It’s a Wrap!: Movies for Classes During AP® Exam Week

A hand is holding a black movie slate on a mint green background.

You’ve made it! Or rather, your students have made it; that’s because it’s AP® exam week and your students have just completed the exam for your AP course subject. True, the school year isn’t quite finished yet and you’ll no-doubt have plenty of instruction to cover in the remaining time before the last day of school, but the previous weeks have been a grueling preparation race to the AP exam finish line, and honestly? Both you and your students need to take it easy for a bit. Some students may need “study hall” time to review for AP exams they haven’t taken yet, but as for providing your other students (and your sanity) the opportunity for a well-deserved break, the solution is simple—show a movie.

The following are lists of AP subject-specific movies and documentaries, organized by content area and course, as well as suggested activities you can tie in with them for student engagement. Please keep in mind that some of these movie suggestions contain mature and/or heavy themes, so it’s a good idea to keep your specific students in mind when deciding what you (and your school policies) believe is appropriate for them. Lights, camera, action!

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AP ELA Courses

“But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” ~ Romeo, “Romeo + Juliet”1

Bringing movies into the AP English classroom can truly revitalize the way your students engage with literature and its deep, underlying messages. Through films like “Romeo + Juliet” and “The Great Gatsby,” they’ll explore the vivid portrayal of themes such as identity, freedom, and love, offering them a new lens through which to view these timeless narratives.

Activity Description: While watching the movie you’ve chosen, ask students to identify and analyze one of its central themes and reflect on its relevance to their own lives or society at large. Have them write a brief essay or participate in a class discussion with prompts like:

  • How does the film explore complex themes like identity, freedom, love, or courage?
  • Can you relate to the characters’ journeys or the dilemmas they face? How so?
  • What lessons can be learned from the movie, and how do they apply to contemporary issues or personal experiences?

AP Literature and Composition

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird”2
“Pride and Prejudice” (2005)
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, this film captures the nuances of class, gender, and marriage in early 19th-century England, offering a visual and emotional depth to Austen’s critique of societal norms and character development.
“The Great Gatsby” (2013)
This visually stunning adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel provides a lush portrayal of the Jazz Age and the American Dream’s complexities. It serves as a springboard for discussions on themes, symbolism, and the narrative techniques used to explore the characters’ desires and disillusionments.
“Romeo + Juliet” (1996)
This vibrant, modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy breathes new life into the story of star-crossed lovers with its contemporary setting and soundtrack, while preserving the original dialogue. It offers a gateway for discussions on Shakespeare’s language, themes of love, fate, and conflict, as well as the adaptability of classic literature to reflect modern sensibilities.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
Based on Harper Lee’s novel, this film offers a profound commentary on racial injustice and the loss of innocence. Its setting in the Great Depression and exploration of moral and ethical issues align well with themes often discussed in AP English.
“1984” (1984)
George Orwell’s dystopian novel is brilliantly realized in this film, which explores themes of surveillance, government control, and individual freedom. It serves as a starting place for discussions on literary techniques used to explore socio-political themes.

AP Language and Composition

“You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!” ~ William Forrester, “Finding Forrester”3
“Thank You for Smoking” (2005)
This satirical comedy dives into the world of a tobacco lobbyist, highlighting the power of rhetoric, persuasion, and argumentation. It’s an engaging way for students to see the principles of rhetoric applied in a real-world context and the ethical considerations of persuasive tactics.
“12 Angry Men” (1957)
Although not based on a novel, this film is a masterclass in argumentation, persuasion, and the dynamics of consensus-building. As jurors deliberate the fate of a defendant, the movie showcases the use of logic, evidence, and rhetorical strategies in decision-making processes, making it highly relevant for AP Lang students.
“Julie & Julia” (2009)
This film intertwines the lives of Julia Child and a young New Yorker, Julie, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s first book. It’s a celebration of passion, writing, and the way language connects people across time. It underscores the significance of narrative voice and the personal essay as a literary form.
“Finding Forrester” (2000)
The story revolves around an African-American teenager, a writing prodigy who befriends a reclusive novelist. This film explores themes of mentorship, writing, and overcoming social barriers through the shared love of literature.
“The Social Network” (2010)
While at its surface about the founding of Facebook, this film deeply explores themes of communication, creation, and the consequences of our interconnected world. It provides a modern look at how language and communication have evolved in the digital age, touching on issues of copyright, collaboration, and the ethics of information sharing. The sharp dialogue and complex narrative structure also offer ample material for analysis in an AP Language and Composition context.

