Undefended: America

This month, with Election Day and Thanksgiving just behind us, FilmFisher writers were asked to pick their favorite films about America – films that depict some part of our history, capture some aspect of our culture, or express some truth about our nation with uncommon excellence or insight.

Timothy Lawrence

My picks are ordered by the time periods they depict:

  1. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
  2. The Lone Ranger (Gore Verbinski, 2013)
  3. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Nunnally Johnson, 1956)
  4. The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, 1997)
  5. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)

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William Connor Devlin

  1. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)
  2. Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)
  3. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
  4. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)
  5. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante, 1990 – I’m dead serious)

Joel Bourgeois

  1. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
  2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  3. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)
  4. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Coen Bros., 2018)
  5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)

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Travis Kyker

  1. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
  2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
  3. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  4. The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)
  5. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974)

Jackson De Vight

  1. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)
  2. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
  3. Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915) – It shouldn’t be, and it’s horrifying that it is, but as far as films which have at once reflected and shaped the American imagination, there are few competitors.
  4. The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015)
  5. Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

Robert Brown

In order of historical period:

  1. John Adams miniseries (Tom Hooper, 2008)
  2. Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, 2005)
  3. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)
  4. Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2014)
  5. The Terminal (Steven Spielberg, 2004)

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Tom Upjohn

  1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989)
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  3. Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 1995)
  4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
  5. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)

Evan Stewart

I wrote a similarly themed series of essays about these five films (along with five others) about a year ago. Brings back memories.

  1. The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)
  2. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
  3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
  4. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
  5. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)

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Robert Heckert

  1. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
  2. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
  3. I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)
  4. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
  5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)

Bonus: The People VS O.J. Simpson

Timothy Lawrence

Timothy Lawrence attended the Torrey Honors Institute and studied screenwriting at BIOLA University. He writes essays and fiction, and enjoys reading books, watching films, and discussing both. He is especially fond of the works of the Coen Brothers and George Lucas.

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