Hollywood’s progressive stranglehold on the culture is beyond debate.
Liberal messaging infiltrates much of what we see on screens large and small, from late night shtick to historical films designed to warp reality.
That doesn’t mean conservative-themed films don’t pop up every now and then. In fact, some of the most conservative movies come from unlikely sources. Think a director suffering late-stage Trump Derangement Syndrome and a star who once called Occupy Wall Street “the beginning of the revolution.” This list is by no means complete. You could suss out conservative themes in most rom-coms, for example, and double the number of films included. That genre’s goal is the essence of social conservatism. Boy meets girl, sparks fly … and monogamy ensues after a crush of comic obstacles.
These 23 films, in no particular order, speak to conservative values in ways audiences can cheer. Even better? There’s not a clunker in the bunch.
1. “The Killing Fields” (1985) – Hollywood routinely shies away from Communism’s fallout, or studios recreate it decades after the damage has been done. Showtime rushed the Fake News on steroids “Comey Rule” before cameras last year, but it took half a century for a satire like “The Death of Stalin” to grace theaters.
It’s why this 1985 stunner matters. The film follows Dith Pran, played by an actor who endured similar conditions, Oscar winner Haing S. Ngor, who flees the Cambodian gulag following the rise of the Khmer Rouge. That terror reign left more than 2 million dead thanks to Marxist leader Pol Pot and his collectivist fever dream. The brilliant film uses Ngor’s character to tell a larger, critical tale that often is forgotten whenever Marxist philosophies rise up.
2. “Gosnell” (2018) – Nick Searcy’s conservative bona fides are beyond dispute, but as a director he’s not keen on shoving them down your throat. Restraint rules in this smart, sharp procedural highlighting the title figure’s ghastly crimes. Searcy, who also co-stars in the film, shames the media’s shocking indifference to Gosnell’s house of horrors in one brief but critical scene, all the while underplaying the film’s pro-life message.
3. “Juno” (2007) – This 2007 gem is a conservative two-fer. The film shows a teen who gets pregnant but decides to keep the baby to aid a childless couple. That pro-life twist alone would be considered subversive today, at the bare minimum. The narrative also details the couple in question, played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, struggling with their looming parenthood. Garner’s character is all in, while Bateman’s man-child gets cold feet before the baby’s arrival.
He’s depicted as a jerk, particularly when he turns his affections toward the title character. Screenwriter Diablo Cody, who has yet to equal her breakout smash, cheers on maturity, sacrifice and family without resorting to lectures.
4. “Still Mine” (2012) – A quick Google search reveals actor James Cromwell’s progressive bent, including praise for the unwashed Occupy Wall Street throng. That didn’t stop him from starring in this gentle yarn about a man desperate to build a special home for his dementia-addled wife. The villain here isn’t Lex Luthor or Big Pharma. It’s bureaucratic red tape which may prevent him from completing his heartfelt task.
5. “Ghostbusters” (1984) – No, Bill Murray and co. didn’t slay the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man by reading passages from “Atlas Shrugged.” The film’s pro-capitalist, anti-nanny state plots come well before that epic battle. Consider the quartet’s transformation from lazy academics to hungry entrepreneurs. “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results,” Dan Aykroyd’s character says with a shudder. Later, he and his mates clean up with their unique services.
6. The Best of Enemies (2018) – Ten years ago, the 2019 drama wouldn’t make this list. Why? Back then liberals were happy to see someone leave their racial bigotry behind on the big screen. That’s often not the case these days, alas.
Films like “Enemies” and “Green Book” drew condemnation from Leftists for telling true stories in which bigots grow past their hatred. The reality behind this beautifully acted drama is stunning, but it actually happened as depicted, plus or minus some Hollywood flourishes. Sam Rockwell plays a Southern Klansman who teams with a civil rights warrior (Taraji P. Henson) to dismantle school desegregation.
7. “Richard Jewell” (2019) – Leave it to Hollywood’s longest-serving conservative to direct a story that hit the right-of-center zeitgeist. Sure, the ballad of Richard Jewell happened in the 1990s, but a tale centered around overzealous FBI agents and Fake News reporters couldn’t speak any louder to our current woes. Awards season voters mostly ignored the film as did audiences. It’s an instant classic all the same.
8. “Can We Take a Joke?” (2015) – Consider this part of the “No Safe Spaces” shared universe. The 2015 documentary shows how political correctness is making comedy culture less funny and more defensive. Rebel comics like Adam Carolla and Gilbert Gottfried defend basic free speech values, but the film drew plenty of heat following a screening at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Consider it a preview of our current culture war battles.
9. “American Sniper” (2014) – It’s Eastwood, again, directing a film the Left attacked for most of the wrong reasons. The story of celebrated U.S. sniper Chris Kyle, brilliantly portrayed by Bradley Cooper, wasn’t a pro-war screed by any stretch. It did touch on all-American values, speaking directly to heartland audiences with Kyle’s sense of duty, sacrifice and family. That triggered the Left and gave Eastwood his biggest box office hit to date. Not bad for an 80-something auteur.
