Q. As a movie buff who's newly interested in environmental issues, I was wondering if there's a Top 10 list of movies/documentaries out there that would give me a general overview of the big environmental questions being asked today. – Jen, Minn.
A. As a fellow movie buff, I had a hard time picking just 10 must-see environmental movies/documentaries. So here are 13! Hope you’ve got Netflix….
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
It’s an obvious pick, but this doc is a great primer on global warming. Its message is sobering, true, but Al Gore says that if we act boldly, quickly and wisely, we can solve this climate crisis.
Erin Brokovich (2000)
Based on a true story, Julia Roberts plays Erin Brockovich, a small-town gal who takes on chemical company PG&E after coming across suspicious medical records from a nearby town. It’s that rare tale of David taking on Goliath, and winning.
Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
If you think that electric cars are a new idea, think again. This documentary goes back to the mid-'90s to dig out the GM EV1 electric car, a popular green vehicle quickly buried by auto industries and greedy politicians.
The 11th Hour (2007)
When dealing with the global warming crisis, think big. That’s the message behind this global warming documentary that offers exciting and radical solutions from leading scientists and innovators to help save the planet from total climate catastrophe.
This computer-animated science-fiction tale is a futuristic look at an Earth so polluted by mass consumerism that humans had to leave it. Wall-E clearly has an environmental agenda, but it gets the message across without preaching.
Planet in Peril (2007)
Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Jeff Corwin travel 13 countries in this two-part documentary on some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, including global warming, species extinction and water pollution.
The true-life account of Karen Silkwood (played by Meryl Streep), an Oklahoma nuclear plant worker who blew the whistle on her company’s dangerous practices and then mysteriously “disappeared.”
A Civil Action (1998)
In this true story, John Travolta defies stereotypes about out-for-themselves personal injury lawyers. Sticking his own neck out, he sues a major corporation for contaminating a town’s drinking water with industrial solvents.
Planet Earth (2007)
This Emmy-winning series travels the world to show the connection between all animals, big or small. The beautifully scenic shots alone will give you a renewed appreciation for all things great and small.
The End of Suburbia (2004)
The white picket fence never seemed so threatening. This documentary takes a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of suburbia, and asks whether this lifestyle can ever be truly sustainable.
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (2006)
This documentary looks at our addiction to oil and the inevitable chaos that's sure to ensue once it runs out. The film outlines the challenge while highlighting our desperate need for an alternative energy source.
Heat (available online, 2008)
This Frontline documentary investigates how the world's largest corporations and governments are responding to Earth's looming environmental disaster and examines whether major corporations and governments are up to the challenge.
Flow (limited showing in theaters)
This award-winning documentary builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's fresh water supply, asking the question, “Can anyone really own water?”
Click here to view MNN's Top 10 eco-disaster movie gallery.
Story by Jessica A. Knoblauch. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008.