Luke Eddy’s Top 25 Films of the Decade (It will be Epic)
January 22, 2010
Well, here it finally is: my ‘Top 25 Films of the Decade.’ Now, this list is inherently subjective. In the first place, I certainly haven’t seen every single film that’s come out in the last ten years, for the most part I’ve seen films that looked good to me, so my sampling pool for this list is already skewed. So really, this is my top 25 films, my favorites of the decade. Treat this list as my recommendations to you. Now obviously not all of these films are appropriate for everyone, but if a film on this list sounds interesting to you, then check it out. But before I start counting down films, I thought I’d briefly explain what I looked for in the films that I chose to include in this list. Here, summarized in four points, is what I looked for:
Stunning Visuals: I like films that surprise me with how good they look, whether that means the special and visual effects, like V for Vendetta, the cinematography, like in Mongol, or simply how the scenes are shot and edited, such as in Hot Fuzz.
Exceptional Acting: This should be a given, and I don’t mean above average acting, I mean exceptional acting. I mean acting that really stands out, such as Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, or that connects you emotionally to the character, like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, or that leaves you in stitches, just like George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, or in the case of an antagonist, such as Christopher Lee in The Lord of the Rings, acting that gives you a villain that you love to hate.
Something Meaningful to Say: Not all films need to have a complicated message, sometimes the simplest messages are the best. But a film with an interesting premise, like Sunshine, or an inspiring story, like The Lord of the Rings, have a lot more going for them. Now, not all of the films on my list are particularly strong in this area, at both ends of the spectrum in fact (X2 and Hot Fuzz namely), but they make up for it by being remarkable in one or more of the other areas.
Entertaining: A film has to be entertaining. Duh. But really, that’s the point of a movie. If I didn’t enjoy watching it, it’s not on this list. And conversely, if a film was lacking in a couple of the other areas, but was nonetheless extremely enjoyable, it can still find itself in my top 25. I wouldn’t call Death at a Funeral ‘visually stunning’ nor does it have anything particularly meaningful to say, but it was so much fun to watch that I couldn’t help but include it.
So, all that said, I hope you enjoy my ‘Top 25 Films of the Decade.’
25. X2 (2003): Bryan Singer does a great job directing this film and handling the X-Men mythos. He really steps it up from the first X-Men film, both in the quality of the special effects and in the storytelling. This is the X-Men at their best. Really my primary reason for including this film in my top 25 list is that it contains excellent film performances from three amazing stage actors. Ian McKellen is perfect as the brooding and imprisoned Magneto and it’s a real treat to watch him play a villain. Patrick Stewart, while a giant of the British stage, hasn’t dominated the cinema in quite the same way, except perhaps in a few films as the indomitable Captain Jean-Luc Picard. So it’s fantastic to see him playing Professor Xavier, another character perfectly suited to his distinctive talents. And while Magneto is under plastic lock and key, another villain, William Sryker, is free to run loose, played expertly by Brian Cox, who gives the character a ruthlessness that only he can deliver. Forget all the other X-Men films, this is the one to watch.
24. Sunshine (2007): Science fiction has always been the prefect show case for special effects, but much more than that, good science fiction is a vehicle for exploring the psychology of the human mind in fantastically hypothetical situations. Sunshine is very intentionally in this category of sci-fi. It explores desperation, heroism, despair, and hope. But the real focus of Sunshine is on a topic that most of science fiction has glossed over: the effect that our own sun has on the human mind. The premise of Sunshine is that our sun is dying and a crew of astronauts, flying a space ship armed with massive bomb, must attempt to restart it. It sounds as bad as The Core, I know, but all the science is at least plausible and it’s handled as realistically as it can be. And again, this film isn’t about the science, or the special effects (though they are quite good), it’s about what goes on in the minds of the characters as they get closer and closer to the single most powerful type of object in the universe. Some become more and more desperate to complete their mission while others become more and more detached from reality. This film isn’t perfect and the first half is a lot better than the second half, but Danny Boyle’s directing is spectacular and Sunshine gives you plenty of food for thought.
