Steve Jobs (85%): This three act character study was easily the most polarizing movie on this list. Critics hailed the spot-on acting and the touchingly dynamic relationship between Jobs and his daughter. For those who knew Jobs, the screenplay took liberties with events and only hinted at Jobs’ warmth and generosity.
For entertainment value, it’s hard to resist Michael Fassbender channeling a younger and more mercurial Jobs who preened at his bad boy best. This Jobs is a manipulative, spiteful, demanding, defiant iconoclast who rants, threatens, and blames without concern for the fallout. Here, Jobs is portrayed as an egomaniac, who hogs the credit as he bucks convention. He is difficult-to-bear and enigmatic, a complex man whose brilliance elicits a sense of awe, resentment, heartache, and resignation from those around him. Still, as we learned after his humbling hero’s journey through the NeXT wilderness, Jobs would soften with age and ultimately redeem himself with the greatest comeback in the annals of American business. Haunted in the film by Shakespearian ghosts like Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfield, Jobs eventually attempts to make amends to those he harmed. He even confesses that he is “poorly made” – perhaps not realizing his flawed Version I was still a marvel of engineering and design that came with the same set of bugs as everyone else.
The beauty of Steve Jobs is that it enables viewers to peak around the corner to see the obsessive nature, setbacks, and sacrifices behind greatness. Jobs was an inventor and entrepreneur – perhaps America’s best since Henry Ford. But he was also a deeply focused artist, whose problem-solving, take-no-prisoners sensibility drove him to create the future and not just dream it.
Concussion (62%): Looking for an underdog story? Forget Rocky and head out to see Concussion. Of course, you won’t find the heroism in Concussion in those gridiron gladiator battles. Instead, they’re found in labs, dinners, and boardrooms. In this film, you’ll find the most unlikely of heroes: Bennet Omalu, a kind-hearted Nigerian expat who works as a neuropathologist and even talks to the stiffs.
After discovering severe brain trauma to a former player during an autopsy, he co-authors a paper on his findings that repeated blows to the head in football produce long-term impairments like depression and mood disorders. Rather than his work being embraced, it is dismissed by the NFL and its partners. Omalu’s associates are smeared, while opponents demand their research be retracted. The pressure becomes so great that Omalu is forced to re-locate.
But, as Dr. Martin Luther King observes, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” After a players union executive’s suicide note vindicates Omalu, the NFL is forced to concede the links between football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
For business students, Concussion is a sobering reminder that organizations don’t always look out for the best interests of their people. Truth is, when money and liability are involved, businesses react to whistleblowing by circling the wagons or lashing out. And that means cover-ups, threats, and dirty play. In the end, Concussion reflects the great paradox: Sticking your neck out may cost you a career, but it can also save your employer and spare suffering to others over the long run.