The Right Stuff: What Makes a Movie "Conservative?"

03/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gotta thank Bob Cesca for leading me to this little gem: the National Review Online's compilation of the supposed "25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years."

What exactly makes a movie "conservative" is apparently known only to the brain trust at NRO, which includes the decidedly un-brainy Rich Lowry -- editor of the National Review and the guy who essentially publicly admitted to masturbating during Sarah Palin's vice presidential debate performance last year. While the most interesting thing about the list in general is what it subtly says about the effort undertaken by the Review's conservative readers to avoid appearing stereotypically uncultured (obvious choices are avoided: Superman Returns, Top Gun, Die Hard, Norris's The Octagon, the Rambo series, etc.), equally fascinating is what a few of the individual choices say about how conservatives view their role in relation to the U.S. power structure. Put simply, they still, even after the last eight years of oppressive abuses and astonishingly expansive spending by a Republican administration, see themselves as the rag-tag band of rebels fighting the evil empire of big government. How else to justify the appropriation of films like The Lives of Others, 300, or -- in the "also-rans" list and possibly most shocking -- my beloved Serenity.

While scanning the list, look for a couple of truly great "What the Fuck?" moments, like the fact that all three movies by hyper-WASP Whit Stillman are included, as well as The Dark Knight (still pitched as a paean to George W. Bush), United 93 (if you didn't see that one coming...) and, well, Team America (its inclusion proof that brilliant satire ultimately fools those it's targeting).

Now that I've perused NRO's choices a few times, I can't help but feel like there are quite a few movies that the magazine neglected to mention. Movies that I think should've made the list before, say, Ghostbusters, or whose lasting impact deserves recognition among the greatest conservative culture touchstones of all time.

How about:

Last Tango In Paris

Features a selfish white guy who delights in bending over complete strangers and screwing them in the ass.

Wall Street

A perfect movie right up until the last ten minutes.


A clever American outwits the Nazis and dumps his foreigner girlfriend.

The Transporter

A white guy in an expensive car lives by a strict code that includes doing what he's told while never asking questions and never bothering to look at what his job entails and whether it's hurting anyone.


The uplifting story of an unstoppable white object that sinks a boat full of poor people while most of the rich manage to save themselves -- a fine allegory for either the U.S. government or Wall Street, depending on your perspective.

The Big Chill

Its main character is a dead hippie.


Mel Gibson defeats illegal aliens.

American Psycho

A Wall Street investment banker murders hookers, homeless people, and other undesirables.

Thelma and Louise

Ends with Susan Sarandon driving off a cliff.

Now it's your turn.

Any more suggestions?