Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Lesson: War is hell.
For those of us fortunate enough never to have seen the horrors of war, the gravity of the concept can often be lost through the filter of a television screen. The realism is captured in Saving Private Ryan thanks to techniques such as using actual amputees to portray maimed soldiers, and extras made up of local war reenactment groups and reserve soldiers.
The Graduate (1967)
Lesson: You have to make your own choices — even the crappy ones.
Long before Stiffler’s Mother shacked up with “Shit-Brick” in American Pie, Dustin Hoffman was seduced by Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. The result was a dramatic look at how manipulative, cruel, and insecure “adults” can be when confronting their own self-doubt. While the film doesn’t have a traditional happy ending, it clearly demonstrates how everyone has to make tough choices in life. And once you make a decision, own it and don’t look back.