Four 2023 Movies That Every MBA Needs To See


Movies often showcase diverse characters with unique leadership styles, personalities, and motivations — making them a great way to share leadership examples with business school students, says Georgetown University’s No. 1 movie buff, Bob Bies. 

“People don’t remember all of my lectures, they may remember the exercises, but they never forget a movie clip. Movies are a part of teaching for me,” Bies, a professor of management at the McDonough School of Business, tells Poets&Quants

If there is a movie with a great leadership example, you can bet Bies will find it. He has a flair for scoping out the best examples of leadership in movies — in fact he can’t help himself. “I can never go watch a movie without saying ‘Oh there’s a clip to use, there’s a clip!’” he says. 

Bies has been teaching at Georgetown for 34 years, but he’s been a movie buff all of his life. Early in his courses he started showing movie clips and people loved it. “After that, every class session had to have a movie clip,” he says.

The idea to make the Bobscars an annual event honoring outstanding depictions of leadership in film came out of Georgetown McDonough’s Office of Marketing and Communications — and Bies was more than happy to bring it to life. The inaugural awards in 2022 went to three films: Top Gun: Maverick, Glass Onion, and Black Panther. This year, the second annual Bobscars have been announced just ahead of the Academy Awards on March 10. 


The Bobscar for Best Example of Unleashing Your Inner Leader goes to… Barbie 

In case you were living under a rock somewhere, this movie topped the 2023 box office. It’s the satirical and hilarious story of Mattel’s Barbie and Ken, who live in the vibrant — and deceptively flawless — Barbie Land. When she and her friends get the opportunity to venture into the real world, they encounter both its pleasures and pitfalls, and learn valuable lessons along the way.

Bies highlights lessons in Barbie that go beyond wearing a fancy suit (like the CEO of Mattel) or having a loud voice (like Ken – or should we say the Kens). He says that true leaders “empower everyone.” One central character’s speech about how it’s impossible to be a woman in today’s real world inspires Barbie to find her voice. The movie also has a strong message on the importance of teamwork.

Other lessons in a movie full of them: Good leaders are resilient, communicate effectively, and build their self-awareness and identity. 

The Bobscar for Best Example of Leading with Confidence goes to… Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer was another blockbuster, but one that couldn’t have been more different than Barbie. It tells the story of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer work with the covert Manhattan Project during World War II to create an atomic weapon before the Axis powers. Over years of intensive research, Oppenheimer and his team finally tested the bomb on July 16, 1945, the world’s inaugural nuclear explosion. 

Bies says Oppenheimer is perfect for teaching students leadership lessons because it shows how a confident leader can bring talented people together to achieve success. It also teaches us how to be prepared and lead with confidence in times of challenge or uncertainty. 

“This movie shows you how to build an A-team and attract talent to your vision,” Bies says. 

The Bobscar for Best Example of Taking Risks goes to… Air

Directed by Ben Affleck, Air tells the story of the extraordinary partnership between young Michael Jordan and Nike’s emerging basketball division – a collaboration that reshaped the landscape of sports and culture through the iconic Air Jordan brand. 

Bies selected Air because the film’s leader is truly a bold leader who has the courage to venture into new territories like Nike did in signing Michael Jordan. 

Another lesson of the film: “Trust your team and show confidence in them as Phil Knight did with Sonny Vaccaro.”

And the Bobscar for Best Example of Innovating goes to… Flamin’ Hot

This was Bies’ surprise to the audience — a movie people don’t know as well. Flamin’ Hot tells the story of the man who created Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Richard Montanez. His family immigrated from Mexico, and he was working as a janitor at Frito Lay when he came up with the idea inspired by flavors he knew and loved. His creation made its mark on the food industry. 

Innovation can come from anyone, regardless of job title or education as it did with Richard Montanez,” Bies says. 

Even though it didn’t make the box office charts, Bies chose the movie not just because he loves Cheetos, but because the film shows us how to trust our own creativity — to stick by it even when the odds are stacked against us. 

Another important message from the movie: “Believe in yourself and have the will to do what is necessary to get things done. That will involve the support of others. You can’t do it alone and you won’t do it alone,” Bies says.

A screenshot from the 2023 Bobscars


And that concludes the Bobscars 2023 awards! Other nominees in luded Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, which is all about AI, as well as the Martin Scorsese-directed opus Killers of the Flower Moon. 

Bies says he is looking forward to continuing the Bobscars awards next year because there will certainly be a new batch of movies showcasing leadership values. In fact he already knows of one hot contender for next year’s Bobscars: Shirley, the story of Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first Black woman to run for U.S. president.

Watch the 2023 Bobscars here.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.