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5 Movie Teachers We Love

Why do we love movies about students so much? Our high school years can be stressful and intense, but they’re also formative moments where some of our best friendships are born and so many memories are made. Whether we like to admit it or not, teachers play an invaluable role when we’re at school, and films can remind us of the very best parts of our formative years. We made a list of 5 movie teachers we love, from the unconventional to the strict but caring, whose impact extends far beyond the silver screen! Find them all below in alphabetical order!

1. Dead Poets Society: John Keating

Robin Williams kneels in front of his students, looking ahead, in the film Dead Poets Society, where he played movie teacher John Keating
5 Movie Teachers We Love – Dead Poets Society (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Oh Captain, my Captain!”. We keep hearing that line quoted in so many movies – most recently, in The Marvels! – and yet we’d never tire of it, because it reminds of of the protagonist of Peter Weir’s 1989 classic, Dead Poets Society. It’s 1959 and John Keating (Robin Williams) has just arrived at the conservative all-male prep school Welton Academy, in Vermont, and immediately shocked the entire staff with his eccentric methods. But Keating’s unconventional approach to teaching – which involves ripping off entire chapters of books and having his pupils “carpe diem” and appreciate their lives instead – has the opposite effect on the students, who learn to embrace their individuality.

If you have a teacher like Mr. Keating, you can confidently explore themes of self-expression and seize the opportunity to excel academically, making it worth considering having professionals write my paper for further analysis and appreciation of his character. But the reason why Keating is such a beloved character is the combination of Tom Schulman’s Oscar-winning screenplay – which allows for plenty of humor and heart at exactly the right times – and a fantastic performance from the late Robin Williams, who demands your attention from start to end. If you haven’t seen Dead Poets Society yet, you’re in for a treat!

2. The Harry Potter Movies: Minerva McGonagall

Minerva McGonagall, one of the 5 movie teachers we love, does a spell in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
5 Movie Teachers We Love – Minerva McGonagall does a spell in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Warner Bros. Pictures)

When she first appears in the books, Minerva McGonagall comes across as an incredibly stern teacher. But as we get to know her throughout the 7 novels – and 8 movies – we soon start to respect her: if the Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a very demanding one, she’s also, above all, fair. McGonagall’s unwavering dedication to her students’ well-beings, even in the face of danger, has earned her a special place in the hearts of fans worldwide, who have been captivated by her wit and courage – after all, she’s the Head of Gryffindor.

The Wizarding World believes the moment we all fell in love with McGonagall was during the Battle of Hogwarts, in the last book. While those moments are great to showcase just how brave she is, there are also so many more: each fan is bound to have their favorite scene in mind. To us, it’s a combination of her sarcasm when referring to Professor Trelawney’s visions of “death” in the first book, her hilarious battle with Dolores Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix, and the moment she uses that spell she had “always wanted to use” in Deathly Hallows Part 2.

3. The Holdovers: Paul Hunham

Paul Giamatti stands in front of a blackboard and smiles as Paul Hunham in The Holdovers
5 Movie Teachers We Love – Paul Giamatti is Paul Hunham in The Holdovers (Focus Features)

Earlier this year, Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for his performance in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, an absolute gem of a movie that should be on your watchlist! The film takes place at a New England prep school during the Christmas break. While most of the students get to go home, one of them has nowhere to go, which means that he’ll have to stay at school, with a teacher to “babysit”. Needless to say, neither student (Dominic Sessa’s Angus) nor teacher (Giamatti’s Paul Hunham) enjoy each other’s company, and they’d both rather be anywhere else.

But as they are stuck with one another – together with head cook Mary (Oscar winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph) – something happens. They get to know one another in the most unusual of ways and are able to create a very special bond. If judging by that synopsis alone, you’re probably expecting a conventional tearjerker, prepared to be blown away by The Holdovers. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will take you by surprise, and it will ultimately make you want to stand on your desk, looking at Paul Hunham, saying “Oh Captain, my Captain” with teary eyes.

4. School of Rock: Dewey Finn/”Mr. Schneebly”

Jack Black Points at a blackboard with a stick in the movie School of Rock
5 Movie Teachers We Love – Jack Black in School of Rock (Paramount Pictures)

Is it Dewey Finn, or is it “Mr. Schneebly”? Jack Black’s iconic performance in Richard Linklater’s 2003 comedy School of Rock – which was so good that it then evolved into an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical! – brought a unique twist to the teacher archetype. The film is about a well-meaning, extroverted unemployed man named Dewey Finn (Black), who still believes he’s a teenager and is determined to avoid responsibility. Having just been thrown out of his one and only reason for living – the “band” where he played guitar, and with whom he hoped to win the “Battle of the Bands” – he ends up crashing at his best friend Ned’s house, doing nothing but come up with excuses for Ned’s wife as to why he hasn’t found a job yet.

One day, when Ned – a substitute teacher – isn’t home, a call arrives for him, with a new job. Dewey sees this as an opportunity, and accepts the job, pretending to be Ned – or, as his students call him, “Mr. Schneebly”. It turns out that posing as a substitute music teacher isn’t so easy, especially when the school’s principal (Joan Cusack) is extremely strict and uptight. But Dewey soon finds a reason to teach the kids, when he discovers they can play and decides to turn them into “rock Gods”. Carried entirely by a larger than life Jack Black, the film is hilarious, quotable, and one of the best films about music and musicians out there! Be warned: the songs are incredibly addictive!

5. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit: Sister Mary Clarence

5 Movie Teachers We Love – “Oh Happy Day” from Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (Touchstone Pictures)

The first Sister Act movie (1992) is about a Las Vegas performer named Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) who is forced to hide at a convent while waiting to testify at a trial. While there, she gets acquainted with the sisters and her initial reticence soon turns into enthusiasm when she realizes they are actual human beings, and they’re in desperate need of singing lessons. The first film is such a classic, and the sequel, ahem, isn’t as good. But it gives us more time with Deloris, who is asked to return to the convent and teach music to teenagers.

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit is a product of its time, and it’s also extremely thin on plot. But if you’re able to overlook its flaws, you’ll find plenty of enjoyable songs and great moments with a Whoopi Goldberg in splendid shape – this time, playing not only a singer and a nun, but also a teacher. By the time the credits roll, we guarantee you’ll be singing!

These 5 movie teachers have captured our hearts and imaginations in unique ways. Whether through their unconventional methods, their unwavering dedication, or their ability to connect with students – and audiences! – they made us forget our troubles and taken us back to a more carefree time of our lives and perhaps reminded us of our favorite teachers at school! Happy watching!

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