Liberty at the Movies: Best of the Year

1. Captain America: Civil War-- A perfect combination of sharp action, great acting, and a compelling script that juggles multiple character arcs without taking focus off the main character.

Plus, by making the heroes those who resist a UN scheme to register and control all super-heroes, the film has a pro-liberty message. Fear not statists, the pro-registration side is fairly presented.

2. Snowden-- Thrilling tale of Edward Snowden's journey from true-believer in the surveillance state to world's most famous whistleblower.

The film also provides an entertaining (yes that's right) explanation of "metadata," the FISA Court, and Section 702 of the PATRIOT Act. Another great aspect of the movie is that, in something all too rare for liberal Hollywood, it honestly deals with President Obama's horrible record on surveillance and civil liberties.

The only flaw in the movie is it might go overboard in mythologizing Snowden. But that may be a usual counterweight to the smear campaign being conducted against Snowden by apologists for the surveillance state.

3. War Dogs-- Funniest movie about international arms dealers ever..although that is probably a very short list. Based on the true story of two small-time arms dealers who attempt to con the Defense Department, this film can be enjoyed by libertarians and neocons alike. Benefits from outstanding performances by Bradley Cooper as a shady arms dealer, Miles Teller as the decent of the two main characters, and especially Jonah Hill as the conscience-less con man who conceives the scheme.

4. Joy-- This was actually released in 2015, but I did not see it until 2016 so I am putting it on this year's list. The true story of home shopping entrepreneur Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop, Huggable Hangers, and many other products, Joy is the all-too-rare Hollywood film that celebrates entrepreneurs and capitalism.

All that plus Jennifer Lawrence (in the title role), Robert DeNiro (as Joy's unsupportive father), and Bradley Cooper (as the QVC executive who gives Joy her break).

5. Hacksaw Ridge-- An intense and disturbing war film, this movie tells the true story of Desmond T. Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss serves as a medic because he wishes to save lives, not take them. While its refusal to sugarcoat the horrors of battle have lead some to label it the greatest anti-war movie ever, the film does not hit you over the head with a message, instead it allows the audience to draw its own conclusions about what they have just witnessed.

6. Rogue One-- Rebellions are built on hope..any movie with that as a tag line is bound to appeal to liberty lovers.

Rogue One tells a tale of the crew that stole the plans for the Death Star that played such as major role in the first Star Wars movie. Rogue One features inserting characters, fantastic action, and a new more nuanced look at the rebellion then we have seen in prior movies.

All that and Vader too!

8. Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Godzilla)-- The latest incarnation of the classic monster asks the question: How would the government of Japan (and the US) actually react to a giant, fire-breathing lizard? The film's answer is not well. This is a movie that can be enjoyed not just by monster movie fans but by those who enjoy mocking government bureaucrats.

9. Free State of Jones-- This "passion project" of Matthew McConaughey tells the true story of a group of Southerners conscripted into the Confederacy who secede from the secessionists. The film examines how the southern elite found ways to avoid bearing the costs of the war--including military service-- while imposing it on the lower classes via the draft and confiscation of property.

The film does not excuse the northern forces. One character complains that her farm was ransacked by both Confederate forces and forces lead by Union General Sherman. It also examines the birth of Jim Crow.

10. Equity-- A small independent film that looks at the trials and tribulations faced by a woman struggling to get ahead in the cut-throat world of IPOs. One of her adversaries is an ambitious government prosecutor determined to convict the lead character's boyfriend of insider trading.

The boyfriend is guilty and he even sabotages his girlfriend's big project, but there is no indication the information he obtains is fraudulent or should not be made available to investors.

Dishonorable mentions:

1. Miss Sloan-- I did not see this film about a DC power lobbyist who wages an heroic crusade against the "gun lobby," because I have better things to do than watch a statist fairy tale about heroic enemies of liberty overcoming those who defend the second amendment. Judging by the film's abysmal box-office numbers, most Americans agree with me.

2. Southside with You-- Another film I did not see. The movie tells the tale of Barrack Obama's first date with is future wife. Sorry, but films glorifying key events in the life of the "Dear Leader" seem just a little like something filmmakers in totalitarian countries do, not filmmakers in a republic.

3. Ghostbusters-- This one I did see. It generated a lot of controversy and debate when critics of the all-female reboot were accused of misogyny. I did not have a problem with an all-female Ghostbusters starring three very funny female comedians...except it would have been nice if the screenwriters and directors remembered they where making a comedy, and comedies are supposed to be, you know, funny.

But the movie gets its dishonorable mention because, while the original positively portrayed those who leave the state-funded confines of academy and are mocked by busy-body EPA bureaucrats, the new one ends with the Ghostbusters going on the government payroll.

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