Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Conservative Movies

Over in The Corner, the NROites are counting down the Top 25 Conservative Movies of the last 25 years. Which is always a fun sort of thing to do. I decided to gather the links in one spot, and add such comments as I feel like adding.

As I start this, they've done 25-19. I have no idea where they'll end up, and I'm not going to spend any time trying to predict. I'll comment on the order when they're all done, assuming that I disagree with it (a good assumption, I expect.)

So, on to the list:

  1. The Lives of Others
    I have not seen this. In fact, I find it fascinating that the number one movie on the list is one that I've not only not seen, it's the only one of which I've never even heard.

  2. The Incredibles
    As with Groundhog Day, this is one that would make my list of the top 25 movies of the last 25 years, period, with no qualifiers. As a long-time comic book super-hero guy, I say with great confidence that this is the best super-hero movie ever made, bar none. And there's no close second. And its conservative street-cred is indisputible, as a celebration of the individual, striving to be the best that he or she can be. It recognizes that people have different talents and abilities, some are more capable than others, and that evil exists and needs to be fought by good. And that we all owe a lot to those good who are willing to fight to protect us. (And plaintiff's lawyers are the source of much that is wrong in society.) Pixar has yet to make a bad film, but this is one of the very best of a great group.

  3. Metropolitan
    I have not seen this.

  4. Forrest Gump
    We all know that Tom Hanks is no conservative. And I seem to recall reading that Winston Groom, the author of the novel, resenting conservatives claiming Forrest when the movie was released. Despite that, there's no question, that the movie makes the case for conservative values over liberal values. At every step, it is Forrest Gump who follows the "conservative" path, and it is Jenny who follows the "liberal" path as they work through the 60s. And it is Forrest who thrives, and Jenny who suffers. Whatever the politics, it is an excellent film, with great performances all around. It clearly merits its place high on this list.

  5. 300
    I have not seen this.

  6. Groundhog Day
    One of the best 25 movies of any description of the past 25 years. Frankly, I suspected that this would be number one, and am rather surprised to have seen it appear on the list before Friday. Bill Murray's journey of discovery, self and otherwise, is filled with trial and redemption. And it's fun every step of the way. This is a film that stands up well to repeated viewings, and despite being fifteen years old, it feels as fresh as the day it was released. At fifteen years, you can start to get a feel for whether or not a film ages well - clearly, Groundhog Day will be around for a long time.

  7. The Pursuit of Happyness
    I have not seen this.

  8. Juno
    I have mixed emotions about this. On the plus side, Juno decides not to have an abortion, she decides to give the baby up for adoption, her family supports her decision. These are all good things. And the movie doesn't pretend that teen pregnancy is a good thing.

    On the other hand, I found Juno herself to be obnoxious, rather than charming. And the movie was populated with caricatures rather than characters. Obviously, other disagree. I was underwhelmed.

  9. Blast From the Past
    This is another film that I've seen parts of. I don't think it's anywhere near as good as James Bowman thinks. I will say that the first 20 minutes or so are entertaining, as the family goes into their bunker and we watch them raise a son. And the world he steps out into 20 years later is creepy and unattractive. But shortly after that happens, the movie ceases to be interesting. Apparently Alicia Silverstone was a famous person in some circles for some period of time, but if this is representative of her work, well, I'm profoundly unimpressed. Nor do I think much of Brendan Fraser. I see the conservative appeal, but past the first 1/2 hour, I find it unwatchable.

  10. Ghostbusters
    Hmm. Aside from the problems caused by an EPA bureaucrat, what, exactly, makes this a conservative film? I love it (or did when it was out - it looks dated now) but other than a couple of throwaway comments, is it conservative? I don't really see it.

  11. The Lord of the Rings
    Everything that I said about The Chronicles of Narnia applies here. I think that it represents magnificent film-making, but I can't see and evaluate it as a film.

