The 25 Best Orphan Movies of All Time You Can’t Miss

There are only two orphan movies but there are so many good orphan movies that you will never tired of watching if you start watching them now.

Here are 25 best orphan movies that have left an unforgettable mark on us and millions of movie fans worldwide. From heartwarming dramas to thrilling adventures, these films will teach you to survive in the toughest situations.

Whenever you find that the odds aren’t in your favor, just open your TV screen start watching these movies. They are the best ones so you don’t need to question your instincts before streaming them. The best part is that, many of them are based on true events and that makes them even more relatable.

#25 The Orphanage (2007)

Directed by JA Bayona, the Orphanage movie presents an intriguing narrative, skillfully weaving together classic frights like eerie sounds emanating from walls and doors, and the unsettling presence of masked children, with contemporary elements such as Simon’s HIV-positive status.

The Orphanage (2007 movie) scene featuring Roger Príncep as Simón Sánchez Rivera

The film owes much of its strength to the exceptional performance of Belén Rueda, who skillfully carries the weight of the entire movie. if you’re seeking intense terror and gruesome scenes, you may find the film’s chilling moments to be more poetic than gruesome.

#24 Annie (1982)

The Aileen Quinn orphan movie has the power to uplift your spirits even on gloomy days. Its story is about a spunky young orphan who is adopted by a rich eccentric orphanage running woman.

While the film is not without its flaws, such as its unnecessarily lengthy runtime and certain plot devices that feel contrived, overall, I had a fantastic time watching it.

If you haven’t watched it yet then this might be the right time. Give Annie a watch, she’s the oldest orphan in the world that debuted on 5 Aug 1924 as a daily comic in the New York daily news.

#23 Oliver! (1968)

Based on a classic novel of Charles Dickens, this musical film follows the journey of an orphan boy in Victorian London. After being sold to a mortician, Oliver Twist runs away and meets a group of pickpockets trained by an elder.

This film is an undeniable masterpiece that deserves a prominent spot on any prestigious list of best orphan movies and should be granted a position of utmost distinction at The American Film Institute.

I can confidently say that it surpasses any other orphan movie musical I have ever watched during 2010s. The era of movie musicals may have faded into obscurity long ago, which is truly a shame, but this particular film still stands as the epitome of excellence within the musical orphan genre.

#22 The Blind Side (2009)

This 2009 movie is based on the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless man who got a shelter in a compassionate and caring family. Our beloved Sandra Bullock has delivered an outstanding performance as Michael’s mother Leigh Anne Tuohy in the orphan based movie.

The orphan movie shows how the power of love can move strong mountains. Before meeting with Tuohy family, Oher was a traumatized and depressed boy who had no purpose in life but in the end, he discovered peace in a loving family.

#21 Lion (2016)

Another film for you based on true events, Lion is a 2016 Australian biographical film based on the life of a young boy named Saroo Brierly who gets separated from his family and gets reunited after 15 years with the help of Google Earth.

This heartwarming story will take you on an adventurous ride and will teach you many important lessons like taking care of each other, being resposible, and have the courage to never give up.

#20 The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Now, this orphan movie is for those who are looking for abusive fathers. The movie sets against the backdrop of racial tensions in the 1960s and follows a cute girl named Lily Owens.

The Secret Life of Bees (2008) orphan movie scene showing Dakota Fanning as Lily

Out of frustration, Lily decides to escape from her barbaric father’s home to settle with a trio of beekeeping sisters. The film is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and has received mostly positive reviews for its depiction of black and white togetherness.

#19 Hugo (2011)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the 2011 orphan movie takes us through the 1930s Paris where a young orphan named Hugo Cabret lives alone at the Gare Montparnasse railway station. The boy is trying to fix his father’s automation while finding his life’s purpose.

When Hugo encounters a mysterious girl and an aging film producer, his life changes completely. This is a powerful and only French movie you ever witness among orphan based movies. It teaches us the importance of imagination and findind our purpose in the world.

#18 Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Most people say that but they don’t believe in it. I want you to say it, repeat it, and believe it because that’s the truth. You will realize how blessed you are after watching this movie.

The Italian film is directed by Roberto Benigni and sets during the World War II. It follows a Jewish father named Guido who uses his witty jokes and humor to safeguard his son from the horrors of the concentration camps they are are forced into.

In that very horrific environment, Guido has the guts to shield his son with his humor, that teaches us valuable lessons of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love in dark times.

#17 Matilda (1996)

This is especially for children as the movie itself is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children book of the same name as this orphan movie. As this is for kids, it has some supernatural elements like the main character of the film is a gifted girl with extraordinary capabilities.

Even after facing neglect and cruelty of her adoptive parents, Matilda shines even brighter like the sun. She learns through her pain and become powerful with time. This whimsical film shows that everyone is unique in their own way.

#16 The Jungle Book (2016)

Rudyard Kipling is a big name when it comes to story books for kids and the 2016 movie is also an adapted from his book of the same name. It follows an orphaned boy named Mowgli who grew up in jungle in between the animals and raised by wolves.

This reminds us of the importance of family, friendship, and embracing our true selves. Most of you might already aware about this one and it is possible that you have already watched this movie thrice, but that doesn’t you need to stop. Watch again while thinking about this lesson.

#15 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

No man on Earth is unaware of the magical world of Hogwarts except aliens. The JK Rowling’s work has been adapted into a feature film by director Chris Columbus.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001 movie) showing Danielle Radcliffe in the role of Harry Potter

The supernatural film introduces us to an orphan boy named Harry Potter, who possess extraordinary powers and gets stronger with time. In his journey, he learns many important lessons of life from his mentors like Prof Dumbledore, Prof Snape, and others.

Not only kids but millenials also love to watch all the Harry Potter movies that explores the themes of bravery, friendship, and togetherness.

