Viewing films and TV series related to Honors Study Topic themes can be a fun and easy way to involve your chapter, college and community in the investigation of the Honors Study Topic. Consider one of these for your chapter’s next movie night.
Film List –
Transformations: Acknowledging, Assessing, and Achieving Change
9 to 5 (1980).
This classic comedy explores the lives of three working women who often fantasize about striking back against their autocratic, sexist boss. A fun and dated look at women’s roles in the office in the 1970s as well as issues of leadership, teamwork, and grit.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
A pretty, popular teenager can't go out on a date until her ill-tempered older sister does. The film is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.
12 Angry Men (1957).
In this film 12 jurors are set about the task of deciding the fate of a man on trial. When one juror locks the jury the group must grapple with issue of how to deal with dispensing justice.
The film explores the loophole in the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which ended slavery “except as a punishment for crime.” Director Ava DuVernay painstakingly demonstrates how segregationists used police and prisons to maintain control over minorities after the Civil War, in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, and, more recently, during the war on drugs, leading to the United States currently having the largest incarceration rate in the world.
A Good Year (2006).
A British investment broker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. He discovers a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold.
Amreeka ( 2006).
This film focusses on the struggles of being a Palestinian Christian and examines the difficulty of Palestinian immigrant experiences.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017).
A sequel to the 2006 documentary about climate change and the need for immediate action on the part of human beings to transform their behavior in ways that save the planet.
When a spacecraft lands on earth, a team of experts, led by linguist, Louise Banks, is brought together to decipher the language of the visitors and to initial communication. However, those in authority lose patience with the process, and soon are prepared to embark upon a global war with the visitors.
Anna and the King (1999).
The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s.
A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.
Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families.
Battle of the Sexes (2017). The story of the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” between tennis champion Billie Jean King and former tennis professional Bobby Riggs. The film addresses the match itself as well as the circus atmosphere around it, and it also tackles social issues of the 1970s when the sports world and the nation were on the verge of important transformations.
Blackfish describes several killer whales held in captivity, including the killer whale, Tilikum, and the story behind the deaths of three individuals involved with this whale. The story goes on to describe the practice of trapping killer whales and maintaining them in captivity. Blackfish shows the potential for devastating consequences of keeping these intelligent mammals in captivity.
Black Robe (1991).
A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter. Film provides great examples of cultural misunderstandings and communication issues.
Bonsai People (2011).
In this documentary the filmmaker looks at several women who received microcredit loans and how they benefit from them. The film also highlights the ways in which microcredit loans are unable to solve some of the more complex problems faced by these women.
Bottle Shock (2008).
The story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".
Bowling for Columbine (2003).
In this documentary, Michael Moore describes the astronomical number of people killed in the United States by firearms in comparison to firearm deaths in several other countries. He discusses the availability of guns at local Walmart’s, violent national history, violent entertainment, and poverty.
In this dramatic film, a woman, Agnes, escapes her abusive ex-husband, and meets a new man - a paranoiac drifter named Peter. As they begin a relationship, Peter’s belief system leads the couple down a rabbit trail of paranoid delusion and conspiracy theory, ending in cataclysmic consequences.
Catch Me If You Can (2002).
The true story of con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr. who masqueraded as a pilot, doctor, and attorney, scamming millions of dollars through forgery. This film provides an opportunity to explore how we connect with deceit.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.
Coming to America (1988).
An extremely pampered African prince travels to Queens, New York City, and goes undercover to find a wife whom he can respect for her intelligence and will.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014).
This documentary series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, explores how humans discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. This show, according to Tyson, searches for truth, no matter the consequences.
Documentary exploring the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. Investigates large scale environmental issues such as global warming.
Dances with Wolves (1990).
Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.
Dirty Pretty Things (2002).
Crime thriller about a group of London hotel employees who stumble upon an illegal organ-selling ring operating out of their workplace. It offers a glimpse into the human motivations, fears, and ambitions of the workers - mostly illegal immigrants - who work and sacrifice to keep the hotel running smoothly.
The film, based on the book by Veronica Roth, follows the journey of Tris Prior as she discovers her identity through a series of required challenges. Tris must navigate the complicated relationships present in her world with the realization that she is not like everyone else.
Do the Right Thing (1989).
This Spike Lee film focuses on simmering racial conflicts between Brooklyn’s black and Italian communities. Its plot revolves around a pizza owner’s mistreatment of his black customers and the creative methods they use to fight back. Ultimately, the film is an analysis of the best methods of achieving justice.
Exploring Market Research (2009).
Film explores the design, collection, analysis, and reporting of marketing research data relevant to a firm’s current and future needs.
ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982).
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.
Fed up (2014).