  12. The Dark Knight
    I have not seen this. (OK, I sat in a room in which it was playing, and it utterly and completely failed to grasp or hold my attention, but because of that, I really can't claim to have seen it and make any kind of reasonable assessment.)

  13. Braveheart
    And Mel Gibson makes the list again, with a fantastic film. It's more a work of historical fiction than history, but that doesn't detract from its value. Excellent from start to finish.

  14. A Simple Plan
    I have not seen this.

  15. Red Dawn
    I have not seen all of this. I never saw it when it came out, but after years of hearing it praised as a conservative film, I tried to watch it a year ago. I made it through about half an hour, and found the performances so bad that I couldn't finish it.

  16. Master and Commander
    I have not seen this.

  17. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
    As far as conservative pedigrees go, they don't get any better than this. A faithful film adaptation, watched over by his adopted son, of the first volume in C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia series does not fall into the typical Hollywood template. And it did big business at the box office. But is it a great movie?

    I have trouble with it. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a single book that I've loved which has then been made into a movie that I loved. (Though one, "Les Miserables," was made into a broadway show that I loved.) There have been movies I loved from books that I haven't read, or from books that I read later, but never have I loved a book and then loved the movie adaptation. It's a cliche to say that if you love to read, the book is always better than the movie, but it isn't true. But it is true that, in falling in love with a book, the interaction between the writer and the reader creates a mental world, and if you don't make the film yourself, it's impossible for it to match your visions. It will always fall short. I enjoyed TLTWATW, but I didn't love it. Is it a great movie? I don't know.

  18. The Edge
    I have not seen this.

  19. We Were Soldiers
    I have not seen this.

  20. Gattaca
    I have not seen this.

  21. Heartbreak Ridge
    Jonah Goldberg says that this is "not very good," an opinion which I understand but don't necessarily share. It is uneven, there are plot points which aren't particularly believable, and every second that Marsha Mason is on-screen is wasted film. About 1/3 of the movie just doesn't work. The stuff that does work, however, works really well. Clint is in top form, and the scenes of him turning boys into men are excellent, start to finish. The language is, as you'd expect for a movie set in a Marine barracks, foul, comically so in places. But the repeated growl - "you improvise, you adapt, you overcome" - makes it all worthwhile. I never watch the whole thing, but there's about an hour of great movie inside of it, and always stop when I flip through it.

  22. Brazil
    I'm a fan. It's uneven, episodic and occasionally incoherent, but visually arresting. And you have to love that one of the heroes is a non-union plumber. (The key to that heroism is the "non-union" part.) Think "1984" if Big Brother were an incompetent moron.

  23. United 93
    I have not seen this.

  24. Team America: World Police
    Not "conservative," really. Certainly not culturally conservative. But the people behind South Park are, unlike the vast majority of the entertainment media, willing to gore - really seriously gore - the sacred cows of the left. And they are willing to recognize that the terrorists are real, they're the bad guys, the Americans are the good guys, and the Hollywood leftists are useful idiots for the bad guys. So I don't object to its inclusion, though I don't know five people to whom I'd actually recommend it.

  25. Gran Torino
    I have not seen this yet, but I will at some point.



Idle comments:

  • If you'd asked me last week, I'd have suggested that it was difficult, if not impossible, to suggest a movie categorization list that would include both Team America: World Police and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

  • It's not shocking to see two Clint Eastwood films in the first 10. Do any others make it? Will someone make the case that Million Dollar Baby is a conservative film? A Perfect World? Unforgiven? It will be interesting to see.

  • I'm surprised to have seen only four of the first 10 listed.

  • Mel Gibson joins Clint Eastwood as producer/director/stars with two on the list.

  • The Lives of Others was raved about as a conservative film by William F. Buckley. It was also raved about by liberal film critic Roger Ebert, who saw it as a criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the War on Terror.




I'll be updating occasionally as they add films. (And bumping to the top - remember to scroll down for newer posts...)

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