AP Math Courses

“Math is the great equalizer.” – Jaime Escalante, “Stand and Deliver”4

Showcasing films like “Stand and Deliver” and “Hidden Figures” in your classroom offers students a captivating glimpse into the practical magic of math, illustrating its role in conquering obstacles and achieving the extraordinary. This approach helps them recognize and appreciate the real-world relevance and sheer elegance of mathematical concepts.

Activity Description: After watching the movie, ask students to write a short reflection or engage in a group discussion about how the film depicts mathematics being used in real-world scenarios. They can explore questions like:

  • How does the movie illustrate the application of mathematical concepts to solve problems?
  • Can they identify any mathematical inaccuracies or oversimplifications in the film?
  • How has the movie changed or reinforced their perception of the importance of mathematics in everyday life and various professions?

AP Calculus

“Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.” ~ John Nash, “A Beautiful Mind”5
“Stand and Deliver” (1988)
This film tells the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus, achieving unprecedented success. It’s not only motivational but also demonstrates the power and beauty of calculus in overcoming real-world challenges.
“Hidden Figures” (2016)
While it’s as much about space and civil rights as it is about math, this movie beautifully illustrates the critical role calculus plays in practical problem-solving, particularly in the calculations required for space travel. It’s an inspiring film that highlights the achievements of mathematicians who made significant contributions to NASA’s space program.
“A Brilliant Young Mind” (2014)
This film unfolds the journey of Nathan, a socially awkward teenage math prodigy who struggles with understanding people as much as he excels in grasping the complex world of numbers. Guided by his unconventional and understanding teacher, Nathan embarks on an inspiring quest to compete in the International Mathematical Olympiad.
“The Man Who Knew Infinity” (2015)
This biographical drama film is about the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and his partnership with the British mathematician G.H. Hardy. It beautifully portrays the contributions Ramanujan made to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, providing a fascinating look at mathematical discovery and collaboration.

AP Statistics

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” ~ Alan Turing, “The Imitation Game”6
“Moneyball” (2011)
Based on a true story, this film explores how the Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane used statistical analysis to assemble a competitive baseball team despite financial constraints. It’s a compelling look at the application of statistics in sports and decision-making.
“The Imitation Game” (2014)
While primarily focused on Alan Turing and his contributions to cryptography and computer science during World War II, this movie also touches on the statistical challenges of code-breaking. It showcases how statistical analysis and pattern recognition can be applied to solve seemingly impossible problems.
“21” (2008)
Inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team, this film follows a group of students who use their math and statistical skills to win big in Las Vegas. It delves into probability, game theory, and the practical applications (and ethical considerations) of statistics outside the classroom.
“Contagion” (2011)
This film explores the spread of a pandemic and the efforts to contain it, highlighting the role of statistical models in understanding and predicting the spread of disease. It’s a timely and engaging example of how statistics are critical in public health decision-making and epidemiology.
“Enigma” (2001)
Set during World War II, this film revolves around the British code-breakers at Bletchley Park, focusing on the use of statistical methods to decipher the German Enigma machine codes. It’s a historical drama that highlights the importance of statistics, pattern recognition, and encryption in military intelligence and communication.

AP Science Courses

“In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option; I’m gonna have to science the… out of this.” ~ Mark Watney, “The Martian”7

Incorporating movies like “The Martian” and “Gattaca” into your lesson plans invites students to embark on a journey through the scientific marvels woven into these narratives. Engaging in discussions about the scientific quests that propel the plots forward, they’ll uncover the profound impact these quests have on character growth, ethical quandaries, and sparking a sense of wonder about the universe around us.

Activity Description: Organize a discussion session where students share their thoughts on how the movie uses science to drive the plot, develop characters, or explore themes. This could be done in small groups or as a full class. Discussion prompts might include:

  • How does the scientific endeavor or discovery central to the movie impact the characters and their relationships?
  • Can you identify any ethical dilemmas related to science in the movie? How are they addressed?
  • How does the movie inspire curiosity or excitement about science? Did it change your perspective on any scientific topics?

