February 17, 2009


The Best Conservative Movies (JOHN J. MILLER, 2/16/09, National Review)

Once in a blue moon, Hollywood releases a conservative movie, or at least a film that resonates with conservatives in a particular way. Because conservatives love movies — and especially debates about movies — we decided to produce a list of the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years. Our approach in selecting them doesn’t rise to the level of an actual methodology, but there was a method to it. We asked readers of National Review Online to submit nominations. Hundreds of suggestions came in, along with explanations and arguments. We considered each one, tallied them up, and consulted a number of film buffs and professional movie-makers.

We do not claim that the writers, directors, producers, gaffers, and key grips involved with these films are conservative. We certainly make no such assertion about the actors. Yet the results are indisputable: Conservatives enjoy these films because they are great movies that offer compelling messages about freedom, families, patriotism, traditions, and more.

The gem from their list that people may not have seen yet is James Bowman's recommendation, Blast from the Past. The most asinine picks are Red Dawn and Ghostbusters, though several are dubious. The Truman Show is the most obvious also-ran that belongs on the list. Peter Weir's other masterpiece, Master and Commander should likely top it if Truman Show doesn't. I'd include Gladiator too, though it should be considered fantasy, rather than a historical epic (an essay I've not gotten around to yet). Here are some others they missed:

About Schmidt

The Apostle

The Big Kahuna

Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace

Bruce Almighty

Donnie Darko

The Lady and the Duke


The Matrix

Night Watch




At any rate, as the lists and the many films we're left out attest, the late father Neuhaus had this one wrong, The “American” Religion (Richard John Neuhaus, December 12, 2008,, First Things)

While religion flourishes here in America, it is largely of the Christ-without-culture variety. What in recent decades have been the distinctively Christian contributions that deserve to command the attention of the cultural gatekeepers of America? In literature and the arts, in music and entertainment, in political philosophy and the humanities, such contributions are few and far between. Distinctively Christian cultural products typically cater to the Christian market. They are not proposals of a more excellent way for American culture. Recently a Hollywood movie studio announced that it was inaugurating a new series of films aimed at “the faith market.” Does this indicate a growing Christian influence in our public culture? Perhaps so, but it is much more obviously a commonsensical capitalist decision to take advantage of the niche market that is the Christian subculture.

The Christ-without-culture model induces contentment with being a subculture. But Christianity that is indifferent to its cultural context is captive to its cultural context. Indeed, it reinforces the cultural definitions to which it is captive. Nowhere is this so evident as in the ready Christian acceptance of the cultural dogma that religion is essentially a private matter of spiritual experience, that religion is a matter of consumption rather than obligation. Against that assumption, we must insist that Christian faith is intensely personal but never private. The Christian gospel is an emphatically public proposal about the nature of the world and our place in it. It is a public way of life obliged to the truth.

Even if despite itself, the movie industry still evangelizes heavily.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2009 10:26 AM
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