The Best Movies About Ethical Dilemmas

The best movies about ethical dilemmas are thought-provoking films that make you question your own morals. These movies feature characters who find themselves in difficult situations and must decide whether or not to act on their beliefs. There are also movies with choices that anyone would hate to face like Sophie's Choice. Watchmen waits all the way until the end of the film to reveal its major ethical dilemma. There are quite a few movies like this that save their tough decisions for the moment right before the end credits role. One thing's for sure, they're all great food for thought.

Vote up your favorite movies that pose ethical dilemmas and vote down any that you think other fans should skip. Check back for upcoming and new movies with ethical dilemmas as they are added to the list once they're released.


  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    Photo: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American film directed by Milos Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a criminal who feigns insanity to serve a shorter prison sentence, and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, a tyrannical nurse who rules the ward with an iron fist. The film follows McMurphy's attempts to subvert Ratched's authority and gain control of the ward.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is particularly notable for its exploration of ethical dilemmas. The film raises questions about whether McMurphy is truly insane or just faking it, whether Ratched is justified in her actions or if she is simply a power-hungry tyrant, and whether the patients in the ward are better off with or without McMurphy. These questions are still relevant today, making One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest an essential watch for anyone interested in exploring ethical dilemmas on film.

     

    • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif, William Redfield, Michael Berryman
    • Released: 1975
    • Directed by: Milos Forman

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  • Sophie's Choice
    Photo: Sophie's Choice
    Stingo (Peter MacNicol), a young writer, moves to Brooklyn in 1947 to begin work on his first novel. As he becomes friendly with Sophie (Meryl Streep) and her lover Nathan (Kevin Kline), he learns that Sophie is a Holocaust survivor. Flashbacks reveal her harrowing story, from pre-war prosperity to Auschwitz. In the present, Sophie and Nathan's relationship increasingly unravels as Stingo grows closer to Sophie and Nathan's fragile mental state becomes ever more apparent.
    • Actors: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol, Rita Karin, Stephen Newman
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Alan J. Pakula

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  • Schindler's List
    Photo: Schindler's List

    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II.

    The film raises a number of ethical dilemmas, such as whether it is better to save one person or many people, whether it is better to save those who are close to you or those who are strangers, and whether it is better to act out of self-interest or altruism. These dilemmas are not easily resolved, but they provide food for thought and discussion.

    • Actors: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Segal
    • Released: 1993
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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  • The Shawshank Redemption
    Photo: Shawshank Redemption / Columbia Pictures
    Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn't commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.
    • Actors: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown
    • Released: 1994
    • Directed by: Frank Darabont

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  • Prisoners
    Photo: Prisoners
    Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) faces a parent's worst nightmare when his 6-year-old daughter, Anna, and her friend go missing. The only lead is an old motorhome that had been parked on their street. The head of the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrests the driver (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces Loki to release his only suspect. Dover, knowing that his daughter's life is at stake, decides that he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands.
    • Actors: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

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  • The Godfather is a 1972 American crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel of the same name. It stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family. The story spans 10 years from 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss.

     

    • Actors: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall
    • Released: 1972
    • Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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