The editors of the National Review Online have published their complete list of what they call "The Best Conservative Movies." Congratulations to The Lives Of Others! You are the winner, because you are William Buckley's favorite movie! Also congratulations to the producers of Gattaca and Blast From The Past! You made the list, thus proving that somebody saw your movie!
This isn't the first time the folks at the National Review briefly attempted to suggest that there was something at all in the world of popular culture that they found sustaining. Many years ago, they tried this with rock music, and failed pretty miserably. I mean, here and there they were able to find some Kinks songs (the boring ones) that expressed a certain degree of libertarianism, and a few Rush songs (the boring ones, I realize that's not specific enough) that did the same. From there, they basically grasped at straws to fill out a list, co-opting mainstream opinion (Josef Stalin was bad! The Berlin Wall sucked!) as exclusively conservative and recasting liberal sentiment ("Gloria", "I Fought The Law") as its opposite, after repeated blows to the head.
Mostly, though, it was a failure because there's something essential to good rock and roll (and, in some cases, even bad rock and roll) that finds kinship in rebel culture, and conservatism is just miles removed from that. But with movies, it's a different story! Most Hollywood fare is antithetical to the counterculture out of survival necessity: the goal is to seize as much scrilla from as many different demographics as possible, so typically, movies get stuffed full of the most anodyne values available. Sure, you get exceptions to those rules, but their mileage tends to vary. Little vanity projects get seen by fewer people, bigger vanity projects usually fail.
As a result, the National Review's list of movies is much more firmly founded than their Rock Music list was, because the industry needs to tease out the endorphins of everyone from time to time in order to pay the bills. I'm not much the movie buff, but I see a mix of films that you'd expect a conservative to love (Red Dawn, Team America, Chronicles Of Narnia) along with some movies that conservatives have managed to convince themselves whisper sweet nothings exclusively to them (The Incredibles, The Dark Knight).
Still there are some puzzlements! Ghostbusters makes the list because the villain is from the Environmental Protection Agency, but the solution to the supernatural problem comes straight from the hallowed halls of academia -- and fringe academia, to boot! Juno is a movie about female empowerment and independence that doesn't have much nice to say about nuclear families (or at least has as much love for non-traditional ones), but because the movie doesn't end after fifteen minutes with an abortion, lots of people think it's an anti-abortion movie. And 300 is basically a movie that proves something I've always contended: slow-motion and homoeroticism can make history cool.
But if there's anything truly laughable, it's the inclusion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a series of movies about a pair of hedonist pacifists who embark on a quest to dismantle the unitary executive state, with the help of a group of polytheistic, cross-species sexing oddballs. I think that Middle Earth is quite fortunate that the Bush administration had not overseen the effort to defeat Sauron. It would have probably ended in the wiretapping of the Shire and the general embrace of Saruman's destruction of the environment to make orcs -- it would have been called the Clear Forest Initiative, and you'd have Michael Steele yelling "Drill Baby Drill" like some kind of halfwit ... just as in real life.
Oh well, why not celebrate the movies of conservatives, and remember that they included a number of full-spectrum blockbusters on the list, because next week, those nerds will be right back to talking about how Hollywood doesn't share their values!