Movie Analysis Paper Winter 2020

Movie Analysis Paper Winter 2020

Purpose:  To demonstrate your understanding of the critical communication skills explored in the first half of this course.

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Process:  Since some of the best learning can be done by observing other people, your assignment is to analyze the communication behaviors of key characters in a film.  You are to focus the analysis on relevant skills and concepts we’ve learned thus far in the course.  You’ll evaluate (referencing course information) the strengths and limitations of the communication choices of these characters as well as discuss the consequences.  You’ll also make concrete recommendations for improvement in communication choices. 

Step One:

Choose a movie from the short list provided (if you have a great idea for a different movie, I’m open to it, but you must get approval from at least two weeks in advance of the due date – I need to view the film).

Step Two:

After watching the movie, select specific principles from discussion and reading that you find particularly evident in the characters’ communication behavior or in their relationship(s).  You can stick to one chapter or pull concepts from several (I give you some general direction on my movie list).  For instance, in The Breakfast Club, you may choose to discuss self-concept, perceptions (and stereotypes) and nonverbal communication.  I recommend you choose three major concepts to write about rather than trying to cover as many as possible.  This will allow you to go deeper and be more thorough. Be sure to dive into specifics, avoid being too vague – you want to show you understand these concepts and skills. For example, go deeper than “identity.”  I give hints as to what concepts are evident in movies, but I want you to take it further! The list I provide is not cumulative-not even close!

For example, if you discussed self-concept for The Breakfast Club, you would likely cover concepts such as reflected appraisal from significant others, ego busters/boosters, and so forth.  You should not just describe the character’s self-concept, but also describe how you believe it was developed and/or how it influences his/her communication with significant others (in terms of course theory). Make a link—how does self-concept influence the perception of the characters? Go into the steps, stereotypes, etc.

As you write your analysis, be sure to include the following:

  • Define the concepts and/or theories you find relevant as you discuss them.
  • Describe specific scenes or character behaviors to help illustrate how they represent course concepts (I will have seen your movie choice, but remind me of the specifics as you analyze). However, do not simply explain what occurred in the movie – this is an analysis not a movie recap.
  • Determine the communication strengths and limitations of the primary characters and analyze how this impacts their relationship or circumstances (again, using what you’ve learned in class/text
  • If there are multiple main characters, you may choose to write about all, or pick a few.
  • Make connections. How does the character’s use of language affect their emotions? Listening behaviors?
  • Make recommendations for improvement to the main characters based on what we’ve learned. Ex: If a character stereotypes too much, they should learn to “perception check.”


  • 75 points possible, 3 -4 pages, typed (double spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman font)
  • Use a standard essay format — include an introduction (which previews what you’ll discuss), a body (your analysis) and conclusion (summarize your ideas)-YOU MUST INCLUDE ALL OF THESE!
  • Check for spelling and grammar errors! Cite the book and film at the end of your paper in APA.
  • Submit your essay in a Word.doc on Canvas Submissions will close after that. NO EXCEPTONS. LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED!!

Movie options (with SOME relevant communication themes depicted)

Flight (perception, self-concept, conflict, emotion)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (self-concept, perception, emotion)

Hitch (perception, self-concept, nonverbal, conflict)

Brokeback Mountain (identity management, self-concept, culture and perception)

Slumdog Millionaire (culture, identity, perception, empathy)

The Breakfast Club (self-concept, nonverbal communication, identity management, listening)

Warrior-*2011 version* (self-concept, perception, emotion, empathy, listening)

The Blindside (identity, impressions, perception, culture)

American History X (perception, self-concept, self-serving bias, stereotyping)

The Ugly Truth (stereotyping, impression management, perception, self-concept, language—gender relates to all)

Juno (self-concept, perception, emotion, conflict)

Thirteen (identity, public self vs. private self, age in perception management, self-serving bias)

Forest Gump (stereotyping, perception, identity, listening)

The Breakup (identity, non-verbal, listening, perception)

Remember the Titans (self-concept, perception, listening, language)

Napoleon Dynamite (self-concept, perception, conflict, listening)

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (self-concept, perception, emotion, conflict)

Friends With Benefits (self-concept, perception, emotion)

Good Will Hunting (empathy, self-concept, perception, listening)

The Wolf of Wall Street (self-concept, self-fulfilling prophecy, managing impressions, listening, perception, emotion)

The Pursuit of Happyness (self-concept, perception, emotion, conflict, empathy/sympathy)

Coach Carter (self-concept, esteem, perception, emotion, conflict)

Shutter Island (perception, self-concept, emotion)

God’s Not Dead (self-fulfilling prophecy, self-concept, perception, self-esteem)

The Fundamentals of Caring  (self-fulfilling prophecy, self-concept, perception, self-esteem)

Easy A (self-concept-public vs. private self, perception-stereotyping, disclosure, conflict)

The Fault in Our Stars (self-concept, perception, emotion, empathy, language, listening, conflict)

Meet the Parents (self-concept, perception, stereotyping, language, listening, self-disclosure, conflict)

The Devil Wears Prada (self-concept, self-esteem, perception, emotion, empathy…)

Wild (self-concept, perception, emotion, conflict)

The Duff (self-concept, self-esteem, perception, emotion, language, conflict management)

The Edge of 17 (self-concept, perception, emotion)

Under the Tuscan Sun (self-concept, perception, emotion)

Moonlight  (self-concept, perception, emotion, conflict)

Hidden Figures (self-concept, perception, stereotyping)


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