TWM recommends these movies as the best of the best in meeting curriculum standards while providing students with stellar educational experiences.

Give us your input!  Email your nominations and a description of your reasons, including your experience with the film. Tell us the name of your school and what grades you teach. You might find yourself in print.

Don’t ignore the great teaching opportunities from other movies!  Review our extensive Drama index.

Check the list from time to time.  We’ll change it depending on your feedback and our experience. It’s an ongoing conversation.

This list refers only to full-length movies. It does not include TWM’s Snippet Lesson Plans, which are excellent ways to teach the ELA curriculum using film clips. See ELA Snippet Lesson Plans. Nor does the list include plays, which are usually a component of high school ELA instruction. Check out TWM’s Ten Best Teaching Movies – Drama – High School Level. The films are listed in alphabetical order.

Behind the Sun

Students are entranced by this heartrending but ultimately optimistic film about young people trapped in a cycle of honor culture revenge in the badlands of Northeast Brazil. The film is an excellent vehicle for teaching symbol, subplot, foreshadowing, and flashback. The movie also gives students an understanding of why revenge has been rejected by modern Western societies and the rule of law has been adopted instead. The movie is a platform for demonstrating the international scope and moral bankruptcy of honor cultures.

Cast Away

A FedEx supervisor, whose life is a series of daily deadlines, is marooned on a tropical island after a plane crash. This movie tells the story of how he survives and what happens when he tries to pick up his life after he is rescued. This popular and well made film provides many opportunities for analysis of the literary devices including: expository phase, motif, symbol, development of theme and dramatic irony.

The Scarlet Letter 

This PBS production is a faithful rendering of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel of adultery, punishment, guilt, hypocrisy, revenge, and redemption in colonial New England. The book and the film are an excellent introduction to the Puritans and their effect on our society. Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter is not easy reading. This film is so true to the text that it can serve as a substitute for reading the book for those children who do not have adequate reading skills. For children who read the novel, the movie can serve as a reward, although it is quite long. Watching the film will confirm and extend their understanding of the story and the insights contained in the novel.

The Searchers

This classic Western and the TWM Learning Guide will help teachers introduce students to important myths of the Western genre which even today: 1) affect how some people act in everyday life; 2) appear repeatedly in literature, film, and music; 3) are used by some politicians to gain votes; and 4) are employed by advertisers to sell products. The film is an excellent platform for the exercise of writing skills and for the analysis of literary devices, such as the expository phase and character development.

Multi-Media Supplement for Jonathan Edwards’ “SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD”

Snippet Lesson Plan

Using “Sinner Man” in Song and in Dance to Enliven the Study of the Sermon, Enhance its Meaning, Demonstrate the Metaphorical Nature of Artistic Expression, and Foster Appreciation for the Arts (U.S. 1629 – 1750; ELA — American Literature, Metaphor; Music; Dance) [15+; 3 minutes, played several times]

To Kill a Mockingbird

Both the book and the movie are classics.