Mark your calendars, conservatives, the 89th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will air on Sunday February 26. Oh joy, another orgy of self-congratulation, ignorance and liberal pomposity. In years past, the Academy Awards displayed class and honored films that traditional-minded Americans could enjoy. I hate to classify films ideologically. After all, don't we go to the movies to get away
from political bickering? The following films are not necessarily conservative; viewers of any persuasion can embrace them. These stars and filmmakers are not necessarily conservative, either, but these selections are, nonetheless, deserving of a look, and some have been unjustly forgotten. Keep in mind, spoiler alerts!
, 1942. Best Picture, Best Actress, etc. This portrait of a British middle class family during World War II has been wrongfully dismissed as wartime propaganda. Why is that a bad thing? The never-never land of flower shows and pretty hats may not represent reality, but it represents an ideal. If life is not this lovely, it should be (and, yes, any man can enjoy this film - keep reading). Greer Garson, in the title role, radiates maternal warmth and wifely charm. The war ultimately intrudes on the homefront and, at a funeral for one of its civilian victims, we hear a rousing Churchillian call to arms. Appropriate as a finale, these words remind the viewer that Britain - and, by extension, western civilization - is worth saving. Churchill reportedly ordered copies of this speech air-dropped over enemy lines. If this is propaganda, give me more.
A Man For All Seasons
, 1966. Best Picture, Best Actor, etc. This handsome, literate production, based on Sir Thomas More's 16th Century battle with the church hierarchy, is a testament to conviction over earthly ambition. Best Actor Paul Scofield presents More not just as pious but humorous, loving and practical - a full-blooded human being. By placing his allegiance to God over King Henry VIII and the church elders, More is ultimately beheaded. Nonetheless (and if you'll pardon the cliche), this film celebrates life, particularly one dedicated to faith and righteousness.
In the Heat of the Night
, 1967. Best Picture, Best Actor, etc. This taut, well-paced ode to law & order and professional integrity set in the segregation-era south features Oscar winner Rod Steiger as the sheriff, initially suspicious of Sidney Poitier, a Philadelphia detective who just happens to be passing through when a murder is committed. Despite racial tension, the white sheriff and black detective team up and solve the mystery, forging a bond of mutual respect in the process. Poitier as Virgil Tibbs (delivering one of the most famous lines in film history) strikes a blow for human dignity that is never preachy or forced but rather an undeniable truth, one of many revelations in a film that defies formula and caricature in favor of great storytelling.
Lilies of the Field
, 1963. Best Actor. Poitier actually won his Oscar (the first for his race in this category) for this lesser-known drama. He portrays an ex-GI/handyman traveling the southwest who helps a group of nuns build a church. Wholesome, lively and inspiring.
Also, check out John Wayne's only Oscar-winning performance in 1969's True Grit
. Not, by most accounts, his best work. His acceptance speech, however, was humble and gracious (find it on You Tube), much classier than Meryl Streep's bloated, error-filled, self-serving Golden Globes rant.
No list would be complete without Gary Cooper's two Best Actor performances. This Hollywood Republican starred in Sergeant York
, 1941, as the real-life World War I hero, and 1952's High Noon
. The latter is somewhat controversial, given that its noted screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was an outspoken leftist. Still, Cooper as Will Kane remains a classic western hero, courageously acting alone, not on impulse but the dictates of his conscience.
The confines of space won't allow for many more, but don't forget these Best Pictures, including Mel Gibson's Braveheart
, 1995, based on William Wallace's 13th Century fight for Scottish independence. Though very violent, this film's rallying cry of "Freedom!" still resonates (today's liberal equivalent would demand "Diversity!"). Also worth noting are 1959's Ben Hur
, 1981's Chariots of Fire
and 2003's The Return of the King
, the finale of the Lord of The Rings
Indeed, Oscar night used to be wholesome and (usually) non-controversial. This year's will likely be toxic. Still, there's always Hollywood's glorious past to revisit. In the words of legendary host Bob Hope, we can just say, "Thanks for the memory."