Skip to comments.What are the best conservative movies of the past 25 years ?
Posted on 01/15/2009 6:53:12 PM PST by SeekAndFind
John J. Miller at The Corner asks the question:
What are the best conservative movies of the last 25 years? This cinema epoch begins roughly with the release of Red Dawn in 1984.
I might be happy if I could find 25 bona-fide conservative movies at all in the past 25 years. Im afraid that most of what Miller will get in response will be of the Red Dawn variety, since the only place safe for conservative themes in Hollywood has been action films. Red Dawn itself had that in spades, but it was also a rather dreadful movie with more scenery-chewing than one might imagine without William Shatner. I watched it again recently and found it rather embarrassing, except for the brief appearance by Powers Booth. AVENGE MEEEEEEEE!
There have to be better examples of conservative movies that we can suggest to Miller. I have a few, and will add those suggested in the comments in updates, or at least the ones that make some sense. Here are my starters:
* The Great Raid (2005) - Based on a true story and managed to mostly stick to it, this film also committed the apparently unpardonable sin of telling the truth about the brutal Japanese occupation of the Philippines and their treatment of POWs. It exemplifies honor, courage, resistance to evil, and risking lives to save others.
* Saving Private Ryan (1998) - For many of the same reasons as The Great Raid, made even more clear by the highly realistic battle scenes, which make clear the sacrifice asked and made.
* Requiem for a Dream (2000) - Harrowing depiction of the destruction of lives from drug addiction, even from prescription drugs. Definitely not for everyone, but brilliant in every aspect of production. In the end, the main characters lose their souls, their freedom, and their minds. Perhaps Ellen Burstyns best performance.
* United 93 (2006) - Harrowing and heartrending depiction of the 9/11 flight that didnt hit its intended target, thanks to the heroism of the passengers on the flight. Facing certain death, they fought back against the Islamist terrorists, becoming the first Americans to do so on that awful day.
* Glory (1989) - The true story of the Massachusetts 54th in the Civil War, which led an ill-starred assault on a fortified position for the Union and suffered massive casualties. The all-black regiment fought for freedom, dignity, and honor, and gave their lives gladly for those causes. Great performances by Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman make this highly compelling.
* Shattered Glass (2003) - The story of the first round of fabrication at The New Republic, with an unexpectedly excellent performance from Hayden Christenson as Stephen Glass, the serial fabulist who succeeded by telling lies about the right people conservatives. The film does a good job of pointing that fact out.
* Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) - The trilogy should occupy one spot, but its an important one. In the fantasy realm, it speaks to true evil and the need to fight it, even to the death. The final battle, in which Aragorn attempts to sacrifice his entire army so that Frodo can complete the quest, has one of the most stirring battle speeches in film history. No one in this film argues for moral equivalency or the idea that Sauron might just be misunderstood.
I know Im missing a few, so lets hear from Hot Air readers. Be sure to explain your suggestions in the comments.
Update: The best film you never saw: The Stoning of Soraya M (2008). Read my review here. Unfortunately, its never made it into wide release, but it should be required viewing for those interested in human freedom. Made even better by the surprisingly subtle performances of the entire cast.
Update II: The comments section has some great suggestions. Let me add a few that deserve mention:
* The Incredibles (2004) - Cant believe I missed this one. It focuses on the strength of a family that works together as well as rips the notion that talented people somehow pose a threat to everyone else. And its also flat-out fun for all ages.
* Gettysburg (1993) - Excellent, fact-based depiction of the bravery and courage on both sides of this battle.
* 300 (2006) - Im not normally a big fan of the graphic-novel approach to storytelling, but it works in the story of the Greeks at Thermopylae. Self-sacrifice for a greater good gets a boost from highly stylized filmmaking. Not for all tastes, but for its genre, excellent.
* Braveheart (1995) - Worthy, I think, for its emphasis on resistance to tyranny and defense of homeland against foreign rule. Historical inaccuracies mar this somewhat, especially the disappearance of the bridge from the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Still excellent, though, but The Patriot is hobbled badly by its anti-British smears.
* Juno (2007) - Interesting view of teen pregnancy and the choice to give birth rather than abort. Not really ideological, but it has much more authenticity than most teen dramedies, and really a beautiful little movie.
