16 Movies with Important Life Lessons

Martin Scorsese once said that ‘movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds.’  Here are some movies that touched my heart and taught me some valuable life lessons. 

The Wood - Mackin’ and hangin’ is important. 


My all-time favorite movie taught me a lot about friendships and love. The hilarious coming of age story focuses on four guys growing up in Inglewood, California. The story jumps around several different instances as the friends reminisce on some of the most important times of their lives. One of the main memories focuses on the grade school love story between Mike (Omar Epps) and Alicia (Sanaa Lathan). The movie taught an important lesson on how friendships and relationships are an important part of our individual growth process. Appreciate all of the friends and lovers that you have had in your life (even if they were bad situations) they made you the strong person that you are today. 

Scarface - Go for what you want. 

“Me, I want what’s coming to me…. The world, chico, and everything in it.”

Aside from all of the illegal activities that Tony Montana (Al Pacino) indulged in, it was evident that he knew what he wanted and he worked hard to get it. He was the definition of a go-getter and one of the valuable lessons that he taught us was that whatever we want to achieve..we can..we just have to put in the work to get it. 

Freedom Writers - Empathize. You never know what other people are going through. 

“Lady, I'm lucky if I make it to 18. We in a war. We're graduating every day we live.”
“Nobody ever listens to a teenager. Everybody thinks you should be happy just because you're young. They don't see the wars that we fight every single day. And one day, my war will end. And I won't die. And I will not tolerate abuse from anyone. I am strong.”


The true story of a young teacher (Hilary Swank) who inspires her class of at-risk students is a wonderful film full of gems. This movie taught me that you never know what people are going through in their lives. Never pass judgment. Empathize. 

Love Jones - Love is urgent. 

'When people who been together a long time say that the romance is gone, what they're really saying is they've exhausted the possibility' 

One of my very first crushes in life was Larenz Tate (I was 6 years old and crushing on this man ya’ll lol) when I saw him in this passionate and thought-provoking film. Watching the relationship blossom between a poet, Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate), and a photographer, Nina Mosley (Nia Long) was all I needed to see in order to teach me how true love should feel. You’ll know the love is real when you can feel it in your bones and you can’t fight the attraction. 

Waiting to Exhale - You can always depend on your girls. 

“Girlfriend, here’s to peace of mind and all the happiness your heart and hand can hold cause Lord knows you deserve it.”

Bernadine, Savannah, Robin, and Gloria (Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon, Loretta Devine) were not the best when it came to relationships. However, watching the four friends be there for one another in times of great loss and love…teaches us that no matter if you are single or deeply in love, your girls will always be right there beside you. 

Forrest Gump - Life is simple….we make it complicated. 

“Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you’re gonna get” 

A classic sentimental film about a kind-hearted man Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) who navigates through life learning different lessons. This movie emphasizes that you can, in fact, live a simple life and be extremely happy. The movie also taught me that life is unexpected, we just have to go with the flow of things. 

Mean Girls - Talking bad about other people won’t make you feel better about yourself. 

Calling someone fat doesn’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. All you can do in life is try and solve the problem in front of you.”

 This is one of the most iconic movies of our generation. Watching an American teen girl (Lindsey Lohan) navigate her way through high school and trying to find herself, taught us all a lesson about ourselves. One being…trash talking someone else won’t make you feel any better about yourself. Why waste your time being a nasty person, when you can be someone that other people respect and look up to? 

 Yes Man - Don’t be afraid to take chances.

“Never avoid opportunities. They may come in any form."

Amongst the long list of my favorite Jim Carrey films, this movie is at the top. This movie is about a bank employee (Jim Carrey) who is used to saying no to everything in his life. Once he attends a motivational seminar, things begin to change. Living relatively unhappy, he decides to say ‘Yes’ to everything that comes his way in attempt to change his life. This movie will inspire you to stop blocking the blessings that may come your way. 

The Pursuit of Happyness - You can do it. 

