In anticipation of the Oscars, International College Counselors’ resident film and documentary experts Andy Greenspan and Sam Johnson are providing their “Top 5 College Movies of All Time.” Whether they get you psyched to go to college or teach you a lesson about what do (or not do) with your degree, they’re all worth a watch.
1. Animal House:
An obvious choice, I know, but not at the time. No studio wanted it. Filmed at the University of Oregon, it’s simply the greatest satire of privileged frat boy life and college hypocrisy ever made for the big screen. How can you not love a movie about college whose opening sequence ends with a statue of founder Emil Faber and his motto, “Knowledge is Good”?
2. Horse Feathers:
The Marx Brothers at their acerbic best. A 1932 spoof of a fictional football rivalry between two colleges and the absurd and dishonest lengths to which both programs will go to win. Sound familiar? ESPN voted its climax, the brothers riding a horse drawn garbage wagon across the goal line to score the winning touchdown, one of the best scenes in football movie history. A Heisman for comedy!
3. The Paper Chase:
Yes, I know this is about law school, Harvard’s to be precise. But there is no better depiction of the pressure cooker of academic life, complicated by the stresses of income, marriage and romance. A stunning Oscar-winning performance by John Houseman as the imperious Professor Kingsfield.
4. The Social Network:
The ugly birth of Facebook at a sexist and cutthroat Harvard. Its message for today may be that how you behave in college foretells how you will behave as a billionaire CEO. The blind ambition of Mark Zuckerberg is there for all to see early on.
5. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?:
An odd choice because it’s best known as a punishing heavyweight fight between a married couple, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, but it’s also a parable about the decline and fall of the West, its two protagonists named George and Martha, as in Washington. On another level the film is a heavyweight fight on a college campus between the new and the old, a promising young science professor and his rival, “a bog in the history department,” who worries the advance of science will rob us of our values. Shot on the campus of Smith College.
This movie struck close to home-both because of the family dynamics involved and because it focuses on the pains of the college application process. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny. If you’re into movies that make you cry, this is probably for you, too. Basically, it’s for everyone.
2. Love Story:
There’s a lot wrong with Love Story, to the point where Harvard hosts an event for Freshmen each year where everyone is encouraged to yell at the screen. But I still love it in all its melodramatic glory. The soundtrack is a real ear worm, too.
3. The Graduate:
“Plastics.” One word in this screenplay sums up the kind of inane post-college advice you may find yourself receiving from total strangers. And the last 30 seconds of the film are also some of the most iconic moments in cinema history!
4. 22 Jump Street:
Listen, you are not going to learn anything about college from seeing this movie. You should still see it. It’s a hilarious, buddy comedy with a ton of funny set pieces.
5. Good Will Hunting:
A modern classic that introduced us to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as true leading men. The two have been inseparable in the public consciousness ever since, and for good reason. The movie works as a compelling, uplifting drama with a wonderful love story.
And the results of International College Counselors’ interoffice pool were…
1. Good Will Hunting
2. Animal House
And a tie between
3. Back to School
3. Mona Lisa Smile
5. Legally Blonde
Agree? Disagree? Have a movie suggestion? Feel free to leave a comment or email us.