This documentary describes food industry secrets regarding American weight gain and why this weight is so hard to lose. The film reveals a plethora of information regarding the sugar industry, additionally, describing how Americans become sick, more than realized, from what is consumed.
Flags of Our Fathers (2006).
The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.
Food Inc. (2009).
In this documentary, the filmmakers describe the methods of food production in the United States as a response to the tremendous growth of the fast food industry. The film describes how America produces large quantities of food at low prices. They go on to discuss factory farming, health and safety of the food and animals, and the negative consequences of this type of food production.
Fruitvale Station (2013).
This film chronicles the shooting of a 22-year old man who was inexplicably killed by local police. It emphasizes the tensions that often arise between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. It draws attention to the complex relationships among individuals, families, communities, and governments.
In the not-too-distant future, a less-than-perfect man wants to travel to the stars; however, society has categorized him as a less than suitable human, due to his genetic make-up. To achieve his goal of star travel, he assumes the identity of another man, deemed a perfect genetic specimen, learning how to deceive DNA and urine sample testing to achieve his goal.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).
Painful and profane dramatic film exploring what happens when an office sales team competes - and is told that anyone lower than second place will lose their job. Film is a provocative exploration of competition in the workplace.
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey (1988).
Scientist Dian Fossey traveled to Africa to study the mountain gorillas and her connection to the gorillas and their environment is transformed from scientific interest to love and passion for preventing their decimation.
Gung Ho (1986).
The story portrayed the takeover of an American car by a plant Japanese corporation (although the title is an Americanized Chinese expression, for "work" and "together").
Half the Sky (2012).
New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof and his wife set out to explore what they perceived as the single greatest challenge of the 21st century: the inequality of women across the world. To do so they enlisted the help of 6 American artists to help them tell the stories of individuals they met who are doing work to empower women and girls everywhere. These are stories of challenge, transformation and hope.
In this futuristic movie, where computers have the ability to feel and think as humans, Theodore, a lonely, soon to be divorcee, spends all of his time playing video games rather than interacting with others. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, his OS1, as they become closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love.
Hidden Figures (2016).
This film examines the experiences of three African American mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the space race.
Inside Job (2001).
In this documentary film the producers gain access to dozens of political, economic and collegiate personnel across the country to put together a powerful narrative of the global financial collapse of 2008. The authors outline, in technical but accessible language, how the crisis was born and how it affected people across the globe.
Fiction film dealing with possibility of travel through a wormhole in time and space in order to save humanity.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946).
This film the story of George Bailey, a man who had many dreams which he had to sacrifice in order to please others. The film tackles issues such as housing discrimination, gender, and education as well as building loans.
Beautifully filmed BBC mini-series chronicling the incredible diversity among life on Earth. The series explores some of the most unusual behaviors living organisms have devised to stay alive.
Life and Debt (2001).
This film chronicles the hardships faced by Jamaica as a result of the acceptance of structural adjustment programs set up by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The film includes commentary from the former prime minister of Jamaica and IMF personnel.
Life in a Day (2011).
A series of video clips selected from 80,000 submissions to YouTube showing events from one single day, July 24, 2010. Film conveys the diversity and rawness of being human and, ultimately, humanity’s connectedness.
Living on One Dollar (2013).
Living on One Dollar is a film and journey that follows the journey of two college students living on $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala.
Lord Save Us From Your Followers (2010).
Filmmaker and follower Dan Merchant donned his Bumpersticker Man suit and set out across America in this funny and moving look at the collision of faith and culture.
This film chronicles the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in the South in the 1960s. The Lovings face backlash because of their relationship, including harassment by local law enforcement, and eventually wind up taking their case to the United States Supreme Court.
Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita (2008).
Dr. Jack Kessler, head of the Neurology Department of Northwestern, shifted his focus from using stem cells to cure diabetes to looking for a cure for spinal cord injuries after his daughter Allison was injured in a skiing accident and paralyzed from the waist down.
Million Dollar Baby (2005).
Being raised as what many would call trailer trash, Maggie Fitzgerald decides that she can become a world class boxer. She sets forth to prove to herself that she can become more than what life has predestined her to be.
Modern Times (1936).
Charlie Chaplin classic which may be first workplace film which came out of Hollywood and its message still resonates today. Film presents clear symbol of the pressures of the modern workplace when Chaplin’s body is wrapped around the cogs of factory machine in his desperate attempts to keep up.
The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
Monsters, Inc. (2001).
Fantasy movie that raises questions about the role of large corporations, corporate ethics, and personal responsibility. The film presents a large corporation whose objective is to scare children.
