To Kill a Mockingbird: One of the most beloved American films ever made, this 1962 adaptation of Haper Lee’s classic was dubbed Number 2 on the American Film Institutes’ “100 Most Inspiring Films” list and Number 1 on the “Courtroom Drama” list. Made in 1962, the film stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a portrayal that earned him one of the film’s three Oscar wins.
Capote: Focused on Truman Capote’s writing of his masterpiece In Cold Blood, this film also features a sensitive portrayal of his life long friendship with To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee (played in the film by Catherine Keener). Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s outstanding performance as Capote won him an Oscar when the film came out in 2005.
Fried Green Tomatoes: This film adaptation of Fanny Flagg’s heartwarming novel stars Kathy Bates as a frustrated wife vying for her husband’s attention. She meets an old woman (Jessica Tandy) who relates to Bates the tender story of a lifelong friendship between two women living in the South.
12 Angry Men: The evidence seems overwhelmingly against the Latino teenager of killing his abusive father. Eleven white jurors are convinced that the boy is guilty of murder. The twelfth is unsure. Henry Fonda leads an star cast in this classic directed by Sydney Lumet.
Driving Miss Daisy: Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1989, this gracefully moving drama, adapted from the hit play by Alfred Uhry, chronicles the 25-year friendship between a stubborn, aging Southern widow (Jessica Tandy) and her loyal chauffeur (Morgan Freeman). At first, the self-sufficient Miss Daisy is reluctant to accept the services of a chauffeur, but Hoke is quiet, wise, and tolerant, and as the years pass the unlikely friends develop a deep mutual respect and admiration. Tandy deservedly won the Oscar for her sassy and sensitive performance, and Freeman earned an Oscar nomination for bringing quiet depth and integrity to his memorable role.
Places in the Heart: Nominated for five Oscars and winner of two, Places in the Heart stars Sally Field as the young widow, Edna Spalding, in the 1930s South. With the help of Moses (Danny Glover) and blind boarder Mr. Will (John Malkovich), Edna struggles to hang on to her farm and keep her family together in spite of a tornado, the depression, and the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Color Purple: Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple is a powerful film set in America’s rural south. Whoopi Goldberg, winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe Award and recipient of an Oscar nomination, makes her film debut as Celie, an uneducated woman living in the rural American south. Forced to marry a brutal man she calls “Mister,” Celie turns inward and shares her grief only with God. Through the years she is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, finally acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive. The distinguished cast includes Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong, and Akosua Busia.
Crazy in Alabama: Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black, Rod Steiger star in this film which features parallel styles: a Southern Gothic comedy and a serious civil rights drama. Set in the summer of 1965, Lucille (Griffith) a beautiful battered wife, has just murdered her abusive husband and heads west to Hollywood, with his head in a Tupperware cake saver, to achieve her dream of stardom. Meanwhile, her nephew PeeJoe becomes embroiled in a civil rights drama at home. Quirky episodes of her zany road trip are interspersed with serious incidents back in Alabama involving deadly skirmishes between protesting blacks and murderously intolerant whites. The plots come together with surprising results.
Rosewood: In 1982 an investigative reporter visiting Levy County in Florida noticed a lack of black residents. So he asked questions and a long-ago tragedy came to light. John Singleton directs this powerful true retelling of the horrific January1923 mob attacks that razed a peaceful
black community into oblivion. Ving Rhames plays a decorated World War I veteran who teams with a shopkeeper (Jon Voight) to save the survivors.
Cookie’s Fortune: This Sundance Festival comedy favorite is set in the small town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. Camille (Glenn Close) is shocked to discover that her Aunt Jewel Mae “Cookie” Orcutt (Patricia Neal) has committed suicide. Terrified at the thought of how this will tarnish the family name, she eats the suicide note to make it look like a burglary. This set-up leads the police to one main suspect, Cookie’s black gentleman friend Willis Richland (Charles S. Dutton). Although the rest of the town is certain Willis didn’t commit the crime, an outside investigator (Courtney B. Vance) isn’t so sure. As Easter Sunday arrives, the truth comes out, revealing more secrets than anyone could have possibly imagined. Director Robert Altman tells his at a leisurely pace, beautifully recreating the eccentricities of small town Southern life in this sweet-natured tale.