AP Biology

“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.” ~ Dian Fossey, “Gorillas in the Mist”8
“GATTACA” (1997)
This sci-fi film explores genetic engineering, eugenics, and the ethical implications of manipulating DNA. It serves as a conversation starter about genetics, the nature vs. nurture debate, and the future of human evolution.
“Our Planet” (2019)
This series focuses on the impact of climate change on all living creatures. It combines stunning photography and technology to explore Earth’s natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures.
“My Octopus Teacher” (2020)
A unique and personal documentary that follows a filmmaker’s year-long journey and friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest. It beautifully illustrates the intelligence and emotional depth of octopuses.
“Gorillas in the Mist” (1988)
Based on the life of Dian Fossey, a primatologist who dedicated her life to studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The film explores her research, her fight against poaching, and her profound impact on conservation efforts and our understanding of primates.
“Creation” (2009)
This biographical drama chronicles the life of Charles Darwin, focusing on his struggle to write “On the Origin of Species.” The film delves into Darwin’s personal life, the death of his daughter, and his conflict between his revolutionary theories on evolution and his relationship with his religious wife.

AP Chemistry

“They watched in amazement as I surpassed them, rocketing into the future.” ~ Homer Hickam, “October Sky”9
“October Sky” (1999)
Based on a true story, this film follows a group of high school students who are inspired to build rockets. It includes themes of perseverance and scientific inquiry, with a focus on the chemistry behind rocket propellants.
“The Martian” (2015)
While primarily a survival story set on Mars, this film includes significant chemistry content, particularly in scenes where the protagonist produces water through chemical reactions and grows food. It illustrates practical applications of chemical principles in an engaging way.
“Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge” (2016)
This biographical drama focuses on the life of Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win a Nobel in two different sciences (Physics and Chemistry) for her work on radioactivity.
“Radioactive” (2019)
Another film about Marie Curie, it explores her discoveries, her struggles in a male-dominated field, and the legacy of her research in radioactivity.
“The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements” (PBS, 2015)
This series tells the story of the discovery of the elements, featuring stories of the chemists behind the periodic table, including Lavoisier, Mendeleev, and others.

AP Environmental Science

“What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years.” ~ Sir David Attenborough, “Our Planet”10
“An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)
This documentary led by former Vice President Al Gore focuses on climate change, presenting scientific data and predictions about the impact of global warming. It’s an eye-opening look at environmental issues and the importance of sustainable practices.
“WALL-E” (2008)
This animated film provides a creative depiction of a future Earth overwhelmed by waste, highlighting themes of consumerism, waste management, and the importance of environmental stewardship. It’s both a cautionary tale and a discussion starter about sustainability.
“Our Planet” (2019)
This Netflix original documentary series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, showcases the planet’s natural beauty and examines how climate change impacts all living creatures, combining stunning photography with a powerful message of conservation and sustainability.
“Gorillas in the Mist” (1988)
Based on the true story of Dian Fossey, a primatologist who dedicated her life to studying and protecting the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. The film delves into her conservation efforts and the challenges she faced.
“Chasing Ice” (2012)
This film follows photographer James Balog and his team on the Extreme Ice Survey as they use time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers, providing visual evidence of climate change.

AP Physics

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Cosmos: Possible Worlds”11
“Interstellar” (2014)
Exploring concepts of gravity, time dilation, and black holes, this sci-fi epic is based on theoretical physics and offers a visually stunning way to discuss astrophysics and relativity.
“The Theory of Everything” (2014)
Focusing on the life of Stephen Hawking, this biographical film touches on his work related to black holes and the boundaries of physics. It’s inspirational and provides insight into the challenges and triumphs of one of the most celebrated physicists.
“Einstein and Eddington” (2008)
This television film explores the relationship between physicist Albert Einstein and astronomer Arthur Eddington, focusing on Eddington’s observations of the 1919 solar eclipse which confirmed Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
“CERN: The Standard Model of Particle Physics” (2014)
This film provides an overview of the Standard Model of particle physics, explaining the complex theories and the role of the LHC in exploring the fundamental particles and forces that make up the universe.
“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” (2014) and “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” (2020)
Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, these follow-up series to Carl Sagan’s original “Cosmos” explore the laws of nature and coordinates in space and time, blending astrophysics, chemistry, and biology.
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AP History Courses

“Freedom is never given; it is won.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr., “Selma”12

By showing students historical films like “Schindler’s List” and “Selma,” you’re providing them with a compelling window into the personal narratives that shape our understanding of history. Additionally, encouraging students to write from the viewpoint of someone experiencing those times first-hand not only deepens their grasp of the past but also nurtures a profound empathy for the individuals who lived those moments.

