39 Best Movies About Self-Discovery & Finding Yourself

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Looking for movies about self-discovery?

At some point in our lives, we are all compelled to embark on a journey to find ourselves.

We desire the following:

  • To discover our highest potential
  • To determine our life’s purpose
  • To find opportunities where we can best use our abilities

During this period, we also begin the gentle process of accepting our flaws and limitations.

There are a lot of movies about the journey of self-discovery. They serve as a mirror through which we see how far we’ve come in manifesting who we are destined to be.

In today’s post, we’re sharing a collection of the best movies about finding yourself. May this list inspire you to stay on course in your journey, no matter how difficult the path.

We also hope these films can affirm the struggles and triumphs you face in discovering your true self.

1. Wild

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This movie is about a newly divorced woman’s 94-day trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. During her journey, she meets several people and has experiences that renew her as a person.

2. Seven Years in Tibet

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In this movie, we are introduced to a mountaineer who joins an expedition to scale the Himalayas. However, World War II halts the expedition and the young mountaineer finds himself in Tibet.

The turbulent times in that country teach him humility and to realize the most important things in life.

3. Eat, Pray, Love

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This movie describes the journey of a woman who needs to find out what’s truly important to her. She leaves an unhappy marriage and travels around the world in search of enlightenment.

Her quest takes her to Italy, where she learns the value of being nourished.

Next, her sojourn to India teaches her to dive deeper into spirituality.

Finally, her trip to Bali brings her inner peace and true love.

4. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

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In this movie, we meet Alice, a young widow. After the death of her husband, she decides to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

Despite the obstacles in her way, Alice is determined to make her dream come true.

5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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Many people sacrifice their happiness for a secure job. In this movie, we meet Walter Mitty, a man who constantly daydreams in order to escape the tediousness of his job.

However, an opportunity for a real adventure presents itself in the form of a work assignment from his boss. Through this assignment, Mitty develops his courage and self-awareness.

6. This Beautiful Fantastic

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This movie is about an unusual young woman named Bella who has OCD and dreams of writing children’s books. Her friends save her from eviction by teaching her how to tend to her garden.

In the process, Bella also learns to fully blossom into her full potential.

7. The Art of Getting By

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This film is about a talented underachiever who decides one day that he’ll stop doing his homework and paying attention in class. He befriends a classmate who shows him that there are more exciting possibilities in his life.

8. Little Miss Sunshine

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In this movie, we get to know a family who is working together in support of the youngest child, who wishes to join the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

The road trip to the pageant becomes a journey of self-discovery for the entire family. It is also an opportunity for the family to bond and get to know each other better.

9. Lady Bird

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In this film we meet Christine, a senior high school student in a Catholic school who insists on being called Lady Bird. She is constantly in conflict with her equally strong-willed mother.

Things come to a head when Lady Bird decides to go to college on the East Coast, despite her mother’s financial struggles supporting the family.

In the end, Lady Bird’s actions and decisions bring her face to face with her true self, setting her on the road to maturity.

10. Kung Fu Panda 3

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All of the Kung Fu Panda movies depict different aspects of self-discovery. The third installment is as exuberant as ever.

It teaches a powerful lesson. In this film, Po learns that ultimate power resides in fully accepting his true identity.

11. The Bucket List

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This movie’s title refers to the proverbial “bucket list” — the things a person plans to do before they die.

In the film, we witness the adventures and misadventures of two men, Carter and Edward, one of whom is diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live. They escape the hospital to fulfill Carter’s bucket list before their time is up.

Along the way, they discover new things about themselves, as well as life’s true meaning.

12. The Kings of Summer

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In The Kings of Summer, we witness the coming of age of a group of friends who desire independence from their overbearing families. The friends decide to build a house in the woods and live off the land.

Throughout the movie, we watch the characters learn new and profound things about the world and life itself.

13. The Truman Show

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In this film, we witness the awakening of a person who, up to a certain point in the film, has lived a made-up life.

Harry Truman has lived his entire life as the main character in a live TV show. He isn’t aware of this until events around him gradually reveal that his entire life has been built on lies.

The film takes us on Harry’s own journey of self-discovery and his efforts to determine his own destiny.

14. I Feel Pretty

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Many of us feel that if we’re attractive enough, fun enough, or confident enough, wonderful things will start happening in our lives.

