Language Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch  

Ranker Film
170 votes 42 voters 33 items

List Rules Vote up good films for people learning English or to screen for students in an ESL class.

Walk into any classroom in the United States where they are teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and you will find teachers using film to help instruct their students. Good movies for ESL students vary greatly in terms of style and content and selecting the right films largely depends on how far along your students are in their studies. Below, you'll find a list of suggested films to help you make the right choice for your classroom. 

Films with a familiar premise and minimal dialogue are a great place to start, particularly so if students have seen these movies before in their native language. Things like Bambi and WALL-E, for example, are perfect for beginners. As your students' language continues to improve, however, you can move on to more dialogue-heavy films like Casablanca and The Fault in Our Stars to help immerse your students in English. It can also help to pick films about situations that may be familiar to your students, such as movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding where two cultures collide. Vote up the best movies for learning English below and feel free to add anything you think is missing! 

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Harry Potter and the Philosoph... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. ...more

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The Fault in Our Stars is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Fault in Our Stars Shailene Woodley, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern The Fault in Our Stars is a 2014 American romantic drama film directed by Josh Boone, based on the novel of the same name by John Green. The film stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat ...more

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
My Big Fat Greek Wedding Nia Vardalos, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 Canadian-American romantic comedy film written by and starring Nia Vardalos and directed by Joel Zwick. The film is centered on Fotoula "Toula" ...more

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Pecu... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O'Dowd Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a 2016 American 3D dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and written by Jane Goldman, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs.

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Big Hero 6 is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Big Hero 6 Jamie Chung, Maya Rudolph, Génesis Rodríguez Big Hero 6 is a 2014 American 3D computer-animated superhero action comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 54th film in the Walt ...more

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WALL-E is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
WALL-E Sigourney Weaver, Laraine Newman, Kathy Najimy WALL-E is a 2008 American computer-animated science-fiction comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Andrew Stanton, the story follows a ...more

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Divergent is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Divergent Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley, Ashley Judd Divergent is a 2014 American science fiction action film directed by Neil Burger, based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. The film is the first installment in The Divergent Series ...more

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Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Casablanca Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

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Gravity is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Gravity Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts, and sees them stranded in ...more

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Bambi is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Bambi Sterling Holloway, Sam Edwards, Cammie King Bambi is a 1942 American animated drama film directed by David Hand, produced by Walt Disney and based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The film was ...more

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The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Book Thief Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Heike Makatsch The Book Thief is a 2013 American-German war drama film directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse. The film is based on the 2005 novel The ...more

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The Maze Runner is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Maze Runner Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien, Patricia Clarkson The Maze Runner is a 2014 American science fiction dystopian action thriller film directed by Wes Ball, based on James Dashner's 2009 novel of the same name. The film is the first installment in ...more

Things in Suicide Squad That Were Actually Pretty Good

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles respectively. ...more

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Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Beauty and the Beast Angela Lansbury, Frank Welker, Jerry Orbach Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 30th film in the Walt Disney ...more

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Cast Away is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Cast Away Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Chris Noth Cast Away is a 2000 American adventure drama film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks as a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes in ...more

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Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin ...more

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The Terminal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Terminal Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Hanks, Zoe Saldana The Terminal is a 2004 American romantic comedy film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It is about a man who becomes trapped in New York City's JFK ...more

The Very Best Mila Kunis Movies

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Fa... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Tim Brooke-Taylor Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. The film, a film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and ...more

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12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
12 Angry Men Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb 12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells ...more

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Jumanji is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Jumanji Kirsten Dunst, Robin Williams, Patricia Clarkson Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston. It is an adaptation of the 1981 children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. The film was directed by Joe ...more

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The Pink Panther is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven The Pink Panther is a 1963 Technicolor American comedy film filmed in 70mm Super Technirama directed by Blake Edwards and co-written by Edwards and Maurice Richlin, starring David Niven, Peter ...more

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Mary Elizabeth Winstead Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a 2010 comedy film co-written, produced and directed by Edgar Wright, based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It stars Michael Cera ...more

The 17 Greatest Simpsons Religion Jokes

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The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Revenant Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson The Revenant is a 2015 American semi-biographical epic western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s ...more

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The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction adventure film directed by Gary Ross, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of ...more

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Rumble Fish is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Rumble Fish Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane Rumble Fish is an American 1983 drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It is based on the novel Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The film centers on the ...more

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Smile is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Smile Melanie Griffith, Bruce Dern, Annette O'Toole Smile is a 1975 satirical comedy-drama film directed by Michael Ritchie with a screenplay by Jerry Belson about a beauty pageant in Santa Rosa, California. It stars Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon ...more

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Police Academy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Police Academy Kim Cattrall, Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith Police Academy is a 1984 comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, and G.W. Bailey. It grossed approximately $146 million worldwide and spawned six more ...more

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Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stol... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Jim Carrey, Anthony Hopkins, Bryce Dallas Howard Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 2000 American musical fantasy comedy Christmas film from Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, based on the 1957 story of the same name by ...more

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To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
To Kill a Mockingbird Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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Big is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Big Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Elizabeth Perkins Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood ...more

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Holes is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Holes Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette Holes is a 2003 American comedy-drama adventure film based on the 1998 novel of the same title by Louis Sachar, with Shia LaBeouf as the lead role of Stanley Yelnats IV and also starring Khleo ...more

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Everything Is Illuminated is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
Everything Is Illuminated Elijah Wood, Eugene Hütz, Jonathan Safran Foer Everything Is Illuminated is a 2005 biographical drama film, written and directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz. It was adapted from the novel of the same name ...more

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The Princess Bride is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
The Princess Bride Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, André the Giant The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The ...more