A dear friend suggested I use part of my article to discuss movies that open the door to meaningful conversations with high-schoolers. But, I want to start this section with the BEST family movie I’ve seen in a long time: “Yes Day” on Netflix starring Jennifer Gardner. It’s the most wholesome, entertaining and conversation-starting movie! It’s so sweet without being syrupy and is just a plain happy movie!
All of the following are available on Amazon Prime or Apple TV plus. Please note these are for high school aged children and should be viewed with a parent. Amazon Prime has developed a rating system for its viewing content, but I’d add at least two years to its recommendation. In no particular order, here are movies or shows for discussion starters:
“To Kill a Mockingbird” What it means to do the right thing even when no one is going to stand with you. Gregory Peck won an Oscar and his is still one of the best performances on screen.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” Jimmy Stewart plays a politician who stands up to corruption.
“Juno” An honest portrayal of teenage pregnancy.
Any Tyler Perry movie in which he portrays Madea. Please note these movies cover heavy subject matter at times.
“Lars & the Real Girl” This is the single best movie to discuss what does really sacrificially loving someone look like. You will think this movie is going down a deviant path but I assure you it does not.
“Friday Night Lights” (the television series) Again, you must watch WITH your teens and be willing to pause, discuss, and occasionally fast forward.
“I Am Legend” A suspenseful post-apocalyptic movie starring Will Smith that gives great lessons in sacrificing for others.
Some of these movies cover very sensitive subject matter, and I am not recommending your teens be allowed to watch these alone. They offer many teachable moments, but are to be viewed with your teens.
Now, back to the Oscars! Many of the nominations this year were never seen on the big screen in a theater. I’ve seen two of the eight nominated best picture films but plan to see a few more. I loved “Nomadland” on Netflix. It is the true story of Empire, Nevada, completely disappearing after the closing of the local U.S. gypsum plant. Frances McDormand may very well win another Oscar for her performance. It’s a very thoughtful, quiet, slow movie. Another film nominated that I loved but will not be everyone’s cup of tea is “The Sound of Metal,” which is about a drummer in a heavy metal band who is going deaf. It is not light or happy, but is an honest and raw look at addiction and losing yourself.
One of my favorite things I watched in March was “Years and Years” on HBO Max. It takes place in the not too distant future in England. It portrays what could actually happen if we continue to let technology run amuck. This BBC six part series starring Emma Thompson is very well-acted. I think it would be great viewing with college students.
On Netflix, “The One” has a similar theme as it explores what would happen if a dating site used DNA to find “soul mates.” Neither of these are child friendly, but college viewing adults with parents would open a lot of conversations regarding social media, privacy and personal safety.
On Netflix I watched two docuseries that I thoroughly enjoyed. One was “Murder Among The Mormons” about a series of murders in Salt Lake City in 1985. It’s fascinating. The other docuseries I binged on was “The Trials of Gabriel Hernandez,” which is about the death of Gabriel Hernandez due to the incompetence at the Los Angeles Department of Family and Child Services. It portrays the privatizing of child services and what that brings to communities. It is a horrific story of child abuse so please be cautioned.
If you are looking for happy and funny, I’d recommend the Amy Poehler film “Moxie.” It’s the story of girls who don’t quite fit in finding their voice through an anonymous high school magazine. Also, on Hulu, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is such happy entertainment.
The Golden Globes were an unwatchable mess in my opinion, so here’s to hoping the Oscar producers learned a few things and create something worth watching. Until next month, pass the popcorn....