Rankings are inherently controversial (here’s looking at you, US News and BCS), but National Review’s list of the best conservative movies is misguided in ways that neither of those systems are. Recognizing the best football team and the best college are admirable if elusive goals, but identifying and praising the best conservative movies is more problematic. As Hollywood’s critics are eager to point out, one of its problems is the greenlighting of films that lack artistic value but are considered important because of their “message.” Welcome to a world where audience are treated to Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck.
By smothering these ‘conservative’ films in their probably unwelcome embrace, NR has made the same mistake they see in ‘liberal’ Hollywood: claiming that while art may be important, the message matters a great deal too. Even if such efforts did encourage the manufacture of more films that bear conservative messages, worse films would be the likely result. Conservatives should, as they have done, praise what is beautiful and deplore what is ugly. Otherwise the culture wars really are just a mass-media skirmish that has the significance (if also some of the fun) of a particularly heated game of playground pogs.