23. Equilibrium (2002): This was a film that flew under the radar because of a limited release and was also somewhat dismissed as a rip off of The Matrix. But don’t let that fool you, this film is ridiculously awesome in it’s own rite. In a future where emotions are outlawed and the cops shoot puppies, if you’re Christian Bale and you’ve got a crazy title like “Tetragrammaton Cleric” and a pair of oversized pistols and a samurai sword, there’s only one thing to do: kill 118 people. Ok, all kidding aside, this film does have some interesting things to say about human emotions and a few very well acted scenes, but the action is undoubtedly the star. While it does have its flaws and doesn’t stand up to too many rewatches, I guarantee that it will blow you away the first time you see it.
22. Shaun of the Dead (2004): I hate zombie movies. So it obviously says something when I put one on my ‘top 25’ list. Shaun of the Dead is the cinematic antithesis of zombie movies. It’s filled, even fueled, by contradictions and juxtapositions. It’s a parody and it pokes fun at all the slow shuffling, gore splattering, and strangled moaning of the genre, by doing it all in the most absurd and over-the-top ways possible. And yet it’s punctuated by unexpected moments of heartfelt emotional connection to the characters, and these moments far surpass the half-hearted drivel most zombie films achieve. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious, and Edgar Wright’s directing is top-notch.
21. Death at a Funeral (2007): This quirky British comedy comes from the mind of Frank Oz, who you probably know as the hand and the voice behind Fozzie Bear, Cookie Monster, Yoda, and Miss Piggy. But he’s also directed a number of unique and genuinely hilarious comedies, such as What About Bob?, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Little Shop of Horrors. Death at a Funeral is his latest piece of comedy gold. Matthew Macfadyen and Peter Dinklage are both hilarious, Macfadyen for his deadpan delivery and Dinklage for his psychotic bouts of drug induced rage. My favorite performance though is undoubtedly Alan Tudyk’s: butt-naked, sitting on a roof, and high as a kite, he steals the show (if you haven’t noticed yet, accidentally ingesting hallucinogenic drugs is kind of a running gag is this film).
20. Apocalypto (2006): To quote the opening words of the film “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” The story is simple and personal, a young man is violently taken from his home and separated from his family and is brought into the heart of the darkness and corruption of the ancient Mayan empire. What follows is his disparate attempt to escape and to evade his relentless hunters. There an unmistakably theme in Mel Gibson’s directing, both Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, as well as Apocalypto, are epic films about events that have far reaching consequences, yet all are for the most part very intensely focused on one specific character and his struggle in the midst of these events. Gibson’s other distinctive feature, almost in contrast to his narrow focus on a single character, is his ability to recreate historical settings on a grand scale. He has an eye for detail and authenticity in every aspect of the film. With such dedicated world building, Apocalypto completely takes you in. Gibson, as always, does not shy away from intense violence, but in his films it’s never gratuitous, it always serves the message of the film, in this case the almost demonic-like corruption and obsession of the Mayan empire immediately before it’s conquest. Combine all these elements and you have a film that is as haunting and disturbing as it is thought provoking and breathtaking.
19. 28 Days Later… (2002): And another zombie flick makes it on my top 25 list, by now you might be doubting what I said about hating zombie movies, but trust me, I hate them. They’re plotless gorefests with the most inane, incompetent, and annoying characters in cinema history (barring Scarlett O’Hara of course). 28 Days Later… however is above and beyond any zombie movie that I’ve seen. Yes there is blood, as well as guts. This is a disturbing film that more than earns its ‘R’ rating. Yet this zombie film isn’t about random, violent deaths at the hands of the undead (or the ‘infected’ if you want to be politically correct), or even about the zombies really. It’s about how the survivors cope. The film focuses on few specific individuals and how they react emotionally, how they keep going, and how they find their courage, or for some, how they lose control. In this zombie flick you have heroes to cheer for and you feel an emotional connection to the characters (even if Cillian Murphy is inherently creepy). Besides this, the film also gets points for Danny Boyle’s pitch perfect directing, haunting cinematography, and brilliant pacing.