* Team America: World Police (2004) - A twisted satire of conservative values on defense that winds up being itself a defense of conservative values. Profane as it possibly can get and with one really disturbing scene that got it an NC-17 rating until it was cut, Team America winds up providing one of the best explanations of why we need people willing to fight terrorists and tyrants which I cant quote here.
* The Chronicles of Narnia (2005) - Ive only seen the first movie, which made C. S. Lewis allegory on Christianity rather explicit. Good movie.
* Rudy (1993) - Hard work, not feeling sorry for yourself, faith, and love all make for one of the best movies ever and another one I cant believe I didnt recall in the initial post.
* Cinderella Man (2005) - Definitely a worthy entry. James J. Braddock goes back to boxing to rescue his family from poverty, and winds up winning the championship.
* An American Carol (2008) - I thought it was OK, but many others in the comments think it was better.
Ill keep checking back, but remember that were looking at 1984 forward. Were getting some excellent suggestions for earlier movies, but we want to focus on this particular time period.
Update III: Definitely on the list: Serenity (2005), which attacks Utopianism as the excuse for totalitarianism that it is. Shockingly good sci-fi movie on its own, perhaps the best in the last 25 years, its even better as the follow-up to the doomed Firefly television series.
Update IV: I can see that Ill not get much other work done today. Two more worthy of consideration, both true stories:
* Amistad (1997) - Recounts the true story of how John Quincy Adams defended captured Africans for their rebellion on board a slave ship, and how he won their freedom.
* Amazing Grace (2006) - A biography of William Wilberforce, who led the fight in Great Britain to end the slave trade.
Harry Potter deals with good vs evil. HP also promotes the notion that the government & politicians don’t get it right & people need to take a stand.
Master and Commander?
I am sure "The Incredibles" has already been mentioned.
Great film. Not really a Conservative flick.
Ground Hog Day. The underlying story of service bringing joy and happiness is found when you start thinking of other people’s well being really had spiritual undertones.
LOTR is the most OVERRATED film saga ever made. A bunch of effeminate dwarves walking, and walking, and walking to find a stupid ring.
Interesting list. A few of NR’s picks seem a bit odd, though.
I was only 12 when I saw Deer Hunter, so I may have missed a lot, but it didn’t strike me as a conservative film. Carnal Knowledge I only know by reputation, but I wouldn’t have thought of it as a conservative standard bearer, either. Maybe I need to add a couple of rentals to my Netflix queue in the near future, eh?
One I’d add to the NR list, even though it was done by and starred a die-hard liberal actor: Jeremiah Johnson. Living free and on one’s own terms to me goes to the very essence of conservatism.
Yes, it’s the new Clint Eastwood movie. I went last weekend with my wife and 16 year old son, and we all loved it. Worth the ticket price (and I don’t say that too often).
I liked Quigley Down Under. Honor and personal integrity. Family relationships and redemption. Perseverance and commitment. Personal growth and healing.
I would submit “Are We There Yet?” Not a great, great film. Cliched in many ways, but it features a guy who has to man up to be a father and husband figure, and there are some genuinely funny moments in it.
Husband works to fall in love with his wife again, rather than divorce her (among other great values).
I only saw it dubbed in japanese on a JAL flt. Looked like it had conservative themes but I cannot verify it:)
“Many Clint Eastwood movies”
Nothing he has directed recently. After a one-two punch from Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby I have entirely given up watching movies directed by Eastwood. I consider him a nihilist.
I sat through the entire LOTR trilogy in one night. Would have rather gone through a reverse circumcision.
The Island. This was a sort of metaphor for anti-abortion. It centers around a multi-billion dollar cloning industry in which people are led to believe that the ‘donors’ are simply lumps of flesh, but the lie is exposed that these lumps of flesh are actually real, live human beings who are being killed for matters of convenience.
I was actually surprised by the positive themes I saw in Dark Knight for such a mainstream hollywood production.
I liked “Last of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day Lewis. I thought it showed how “America” was formed early on from the blending of cultures. And it showed Indians—oops Native Americans—could be “bad guys.” It was out the same year as “Dances with Wolves” and I thought it was a much better movie but did not get any recognition from Hollywood at Oscar time so it must have had a conservative message! Terrific soundtrack too...
Flags of our Fathers was a tremendous film. I rate it Conservative.
“Barbershop” was very good indeed, and refreshingly honest. I loved it when they admit the “three things every black man knows.” One was “OJ did it!”