This powerful film chronicles the coming-of-age of a young man struggling with issues of identity and powerlessness. It explores the impact of racism, homophobia, poverty, and crime on psychological development.
Morning Glory (2010).
American comedy film that provides an interesting look into the shift from investigative reporting to entertainment style, magazine format morning shows.
My Dog Skip (2000).
A shy boy grows up in 1940s Mississippi with the help of his beloved dog, Skip.
Nell is the story about a young girl, who was brought up in a world of isolation, knowing only mother and twin sister. Living together in a cottage in the forest, Nell had never met anyone other than her family. After her mother's death, she's discovered by a local doctor. Nell then begins an odyssey of living in a new world – human society.
North Country (2005).
Dramatic film based on the class action lawsuit brought by Lois Jenson. A female miner who endured a wide range of abuses, her lawsuit was the first major sexual harassment case in the United States.
Not My Life (2011).
This documentary analyzes human trafficking and child slavery in 14 different countries spanning six continents. It demonstrates the wide-ranging impact of human trafficking and the many ways criminals exploit children to make profits. The film provides a good overview of this important social justice issue.
This groundbreaking movie depicts the lack of justice in employment and health care for AIDS victims at the height of the epidemic. In the film, a gay AIDS victim successfully sues his company for unlawful discrimination after he loses his job. The film tackles “victim blaming” by breaking down many of the arguments used to shame and silence victims of discrimination.
Planet Earth (2006).
Breath-taking eleven episode BBC mini-series providing global overview of different biomes or habitats on Earth.
This film depicts the 1984 Welsh mine worker strike and how London’s LGBTQ community worked to support it. It draws on the themes of intersectional organizing and economic justice.
Rabbit-proof Fence (2003).
This film describes the true life story of half-caste children being taken away from her aboriginal mothers in western Australia in 1931. Until the late 1970s, the Australian government forcibly removed aboriginal children from their home, requiring them to live in government homes or religious settlements, in order to train and breed the aboriginal lifestyle and belief system out of them.
In this documentary film, Bill Maher aggressively interviews various religious figures including Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The title of the film is a play on two words - religious and ridiculous. Maher challenges religion and religious belief systems.
Documentary on environmental activism and efforts to preserve the Earth’s ecology.
Rise of the Drones (2013).
A PBS Nova exploration of the cutting-edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history.
Schindler’s List (1993).
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.
Secrets of the Solar System (2015).
Documentary exploring advances in astronomy and data gleaned from stars and planets which are reshaping scientists’ views of the solar system.
Selma chronicles the tumultuous period in Selma Alabama when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a campaign to fight against Jim Crow laws, voting rights, and segregation. The response from white community members and police was swift and violent. This movie describes the consequences when two opposing visions collide.
Shakespeare in Love (1998).
A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.
In this documentary, Michael Moore reviews the healthcare industry in the United States as provided by Health Management Organizations (HMO)s compared to free healthcare in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.
Based on the life of Karen Silkwood, this film traces the life and activism of a nuclear whistleblower and labor union activist who died in a suspicious car accident. It explores themes of justice, work, and transformational change.
Dramatic film based on the true story of The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team of investigative journalists and their Pulitzer Prize winning expose of widespread and systemic child abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests.
Super Size Me (2004).
In this documentary, Morgan Spurlock ate only food from McDonald's Restaurants for 30 days in order to prove or disprove the health claims of McDonald's plaintiffs. The documentary seeks to answer the question, is McDonalds healthy for American consumers?
The Big Short (2015).
This film offers a searing take on the causes of the 2007-2008 Wall Street crash and subsequent financial crisis. Through a series of vignettes, based on real-life characters, filmmaker Adam McKay explains the origins of the crash. The film is notable for its easy-to-understand descriptions of complex financial concepts.
The Central Park Five (2012).
In this documentary, Ken Burns recounts the story of four black men and one Hispanic man who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in New York City. It gives particular attention to the role media play in shaping public views of criminality.
The Chinese Bubble (2012).
The Chinese Bubble shows how class differences motivate a country to move forward in uncertain times. It unravels the delicate dynamics of Chinese growth and reveals the sacrifices of the people who are making it happen.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006).
Film in which a tyrannical fashion editor wreaks havoc on the lives of her subordinates. Film explores the role of leadership in the changing work environment and the “cult of personality.”
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980).
A comic allegory about a traveling Bushman who encounters modern civilization and its stranger aspects, including a clumsy scientist and a band of revolutionaries.
The Great Debaters (2007).
Based on a 1997 article about the Wiley College debate team, this film depicts historical events in 1930s Texas. A debate team at an all-black college rose to prominence and eventually defeated Harvard University’s debate team.
The Help (2011).