This movie introduces us to a woman who does not have confidence in herself. However, after sustaining a bad fall, she wakes up believing that her physical appearance has magically changed.

This perception makes her extremely confident.

Throughout the film, we witness how her newfound confidence in her own beauty allows her to change aspects of her life for the better.

15. My Girl 2

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This is a coming-of-age story about a young girl growing up in the mid-1970s. Thirteen-year-old Vada Sultenfuss wants to know more about her deceased mother. She travels alone to Los Angeles, hoping to find the information she needs. Her quest not only gives her insights in her mother’s life, but also reveals Vada’s own strength and the path to her dreams.

16. Into the Wild

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This movie is inspired by the true and tragic life story of a young man named Christopher McCandless, who referred to himself as Alexander Supertramp.

In this movie, we get to know Chris as a young man who steps away from a life of comfort and security in order to find himself. His goal is to live in the Alaskan wilderness.

Although his journey, McCandless meets several people who give him insights about life and himself.

17. Life Is Beautiful

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In the first half of this multi-awarded film, we witness how life blossoms beautifully for a Jewish bookkeeper named Guido. Before the Second World War, he married the woman he loves and they have a son.

In the second half of the movie, we witness Guido and his son captured and sent to a concentration camp. We also see how Guido does his best as a father to protect his son from the horrors of the Holocaust, using his imagination, resourcefulness, and humor.

18. How Stella Got Her Groove Back

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In this film, we are introduced to a 40-something woman named Stella who seems to be constantly unlucky when it comes to love. During a trip to Jamaica, Stella gets to know herself better, listening more to her heart as she makes life-changing decisions.

19. Almost Famous

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In this classic rock and roll film, we hop on a tour bus together with 15-year-old William Miller, a smart kid tapped by Rolling Stone magazine to write an article about an up-and-coming rock band called Stillwater.

Touring with the band, befriending a set of groupies who call themselves the “Band Aides,” and witnessing the ups and downs in the lives of the members of Stillwater serve as William’s own coming-of-age journey.

20. Dances With Wolves

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In this film, we get to know a man who leaves his former life as a Civil War soldier to live simply with a band of Sioux Indians. In this setting, the former soldier finds himself and receives the name “Dances with Wolves.”

21. Silver Linings Playbook

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In this film, we are introduced to Pat, a guy fresh out of a psychiatric facility. He is intent on “remaking” himself. Along the way, he befriends a widow and the two of them try their best to heal, overcome their past traumas, and (hopefully) find love.

22. Mulan

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In this movie, a daughter ponders how she can bring honor to her family.

Does it come from becoming a submissive bride to a suitable husband?

Or does it come from disguising herself as a soldier and running away from home to fight invaders in her father’s stead?

23. Chocolat

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Finally, in this film we get to know the people of a village in the French countryside during the early 1950s. These villagers are sticklers for tradition, and self-expression is considered taboo.

A strange woman and her daughter arrive one day and challenge the traditions of the village. The mother and daughter set up a chocolaterie, helping the villagers discover who they truly are.

24. Billy Elliot

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This touching movie is about a young boy who loves to dance and sets out to fulfill his dream of becoming a ballet dancer.

Although there are many male ballet dancers in the world, it isn’t easy for Billy Elliot to pursue his dreams. The people around him in the mining community where he lives can’t understand why he wants to be a dancer.

All the challenges Billy faces in pursuit of his dreams reveal his passion and, in the process, shape him into the person he wants to become.

25. Letters to Juliet

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On a trip to Verona, Italy, with her fiancé, Sophie visits the alleged house of Juliet from Shakespeare’s famous play about star-crossed lovers.

During her visit, she discovers a letter from 50 years ago, left below the balcony of Juliet’s house.

The letter that Sophie finds changes her life in many ways, the most important of which is discovering who she truly is and having the courage to live life more meaningfully.

26. Under the Tuscan Sun

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While the previous movie is set in Verona, this next one is set in Tuscany. This movie is based on the memoir of Frances Mayes, published with the same title as the film.

In this film, viewers are introduced to newly divorced writer Frances. With her friends’ encouragement, she goes to Italy and falls in love with a rundown villa.

Frances purchases the villa and moves to Italy to begin a new life. She is immersed in the villa’s renovations.