Activity Description: Ask students to engage creatively with the historical period by writing a short story, diary entry, or series of letters from the perspective of a character living in the time. This could be a character from the movie or an imagined individual experiencing the same events. Prompts might suggest:

  • Describe a day in the life of your character, incorporating historical details accurate to the period.
  • How do the events depicted in the movie affect your character personally, and what is their response?
  • Explore a significant historical event from the movie through your character’s eyes, focusing on emotional and societal impacts.

AP World History

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi, “Gandhi”13
“Life is Beautiful” (1997)
Directed by Roberto Benigni, who also stars as the lead, this Italian film weaves the poignant tale of a Jewish Italian bookshop owner who employs his fervent imagination to protect his son from the grim realities of their internment in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s a masterful blend of comedy and tragedy, showcasing the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love and imagination in the face of overwhelming darkness.
“Hotel Rwanda” (2004)
This movie tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. It’s a gripping narrative of courage, tragedy, and the human cost of political conflict.
“Gandhi” (1982)
This biographical film depicts the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British rule and its advocacy for civil rights and freedom across the world.
“Suffragette” (2015)
Set in early 20th-century Britain, this film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Meryl Streep. It centers on the lives of working women who were part of the growing suffragette movement, showcasing their struggle against state oppression and their efforts to secure voting rights for women. The story highlights the sacrifices and hard choices faced by those at the forefront of the fight for equality.
“Elizabeth” (1998)
Focusing on the early years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, this film captures the intrigue, danger, and political machinations of the English court in the second half of the 16th century. Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, her consolidation of power, and the establishment of Protestantism are central themes, reflecting the religious and political challenges of the era.

AP U.S. History

“I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted.” ~ Harriet Tubman, “Harriet”14
“Selma” (2014)
This movie chronicles the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement. It offers a poignant look at the struggle for racial equality and the tactics of nonviolent protest that changed the course of American history.
“Lincoln” (2012)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, this film focuses on President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, capturing the final months of his presidency and the Civil War.
“Harriet” (2019)
This biographical film tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her heroic efforts to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, showcasing her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity.
“The Right Stuff” (1983)
Based on Tom Wolfe’s book, this film chronicles the early days of the U.S. space program and the first seven astronauts selected for Project Mercury. It captures the daring and determination of those who were at the forefront of space exploration.
“All the President’s Men” (1976)
This political thriller is based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two journalists who uncovered the details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation. The film is a classic exploration of investigative journalism and political accountability.

AP Social Sciences Courses

“If you want to see the true character of a person, watch the way they treat their inferiors, not their equals.” ~ Ram Mohammad Thomas, “Slumdog Millionaire”5

Films such as “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Social Network” offer rich narratives for examining contemporary societal themes. Students are encouraged to reflect on how these movies portray issues like inequality, power dynamics, and social change.

Activity Description: Have your students reflect on the societal themes presented in the movie you show them, such as culture, inequality, power dynamics, or social change. They can then choose to write a short essay or create a vlog discussing:

  • How the movie portrays these themes and their relevance to contemporary issues.
  • Personal insights or connections they made with the themes depicted in the film.
  • Suggestions for how individuals or society can address or learn from these themes.

AP Human Geography

“Cities are the physical manifestation of the societies that built them.” ~ Narrator, “Urbanized”15
“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)
This film provides a vivid portrait of urban poverty and development in India, illustrating the complex social and economic factors that shape life in Mumbai’s slums. It’s a compelling way to discuss issues of urbanization, social stratification, and economic development.
“The Constant Gardener” (2005)
Set in Kenya, this thriller explores the impact of global pharmaceutical politics on developing countries, offering insights into the themes of globalization, cultural landscapes, and ethical issues in human geography.
“Urbanized” (2011)
A documentary that discusses the design of cities, featuring city planners, architects, policymakers, builders, and thinkers exploring the challenges and strategies behind urban design and the future of urban life globally.
“Manufactured Landscapes” (2006)
Focusing on the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky, this documentary explores the impact of industrialization on the environment, highlighting the altered landscapes and human labor in Asia.
“Humans of New York: The Series” (2017)
Based on the popular blog and book, this documentary series delves into the lives of everyday New Yorkers, offering a mosaic of personal stories that reflect the cultural and social diversity of the city.