“You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you ‘you can’t do it’. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Turn this movie on and I’m weeping five minutes into the film. This tear-jerker taught me that you can do anything if you have drive and faith in yourself. The movie is about a salesman (Will Smith) who overcomes multiple defeats and challenges including his wife leaving him and being homeless with his young son (Jaden Smith). Throughout the movie, he never gave up. If you have been feeling down and out in life lately, remember this movie. He overcame every obstacle and reminded us that bad times don't last forever. Your initial circumstance doesn't determine the final outcome!

Pay it Forward - Kindness and generosity pay in how you feel about yourself. 

“I guess it's hard for people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they're bad - to change. 'Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses”

A film of kindness, generosity, and extreme gratitude. This movie is about a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who creates a good-will movement, where he helps 3 people with something that they can’t do themselves. Sometimes in life, it pays to lend a helping hand to those in need. This movie inspired me when I was growing up, to be more sympathetic and giving to those in need. 

Bring It On - Be original. 

“Every time we get some, here ya'll come trying to steal it, putting some blonde hair on it and calling it something different.”

This classic showed us the importance of teamwork, democracy, originality, and spirit fingers. The film, about a champion high school cheerleading squad, discovers its previous captain stole all of their best routines from an inner-city school, made it clear that it is lame to steal from others and claim it as your own. You can win by being yourself....being original. 


The Lion King - Don’t worry so much. 

“Hakuna Matata…it means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s a problem-free…philosophy….Hakuna Matata.”

One of my favorite animated movies everrrrr taught me a lot growing up. The musical film follows Simba, a lion cub, who is to be the future king after his father dies. We watch as Simba searches for his identity. In the midst of finding himself, Simba finds Timon and Pumbaa who end up raising and teaching Simba valuable lessons like ‘Hakuna Matata’. I definitely received some of my worry-free methods from this film. 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Appreciate life. 

“For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.”

Another one of my all-time favorite films....this interesting movie is a tale about a man who is born old and ages backward (Brad Pitt). Through the film, we see his life filled with love, life, and death. This movie is inspiring because it teaches you to appreciate your life and the people in it. Also, it teaches us about selflessness.... Queenie (Taraji P Henson) takes in the aging child (after he was abandoned on her doorstep) and raises him as her own. 

The Best Man - True love is being able to forgive. 


Forgiveness is a concept that took me a while to master. When it comes down to friendships and relationships, being able to forgive is important. Watching NFL star Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut) forgive his soon-to-be wife Mia (Monica Calhoun) for sleeping with his friend in college (Taye Diggs) was proof that love and forgiveness are synonymous. 

Poetic Justice - Moving on can be difficult...until someone comes along to make it easier. 

"alone, all alone. nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone…"

Still grieving after the murder of her boyfriend, hairstylist Justice (Janet Jackson) writes poetry to deal with the pain of her loss. Justice meets mail carrier Lucky (Tupac Shakur) and even though they started out on rocky grounds, they grow close and fond of one another. Ultimately, Lucky helps Justice move on and she begins to put her grieving behind her. Moving on can be hard but sometimes it just takes the right person to come along and speed up the process. 

The Scent of a Woman - Never give up. 

"You don't wanna die.."
"Neither do you"
"Give me one good reason not to"
"I'll give you two. You can dance the tango and drive a Ferrari better than anyone I've ever seen.."
"You never seen anyone do either..."

 The Scent of a Woman is a heartwarming story of how a private school student, Charlie (Chris O'Donnell), helps change the life of the crotchety, blind, ex-colonel, Frank Slade (Al Pacino). To help pay for a trip home for Christmas, Charlie agrees to look after Frank over Thanksgiving. At the beginning of the weekend, Frank takes Charlie to New York, where he reveals to the student that he intends to visit his family, have a few terrific meals, sleep with a beautiful woman and, finally, commit suicide. The film follows the mismatched pair over the course of the weekend, as they learn about life through their series of adventures. Meanwhile, Charlie breaks through to Frank and encourages him not to give up on life (no matter how difficult it may seem). This movie is a constant reminder to me that there are a lot of people out there who are going through worse situations than me....if they aren't giving up, why should I? It's a testament to our character to continue striving in life. Sidebar - Al Pacino is the greatest!

Keep watching movies and keep being inspired.