You have to explain America to someone from not here, but you can only use ten movies to do it. Which ten do you choose?In no particular order
The idea is not to give them a history lesson, so you don't have to start with The New World and end with Jarhead.
What you're trying to do is give them a sense of who we are---your take on our dreams, our attitudes, our idioms, what we think we are, what we are afraid we are, what we really might be.
1. Contact - the tension between Science and Faith is one of the defining features of America, hasn't it always been thus?
2. Office Space/Fight Club - different takes on a similar theme: the anonymity and dehumanising aspects of being a worker bee in McWorld.
3. ...And Justice For All - It's a farce. It's the legal system. It's a farce about our legal system. But it has a lot to say about the conflict between those with 'an in' and those without.
4. Dirty Harry - now that 'the West' is gone, this is the iconic portrayal of the American Badass. We still have a whole lot of "make my day" in our character, don't we?
5. Reality Bites - "Define Irony". Depressed, under employed, over educated, bitter twentysomethings. Sounds like a few people I know.
6. The Big Chill - What happened to our youth/life/dreams?
7. Miracle/Hoosiers - American Character triumphs over adversity, pulling victory from the jaws of defeat.
8. 8 Mile/Walk the Line/Ray/[Insert biopic] - Rags to riches.
9. Do the Right Thing - Still the best movie about race in America.
10. Wall Street - Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works.