The setting and the dialogue are kind of silly, but the underlying message is remarkable. This movie accomplished the difficult task of promoting a profoundly religious message with nary a mention of God -- or even anything religious at all.
“If you havent seen it, perhaps because its Disney or you think its for kids or you dont like superheroes, I think you should give it a chance.”
Agree wholeheartedly. Also there was more than 2 kids. Talk about a rarity. Disney bought Pixar about a year ago. Give Disney another year and Pixar will be totally ruined.
I'm kind of surprised that a movie like Breaker Morant didn't make that list -- and doesn't get any mention as a great "conservative" movie.
The movie appears to have a pacifist message, but I've always been attracted to it because of the simple way it promotes an absolute distrust in government.
Anyone have thoughts on
“The Last Of The Mohicans?”
I recall it as a very patriotic, inspiring, romantic film.
Three cheers for “Braveheart,” the portraits of Longshanks and his son were so politically incorrect. And accurate.
“Blade Runner?” Was that conservative, or just a good movie?
The final scene in “Last of the Mohicans” is one of my favorites. The facial expressions of the actor playing Maqua are excellent as he watches the girl go over the cliff.
Some of Daniel Day Lewis’ dialogue (”I will find you no matter what the cost!”) was pretty bad. I thought it detracted from an otherwise well made film.
I like “Groundhog Day” as well but I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks.
I had similar thoughts about "V for Vendetta". While it portrays religious people as the villains it is a profoundly anti-government movie.
Which “Blade Runner”? There are currently 4 or 5 versions out there. Some of the versions are drastically different from others.
In fact, the early scenes of that movie had one of the best 'American" movie quotes of all time:
British Officer (as a challenge to Nathaniel when he suggested that the settlers should be more concerned about protecting their farms from Indian raids than in forming a milita to help the British fight the French): "You call yourself a patriot -- and loyal subject to the Crown?!"
Nathaniel: "I don't call myself subject to much at all."
You're absolutely right about the soundtrack to that movie. Perhaps the best movie soundtrack I've ever heard.
I’ve tried to watch Deer Hunter about 5 ties and can never get through it. Always seemed a bit slow and I lost interest
I agree about the LOTR trilogy being in there. Quintessential good vs evil... And the inescapable battle that *must* happen... WILL happen, like it or not.
Agree also about Aragorn’s speech at the Black Gates. Pure poetry as only a warrior poet can do.
“There may come a day when the strength of men fails, BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY!”
Nice pics. If you have more, please email me the link(s). Thanks
Martin Sheen's portrayal of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg was lame. Ted Turner might as well have used a cardboard cutout to duct-tape to the saddle of ol' Traveller. One who watches that movie can't help but think, every scene where he shows up, "that's not General Lee, that's Martin Sheen with a paste-on gray beard".
Turner did a much better casting job in Gods and Generals when he chose Robert Duvall to play Lee. Duvall was brilliant. Duvall WAS Lee. Sheen could take a lesson from that performance. Watching Gods And Generals, I actually had tears running down my cheeks when Gen. Jackson learned of the death of his "young friend"...and for me to get misty-eyed in a movie is very rare.
Out of Africa
Nowhere in Africa
The Painted Veil
The Dark Knight
Save for later.
I also liked the scene from the final movie where the riders of Rohan come to break the siege of Minas Tirith, are completely outnumbered with little hope of survival, and still charge headlong into the battle because it is what must be done.
Good to hear others liked that movie too. I thought I was alone thinking it should have gotten recognition from Hollywood. I meant to mention the “rugged individualism” too. Again—much better than “Dances W/Wolves.”
Are you being sarcastic? Girl borrows money from her Dad so a friend can get an abortion?
No one mentioned “Independence’s Day”. I thought the July 4th speech was one of the best in any movie.
I liked Hollywood Shuffle, which came out about 20 years ago. Again, not a political movie per se. It depicts a young black man trying to become an actor and finding that Hollywood will only cast him as a slave or a stereotypical gangster/pimp. The actor finally lands a movie role as a pimp character. He quickly becomes ashamed of himself and walks away from that job because it is demeaning and he wants to be a good role model for his young relatives. So Hollywood Shuffle has a good message about self-respect and family. It also makes fun of condescending white liberals.
I thought FIREFLY was really good, and the movie was outstanding.
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