#14 Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Cindrella is a classic fairy tale adaptation that follows Ella, a teenage girl who always gets mistreatment from her stepmother and stepsisters (you’d probably know if you have heard Cindrella’s story in childhood, obviously).

Without getting overhwhelmed with the selfish behavior of her own family, Ella gets success in impressing a crown prince Kit while her stepsisters kept on drooling to him.

This is the story of perseverance and being good to others even if they don’t return the favor. But do that in front of right people because things have changed today, it’s not 1800s.

#13 A Little Princess (1995)

The American family drama film is directed by Alfonso Cuaron and follows a young girl named Sara who went missing during the first World War after the news breakout that her father has been killed in combat.

Despite of facing tough challenges and harsh circumstances, the girl show resilience and shine through her strength to get a better life in a New York City boarding school.

#12 The Karate Kid (1984)

Wohoo!!! Teenager orphan movie time. The Karate Kid is a martial arts drama film that follows Daniel LaRusso, a transfer student from another town who faces bullying.

With the guidance of his mentor Mr Miyagi, LaRusso learns karate and become a karate kid. Mr Miyagi gives him the strength that he needs to stand against his bullies like Johnny Lawrence and his boys.

This underdog story of Daniel LaRusso tells us the strength of continous practice, discipline, and hard work with the right teacher.

#11 Despicable Me (2010):

The 2010 CGI animated orphan movie follows a supervillain named Gru who uses his minions to steal the stuff but he undergoes a transformative journey after adopting three orphaned girls.

With their utmost love and respect, Gru starts feeling ashamed about his nasty stuff and eventually chose to become a good person to please her adopted daughters.

I know your eyes are full of water now, this happened with me too when I was writing the plot for you. It reminds us that any person can change and nobody do bad things intentionally, there’s always a purpose behind it whether lack of attention or love.

#10 Whale Rider (2002)

Directed and written by Niki Caro, Whale Rider is a drama film based on the 1987 novel that talks about a youthful Maori girl named Paikea, who challenges her cultural traditions to become a leader of her tribe.

Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paikea Apirana in Whale Rider movie

Through her deep connection with whales and immovable will of becoming the chief, Paikea’s role taught us the importance of not giving up on your dreams to please others. It also motivates us to stay true to ourself without hurting cultural heritage.

#09 Stuart Little (1999)

Here’s my favorite childhood orphan movie that I never got tired of watching. Stuart is the main character of this movie and the little belongs her small stature, he’s a small hamster mouse who is adopted by a human family.

This heartwarming film will teach you numerous important life lessons as acceptance, love, and bonds of love and friendship that can be made regardless of differences in opinions. You will understand what I am saying after you finish this movie.

#08 The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the inspiring true story of American business and motivational speaker Chris Gardener who was struggling with homelessness during the early 1980s due to financial problems.

He was facing challenges while raising his toddler son. However, he didn’t give up and chose to become a stockbroker and eventually become a founder at his own brokerage firm. What have you learnt from Gardner’s story?

We have learned how determination can overcome any adversity and the resilience of human spirit is way more powerful than we think.

#07 Orphan (2009)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Orphan is a psychological horror orphan movie that follows the story of a couple who adopts an innocent girl after the death of their own unborn child.

Unaware of the dark secret of their adopted girl, the family has to face the consequences of the psychopathic girl whose knowledge is far more than expected from girls at her age.

This film challenges the notion of unconditional love and complexities with families.

#06 The Prince of Egypt (1998)

A faith based film (like The Chosen) directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells for Dreamworks animation. It tells the Biblical tale of Moses. He was raised as an Egyptian Prince and leads his people to freedom.

All the events have been explained with the help of visuals and there is a lot to learn from it like power of faith, courage, fight against injustice.

#05 Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

The Orphan movie follows a missy named Hushpuppy who is learning about the harsh realities of life for the first time in a Louisiana bayou community.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) orphan movie showing Hushpuppy in jungle

Even though, it feels like a mountain is falling on her, she learns to embrace challenges after the sudden demise of her alcoholic but loving father Wink. This action of her reminds us the importance of patience and self control at the time of facing adversities.

#04 Orphan Train (1979)

Based on true events, Orphan Train is kind of those Orphan movies that talks about the historical practices of relocating orphaned children to new families.

It showcases the challenges faced by orphan kids while moving into their new families and this made-for-TV film sheds light on the issue on a personal level as real orphans were used as the subject to prepare scripts.

#03 Room (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Room follows the story of a woman who has been held captive for seven years in a small room and her five year old son was also born in this captivity.

Unaware from the outside world, the child faces difficulty in adapting with the outside world but as the time passes by, he learns the importance of freedom. Eventually, the film teaches us the strength of the mother-child bond and indomitable human spirit in hard times.

#02 Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

What if I told you the story of two orphans falling in love? It happens rarely but here’s a movie recommendation for you.

Moonrise Kingdom is a whimsical tale of two young orphans who fall in love and embark on an adventure together in a small town of New England.

This movie explores the themes of young love, complexities in adulthood, and friendship bonds.

#01 Kolya (1996)

A heartwarming Czech orphan movie that tells the life changing story of a middle-aged celist who forms a powerful bond with a young Russian boy.

Kolya (1996) movie about an orhpan boy and celist

The film is directed by Czech fimmaker Jan Svěrák and stars his father Zdeněk Svěrák in the main role of that celist. It teaches us the transformative power of human conenection.


So, these were 25 of the best orphan movies that we and millions of viewers found interesting but this is just a drop of water of the ocean.

The world of cinema is huge and new movies are coming everyday. That’s why, we encourage you to leave your suggestions at the end of this article.

You can also share these recommendations to your friends, family members or anyone you love.

Lakshya Kaushik

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