Top Five Movies about the Civil War

Cold Mountain Civil War Movie
This is exactly no one’s idea of fun. But the Civil War made for some great films.

What makes a great American Civil War movie? The battles, the politics, the inhumanity of slavery, brother against brother, the great generals of both sides, the personal sides of war, families being torn apart, or all of the above?

The movies I’ve listed contain all or most of the issues listed above, and are in no particular order. Enjoy, for an excellent Civil War oriented binge watch (or re-watch) over your favorite American holidays.

Cold Mountain: (2003)
IMDb score: 7.2
Winner of 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 101 nominations
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, and Natalie Portman.

Cold Mountain contains no extended battle scenes, but relies heavily on emotions and personal conflict.

Lincoln: (2012)
IMDb score: 7.4
Winner of two Oscars. Another 108 wins & 245 nominations.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Lincoln leans heavily on the politics of the war, especially in the decision to emancipate the slaves. Here’s our review of this A+ film.

Gettysburg: (1993)
IMDb score: 7.7
Jeff Daniels was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times said of Gettysburg“This is a film that Civil War buffs will find indispensable, even if others might find it interminable.” I’ve seen the movie several times, and have personally walked the battlefields of Gettysburg, from Little Round Top to Pickett’s Charge. So I can enthusiastically recommend Gettysburgnot only for it’s historical accuracy but for also bringing the soldiers from both sides to life in a spectacular way.

Glory: (1989)
IMDb score: 7.9
Winner of three Oscars, Glory was Densel Washington’s first Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Also, Glory received 14 other wins & another 18 nominations.

This was the first major motion picture to tell the story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom from slavery during the Civil War. Everything about this movie was done on a grand scale, including hiring Shelby Foote as a technical adviser.

Foote later became well known for his contributions to Ken Burns’ The Civil War, a nine episode documentary in 1990, which I highly, highly recommend.

 

The Conspirator: (2010)
IMDb score: 6.9
Directed by Robert Redford

The Conspirator is the story of Mary Surratt, the only female conspirator charged in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman to be executed by the U.S. Federal Government. This alone is enough to make the list, but also for the uniqueness of the crime. Great movie.

Movie Review – Lincoln – An A+ Presidential Biography

Movie Review – They Shall Not Grow Old

Movie Review – A Private War

 

 

 

Best Movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Up to Thor: Ragnarok)

Here’s RunPee Jilly’s list of the best-to-worst films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since so many of these movies are good, and there are so many of them, I’ve chosen to rank the films by “tier”. Top Tier, Middle Tier, and Bottom Tier. (And one that is simply Bad.) I’m not going to stress over exactly which ones are better than the others within the tiers.

Keep in mind this list only goes as far as The Black Panther at this point in time. This is pre-Infinity Wars. Keep mindful also: this is my personal opinion of the best/worst MCU films — I expect everyone will have their own list. Scribble down your top to bottom tiers in the comments below.

Top Tier

These are the BEST MCU offerings, IMO (of course). The most cohesive plots, solid connections to the through-story, best character pieces (whether solo or in ensemble form), prettiest filmation/scenery, and most enjoyable films that hold up to re-watches. [pullquote position=”right”]Notice that the ensemble pieces largely wound up on top.[/pullquote]

  • Avengers: Assemble — (Top notch; Joss Whedon got everything right. Including Shwarma, mmmmm.)
  • Captain America: Civil War — (Basically an Avengers ensemble piece, and perfectly executed. The airport set piece is as good as the hype surrounding it. More like this, please!)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 — (My personal favorite movie in the entire MCU. And one of my new top five all-time films. I need this movie when I feel down. The humor, characters, music, and general story are everything I look for in a fun, feel-good, groovy film.)
  • Thor 3: Ragnarok — (I have to admit, I didn’t think anything in the MCU would approach the likability factor of GotG 1. Well…this one does. Chris Hemsworth is hysterical, for one thing. And while ostensibly a solo film for Thor, it’s more like an ensemble piece for the spacefaring MCU characters. I expect the Grandmaster’s ship  – nay, now Thor’s ship – is how we scoop up the Guardians in time for Infinity Wars.)
  • Spiderman: Homecoming — (Everything in this movie went right. And the villain, usually the sore spot in the MCU, just rocked it! <—- finally)
  • Black Panther — (Beautiful scenery, good characters, solid storytelling and a compelling connection to the larger universe).
  • Iron Man 1 — (The movie that kickstarted the entire decade’s-worth franchise…and rebooted the bank-ability factor to a personable, funny, and charismatic star that redefined how Superhero films could be writ. [pullquote]Can’t forget this moment: “I am Iron Man.” And the world leaned back in their seats, satisfied.[/pullquote])

Middle Tier

  •  Captain America: The Winter Soldier — (I know. This one is top tier for many. As a spy movie, it’s just not to my taste, and this is MY list.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 — (I wanted to place this one in the top tier, but will concede it doesn’t hit all the marks it should have. If the first GotG is perfect, this one does show up and make the effort, in spite of not quite getting somewhere great.)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — (Another one just shy of greatness. I wanted to place it top tier, but there are just better ones to choose from.)
  • Ant-Man — (not an ‘epic story’, but fun ‘small tale’ with decent humor and a strong likability factor.)

Bottom Tier

  • Thor 1 — (Not a bad movie; just not awesome. The MCU was still figuring out their formula.)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World — (This one is easily one of the least exciting Marvel films, but on a rewatch it’s better served.)
  • Iron Man 2 — (Dull.)
  • Iron Man 3 — (Dull again, bummer.)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger — (It’s okay. Like Thor, movies with Cap improve as his trilogy progresses.)
  • Dr. Strange — (I wish I could place this one higher. It’s just a bit derivative and…well…strange. Not likable or particularly exciting…but we HAD to have the Gem of Amarra in place for Avengers: Infinity War).

Just Bad

  • The Incredible Hulk — (Edward Norton’s outing is the bottom of the MCU barrel. I can’t even sit through this film in its entirety. I’m ashamed to admit it…but, well, there it is. I love Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, but anyone else falls flat.)

Movie Review – Lincoln – An A+ Presidential Biography

Spielberg has given us a three dimensional  insight into the last few months of our most beloved leader. In Lincoln we see him not only as the President during the most difficult time in our nation’s history, but also in an equally demanding role as husband and father.

Make no mistake, this is not a movie about the Civil War per se…but just as important to our country’s future was the passing of the 13th amendment. Lincoln is more of a court room drama than an early version of Saving Private Ryan.

In the opening scene we see 30 seconds of  battle field action, followed by two hours of a different battle fought by lobbyists, politicians, and other nefarious characters.

Along the way, there are brief detours into the private life of Lincoln himself, and his family. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Fields, and Tommy Lee Jones are definite Oscar contenders, but they were not the only stellar contributors to the movie: James Spader provided much needed comic relief in this intense film.

The bar has been set very high for presidential biographies with this one.

Movie Grade: A+

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