This is a list of some of my favorite Top Ten Classic Films with a Social Message. My choices include classics released from 1940 to 2006.
You may have seen many of these classics, but when was the last time you savored them? And have you shared these classics with your children?
I've included links so you can comparison shop for the best prices for DVDs among Amazon, WalMart and other major retailers.
Enjoy, and fire up the popcorn!
Atticus has been deemed the #1 Greatest Hero of American film, per the AFI, for his compassion and courage in the face of the town's rage. Winner of 3 Academy Awards including Best Actor (Gregory Peck), it also features the screen debut of actor Robert Duvall (as Boo Radley).
Tom Hanks won an Academy Award for his textured, touching portrayal of Beckett, and Bruce Springsteen's title song won the Academy Award for Best Song. Denzel Washington also turns in a stunning performance as the homophobic lawyer who grows to understand the ravages of and misconceptions about AIDS as he reluctantly (at first) defends Beckett.
The Color Purple is visually beautiful, in trademark Spielberg-style, and also features wonderful performances by Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover and Rae Dawn Chong. Oprah loves this story so much that she produced a stage version of it that's run on Broadway since December 1, 2005.
This endearing film won two Academy Awards: Michael Caine for his supporting role as the doctor heading a Maine orphanage during World War II, and author Irving for Best Adapted Screenplay. Set in impossibly gorgeous Maine, The Cider House Rules also offers a glimpse of the rough life of migrant workers.
Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, it won two: John Ford for Best Director, and Jane Darwell for Best Actress. Also starring Henry Fonda.
Akeelah & the Bee is about heartfelt determination by a young girl from South Central Los Angeles to rise above her circumstances, and is set against the backdrop of a failing educational system, no father, a loving but overworked mother, and the violence and crassness of culture today. It's also about fairness and compassion for others. A thoroughly unforgettable, uplifting film.
Winner of 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Cimimo), Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Christopher Walken).
It's a highly relevant story for our times, and Julia Roberts is marvelous as the brassy, justice-seeking heroine. Directed by the superb Steven Soderbergh.
Powerful and suspense-filled, we're reminded by Schindlers' List of the cruelty and even barbarism of prejudice based on religion and ethnicity. The film garnered 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Music.
10. Gandhi (1982)One of the finest film biographies, this lush epic recounts the 20th century story of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who used the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to help India gain independence from Great Britain. Martin Luther King, Jr. was deeply inspired by Gandhi, as was immigrant farm worker leader, Cesar Chavez.
This film is spectacular in scale, and historically fascinating. Ben Kingsley was magnificent as Gandhi. Winner of 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Sir Richard Attenborough), Best Actor (Kingsley) and Best Original Score (Ravi Shankar).