10. “Chappaquiddick” (2017) – Just the facts, ma’am. That’s all the creative team behind this unsung 2017 gem needed to shame the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. The narrative doesn’t devolve into fictional flights of fancy or cheap shots. Instead, the approach is methodical, and mesmerizing, as we watch the future “Lion of the Senate” cover his monstrous tracks.
11. “Lone Survivor” (2013) – Director Peter Berg’s admiration for blue-collar heroes can be seen in “Battleship,” “Patriots Day” and, of course, this film based on Marcus Luttrell’s best-selling memoir. Berg shows the heroism, sacrifice and camaraderie of four Navy SEALS on a terrifying mission in Afghanistan. It’s pulse pounding when required, but there’s a level of storytelling sophistication that some war movies lack.
12. United 93 (2017) – Elements of the Left had a galling reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Call it a combination of, “why do they hate us” and “maybe we deserved it.” So it’s only natural to suspect a film recreating the effort to steer United Airlines Flight 93 straight into the U.S. Capitol building might boast some pearl clutching if not outright both sider-ism.
Nothing doing. Writer/director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy”) avoids political posturing to tell the raw story, heroism and all. Greengrass doesn’t humanize the terrorists beyond the studied preparation for their heinous act, nor does he turn the men who cried, “Let’s roll” into Rambo-like caricatures. What emerges is one of 2006’s best films and a true testament to the heroes aboard that plane.
13. “Chef” (2014) – What happens when your career gets pulled out from under you? You cook up a zesty plan B. Literally. Director/actor Jon Favreau’s character bounces back from a partially self-inflicted career wound by bringing his food directly to the public. Sure, the love story angle feels like wish fulfilment as Favreau’s character shuttles between Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara. The food truck sequences will make you salivate while you cheer the father-son bonding.
14. “The Death of Stalin” (2017) – Laurence Olivier famously asked Dustin Hoffman, “is it safe?” in “Marathon Man.” It took more than six decades for Hollywood to deem it safe enough to torch the Soviet Union. This withering satire isn’t the gut-buster some said, but it’s smart and scathing where it counts. And now, with some feeling the warm fuzzies for socialism anew, the “Stalin” team deserves kudos for this pitch-black refresher course.
15. “13 Hours” (2016) – Michael Bay is a critics’ punching bag for good reason. He’s wildly uneven behind the camera and gave us one of the worst films of the past decade – 2017’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Still, he dialed down his corny impulses to craft this heroic tale of the men who stared down a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The film eschews heavy-handed political attacks, but you don’t need bifocals to see who didn’t do enough to help these heroes.
16. “Little Pink House” (2017) – This indie gem introduces us to Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener), the woman who battled on behalf of both her humble home and property rights. Susette stares down a plan to scrape her home in favor of Pfizer pharmaceutical’s expansion. What follows lacks a traditional happy ending, but it’s a beautifully rendered tale that illustrates the flaws behind Eminent Domain.
17. “Gran Torino” (2008) – Why, it’s almost like Eastwood knows Heartland USA better than just about any creator alive. This time, director Eastwood is in front of the camera, playing a Korean War veteran with a problematic tongue. He’s still someone who can learn from his mistakes, see the glory in other cultures and put his life on the line to help his fellow man.
18. “The Lives of Others” ( 2006)– Not sure communism is a laughing matter, even if it involves a dead dictator named Stalin? This justly heralded film shows a Stasi agent questioning why he spies on his fellow citizens. The chill of a state-controlled life starts early and never relents. What’s amazing, when viewed today, is how eager most modern artists are to conform to the state’s will instead of, you know, resisting.
19. “Red Dawn” (1984) – It’s the prototypical red meat movie, and age hasn’t diminished its testosterone. The film itself is certainly flawed, but its spirit and power overwhelm our critical senses. Today’s teens fear using the wrong pronouns more than losing their democracy. These Wolverines knew what had to be done.
20. “Shane” (1953) – It’s the best western not starring John Wayne, and a perfect primer on America, masculinity and more. A retired gunslinger (Alan Ladd, Jr.) joins a tight-knit community against a cattle baron with designs on their property. Memorable brawls, not one but two killer endings and a treatise on what it means to be a man ensue. This 1953 gem has it all, and it’s OK to cry at that final, heart-wrenching goodbye.
21. “Dirty Harry” (1971) – Eastwood’s vigilante, debuting in 1971, gets a nod if only for reducing liberal film critics to blubbering messes. Fascist, they cried, a term they conveniently ignore when the vigilante is female – see “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” or “Peppermint” for recent examples. Conservatives uphold the rule of law, though, something “Dirty” Harry Callahan discarded when necessary.
22. “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) – Will Smith took a break from saving the world for this heartfelt ode to capitalism. Smith plays Chris Gardner, a down on his luck soul sticking to both his precocious young son (Jaden Smith) and the American dream. Hard work, perseverance and an unwillingness to become a victim power this remarkable true tale.
23. “Team America: World Police” (2004) – “America … bleep yeah!” goes the song in this outrageous slab of satire. Yes, the pranksters behind “South Park” – Trey Parker and Matt Stone – attack both sides of the political aisle in this raunchfest. So why is it conservative? Right-wingers love comedy that takes no prisoners, for starters. Plus, any film that shreds Hollywood liberals, with marionettes no less, deserves a hallowed place in a conservative’s heart.