As some of my friends know, I have this year begun a new regime in my pursuit of insights into Christ and Culture: I have begun attending movies with a friend on a regular basis -- viz., almost every Tuesday night. As a result, for the first time in a decade I have actually seen most (instead of none) of the Oscar-nominated movies and stars on the big screen and not waited for rental stores or, now, Netflix (I've got to sing that companies praises one of these days) to provide them.
When I was young, I attended movies all the time, but in my later adult years, that practice has fallen off -- even though I love seeing things in theaters (notwithstanding being driven up the wall by popcorn-chomping-Coke-slurping fellow viewers). I learned to articulate what I liked and disliked about movies, but mostly I enjoyed being carried into another world. Yes, I have never had problems with the suspension of reality; I'm an easy mark.
In my new situation, I relish lists of the "ten best" or the "keepers" or such -- by whomever puts out the lists. I've been a fan of Roger Ebert's criticism since I discovered his review show with Gene Siskel (of blessed memory) on pubic TV, and I continue to enjoy him in his new arrangment with Richard Roeper. (There's a summary of their picks for Best Movies, including 2004, of the past few years here.) And I get a newsletter from Orthodox laywoman Frederika Mathewes-Greene that includes movie reviews on a regular basis. (I often disagree with her.)
Today I came across Christianity Today's lists of the best, and I was surprised to find such stuff there. As a kind of knee-jerk political liberal, I don't read CT regularly, but, as an evangelical-catholic Christian, I feel bad about that. I admit that my prejudices put the journal's efforts at culture-criticism in the "carping" pigeonholde. And for that I repent. (I have expected the tone of the journal to be of a type with the snarling self-righteous tone that infests First Things and Touchstone, both of which carry fabulous stuff but alienate me with the editorial crews' partisanship and tunnel vision.)
CT has published two lists of movies, with critical commentary, that are fascinating to see.
I encourage you to check out, here, the journal's list of the Ten Most Redeeming Films of 2004 and, here, its list of the Ten Best Films of 2004. It makes for fascinating reading, and for the most part, the evaluations are sound -- and even accurate.
Your comments, reviews, or list would be welcome here.