20 Inspiring Movies About Disabled People
Movies have the power to inspire. The films on our list have been a gift to the world because of their disability representation.
From fierce disabled action heroes and genius scientists to championship-winning sportswomen and fictional superheroes, these movies have shown how much can be done when people continue living, thriving, and motivating others despite their disabilities.
So if you’re interested in learning a few of the most inspiring movies about disabled people, you’ve come to the right blog. We’ve found some of the best to share.
1. Skyscraper - 2018
Skyscraper is an action movie that was released in 2016 and grossed $304.9 million. It might not have been one of the best films, but it has decent disability representation.
The main character, played by Dwayne Johnson, was a former FBI agent who lost his leg. Because of his injury, he had to wear a prosthesis. Viewers see Johnson complete daring stunts throughout the film with his prosthetic leg on display.
This representation showcased that those who have lost a leg can still save the day and undertake incredible feats of bravery.
2.The Theory of Everything - 2014
There is no other film that has managed to inspirationally show that disabilities don’t discriminate than “The Theory of Everything”. This biographic romantic drama film was released in 2014 and grossed $123.7 million at the American box office.
It centers around the renowned British theoretical physicist Stephan Hawking and his disability Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease. Throughout the film, the audience watches Hawking’s life unfold. The focus is on his battles and how he overcame them to become one of the most celebrated scientific minds in history, despite his many limitations.
3. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution - 2020
It might not have been a box office hit, but “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” was one of the best documentaries to showcase the famed disability camp found in the Catskills in the US. This documentary was produced by Michelle and Barack Obama’s production company.
So it’s no wonder that it did a great job telling the story of the camp that housed disabled youth over the summer in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. At times the documentary was boisterous and shocking. Yet, by the end, it showed how far disability representation has come, that the disabled are no longer widely hidden from the world.
4. Ray - 2004
The film “Ray” won Jamie Fox an Oscar award for his incredibly inspiring portrayal of the legendary musician, singer, and songwriter Ray Charles. In this movie, Fox does a spectacular job showing viewers a glimpse into the life of the blind musician who lost his sight at age seven.
“Ray” showcases the spirit of never giving up and that anything can be achieved through dedication to one’s craft. Even after losing his sight, Ray became incredibly successful and influential.
5. The Fundamentals of Caring - 2016
One of the best book adaptations featuring a disabled person was “The Fundamentals of Caring”. This 2016 comedy-drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and starred Paull Rudd, Selena Gomez, and Craig Roberts. Many critics proclaimed it a success, with some citing it as a darkly comedic road trip movie with strong elements of friendship and acceptance.
The film focuses on a disabled teen unhappy with his lack of life experience and a newly hired and underqualified carer who wants to help him experience life. During “The Fundamentals of Caring”, this unlikely team embarks on a road trip that defies the main character’s mobility limits. Many have found this film inspiring because it explores the many limitations disabled people face in society and how having a true friend can be a blessing.
6. The Peanut Butter Falcon - 2019
In 2019, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” was the highest-grossing independent film. This comedy-drama centers on friendship, fortitude, and the pursuit of dreams. Unlike other movies with disability representation, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” features a main character who has a disability in real life.
The film follows the adventures of a down syndrome main character. This young man runs away from his assisted living facility to pursue his dreams as a wrestler. After stowing away on his boat, he meets with a fisherman. The pair set sail together, eventually striking up a friendship and achieving dreams.
7. Still Alice - 2015
Not every person with a disability is born with one, and seemingly brilliant people often become disabled later in life. The film “Still Alice” showcases this sentiment with a brilliant linguistics professor developing early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease.
This film is raw and brutally honest. It shows viewers how difficult it is for families to adjust to life around someone who has developed a disability. Also, the film touches on some of the struggles people with a disability face. For example, caregiving, suicide, and self-determination.
8. Walk. Ride. Rodeo. - 2019
It might not always be plausible for a disabled person to still do what they love, but it’s never out of the realm of possibility. The movie “Walk. Ride. Rodeo” does an excellent job at showing how one can overcome the challenges of their disability to continue doing something they are passionate about.
This film is a biopic based on a true story. It centers on how nationally ranked rodeo barrel racer Amberley Snyder became paralyzed. Viewers are shown her will and determination to continue doing what she loves despite her disability from the waist down. With her family’s support and commitment, she resumed riding and returned to active competition.
9. I Am Sam - 2001
One of the most impactful early 2000s films that displayed the struggles of disabled parents was “I Am Sam”. This film showed that those with an intellectual disability have the right to a family. It also showed that disabled parents are capable of looking after themselves and others with help.
During the film, Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, and Michelle Pfieffer give extraordinary performances. They showcase social prejudices and stereotypes. Yet, despite highlighting social difficulties, “I Am Sam” also shows a parent’s love. It does this while showing how a community can work together to better the lives of someone with a disability.
10. Breathe - 2017
In the film “Breathe”, the world learns the story of a man overcoming his terminal diagnosis and depression while learning to live with his disability. It’s based on a true story, with the main character representing one of the longest-living polio survivors.
