Top Teachers In Film

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Top Teachers In Film

There have been a number of great films through the years where teachers form the focal point of the storyline, and the they play a very important role in determining the direction of their students lives. THE REWRITE Is released on digital platforms on 2 February 2015, and on Blu-ray and DVD from February 9 2015, and to celebrate we will take a look at the best films to highlight the effects of a great teacher.


Keith Michaels (Grant) is a washed-up British screenwriter who won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1998. Since then, he has divorced, gone broke, and finds himself in an almighty slump. He begins teaching a screenwriting course at Binghamton University in upstate New York and strikes up a relationship with a single mother in his class played by Marissa Tomei. Hugh Grant plays the stereotypical English character that we all know and love perfectly, and is supported by an all star cast including Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Bella Heathcote, and Chris Elliott.

Whiplash (2015)

Already one of the most talked about films of the year, Whiplash has received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons who also features in THE REWRITE. The film follows a promising young drummer who enrols at the top music school in the U.S where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at absolutely nothing to realise a student’s potential.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgård, Good Will Hunting is one of the most well known films of the 90s. Written by Affleck and Damon, and with Damon in the title role, the film follows 20-year-old South Boston laborer Will Hunting, an unrecognized genius who, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer, becomes a patient of a therapist (Williams) and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor (Skarsgård). Through his therapy sessions, Will re-evaluates his relationships with his best friend (Affleck), his girlfriend (Driver) and himself, facing the significant task of thinking about his future. The film went on to back up its critical acclaim when Damon and Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Robin Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The Class (2008)

This French drama was directed by Laurent Cantet and received the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, making it the first French film to do so since 1987 . Its original French title is Entre les murs, which translates literally to “Between the walls” or “Within the walls”. It is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by François Bégaudeau. In the novel Bégaudeau recounts his own personal  experiences as a French teacher at a school in a deprived area in Paris, drawing attention to his struggles with “problem children”. The film stars Bégaudeau himself in the role of the teacher.

The History Boys (2006)

Adapted by Alan Bennett from his play of the same name, The History Boys won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner, and featured top British acting talent that included Richard Griffiths, Dominic Cooper, Samuel Anderson, Russell Tovey, and James Corden. The film tells the story of on an unruly class of gifted and charming teenage boys taught by two eccentric and innovative teachers, as their headmaster pushes for them all to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge.

Half Nelson (2006)

Starring Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie, Half Nelson is a cult classic. Gosling received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role in the film. The film was critically acclaimed, and  was on many “Top Ten” films of 2006 lists. The story concerns an inner city middle-school teacher who forms a friendship with one of his students after she discovers that he has a drug habit. The film is based on a 19-minute film made by Boden and Fleck in 2004, titled Gowanus, Brooklyn.

The Great Debaters (2007)

Focusing on the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) at historically black Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with white people in the American South during the 1930s, when Jim Crow laws were common and lynch mobs were a pervasive fear for black people. In the movie, the Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point where they are able to debate Harvard University. Directed by and starring Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey, The Great Debaters performed well at the box office and was critically acclaimed.

Dangerous Minds (1995)

The film is based on the autobiography My Posse Don’t Do Homework by former U.S Marine LouAnne Johnson, who took up a teaching position at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, in 1989, where most of her students were African-American and Latino teenagers from East Palo Alto, a poverty stricken, racially segregated, economically deprived city at the opposite end of the school district. The film was not reviewed well, but was a huge box office success, it also made an international star out of Coolio who sang the lead track from the soundtrack, Gangsta’s Paradise.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Extremely shy student Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating (Robin Williams), their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. They both do as they are advised, but have very different outcomes as a result. Dead Poets Society was critically acclaimed and won Tom Schulman an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, in addition to Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Peter Weir), and Best Actor (Robin Williams).

School of Rock (2003)

The story follows struggling rock singer and guitarist, Dewey Finn (Jack Black), who is cut from his band and subsequently disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a high profile school. After seeing that a few of his students had a lot of talent, Dewey forms a band of kids to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent. The film opened to very good reviews, received a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and took $132m at the box office.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Grossing over $313 million worldwide and winning four Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, A Beautiful Mind is often a film people say they were very moved by. The film is based on the life of John Nash (Russell Crowe), a Nobel Laureate in Economics, who after graduating turned to teaching, and becoming romantically involved with his student Alicia (Jennifer Connelly). The U.S government asks for his help with breaking Soviet codes and we soon see him start to develop paranoid schizophrenia and suffer from hallucinations while painfully watching the loss and burden his condition brings on his wife and friends.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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