18. Mongol (2007): This was my favorite foreign film of the decade, and I’m certainly not including it simply for the sake of having a foreign film on my list, it’s here by it’s own merits. It depicts the rise to power of Genghis Khan, beginning with his childhood and ending as he consolidates the entire Mongolian nation under his banner. Mongol is a truly epic film. It is shot on location and the cinematography is breathtaking. The battle scenes are expertly and uniquely shot. And the final battle is massive, with over 1500 extras all riding horseback. Far from just a blood fest, this film is well acted and has unique and memorable characters. While certainly taking some narrative liberties, this film strives to be as historically realistic as possible. I could easily go on an on, but I’ll leave you to discover how amazing this film is for yourself.
17. Sherlock Holmes (2009): I love Guy Ritchie, and if Sherlock Holmes wasn’t on this list, you can be sure that another one of his films would be, either Snatch or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Although this film is different than anything he’s done before, Ritchie’s style is unmistakable, from the pacing to the plot twists, from the excellent score to the obligatory slow-mo fistfight. This film never pretends to be a remake of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories; it is thoroughly a re-imagining, but it stays true to the spirit of those originals: mystery, intrigue, and suspense that in the end are explained away by the careful observation of the brilliant, though slightly eccentric, mind of Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. fits the bill perfectly, and Jude Law is equally fitting as the perpetual straight man to Downey’s antics. Mark Strong also does a fantastic job as the villain, Lord Blackwood (one of the most ominous sounding villain names since Dr. Regis Blackgaard). This film is still in theaters and it’s certainly worth seeing on the big screen, so go see it! Oh, and extra points to anyone who can name another movie in which Robert Downey Jr.’s character builds an unsuccessful silencer.
16. Zodiac (2007): When I got out into the lobby of the theater after seeing this film I couldn’t believe that over two and a half hours had just gone by. While watching this film I’d completely lost track of time because it had so utterly taken me in and kept me entranced until the very end. This is possibly the most well paced film that I have ever seen. Which is amazing, because even though there are several edge-of-your-seat, chills-down-your-spine moments, the majority of the film is simply people talking. Zodiac is about the real life serial killer of the same name, or more specifically it’s about a young newspaper cartoonist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who becomes obsessed with discovering the true identity of the Zodiac. It has a lot in common with All the President’s Men, another exciting film about people talking, but be warned, it is not about a white collar criminal. Zodiac is about a very real serial killer; a shooting and a stabbing are depicted in the film. That said, it’s a very intelligent, thought provoking film and not a mindless horror flick. David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) does a brilliant job directing and the cast is chalk full of great actors, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Mark Ruffalo, and others.
15. Lars and the Real Girl (2007): This sleeper-hit flew in a little under the radar, but there’s no reason not to check out Lars and the Real Girl. This film certainly has a quirky premise: the setting is a nondescript, small, northern-Midwest town in the winter, where a very shy, but very amiable and courteous young man has a mental break down. It’s nothing too extreme, he just orders an ‘anatomically correct’, life-size doll off the internet and believes that ‘she’ is a real person. What begins as a quirky, understated comedy develops into a heartfelt drama about love, acceptance, mortality, and community. Ryan Gosling is perfect as the lead, as is Emily Mortimer as his expecting sister-in-law. For me the setting and the sentimentality of the film really strike a cord, since a “nondescript, small, northern-Midwest town in the winter” is essentially home for me and the warmth of the characters accurately captures that friendliness and hospitality which is uniquely Midwestern.
14. Son of Rambow (2007): You probably haven’t heard of this film, which is truly a shame. Unabashedly a kid’s film for adults, Son of Rambow is about two misfit boys who attempt to film their own sequel to First Blood. It’s got it’s own quirky and somewhat dry sense of humor, which is no surprise since this comes from the same studio that brought us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The movie is heartwarming and hilarious without being sappy thanks to the two leads, Bill Milner and Will Poulter. With schools plays the only exception, neither of these two boys had ever acted before this film, which is unbelievable given the completely natural way in which they portray their respective characters, even in some difficult and emotional scenes. What I love most about this film is how it so effectively takes you back to when you were just a kid, to when movies first cast their magic spell over you and captivated your imagination.
