Film or series analysis | English homework help

Essay #3: Film or Series Analysis Using Sources (MLA format)

Directions: For this essay, choose a film or series in which a social issue is prominent either throughout the work or in one episode or part.  You can select a network/cable TV show, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or any other streaming service you watch.  Besides describing how the social issue is presented and explored, you will also compare and contrast what critics say about this film or series.  Minimum Works Cited:  4 sources – 2 critics, 1 SPC library article, and the film/series itself.

 Start by going to the website Metacritic Put in the name of a film or series; scroll down to Metascore to find the professional reviews (for example, New York Times, Variety, IndieWire, The Guardian, Film, Los Angeles Times—sources like these). Choose two of the reviews that you’d like to use as support in a discussion about the work. For example, you might select one positive and one negative, one that says something that another contradicts, or just two that you agree or disagree with. 

 Now go to the SPC Online Library.  Find at least one source on the work you have selected or on the genre it represents.  Take a look at this Library Guide first:   [Note:  This was originally created for the SPC Humanities Department]

– Then, follow these directions to write your essay. 

This should be a 700-800 word paper, i.e., longer than your previous essays.

I. Introduction:

•Decide on a technique or “hook” to gain your reader’s interest.

•Name the film or series you’ll be discussing; name its major stars and its director.

•THESIS IDEA:  Give the gist of the assessments made by the two critics you’ve chosen; add your own opinion. 

EXAMPLE: New York Times critic John Doe thought this film (or series) was worth seeing but the acting was not up to par. On the other hand, Bob Smith of IndieWire felt that the film was completely successful. While Doe’s negative critique carries some weight, most viewers would agree with Smith that the movie is definitely worth seeing for its treatment (or exploration, commentary, etc.) on X (social issue). 

II. Body:

•Discuss the genre of the work you have selected, its origins, any important/famous writers/directors or works that fall into this type of film or series, audience(s) it typically appeals to, etc,  Reference at least one SPC library source in this section.  


•Write a plot summary (not too detailed – just a general idea for those who have not seen it).

•Discuss how within the plot a social issue is brought to light and your evaluation of this – is it genuine, truthful, deep, for example? (or not?)  Are any solutions suggested?  


•Discuss the critical articles you’ve chosen one at a time, by naming the critic, the source of his article, and quoting/paraphrasing from his essay to show his or her viewpoint.

•Respond to the critics’ views, telling which of their ideas you agree with and which you disagree with, explaining why with evidence.  Use specific examples from the movie or series.  Note:  Do NOT use first person “I” (No “but I think…” or “to me, it seemed…” or “I do not agree…” etc.).  Instead, write phrases such as “viewers will enjoy…” or “any follower of director X’s work will agree…” or “the cinematography is fantastic” or “it is the superb acting that makes this film so great,” or “Whoever watches X will be left with much to think about….”   Etc.  

III. Conclusion:

•Sum up in the way you would any formal essay, by restating – paraphrasing –  your thesis and/or your major points.

•Include a general opinion about the movie or series, this social issue it portrays, and its significance to audiences.

•Make a prediction – will this work live on and impact many viewers?  Why or why not?

         Keep these things in mind to help you write the paper correctly.

— Italicize the title of the film or series each time you mention it, even if critics quote the titles. The title of an episode of an on-going series should go in quotation marks. For example, “The Shock” is the name of Episode 5, Series 5 of the series Peaky Blinders. Italicize the names of newspapers and magazines as well.

— When you quote from a review, you will use a parenthetical citation in your text only if you do not mention the critic’s name in your sentence. 


– Writing about the film The Lighthouse, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker says that the film “…has to create its own mythology as it goes along.”


– One critic says the film The Lighthouse “. . . has to create its own mythology as it goes along”  (Lane).

The name in parenthesis will lead the reader to the Works Cited sheet, where the critic’s article will be listed by his last name. See the separate handout about how to cite films and series on a works cited sheet.

As you write, you can disagree with a critic’s ideas, but never ENCattack his or her character. (For example, “I can’t believe this man writes for a magazine.”) Make sure you provide specific examples from the film or series to show why you agree or disagree with the critic’s points.

Have fun with this!  Choose a work that you enjoy watching!  Perhaps something that has helped survive this pandemic, right? 



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