AP Psychology

“Do you ever look at someone and wonder, ‘What is going on inside their head?’ Well, I know. I know Riley’s head.” ~ Joy, “Inside Out”16
“Inside Out” (2015)
This animated film creatively delves into the workings of emotions and memory, making it a fantastic and accessible way to discuss concepts of cognitive psychology, emotional intelligence, and personality development.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” (2019)
Though a work of fiction, this film offers a heartfelt exploration of themes like friendship, freedom, and the pursuit of dreams through the adventure of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away to chase his dream of becoming a wrestler. Alongside a small-time outlaw (Shia LaBeouf), their journey unfolds into a powerful narrative about acceptance, the breaking of societal barriers, and the importance of believing in oneself and others.
“Three Identical Strangers” (2018)
This documentary tells the astonishing story of three men who discover they are identical triplets separated at birth. The film later delves into the nature vs. nurture debate and reveals they were part of a psychological study on twins.
“Blue Eyed” (1996)
This documentary features Jane Elliott’s famous exercise, the “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment. Conducted in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Elliott, a schoolteacher, divided her all-white class into groups based on eye color to teach them about racial prejudice and discrimination. The documentary follows Elliott as she conducts the exercise with adults, demonstrating the enduring power of her experiment in exposing and addressing racism and prejudice.
“Nomadland” (2020)
This documentary-style feature film follows Fern, a woman who, after the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. Directed by Chloé Zhao, the film captures the spirit of resilience and adaptability through the experiences of real-life nomads who form communities and share their wisdom and values, reflecting the realities of van-dwelling life in America.

AP U.S. Government

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “RBG”17
“All the President’s Men” (1976)
This film, based on the true story of the Watergate scandal, is excellent for discussing the role of the media in shaping political landscapes, the checks and balances within the US government, and the importance of transparency and accountability in governance.
“Lincoln” (2012)
Focusing on President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, this movie offers a deep dive into the legislative process, political strategy, and the complexities of leadership during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.
“RBG” (2018)
A documentary that explores the life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, highlighting her early legal battles for gender equality and her years on the Court.
“Hamilton” (2020)
Originally a Broadway musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, this film adaptation captures a live performance with the original cast. “Hamilton” tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, through a vibrant blend of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B music. It explores his contributions to the American Revolution and the early American government, his role in the creation of the U.S. financial system, and his personal and political battles.
“The Vietnam War” (2017)
A ten-part documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that provides an exhaustive look at the Vietnam War from multiple perspectives, including the U.S. government’s role, the soldiers on both sides, and the Vietnamese civilians.

AP Macroeconomics

“Economic growth alone does not guarantee a reduction in inequality; deliberate policies and political action are required.” ~ Narrator, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”18
“The Big Short” (2015)
This film provides an engaging and accessible exploration of the 2008 financial crisis, focusing on the housing bubble and credit default swaps. It’s ideal for discussing topics like financial markets, the impact of economic policy, and the role of regulation.
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (2019)
Based on Thomas Piketty’s book, this documentary film addresses wealth and income inequality in the United States and other countries, offering a comprehensive overview of economic history and the forces shaping global economies. It’s a thought-provoking tool for discussing economic theories and policies.
“Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve” (2013)
This documentary offers a critical look at the Federal Reserve’s impact on the economy, featuring interviews with economists, central bankers, and investors. It delves into the Fed’s role in shaping U.S. monetary policy and its influence on economic booms and busts.
“Freakonomics” (2010)
Inspired by the bestselling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, this documentary takes a quirky look at economic concepts and their application to everyday life, exploring subjects from cheating in sumo wrestling to the socioeconomic patterns influencing baby names. It’s an entertaining approach to understanding how economics shapes our decisions and societal norms.
“Saving Capitalism” (2017)
Based on the book by Robert Reich, this documentary follows the former U.S. Labor Secretary as he seeks to raise awareness about the growing income inequality in the United States. Reich argues that the economic system can be reformed to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy elite, offering insights into the challenges and possibilities of modern capitalism.