13. WALL·E (2008): An amazing Pixar film, and one that certainly deserves to be on this list. WALL·E has all the earmarks of a Pixar production: a positive message, emotional connections to the characters, and a great sense of humor. Yet what truly blew me away when I saw WALL·E was the absolutely gorgeous animation. This truly is a beautiful film. The scenes of the two lead robots ‘dancing’ together in space really are amazing. Now, I can’t end a review of WALL·E, even an unofficial review such as this one, without giving credit to the foley guru that is Ben Burtt. No matter who you are, I guarantee that you have heard dozens of sounds that have been created by Burtt, the hum of a lightsaber: Burtt, the crack of Indy’s whip: Burtt, and the chirps and squeals of the many robots in WALL·E: the answer should be rhetorical by now. In fact Burtt did nearly all the sounds for Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series. His talent lies in thinking outside the box when it comes to producing the foley sounds for a film. For example, he created the deep, metallic engine noise of the gigantic Star Destroyers by tweaking the recording of an old squeaky air conditioner unit that was in his motel room. The animating genius of Pixar wasn’t quite enough to anthropomorphosis a dusty old garbage robot into a hero that we could both laugh at and cheer for, they needed the audio talents Burtt, who had done the same thing already, years ago, with a little astromech droid named R2-D2.
12. Star Trek (2009): This film could have been a disaster. But leave it J.J. Abrams to take a series known for obtuse pseudo-science exposition, dry, awkward acting, and painfully long takes of modal ships flying past matte paintings, and instead create a film that has been universally recognized as ‘totally frickin’ awesome.’ Don’t get me wrong though, the original Star Trek at it’s best, Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home namely, was never about the action nor the special effects, it was about the characters and the strange and exciting situations that they found themselves in. The beauty of Abrams’ Star Trek is that these elements are still present and are at the core of the film. What he added were amazing action scenes and a fast paced story that appeals to modern audiences. Much more than just another sci-fi action flick, the script is witty, intelligent, and relatively devoid of the plot holes that so often plague this genre. While this is thoroughly Abrams’ film, much of the credit for its success goes to the perfectly cast crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin are all perfect as their respective characters. Each actor makes the character their own while staying true to the spirit of the character in the original series. This film is a must see, even for those who haven’t ever watched a single episode of Star Trek before, and if you already saw it in theaters it’s out on DVD and ready for a rewatch. If you are watching it on DVD, be sure to watch the behind-the-scenes, it really gives you an appreciation for the creative talents that Abrams brought to the film. Oh, and check out the gag reel too.
11. A Knight’s Tale (2001): This is a film with no qualms about being anachronistic, in fact it revels in it. This film is, above all else, simply a ton of fun. From singing “We Will Rock You” at the jousting tournament to the training montage, and from the over the top introductions by the herald to the lance-exploding blows, this film is meant to entertain and it certainly delivers. Far from being nothing but a spectacle though, the dialogue is witty and clever. Heath Ledger is fantastic as the rags-to-riches squire who “changes his own stars.” Yet it’s Paul Bettany as Chaucer who really steals the show. Alan Tudyk and Mark Addy also generate a significant amount of laughs as the two sidekicks of the film. While it’s not perfect and there are actually a number of things I could criticize it for, it’s not worth spoiling the fun. Watch this film in just that mindset and you’ll agree.
10. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000): The Coen brothers have made a lot of very unique and very original films. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is my personal favorite and it perfectly exhibits the Coen’s strange, surreal, and subtle sense of humor. Very, very loosely based on the Odyssey, it’s about a man trying to get home before his wife marries someone else. The journey is fraught with peril, from a cyclops and sirens to the KKK and the devil himself. The lead roles are cast perfectly, George Clooney as Everett, the self elected leader with “the gift of gab,” John Turturro as Pete, the wide-eyed, slack jawed half-wit, and Tim Blake Nelson as Delmar, the slow but lovable eternal optimist of the group. Also cast perfectly are John Goodman, as Big Dan the KKK Bible salesman cyclops, and Charles Durning, as Pappy O’Daniel the grumpy, crass, and opportunistic incumbent governor of Mississippi. The film itself if beautifully shot and very finely crafted. Really it’s hilarious no matter how many times you watch it thanks to the Coen brothers’ ability to weave multiple levels of humor into each scene. And also because of the way that all the actors have taken ownership of their characters and filled every line of dialogue and even every look and every pose with something to laugh at.