Dramatic film featuring an excellent cast which provides a moving look at domestic labor in the 1960s. This chronicle of black women working as nannies for white women in Mississippi ensures that you’ll never look at chocolate pie the same way again.
The Interconnectedness of Life (2016).
Documentary film based on the best selling book by vegan enthusiast Michael Lanford which advocates for a harmonious relationship among animals, the earth, and one another.
The Internship (2013).
Comedic film which shows recently laid off salesmen competing with much younger and technically savvy applicants for a desirable internship position at Google.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).
This classic film depicts the inequities in the criminal justice system in 1930s Alabama. Based on Harper Lee’s famous novel, the film chronicles how racism made justice impossible for African Americans in Deep South states.
The Outsiders (1983).
The rivalry between two gangs, the poor Greasers and the rich Socs, only heats up when one gang member kills a member of the other.
The Matrix (1999).
Neo, a computer programmer by day and a hacker by night, must navigate a new reality when he connects with Morpheus. The film chronicles the journey of Neo as he explores and becomes a part of the matrix.
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004).
Based on Ernesto Guevara’s diary of his trip around South America, the film depicts his travels across the continent with Alberto Granado. As he witnesses poverty, disease, and inequality, Guevara sheds his upper-middle class sensibilities and embraces a new view of economic justice.
The New Frontier (2015).
Documentary exploring new possibilities and transformations in the revitalization of space exploration.
The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms (2015).
Mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. Algorithms run everything from search engines on the internet to satnavs and credit card data security - they even help us travel the world, find love, and save lives.
The Social Network (2010).
Fictionalized story of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, during the early years of the transformative social media platform. Film explores the changing role of social media and the people behind the innovations.
The Trans List (2016).
This documentary explores the range of experiences lived by several Americans who identify as transgender. The film shows that no two experiences of trans people are exactly alike. Transgender, transsexual, gender-queer, bi-gender, and non-binary are just a few of the multitude of self-identifiers within the trans community and this documentary.
The Vietnam War (2017).
Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s10-part, 18-hour documentary about the Vietnam conflict and the ways it transformed American and Vietnamese societies.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).
Biographical black comedy of a New York stockbroker engaged in rampant corruption and fraud. Ultimately his lifestyle of excess led to his downfall.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
Brilliant photographer Billy Kwan befriends Hamilton and with his help Hamilton finds journalistic success. When Hamilton uncovers a huge scoop that would involve endangering Kwan he must decide between his professional success and his personal and professional connection with Kwan.
Never quite fitting in with her peers, Bella, a high school girl, who lives with her father, had low expectations for her future. When she meets a boy, who is different than any other boy she has ever know, named Edward Cullen, her life changes in unorthodox and unimagined ways.
Up in the Air (2009).
Dramatic film about a corporate downsizer who makes a good living flying around the country letting other people know they are being “downsized” only to find out that his own job is potentially being cut. Film deals with issues of downsizing, corporate ethics, and relationships between employees and corporations.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005).
The film presents information on the business and labor practices of retail giant Wal-Mart. The film attempts to expose just how the company is able to offer such prices to consumers.
War of the Worlds (1938).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzC3Fg_rRJM. Listeners thought it was a real event unfolding and that the country was being invaded by Martians. Radio transformed the distribution of news and entertainment and in this case, created panic and fear about a fictional connection between aliens and Earthlings.
What’s the Next Big Thing? Technology for a Better Future (2011).
Neil deGasse Tyson explores one of science’s major challenges: social robots. Robots already build cars and vacuum floors; engineers are designing robots with abilities to understand human emotion, carry on conversations, and even make jokes.
What the Bleep do we Know? (2004).
Groundbreaking live action film exploring concepts of reality and convergence of science and spirituality. Movie also includes animated sequences dealing with dimensions and quantum physics.
What will the Future be Like? (2013).
PBS Nova science special hosted by David Pogue which explores possibilities such as mobile phones reading minds, video games curing cancer, and wearable robots.
Wolf of Wall Street (2013).
This Martin Scorsese film examines the life and career of a Wall Street stockbroker’s rise and fall. It depicts rampant corruption in the financial industry and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attempts to end it.
Wonder Woman (2017).
Diana, Princess of the Amazons, transforms into Wonder Woman to fight alongside men in an effort to end all wars.
Zero Dark 30 (2012).
Looking beyond the all-male Navy Seal team that were responsible for the death of Bin Laden, director Kathryn Bigelow locates the women who played critical roles and places them front and central. At first playing out like a revenge western, painting the protagonist Maya as a cold, unemotional and obsessively determined hunter who understands her mission in almost messianic terms, the film’s subdued ending tells a slightly more complex story.