During the film, the main character contracted polio. This left him paralyzed from the neck down. Throughout the movie, we are shown his struggles and how he is confined to his bed. That is until his wife and family manage to help him live again.
11.The Intouchables - 2011
Unfortunately, caregiving of the disabled is not a popular movie theme. That’s why the film “The Intouchables” was so well received. The audience is shown how kind and humane people can be to the disabled. It also shows how many of those with disabilities have to adjust to a different life.
The film’s main character is a quadriplegic who is a former daredevil. When an accident leaves him paralyzed, he is left with no mobility and no will to live, until his caregiver lifts his spirits and shows him that life as a disabled man is worth living.
12. Wonder - 2017
Youths with disabilities have a challenging time fitting in with the rest of the world. The movie “Wonder” showed how mean children can be to their peers with disabilities. Yet, “Wonder” also did a fine job showing how disabilities can make an individual unique. It also demonstrates how educated people can change their treatment of the disabled.
It centers on a young boy with Treacher Collins syndrome being put into public school for the first time. As it progresses, it shows his development from being bullied to being accepted. Not only did this film spread awareness of this condition, but it also showed that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
13. Shazam! - 2019
Shazam might be a fun superhero movie, but it has depths. This is thanks to its incredible portrayal of life with a disability. One of the main characters in this movie is on crutches. This is because of a debilitating illness that makes mobility difficult.
This boy is forced to watch his superhero friend throw away his responsibility and powers during the film. All the while, he’s left wishing he could have them so he could walk again. It expertly shows how able-bodied people take life for granted. Also, how disabled individuals have to struggle to get the attention they deserve.
14. Stronger - 2017
Not many films can do amputees justice, but “Stronger” is one of them. This 2017 film tells the tale of struggle, desperation, strength, and acceptance.
During the movie, viewers are told the story of a real-life Boston Marathon bombing victim. This character struggles to learn to live with a disability after he becomes an amputee. Throughout the film, viewers are shown how he tries not to be defined by his disability and how he learns to be an inspiration to others.
15. Chained for Life - 2019
Few movies cast actors with real-life disabilities. But like the other movie we mentioned, “Chained for Life” does. Not only did this film cast an actor with a visible disability, but it was directed by a director who was born with a bilateral cleft palate.
This film is a movie within a movie. It showcases how society interacts with disabled individuals who are often ostracized. Yet, it also shows how everyone is worthy of love regardless of their disability. It portrays how there’s nothing wrong with a ‘beautiful’ person loving someone with disabilities.
16. The Sessions - 2012
Very rarely do films showcase what it’s like to be disabled while having sexual desires. But the movie “The Sessions” does an incredible job. In this movie, viewers see how sex workers help disabled people. These sexual therapists help the disabled make an intimate connection. Yet, they do this while caring for their basic needs.
It highlights the role a sex surrogate therapist plays in the lives of those impaired. Ultimately, “The Sessions” explains why people should be more open to supporting surrogate sex therapy. After all, it’s hugely beneficial for the disabled because of all the good it can do.
17. Mozart and the Whale - 2005
Many people don’t realize that autism can be seen as a disability. During the film “Mozart and the Whale,” audiences meet two individuals with Asperger’s syndrome. These two leads are trying to find love and a healthy romantic relationship. The actors did an exceptional job of showing how those with Aspergers go about their daily lives. Thus helping to educate the masses.
The movie provides viewers with an in-depth look into the many social challenges experienced by people living with autism. It gives insightful information about life on the spectrum. Yet, it manages to do this while being heartwarming and inspirational.
18. Miracle Run - 2004
Another excellent film showcasing autism as a disability is “Miracle Run”. This movie is based on a true story, it tells the tale of a mother’s love for her children and her struggle to help them through life.
In the movie, viewers are shown how autism can alienate parents. It shows how it can cause them to lose friendships, jobs, homes, and family. Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. The movie demonstrates why persevering is worth it. It also shows how a parent can help autistic children achieve their dreams and flourish in life.
19. Love & Other Drugs - 2010
Not all love stories are a walk in the park. The film “Love & Other Drugs” shows how love can be challenging when one partner has a disability. During the movie, we’re shown a couple that doesn’t have the easiest time together. They break up because the female lead has Parkinson’s.
When the male lead decides he cannot stay with her, they go their separate ways. That is, until they find their way back to one another. It expertly shows the impact having Parkinson’s can have on one’s life and how it can affect a relationship. Yet, it also demonstrates how love can conquer all.
20.Me Before You - 2016
One of the most heartwarming films to come out in 2016 was “Me Before You”. In this movie, the bubbly female lead is the opposite of the paralyzed disabled person she is hired to care for.
The more time they spend together, the closer they grow until romance blooms. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t have a happy ending. But it does shine a light on giving disabled people a chance to end their lives humanely to achieve peace.
Now you know 20 of the best films to watch if you’re looking for an inspiring story starring a disabled character. Each film on this list will make you look at life differently.
It will also help you understand better what the disabled go through. If nothing else, it will teach you how to be compassionate and kind to others.