9. Monsters Inc. (2001): Everyone loves Pixar (except maybe Dreamworks) and everyone has a favorite Pixar film, Monsters Inc. is my favorite. Most animated films for children these days forgo the usual touchstones of filmmaking, such as character development, a compelling plot, and an emotional connection to the characters and the events around them. Most go for cheap slapstick laughs and in an attempt to entertain the poor adults who have to watch these films with their kids, they throw in one cultural reference after another, most of which go completely over the kid’s heads. Pixar on the other hand has some of the highest production values of any studio in cinema today and Monsters Inc. is evidence of that. John Goodman as Sully and Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski are both hilarious, and the little girl, ‘Boo’, is, quite honestly, absolutely adorable. The core comedic value of the film comes simply from the interactions between these three characters. Steve Buscemi and James Coburn also voice excellent villains. It’s a rare thing when a kid’s movie is as smart, funny, and touching as this film is, but that’s Pixar for you.
8. Gladiator (2000): Since the release of Gladiator there have been many films that have tired to replicate the epic cinematic style of this film. While there have certainly been older films that have followed the same formula, such as Braveheart, and even older films that literally created the genre, Seven Samurai in particular, Gladiator set the standard for historical epics of its decade. It is now officially ten years old, but it still looks like it could have come out this month. The battles are expertly staged, the characters are well acted, and the score is phenomenal. This film is required viewing for everyone.
7. The Dark Knight (2008): What list of the top films of the decade would be complete without including The Dark Knight. There have been a lot of very good super hero films in the last ten years but Christopher Nolan took the genre to another level with The Dark Knight, just as Frank Miller did for comics with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It’s true that there have been comic book films before this that were equally dark and brooding, such as V for Vendetta, but Batman in The Dark Knight was the first truly mainstream superhero to star in a film that challenged the critics’ and the public’s preconceptions of the superhero movie genre. Nolan did a lot more than simply make the film dark and brooding, The Dark Knight is an intelligent, dramatic, and suspenseful film. He also used CGI as little as possible to make the film less like your typical flashy superhero flick and more like a dramatic crime/action film set in the real world. Christian Bale again makes an excellent Batman, Michael Cain an excellent Alfred, Gary Oldman an excellent Commissioner Gordon, and Aaron Eckhart is cast perfectly as Harvey Dent. But, as I’m sure you know, it’s Heath Ledger as the Joker that steals the show. Before The Dark Knight was released I wondered how Ledger’s and Nolan’s Joker could be original and not simply a copy of one of Joker’s other incarnations. When I saw the film I was completely blown away. Ledger’s Joker was completely original while still true to everything that makes the Clown Prince of Crime such a unique and layered villain. Apparently Ledger spent over a month by himself in hotel room working on the voice and the physical nuances of the character. One can’t help but think what a shame it is that this is one of the last films of such a brilliant and devoted actor. At least Heath Ledger left us with a film that is an undisputable display of his amazing abilities.
6. V for Vendetta (2005): This film finds itself on my list for a number of reasons, but primarily because, quite simply, it’s unbelievably awesome. The Wachowski brothers atone for their The Matrix sequel sins with this film, but the real reason for its epic level coolness is the antagonistic protagonist, known simply as V. The enigmatic character, originally conceived by Alan Moore, is given a voice and movement by none other than Hugo Weaving. From his smiling Guy Fawkes mask and a penchant for daggers, to soliloquies and fine art, V is certainly one of the most interesting and unique characters in film or print. The message of the film, while delivered in a much less nuanced way than the comic book and often misunderstood as simply bashing American right-wing conservativism, is really that the last and best defense against an oppressive government are the citizens themselves.