A Note on Movie Copyrights

When incorporating films into the classroom, it’s important to approach copyright law with care. The Fair Use Doctrine19 provides educators a pathway to use copyrighted films for educational purposes under specific conditions. AP teachers must make sure that the film they’ve chosen is shown in a face-to-face educational setting, and directly relates to their course content, and they must use a legally obtained copy. Local laws and school/district policies may vary, however, so it’s always wise to check these before showing any movies in class. If you’re not sure, check in with your school’s administrators for clarity and assurance. It’s always better to make sure you’re in compliance with copyright laws and school/district regulations.

Congratulations! Making it to AP exam week with your students is an amazing achievement that certainly warrants a well-deserved movie break, afterward. Take a breath, enjoy a movie, and then when it’s time to begin preparing for next year’s AP courses, discover how UWorld’s Courses for AP can help!

For AP Teachers, by AP Teachers.
How prepared are your AP students? We give them the skills and confidence to succeed.
Exam-like questions and detailed answer explanations

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

All of the recommendations we’ve provided in this article are related to specific AP course subjects, have a rating of PG-13 and below, and avoid overly-mature themes such as self-harm. Even so, when choosing from our curated list or your own, it’s always important to consider your students and their own specific needs and levels of maturity. You know what is appropriate for your students far better than anyone else!
Absolutely. If you’re surprised by this answer, don’t be! These movies are meant for after your students have taken your own AP course subject’s exam but are still in the process of testing in other classes. This is not the time to introduce new content or review the content they’ve just been tested on. Instead, it’s the time to take a breath, celebrate the hard work it took to get to test day, and take a well-earned break with a movie before moving on with regular learning during the remainder of the school year.

Again, it’s always important to consider your students and their own specific needs and levels of maturity. You know what is appropriate for your students far better than anyone else, especially when deciding if they can handle a specific type of sensitive movie content. If you’re not sure something is appropriate for your students, always check with your school administrators and district movie policies.


  1. Luhrmann, B. (Director). (1996). Romeo + Juliet. [Film]. Bazmark Films; 20th Century Fox.
  2. Mulligan, R. (Director). (1962). To Kill a Mockingbird. [Film]. Brentwood Productions; Universal Pictures.
  3. Van Sant, G. (Director). (2000). Finding Forrester. [Film]. Columbia Pictures; Laurence Mark Productions.
  4. Menendez, R. (Director). (1988). Stand and Deliver. [Film]. Warner Bros.
  5. Boyle, D. (Director). (2008). Slumdog millionaire [Film]. Celador Films; Film4 Productions; Warner Bros.
  6. Tyldum, M. (Director). (2014). The Imitation Game. [Film]. Black Bear Pictures; Bristol Automotive.
  7. Scott, R. (Director). (2015). The Martian. [Film]. 20th Century Fox; Scott Free Productions.
  8. Apted, M. (Director). (1988). Gorillas in the Mist. [Film]. Universal Pictures; Warner Bros.
  9. Johnston, J. (Director). (1999). October Sky. [Film]. Universal Pictures.
  10. Attenborough, D. (Narrator). (2019). Our Planet. [TV series]. Silverback Films; Netflix.
  11. Druyan, A., & Soter, S. (Creators). (2020). Cosmos: Possible Worlds. [TV series]. Cosmos Studios; National Geographic.
  12. DuVernay, A. (Director). (2014). Selma. [Film]. Pathé; Harpo Films.
  13. Attenborough, R. (Director). (1982). Gandhi. [Film]. Goldcrest Films; International Film Investors.
  14. Lemmons, K. (Director). (2019). Harriet. [Film]. Perfect World Pictures; Focus Features.
  15. Hustwit, G. (Director). (2011). Urbanized. [Documentary]. Swiss Dots; Plexifilm.
  16. Docter, P., & Del Carmen, R. (Directors). (2015). Inside Out. [Film]. Walt Disney Pictures; Pixar Animation Studios.
  17. Cohen, J., & West, B. (Directors). (2018). RBG. [Documentary]. CNN Films; Storyville Films.
  18. Pemberton, J., & Piketty, T. (Directors). (2020). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. [Documentary]. Ford Foundation/Just Films; Kino Lorber.
  19. Teach with Movies. (n.d.). Copyright for using movies in the classroom. Retrieved April 10, 2024, from
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