Little by little, the villa is restored to its glory. At the same time, Frances’ life is filled with new meaning.

27. Boyhood

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This captivating movie took 12 years to make. It won critical acclaim and numerous awards for its groundbreaking approach to filmmaking.

Rather than follow a standard Hollywood coming-of-age formula, this movie takes viewers on a sublime journey of self-discovery through the life of a boy from age 5 to 18.

28. The Darjeeling Limited

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This movie is about how grief transforms us. It is also a depiction of how often miscommunication happens among family members.

In the film, three brothers decide to reconnect a year after their father dies.

They decide to travel together across India. During their journey, not only do they get to know each other better, but they also learn to let go of baggage that no longer has meaning in their lives.

[Here are some tips for letting go of the past and living in the present moment.]

29. Garden State

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In this film, viewers get to know Andrew, who comes home to his estranged family after the death of his mother.

During his homecoming, Andrew is confronted with different aspects of his former life, as well as opportunities for new friendships.

This movie is about healing old wounds and doing the best we can to move forward in life.

30. Easy A

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This witty movie is about how high school student Olive Penderghast earns a bad reputation in high school because of gossip.

Olive does not deserve her new reputation and is even ridiculed and ostracized for it. However, she uses her newfound reputation to help the outcasts at school become accepted by their more popular peers.

But how will she rediscover her real self?

31. Moonlight

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Moonlight is about a boy growing up and finding his way to himself. It is a sometimes uncomfortable look at how unresolved trauma and personal issues influence who we are as adults.

In this movie, a young boy called Chiron faces different obstacles to his own self-expression. Viewers follow him through three key life events that shape his journey to self-discovery.

32. Joy

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This movie is based on a true story. In it, we meet Joy Mangano, a woman who has over a hundred patents to her name for the household products she invents.

Through her resourcefulness and determination, she created a business empire.

33. The Way

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The Camino de Santiago is an ancient trail considered to be one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage routes. Trekking the trail compels pilgrims to go on a journey of self-discovery.

In this movie, a father goes to Europe to claim the remains of his son who had died while walking the pilgrimage route. In honor of his son’s memory, the father decides to walk the route as well.

Along the way, the father meets other pilgrims. He slowly establishes friendship with some of them, learning more about them as he begins to appreciate his relationship with his deceased son.

34. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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This film is about a teenager who approaches life as a bystander. However, meeting new friends and falling in love for the first time gives him a chance to finally become an active participant in his own life story.

The movie reminds us to accept others as they are. It is also an invitation to accept and love ourselves as we are.

35. Persepolis

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In this movie, Marji Satrapi sits in an airport in France and recalls her childhood in Iran.

Wanting to avoid the restrictive society of the country, Marji’s family sends her to Europe. In Europe, she faces various hardships and situations that lead to her denying her roots.

This animated biographical film is about staying true to yourself and never forgetting your heritage, no matter how challenging that can be.

36. Fish Tank

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In this film we get to know 15-year-old Mia. She is constantly in conflict with her verbally abusive mother and hellion of a sister.

Her situation at home and her social status mean she has no creative outlet for her love of hip hop dancing.

This movie is a heartbreaking reminder that there are those who do find themselves but, because of their personal circumstances, find it hard to fully express who they truly are.

37. Real Women Have Curves

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This empowering coming-of-age story introduces us to Ana, a young woman who struggles to balance her duties as a daughter and following her dreams.

The path Ana decides to take will determine her place in the world.

38. Pariah

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This film focuses on the struggles of a teenager slowly coming to terms with her true identity. In it, we see a powerful young person choose her own path in life and decide to stand by her choice no matter what challenges she may face.

39. The Edge of Seventeen

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This movie is a testament to how challenging it is to be a teenager, navigating through high school life, friendships, and relationships.

It also highlights the value of growing up and improving yourself now that you’re on your way to adulthood.

Final Thoughts on Movies About Self-Discovery

The films featured today depict the exciting and often arduous journey of finding yourself. Each of these movies reminds us that, as humans, we have an innate need to find meaning in our lives.

We hope you find what you’re looking for.

Meanwhile, here are more movie collections for specific topics for you to enjoy:

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39 Best Movies About Self-Discovery & Finding Yourself