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Conservative Movie Reality

It was bad enough when Republican candidates in the presidential election invoked Jack Bauer from the TV show 24 as their model for how to deal with terrorists.

Now the National Review has published an incredibly surreal list of the “Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years“. Here’s the complete list:

#25: Gran Torino (2008)
#24: Team America: World Police (2004)
#23: United 93 (2006)
#22: Brazil (1985)
#21: Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
#20: Gattaca (1997)
#19: We Were Soldiers (2002)
#18: The Edge (1997)
#17: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005)
#16: Master and Commander (2003)
#15: Red Dawn (1984)
#14: A Simple Plan (1998)
#13: Braveheart (1995)
#12: The Dark Knight (2008)
#11: The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)
#10: Ghostbusters (1984)
#9: Blast from the Past (1999)
#8: Juno (2007)
#7: The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
#6: Groundhog Day (1993)
#5: 300 (2007)
#4: Forrest Gump (1994)
#3: Metropolitan (1990)
#2: The Incredibles (2004)
#1: The Lives of Others (2007)

Their #1 Conservative movie of the last 25 years is The Lives of Others, a German film that is ironically about the evils of government wiretapping.

Other movies on their list are equally interesting. They picked #10 Ghostbusters because the bad guy (not counting the ghosts) is an obnoxious bureaucrat who works for the EPA. And how #24 Team America: World Police by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Brazil by Terry Gilliam (from Monty Python) got onto their list is a mystery.

UPDATE: Fark has the complete list, along with the conservative review of each movie from NRO. I love some of their comments — Brazil is “Vividly depicting the miserable results of elitist utopian schemes”. In The Cronicles of Narnia “The White Witch runs a godless, oppressive, paranoid regime that hates Santa Claus”. And in The Dark Knight, Batman represents none other than Dubya, whose “stubborn integrity kept the nation safe and turned the tide of war” against the terrorist Joker — by devising new means of surveillance, pushing the limits of the law, and accepting the hatred of the press and public. I kid you not.



  1. Fractal wrote:

    Some of those are just good movies, period. If the conservatives want to take ownership of them, i say NO! they can’t go anthropomorphizing those movies into some kind of conservative creature. Gran Torino a conservative movie? about tolerating and understanding new groups and not resorting to violence? really? no. that was a seriously liberal movie, if I ever saw one.

    As for a movie like Brazil, it clearly spoke against torture, and against the exact kind of right wing authoritarian militarily heavy bureaucracy that republicans like to make.

    by the time I would be done examining each of these movies, i’d have those conservatives running away in shame, if they had any.

    I did read an article a few years back about groundhog day. that is just a universally great movie, and is loved by politicos of all stripes, who each have taken it as their own.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  2. starluna wrote:

    It is nice to see we share some common ground.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  3. P Kamms wrote:

    Brazil was essentially 1984 and spoke vehemently against all the tactics that the Bush Admin. and GOP congress embraced for 8 years.

    Lord of the Rings was written by an atheist.

    I can see how Gattaca could be heralded as a ‘bootstraps’ movie, but wasn’t it really about how government SHOULD protect the minority from oppression by the majority?

    300? Wasn’t that about men who gave their lives to protect the freedom of others. And isn’t Liberty another word for Freedom? and doesn’t “Liberal” come from the same root word as “Liberty?” Yes. Yes it does.

    Braveheart was, it seems to me, a populist movie where the common men rally to fight their oppression at the hands of the monied elite. What side of that struggle does the National Review really think their readers represent?

    Forrest Gump? I think we can all see why they like that one. W was Gump.

    Red Dawn, they can have that one. Great movie if you’re 12. Otherwise, pretty formulaic and stupid….Oh yeah…

    I can’t comment on the ones I haven’t seen (because I’m not a conservative), but does this list mean that they think #1 is the best movie? Can anyone really think Red Dawn is a better movie than Brazil? Or Forrest Gump better than Lord of the Rings?

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    Juno was lambasting by conservative talkies before they’d even seen the movie.

    Gran Torino is about an old bigot whose heart softens. I’m with Fractal. That’s hardly a conservative theme.

    Groundhog Day? That has a political theme?

    Okay, I’ll give them Flight 93.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  5. Hassan wrote:

    Team America: World Police (2004), definitely conservative movie, blowing up places and killing people indiscriminately, sexual fetishes etc.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  6. untravel wrote:

    The choices range from predictable (300, Red Dawn) to horrific (Blast from the Past?) but the weirdest one has to be Metropolitan (?) at #3(?!). According to the review: “With mocking affection, gentle irony, and a blizzard of witty dialogue, Stillman manages the impossible: He brings us to see what is admirable and necessary in the customs and conventions of America’s upper class.” I think they might have missed something.

    Dear NRO guys,

    Regarding Metropolitan. I hate to break it to you. That ‘mocking affection’ you noticed was just mocking. The point is to make fun of the utter vacuousness of the ‘customs and conventions of America’s upper class’, not endorse them. See Stillman’s the rest of movies for examples of this, if you missed it the first time. And since when was having an upper class a good thing for you guys? You’ve been pretending you were the salt of the earth, remember? I guess in all those criticisms of the ‘liberal elite’, it wasn’t the ‘elite’ part you had a problem with.

    Granted, the movie is ironic, but I don’t think that word means what you think it means….

    The Reality-Based Community

    (For anyone unfamiliar with the movie, watching Metropolitan and cheering for the upper class is like watching Star Wars and rooting for the Empire. Or watching 300 and rooting for the Persians, Red Dawn and rooting for the Commies, etc. I guess the lack of violence disoriented them.)

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  7. starluna wrote:

    I hadn’t seen many of these movies. But after being enlightened by Untravel and Sammy in particular, it now kind of reminds me of a recent paper published in The International Journal of Press/Politics by LaMarre and colleagues titled the Irony of Satire. I’m not sure if I first read it here or on another blog. The survey looked at how Colbert’s political satire was interpreted by people who identify as liberals or conservatives. Conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert pretends to be joking. In effect, they don’t understand the joke.

    You can read the abstract here: or go to a Chicago Tribune article about it here:,0,1905472.column

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    Starluna, funny you should mention that — I was just reading an article today about how Colbert loves the fact that conservatives think he is actually a conservative.,0,2529447.story

    This story also talks about how Colbert learned to love the bomb.

    And yes, I did a post here on the Irony of Satire study

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  9. James wrote:

    A number of those movies that don’t seem very conservative in nature (aka Brazil) are there due to the world the movie is set in. Each movie is set in a world where the government in power in corrupt, incompetent, or overbearing in some manner. Hence, the conservative theme that big government is a bad thing and here are some examples of what we could become.

    Gattaca, a favorite of mine, is there thanks to things like stem cell research and the fear that genetic engineering of humans would lead to a class-based society where success is solely determined by the genes you were born with.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  10. Jon wrote:

    I also found it hilarious that The Lives of Others was on the list. The fat politician in the movie looks just like Dick Cheney.

    Friday, May 28, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink