Top 5 Movies

Like the other “Top whatever’s” that I have listed, these lists are about the cultural/media things that have contributed to my life in various ways most specifically in my spiritual growth, maturity, and personal identity. Some of the choices in this list may seem odd or out of place, but don’t be deceived. 

For example, movies such as Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) and The Cowboys (John Wayne) were like rites of passage to manhood in my home. I had to sit down and watch these movies with my father, just him and me. Or, for instance, the old Martin Luther movie from 1953 starring Niall MacGinnis which I bought from CBD for $3.99 on a whim after reading the first edition of John Piper’s Swan Series The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, played a significant role in my spiritual development between college and my arrival at seminary insofar as it pointed me deeper into the historical study of the Reformation, the teachings of the Reformers, and all that comes with that deal. All of these are very dear to me, and I hope you will take the time to watch them someday if you haven’t already.

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy51vbc4vngxl__aa240_.jpg

  2. GladiatorGladiator

  3. Jeremiah JohnsonJeremiah Johnson

  4. The CowboysThe Cowboys

  5. Martin LutherMartin Luther



  1. Billy,
    This is my first time into this part of your site. It would be very tough to list my top 5 movies ever…I could perhaps divide my life into two parts, youth and adulthood, and give a top 5 for each of those time periods. Even then the list may change daily!

    Top 5 movies of my youth (1-20yrs):
    5. John Paul Jones (?)- this was a TV movie I saw when I was about 5-6 and I have never seen or found it since. But I remember it was about the founding of our country and the memorable line was, of course, “I have not yet begun to fight!” This movie started me on a patriotic journey that has shaped my entire life. I referred to this movie during my ROTC college scholarship interview.

    4. “The Alamo”- Here again is a movie that stirred my heart as a child for a love of country.

    3. “The Green Berets” with John Wayne was the only positive movie about the war in Viet Nam, though it too was sad. I was one of the few who believed in what we were doing in Nam then, and still believe it was the right thing today.

    2. “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with Pat Boone of all people. I saw this on TV as a child and it gave me a thirst for reading Jules Verne, which then led to a love for all classical literature and science fiction, and the musical score also gave me a love for classical music.

    1. “Patton”- When this movie came out I was in the 6th grade and had been assigned to write a research report. I saw the movie, read a brief book on Patton and wrote the report for an A. By this time I was committed to going into the army, even as a 12 yr old!

    Now for my favorite movies in adulthood(aged 20+):

    5. Star Wars- for basic entertainment, the original cannot be beat.

    4. Alien- with Sigourney Weaver- there is evil out there, you cannot negotiate with it, you can not surrender to it, you must kill or be killed.

    3. Babette’s Feast- a foreign film that most have not heard of but is an outstanding portrayal of Grace.

    2. The Game with Michael Douglas- our movie club at BHBC viewed this and discussed it as an interesting examination of God’s sovereignty and man’s will.

    1.a. Truman Show- another wonderful movie to look for religious themes and symbols.

    1.b. We Were Soldiers Once…And Young- the absolute best Viet Nam war movie ever made.

    1.c. Braveheart- the theme is freedom

    1.d. Lord of the Rings- I have read the complete series including The Hobbit 8 times.

  2. Roscoe Lee Browne’s prayer in “The Cowboys” is one of the coolest moments in cinematic history.

    And for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, and wonder how “cool” and “prayer” go together, it’s kinda a spoiler, so I won’t say. ;-)

  3. Another list back at you!
    Only the top three are for sure.
    I have not seen that many movies – or, I should say, that many ‘artsy’ movies.

    Some Kind of Wonderful
    The Last Starfighter
    Star Wars: A New Hope
    Chisum ( I prefer Chisholm)
    Master of Disguise

    Obviously, I have a lower view of cinema than music or literature. I treat cinema as mere ‘escapist’ entertainment and find little artistic merit to them (even though many use clever techniques or put forth a certain flair).

    (Oh, by the way, blame Tim Challies, for my unannounced presence.) :-)

  4. Per above comments:

    The Last Starfighter is the ‘perfect’ fantasy – watch it, and tell me if I am too far wrong.

    Brendt’s The Game was a nice gimmick movie (I do like suspense, and read it as well), but I can’t abide by the swearing in movies.

    The LOTR movies ruined the books for me (I had read them a good 20 years before – several times). Thus, another argument in the arsenal against Scripture being depicted in fiction or cinema – as well.

    Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of my favourite reads (several), but I have yet to see a movie version that does it justice (and despite being a Fraser fan, I am afraid the early previews indicate that his rendition is far from the mark despite its sfx).

    Martin Luther was okay for what it covered (not enough). I would say that the Wilberforce one was better (acted and overall).

    I probably saw the Green Beret years ago, but I don’t recall it. The War movies I did like are the Alistair MacLean adaptations (Guns of Navarone, Force 10 From Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, Partisans), and of course The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, Stalag 17, Bridge On the River Kwai (and its mock: Volunteers), The Longest Day, etc. (Not much into the modern war flicks with all the blood and psychology – except that Enemy at the Gate wasn’t too bad.)

    Blah, Blah, Blah…

  5. 1. The Mission
    2. Rocky.
    3. Bourne.
    4.Ten Commandments
    5. The Matrix

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