5. Signs (2002): Now when Signs was released there were a lot of people who misunderstood it. They expected it to be a horror film, which it certainly isn’t, and even though one could call it a thriller, the best moments of the film aren’t the ‘thrills.’ Really the interactions between the individual characters are what drives the film. The entire cast, including the two children, give excellent performances. Mel Gibson is, as always, a perfect father figure with a depth of emotion that few other actors can give. The other gross misunderstanding about this film is the assumption that it’s even about the aliens. At the core of this film is Gibson’s character’s struggle with his fractured faith in God. I don’t want to give too much away to anyone who hasn’t seen this film yet (revealing the ending of an M. Night Shyamalan film is a mortal sin), but the message of this film is, as unlikely as it sounds, about the providence of God, and it delivers this message in a powerful way.
4. Unbreakable (2000): Two in a row for Mr. Shyamalan. He’s made a couple of highly praiseworthy films, and for me Unbreakable stands out as my personal favorite. This film is very finely crafted. The color, the camera pans, the ambient sounds, the lighting, the score, everything comes together to create an almost palpable mood in this film. The acting is also phenomenal. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson are both generally cast in ‘action’ roles, yet both are undoubtedly superb dramatic actors whose talents shine in Unbreakable. This is, in my opinion, Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance. I also appreciate the message of the film: everyone was meant to do something, and it almost hurts to not be doing that thing. To quote Samuel L. Jackson’s character, “Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here.” While in the guise of the story of a real life superhero, this film is about finding just that purpose.
3. Hot Fuzz (2007): Like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz is a rare film. It’s an absolutely hilarious ‘buddy-cop’ comedy, and yet it’s filmed and edited as well as, if not better than, ninety percent of the serious cinematic films that have been released this decade. The humor is primarily absurd and over-the-top, and yet the plot will keep you guessing and excited to see what happens next. It’s a parody of action movies and pokes fun at all the tropes of the genre, and yet it is at the same time itself a very successful action movie. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are brilliant and handle each aspect of the film expertly. The laughs in Hot Fuzz aren’t cheap; it’s a well crafted, well acted, and well written film, and it’s a shame that most comedies don’t even consider trying to meet the cinematic quality exhibited in this film.
2. Little Miss Sunshine (2006): I first saw Little Miss Sunshine while on a plane, and I was so impressed by the quality of this film that I watched it again on the flight back. Little Miss Sunshine is a comedy, albeit a black comedy, that has a very interesting message to it. On one level it’s about failure. Each of the main characters fail at something that supposedly defines who they are as a person. Yet through the events of the film each of them finds their place and finds themselves. And each are redeemed through acts of unconditional love toward each other. The film doesn’t make everything ‘magically’ work out in the end, nor does it gloss over their problems, and the moral is all the more relevant because of it. While watching this film you might both love and hate these characters, but they’re more human because of that. Pay attention to how each character redeems, and redefines, his or herself through the community and camaraderie of their family. Little Miss Sunshine is really about self-identity and the touchstone by which you define yourself. The message of the film is not to define yourself by your failures, but rather by the people closest to you, the people in your life who love you unconditionally. Add excellent acting by every primary cast member, beautiful visuals and stunning cinematography, and a soundtrack featuring Sufjan Stevens and DeVotchKa, and you have my second favorite film of the decade.
1. The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003): This is no contest. The sequential release of the three Lord of the Rings films was the greatest cinematic event of the last decade. These films excel on so many levels that I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that all loyalties to J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels aside and all geeky fanboy glee aside as well, these films stand side by side with all the other greats of cinema history. Peter Jackson handled the source material for these films with respect and his directing brought out both the epic quality of The Lord of the Rings as well and the intensely personal struggles of the individual characters. The amount of work that went into the details of the special and visual effects is staggering. And the acting, particularly by Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, and Andy Serkis, is phenomenal; you feel that you really know and understand and even feel for their characters. I think this gets at the real strength of the films, which is that in the midst of this elaborate fantasy setting and this epic struggle between good and evil itself, are very real people. There are a lot of themes that these three films touch on, such as friendship, love, loyalty, and maturity, but I believe that the main theme of these films is finding courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. Gandalf expresses just this when in the mines of Moria he says to Frodo, “All you must do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you.” If you live in an age when evil runs rampant then you must find the courage to defy it. If you haven’t seen each of the Lord of the Rings films yet then start watching them tonight. And if you haven’t seen the extended editions find someone who owns them and become their friend. And if you’ve already seen the extended editions, I bet it’s about time to watch them again.