year-old who dies in a tragic car crash due to a friend’s reckless driving. Following this horrible loss, Luke’s older brother Jon struggles with his decision to continue to play college football for the Wake Forrest Demon Deacons. After speaking to his coach and with the encouragement of his friends and family, Jon decides to go back and play. He wears a number five jersey in honor of his little brother, who also played football. It was when Jon returned to the field that he started the tradition of holding up 5 fingers toward the audience in memorial of Luke. It became a tradition that the rest of the team and the audience started doing, as well.

This is a story that shows that hope can still be found even after the despair of loss. Director Rick Bieber brought the raw emotions of what the tragedy did to the Abbate family out into the forefront.

#10 – Hacksaw Ridge

Based on the 2004 documentary, The Conscientious Objector, Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond T. Doss. Due to the way he was raised and his religious views, Desmond takes the commandment “Thou Shalt not commit murder” seriously. During his time as a medic in the Army, he faces many obstacles, including being mocked by his fellow soldiers for his beliefs. During battle, he becomes a hero by saving 75 men, saying, “Lord, help me get one more, please. Help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his non-violent stance on the battlefield.

This movie is rated R for graphic war violence, but it’s a great faith-filled movie to watch.  Desmond’s belief in the Word and his determination not to kill anybody during World War II is inspiring. It’s hard to stick by your convictions when everyone is coming against you. When you’re determined to live your life according to a higher power, you can’t go wrong. 

Final Thoughts

The power of faith is one of the strongest forces on earth. It gives us the freedom to choose a better way when we’re in situations that normally would cause us to despair. I was impressed by each character’s perseverance in the face of trouble in these films. It was inspiring how people came together and supported one another. They prayed to God and their prayers were answered. Faith gives us hope in our darkest hour.

The fact that many of these films were based on true stories goes to show that faith is still alive everywhere you look today. Whether it’s in a trauma room with a grieving mother, in a little boy’s letters to God, a potato farm, a friendship retreat, football field, or battlefield, God sees and honors the faith of every person who calls out to Him. It’s by sticking together in unity that hope shows up and faith does its best work.

If you are looking for more faith-based film options, read about 8 Redemptive Films to Strengthen Your Marriage and our Top Ten Redemptive Christian Films.