Language Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch  

Ranker Film
330 votes 59 voters 2.2k views 47 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! 

list ordered by

1
6 0
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

2
12 4
Divergent is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

3
12 4
Miss Peregrine's Home for Pecu... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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.

4
12 4
The Fault in Our Stars is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

5
13 5
Harry Potter and the Philosoph... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

6
14 6
Big Hero 6 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

7
8 1
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

8
11 4
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

9
6 1
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

10
6 1
Bambi is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

11
7 2
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

12
9 5
WALL-E is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

13
5 2
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

14
4 1
The Terminal is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

15
8 6
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

16
8 6
The Princess Bride is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

17
7 5
The Maze Runner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

18
3 1
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Fa... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

19
2 0
300 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey 300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more

20
7 6
Gravity is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

21
5 4
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

22
1 0
Hercules is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Danny DeVito, James Woods, Charlton Heston Hercules is a 1997 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 35th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated ...more

23
1 0
Hercules: The Legendary Journe... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is an American/New Zealander television series filmed in New Zealand. It was produced from January 16, 1995 to November 22, 1999, and was very loosely based on ...more

24
1 0
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

25
1 0
Clash of the Titans is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Ursula Andress, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier Clash of the Titans is an 1981 British-American fantasy adventure film involving the Greek hero Perseus, and features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist, Ray Harryhausen. It was ...more

26
1 0
Star Wars Episode V: The Empir... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

27
1 0
Star Wars Episode I: The Phant... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, Ewan McGregor (32 Years Before Episode IV) Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master ...more

28
1 0
Hercules is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Dwayne Johnson, Irina Shayk, John Hurt Hercules is a 2014 American 3D action fantasy and adventure film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and John Hurt. It is based on the graphic novel ...more

29
1 0
Star Wars Episode II: Attack o... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson (22 Years Before Episode IV) Ten years after the events of the Battle of Naboo, not only has the galaxy undergone significant change, but so have Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala, and Anakin ...more

30
1 0
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson (19 Years before Episode IV) Three years after the onset of the Clone Wars, the noble Jedi Knights have been leading a massive clone army into a galaxy-wide battle against the Separatists. When ...more

31
1 0
Hercules and Xena – The Animat... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Lucy Lawless, Kevin Sorbo, Renee O'Connor Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus is a 1998 American animated action adventure direct-to-video film starring the voices of Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless, Michael ...more

32
7 7
Cast Away is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

33
1 1
Clash of the Titans is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Gemma Arterton, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes Clash of the Titans is a 2010 British-American fantasy adventure film and remake of the 1981 film of the same name produced by MGM. The story is very loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus. ...more

34
1 1
Wrath of the Titans is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike Wrath of the Titans is a 2012 film directed by Jonathan Liebesman.

35
1 1
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
diaosigui added Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

36
1 2
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stol... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

37
4 6
The Pink Panther is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

38
1 3
Jumanji is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

39
3 6
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

40
1 4
The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

41
1 4
Holes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

42
1 4
Rumble Fish is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

43
0 3
Smile is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

44
0 3
Everything Is Illuminated is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

45
1 5
Big is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

46
2 7
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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

47
0 5
Police Academy is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch
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