Discussing
Top Ten Films of 2008

Josh Larsen

Keith
December 31, 2008

Usually I am utterly impressed with Think Christian posts, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Slumdog Millionaire thanks to your previous post on it, but this list looks quite lacking and random... Tropic Thunder, for example, should be avoided by believers if only for the way it depicts people with developmental disabilities, if not for the pure suckiness of the film. I ended up turning it off - more because I was bored than offended. Some of the others, such as the Promotion and Be Kind Rewind are simply mediocre. The Dark Knight is an excellent choice, as (from what I understand) is Slumdog Millionaire and Wall-E is a good family film. Overall, pretty hit-and-miss but interesting to read your perspective.

Scott
January 4, 2009

How about "The Visitor"? Not merely because it features a moving performance by self professing follower of Jesus, Danai Gurira, but because it wrestles with the gospel themes of sacrifice, hospitality, justice, and in some ways an incarnational compassion.

Josh
January 5, 2009

As for "The Visitor," Scott, I did admire the film, but more for the thematic reasons you mention than the fact that a Christian was involved in making it (of which I was unaware). <br><br>It's a slippery slope when we praise films simply because a Christian acted in it (or wrote, or directed, or designed the costumes for it). I prefer to think of movies as their own unique entities, which means one made by a nonbeliever may indeed be incredibly artful (and sometimes spiritually enlightening), just as one made by a believer (unfortunately) may be downright dreadful.<br>

Josh
January 5, 2009

Thanks for responding Keith. Randomness, actually, is pretty much what I go for in a top ten list, which tries to distill the 200 or so movies I've reviewed the previous year into a representation of those that moved me - be they comedies, kids’ flicks or spiritually significant dramas.<br><br>I'm glad you brought up “Tropic Thunder,” for the parts that refer to people with developmental disabilities – and bear with me here - were some of the bravest, funniest moments, to my mind. (For background, Ben Stiller plays an action-movie star who once tried to win an Oscar by playing a severely mentally disabled farm hand. Robert Downey Jr., as another actor, tells Stiller's character he didn't win because he went "full retard").<br><br>The target of the joke, actually, is the way Hollywood often portrays people with developmental disabilities in a cloying, insulting way - as potential awards bait - rather than full human beings. This is tricky territory, to be sure, but I appreciated Stiller's expose of that sort of Hollywood hypocrisy.<br>

Eric
January 6, 2009

I must admit I am not a regular Think Christian reader but surprised to find Tropic Thunder listed in a top ten list on a Christian site. I have not seen the film but the pluggedin review would make me avoid it. I honestly would love any films poking fun at Hollywood's ill-rooted compassion - I have actually been an avid South Park fan - but am trying in the new year to avoid this type of mind debasing entertainment. Thanks for the blog.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
January 7, 2009

Glad I could surprise you Eric. And if you can take "South Park," you'll have no trouble with "Tropic Thunder." Speaking of which, both "South Park: Bigger, Longer &amp; Uncut" and "Team America: World Police" (from the South Parkers) have made previous top-ten lists of mine.

Jonathan
January 14, 2009

I didn't watch a whole lot of movies this year but IMHO, I thought Bella was very good and also refreshing. Though if being entertaining was one of your critiques, then perhaps that's one of the reasons it didn't make it to your list. Any thoughts?<br><br>

Josh
January 15, 2009

"Bella" actually came out in 2007, which is the technical reason it wasn't on my list. I know that many Christians appreciated the pro-life sentiment of the movie, but I found "Bella" to be too uneven - at turns mundane and melodramatic - to resonate with me. I've heard from so many fans like you though, Jonathan, that it is one of those movies I want to give another chance to by revisiting some day.

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