Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 Years; 10 Movies

Here are the ten best films I have seen over the last decade.

Don Cheadle may be the best actor around today. His talent really shows in this true life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a wealthy hotel owner who shelters hundreds of Tutsi refugees during their struggle with the Hutu militia. The film is good because the heroes don't come easy and it forced me to consider how I would respond in similar circumstances. Would I turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the Tutsi in order to provide for my family during turmoil or would I figure out a way to do both?

In 1920s Los Angeles Christine Collins returns home from work to find that her young son is missing. When the struggling and corrupt LAPD tries to pass off another boy as her son in order to get a quick PR boost, Collins decides to fight back. This is a great story of the importance of undying love and devotion to the truth, no matter what the consequences may be. One of Clint Eastwood's best directorial efforts.

Virtually every film I have ever seen that has been categorized as "Christian" or "family-friendly" has been terrible. This is the exception. Many films aimed at christian audiences are terrible because they either come across as preachy, like a gospel tract on the big screen or they only deal in the black and white where the heroes are too good and the villains are too bad. On top of that, how many movies can possibly be made about the end of the world? In The Second Chance, director Steve Taylor deals in the gray areas to expose the hypocrisy of consumer-friendly and market driven churches that thrive at the expense of the communities they call (or once called) home.

Groundhog Day on steroids. I don't have the ability to further describe this film. The only other thing I can say is that writers Jonathan and Christopher Nolan are either geniuses or they got into some bad milk while writing this one. This is a really good flick if you can follow it. Take the phone off the hook and make sure you've had adequate sleep before pressing play.

Can Turbo and the gang save the community center from being torn down by evil developers? If so, it'll take some serious break dancing but this is the crew to do it. You'll stand up and cheer as you see these young community organizers in action!

Just kidding, Breakin' 2, Electric Boogoloo came out in 1984 otherwise it would certainly make this list.

Classic. This movie is rare because a.) it's hilarious, b.) it probably cost about $14 to make and c.) you can watch it with your kids. The only other thing you can watch with those three ingredients is a guy falling down the stares on You Tube. This is probably my favorite comedy of all time.

Oh, the depths of human depravity. What do you do if, in your search for the truth, you realize that finding it turns everything upside down? This Ben Affleck directed film, starring his brother Casey, asks that question as two detectives search for a missing girl and uncover a lot more than they ever wanted.

Yeah, I know. What self-respecting pastor wouldn't include The Passion on a list like this? Well, there's more to it than that. Sure, Mel Gibson isn't exactly squeaky clean and some of his background reading for this film is suspect but this is still the best film depicting the death of Christ that has ever been made. I can think of at least three reasons why.

a.) No star power - there's nothing more distracting to a powerful story like this than having a star get in the way. No one wants to see the three brothers from Home Improvement playing Peter, James and John.

b.) Ethnically realistic - Jesus wasn't German and this film remembers that.

c.) Let the story be the story - You have to take some artistic license on a film like this but usually it goes too far. Good job Mel, for staying within reasonable boundaries.

I don't have a clue if the writer of this story was a believer. I don't even know his aim in writing it. All I can say is that every time I watch it, I think of the sacrificial substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. That's enough to get me beyond my usual disdain for Will Smith movies. At least he's not rapping anymore.

I don't have a clue whether or not M. Night Shyamalan is a believer. I don't even know his aim in writing Signs. All I can say is that every time I watch this movie, I think of the sovereign providence of the Lord Jesus Christ who rules over all things, even forgotten glasses of water, baseball bats and alien invasions. Disclaimer: I think I'm the only person in the world who likes this movie.

This is the best movie you've never heard of. What happens when you combine an alcoholic accountant with poor dietary habits, a family about to lose the farm and a global conspiracy that has infiltrated even the Grand Ol' Opry? You'll have to watch to find out. Hey, it's only 40 minutes long and I guarantee that you'll laugh.


  1. I am a big fan of I Am Legend, I don't think Robert Matheson is a Christian though... He was a big science fiction writer in the 50's. Though this is the third film derived from his book, it deviates from the novel. The book originally was about vampires and strongly influenced modern vampire and zombie movies, listing vampirism and zombism as diseases rather than supernatural monstrosities. Matheson also wrote numerous episodes of the Twilight Zone, don't ask how I know all this.

    ...and yes, you are probably the only person who likes Signs. M. Night Shyamalan actually bases most of his movies off what he believes are "true events" but because they can't be proven they can't be listed as such on the movie... and I get extra Kudos for being your first comment... like, ever. ha!

  2. Good work! I wish I had something like a set of steak knives to give away. Thanks for the info and the first comment!

  3. I'm glad to see "Gone Baby Gone" on your list, Jay. I took a pastor friend to see it (I'd already read the book) and asked when we left, "Well, what did you think?" He replied, "That's the world we live in."

    Lehane, who also wrote "Mystic River," is a master at dealing with the gray areas. Generally when viewing his work either in print or on film one is left very glad that God rules this world because he is notably absent in Lehane's.

    If you haven't seen "Children of Men," you might revise your list afterward. If you have, surely it slipped your mind ;^)


  4. I saw Children of Men but maybe I need to see it again.

    I agree with you on the gray areas. It's the absence of those gray areas that makes most Christian films terrible.