Movie display themes needed!
September 3, 2019 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I work in a public library and create displays showcasing our extensive movie collection. I could use some help coming up with new display themes!

Themes that have circulated well recently include baseball movies, football, movies set in the nearest large city, heist movies, shark week, movies with school settings, and “beat the heat” (movies set in cold climates).

We have space to showcase 15 movies at a time, and we restock with additional films as needed—so we need themes broad enough to include at least 20-25 different titles. We change out the display every two weeks.

I love creating these displays and accompanying signage, but my brain is tired. Movie lovers of MeFi—any suggestions?
posted by bookmammal to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The dog is ok movies (where the pet doesn’t die in the end)
Next time take the train (airplane disaster movies)
Natural Disaster Movies (aka Climate Change is Real)
Dance in your seat movies (movies with awesome soundtracks)
Get out the vote (activism movies)
History Class (historical bioepics)
Watch it twice movies (movies with twists/complex plots that if you watch it again make more sense - memento, the sixth sense, inception)
Super heroes!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:28 AM on September 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

This is how I have my personal movie collection categorized. Literally whole folders just called baseball and heist movies.

Other big folders:
In spaaaace
Courtroom movies
Lady protag comedies
Campy action
Dudebro comedies
Political movies

October is coming up, you could do a whole board on family-scary movies. Movies that set a spooky mood without being too rough for, say, an 8 year old with parental supervision.
posted by phunniemee at 6:35 AM on September 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Movies that pass the Bechdel Test
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:51 AM on September 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

I would love to have personal lists for the above categories.
posted by Botanizer at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

All At Sea: An amusing variety of movies set on boats or at the beach
Back In The Day: Childhood nostalgia films from seventies/eighties/nineties (Last Unicorn, Dark Crystal, etc)
New York, New York: Movies set in, uh, New York (This is mainly so that you can talk up Crooklyn, which is a really underrated NYC movie that more people should put on rotation)

You could cue some of these to contemporary pop phenomena - what about some kind of Stranger Things-themed set of eighties movies mixing scary, fantasy and science fiction, for instance? Or eighties and nineties fantasy movies cued to The Dark Crystal since there's the series?

I assume you do lists like women directors, or Black directors, etc.

What about Famous Yet Relatively Noncontroversial Actors, eg a bunch of Katherine Hepburn movies, or The Long Career of Denzel Washington? (By "non-controversial" I mean "as opposed to someone like Woody Allen", not "people with no political views or controversial movies".)

Can you do a chronological display that would highlight connections between movies? Like start with old zombie movies and work forward? Or old vampire movies?

What about "Classic Silents" or something?

Robots! And you can start with Metropolis.

What about films where a particular article of clothing plays a big role? Or movies with makeovers? Or movies organized around disguises?

Another thing - check out independent cinemas and local film festivals for themes. Our very own microcinema did a terrific space-themed series this summer, ranging from Alien to Tarkovsky's Solaris to Aelita Princess of Mars to some other contemporary stuff. Right now they've pretty much switched back to trash-films-monsters-and-horror so not everything on their website will be that helpful but they sure do create a lot of themed series.
posted by Frowner at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Documentaries on odd subjects with the theme, "Betcha Didn't Know!"
Movies with colors in the title (and an appropriately-colored display).
Top-grossing movies of any given year.
posted by xingcat at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh, these ideas are AMAZING so far!!!
PLEASE keep them coming— I’m going to be able to fill out my display calendar for the next entire year!
posted by bookmammal at 7:06 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like a this vs that idea them. Dogs vs Cats , city vs country, land vs sea
Movies about trials or laywers? To Kill a mockingbird, etc
Films about a region or Place? Italy (and maybe movies FROM Italy) NYC. Africa.
Movies about/with bad weather? Frozen, Fargo, the Shining, the Revenant
Movies that were great books? Display both together?
Pronoun movies? Us, Them, You can't take it with you, It.

PIcking an actor, actress or director or writer with a very long career and having films with year released seems interesting.
Movies about dancing from Busby Berkeley, Footloose, black swan, well...there are so many.

Sport movies with every sport you can think of represented. I'd love some little interesting blurb about the sport. Fencing, Crew, Wrestling, cycling (breaking away).
It makes me think bikes and cycling should have their own! Breaking away, Triplets of Belleville, Pee Wees big adventure, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, the bicycle thief, etc.

Movies with bugs.
Movies about food.
Mistaken Identity movies.
Time travel movies.
True Crime
posted by beccaj at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

IMDB's keywords can be a good source of inspiration for these kinds of themes, as well as answering the question 'what movies can I include?'. There are thousands more than appear on the browse page. Examples:

Movies that feature car races
Movies with talking animals
Movies about bodybuilding
Movies with ambiguous endings
Movies featuring a show within a show
posted by jacquilynne at 7:57 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Better Than the Book

Worse Than the Book

True History

___ At Sea (Master & Commander, Caine Mutiny, all of the Mutiny on the Bounty flicks, et al.)



Kids' Movies With Dubbed Human Voices for the Animals (Air Bud, Firehouse Dog, etc., etc., etc.)

Retreads (e.g., all four versions of Annie)

Who Did It Better?, i.e., remakes

Hidden Shakespeare (Clueless, Strange Brew)

Show Off That 4k! (nature documentaries, plus movies with gorgeous scenery but weak plot/acting)

Jumping Cultural Barriers (e.g., the original Seven Samurai side-by-side with Magnificent Seven)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Take a Trip -- all foreign (and subtitled) movies. (Amelie; The Red Violin; Run, Lola, Run, Rashomon, Pan's Labyrinth)

I wish I had been exposed to subtitles much earlier than I had been. Reading (vs hearing) dialogue isn't as bad as a lot of people think!
posted by pdxhiker at 8:39 AM on September 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Movies that are not available on major streaming services (a little work on the research side, but I think it'd be popular, especially in more affluent/tech-heavy areas)

American movies with Spanish-language secondary audio tracks (one of our branches used a display like this to help persuade our collection development staff that we needed more originally-recorded-in-Spanish movies)

Music documentaries (we've done smaller displays of just music-festival and just hip-hop/rap documentaries that were both quite popular)
posted by box at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Movies in Motion (Bus, boat, cars, bikes, hiking)
Stormy Weather
Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Show! (Theater, backstage)
Creature Features (monsters or wildlife)
Movies versions of required reading for area schools
Ages, Stages (childhood, adulthood, rites of passage)
A Feast for the Eyes (Food, restaurants, eating)
Museum Pass

Patron Picks (I really appreciate recommendations from fellow patrons)
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:03 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

American movies with Spanish-language secondary audio tracks

Without being patronizing, this strikes me as a legitimately cool way to get ELL students exposed to some of the cultural touchstones of the English-speaking majority culture. (The kids probably don't care, but maybe their parents will?)

Do you know anyone fluent in Spanish who could write up a little explanation? And/or maybe reach out to some ELL specialists in the local schools once the display is up, asking them to spread the word (because getting people into the library for any reason is always good).
posted by wenestvedt at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wasn't there a recent FPP or AskMe about movies that critics hated but fans loved, or vice versa?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:50 AM on September 3, 2019

I used to be a public librarian and would do book displays around specific award winners/nominees, so you could always do Oscar/Golden Globe/etc winners/nominees, especially when award season starts rolling around. These types of things are SO EASY to do displays on. "1997 Award Winners!" "Best Actress Nominees!" "Best Foreign Language Winners" etc forever
posted by jabes at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Look at the lists that Netflix uses to describe hidden movie categories. There are lots of these lists out there and might give you some inspiration and movies to put in the categories too!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 2:43 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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