Central Questions for Films of 2014-15

I love framing matters in terms of central questions. Whether the topic at hand is a political issue, a musical group’s catalogue, or a friend’s career ambitions, my educator tendency to create and debate central questions takes over.

To form and grapple with central questions is an intellectual exercise through which one can examine a specific situation, piece of art, or seemingly eccentric narrative, pare it down to its essential being, and connect it to a larger set of observations about human nature & life on earth. I find the zoom in-zoom out, synthesis-extraction, and part-to-whole relational aspects of central question analysis facilitate fun and revealing conversations.

Without further adieu, here are what I see as worthwhile central questions for some of my favorite films released in the cinematic year 2014-15:


-What is the most effective method for encouraging artistic greatness?

-Can genius be taught?

– Is it possible for an individual to be a “great” at his/her craft and also lead a “balanced” life?


-As a society, what level of civil liberty infringements should we tolerate in the name of national security?

-What are the consequences of eliminating or significantly decreasing privacy?

-Who is protected by (or benefits most from) national security programs?


-What is (or should be) the relationship between activism and politics?

-How does “dissent within the ranks” of a social movement affect its overall effectiveness?


-How much value should we place on others’ opinions of ourselves in determining self-worth?

-In what ways is an individual in control of her/his reputation?


-How much agency/control does a young person have over his/her life during youth?

-What are the most prominent variables in identity formation? Specifically, how does the passage of time figure into the process of becoming?


-Where is line distinguishing free speech and hate speech?

-Is it ethical to kill one in the name of saving many others from violence and oppression?

Note: I’ll update this page in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards as Erica and I see more of the critically acclaimed films.

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