So how do you begin choosing a film for your classes? My first rule of thumb is to pick of movie that is engaging for the students. I find that one simple way of determining this is to decide whether I am engaged with the film and whether or not it is ‘teachable’. Second, stay clear of movies students tend to watch on a regular basis or have become popular. Choose films that, according to their age, most students have probably never seen.

Picking a film for a grade level is much like choosing a novel or Shakespearean play. In the early grades, the purpose of the literary text is so students can apply their knowledge of literary terms, and play around with analysis; to recognize and understand the terms. While in grade 12, students are expected to utilize the terms to create and develop coherent, organized and insightful analysis of the text. Furthermore, the texts read at the grade 12 level are usually much more complex and require a deeper analysis than may be required at the grade 10 level. E.g. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet versus Hamlet or William Golding’s Lord of the Flies versus Timothy Findlay’s The Wars.

Below is a list of films I have used in my English classes. Beside the title, I’ve included the grade level at which I taught the film. However, do note that each film may be adaptable to any grade. For example, if you are teaching an Advanced Placement or IB grade 11 English class, you may choose to view a richer film that is listed as appropriate for grade 12s, etc. My list is developed from my own teaching experiences. Please also refer to the “Film Resources” tab for more information. 

Dead Poet’s Society (12)

Jaws (11)

October Sky (10)

Remember the Titans (10)

School of Rock (10)

Stranger than Fiction (12)

The Sixth Sense (11)

Truman Show (11)

V for Vendetta (12)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (12)