Since 2004, the year that film culture split along moral and artistic lines, political and class biases have been exhibited in films that became more and more partisan. This rift was furthered by a compromised media, where critics praised movies that exhibited cynicism along with political bias.
Not just entertainment, the 20 films listed here effectively destroyed art, social unity, and spiritual confidence. They constitute a corrupt, carelessly politicized canon.
2) The Dark Knight (2008) used the Batman myth to undermine heroism, overturn social mores, and embrace anarchy.
3) Ocean’s Twelve (2004) — Steven Soderbergh salutes land of the greedy and home of the depraved in a reboot franchise sequel, scoffing at the post-War conviction of Sinatra’s Rat Pack original.
5) Wall-E (2008) — Nihilism made cute for children of all ages who know nothing about cultural history or how to sustain it.
6) Manderlay (2005) — Lars Von Trier’s Dogville sequel sold American self-hatred back to us, and critics fawned.
7) United 93 (2006) reduced the pain and tragedy of 9/11 to the inanity of a disaster movie.
8) Frost/Nixon (2008) — Political vengeance disguised as a dual biopic that prized showbiz egotism over conflicted public service.
9) Knocked Up (2007) — Judd Apatow’s comedy of bad manners attacked maturity and propriety.
10) The Social Network (2010) — David Fincher’s new Horatio Alger tale glorified technocrat Mark Zuckerberg with chic, digital-era arrogance.
11) Precious (2009) coincided with Obama’s first year in office to revive racial condescension with the audacity of nope.
12) The Hangover (2009) infantilized privileged adulthood, a celebration of chaos and irresponsibility.
13) Slumdog Millionaire (2008) — an Oscar-winning tale of game-show greed as an answer to systemic poverty.
14) A History of Violence (2005) — David Cronenberg’s new take on Ugly Americans blamed patriotic sadism.
15) Inglourious Basterds (2009) — Quentin Tarantino’s answer to Abu Ghraib, a cruel, jokey, ahistorical revision of WWII.
16) The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) — Ass-kicking espionage disparaged American foreign policy while making money off it.
17) Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) — Sarcastic violence is the new marriage equality, says Brangelina, Hollywood’s POTUS and FLOTUS.
18) Che (2008) — Steven Soderbergh gives Hipster Hollywood its own four-hour rebuttal to Oliver Stone’s JFK.
19) There Will Be Blood (2007) — Paul Thomas Anderson’s pseudo-epic of the American soul cooked up an anti-Christian, weirdly misogynist history lesson.
20) Lincoln (2012) — Spielberg succumbs to Tony Kushner’s limousine-liberal cynicism to valorize Obama-era political chicanery.
— Armond White, a film critic, writes about movies for National Review Online. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies.