By Matt P.
In honor of Oscar season, I’m providing top ten lists inspired by the eight movies nominated for best picture this year. Selma is the inspiration for my list of Top Ten Leaders for Change in Movies. Ava DuVernay’s Selma retells the incredible story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s time in a small Alabama town ruled by a racist sheriff, protected by a racist Governor. I know imagining a better leader for change is impossible, so here’s a fun list of ten that try to come close. Some characters are based on real life humans, others are just tight fictional people.
10. Clyde Shelton, Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
I’m still uncertain as to whether Clyde was a good guy or a bad guy. What I do know is that he was really trying to change shit. Apparently, the last thing you want to do on this earth is piss off a military weapons spy killer specialist. Jamie Foxx and a butt load of dead guys had to learn that the hard way. Like him or not, Clyde did expose some gaping holes and recurring issues in today’s American justice system. Thanks?
9. V, V for Vendetta (2005)
Americans aren’t the only ones with a screwed up political system. In England’s defense, this movie does take place in a futuristic society. Sign of things to come in the UK? I don’t know, I’m from ‘Merica. That’s not important! V is important. V is a radical fighter for the rights of the common man, and when I say “fighter”, I mean ass kicking mother fucker. You would think that mask and his horrible injuries it conceals would affect his peripherals, but I guess not. V leads an army that starts as one and eventually grows exponentially in this politically charged drama.
8. Danny O’Shea, Little Giants (1994)
Remember the Icebox!? And Spike? How about super dad, Danny O’Shea? Being a great leader sometimes requires overcoming the greatest of odds. That is exactly what Danny O’Shea does when he gathers all of the sorry young souls who were cut from the town’s peewee football team (American Football) and coaches the hell out of them! Against his older brother of all people! High stakes drama at its best.
7. Ren McCormack, Footloose (1984)
Telling Ren McCormack he can’t dance is like telling Jesus he can’t pray. Poor Ren, uprooted from his sweet clubbing life in Chicago and placed in a small Texas town where they’ve outlawed dancing and rock music! That’s insane! Imagine how shitty this movie would’ve been if Ren just bent over and accepted that bullshit. He fights. He wins. It was strange that Ren’s school was full of professional dancers considering they grew up in a town where dancing was illegal.
6. Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Glory (1989)
Glory tells the story of the first all-black Union Army company. Ferris Bueller plays Robert Gould Shaw, leader of a large group of unfortunate black men living during the time of slavery in America. Really, this honor should go to the entire unit and not just Shaw. This company not only helped shape the outcome of the American Civil War but they also changed the United States’ military forever. In Glory you can also see a young Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman somehow looking just as old as he is now.
5. Erin Brockovich, Erin Brockovich (2000)
Erin Brockovich sure sparked a positive change in me… a boner. This hardworking single mom with a tits of gold went up against the toughest of competition, corporate America. Erin leads a small impoverished town against a massive California power supply company that knowingly polluted the town’s water. She wins, yippee. More importantly, this movie proves that lawyers are useless and bewbs rule.
4. William Wallace, Braveheart (1995)
Leaders for change can come from the most unlikely of places. In Braveheart the leader for change comes from a place of complete fantasy because it’s been regarded as one of the most historically inaccurate movies of all time. Big deal! He is still an amazing leader with cool face paint. Everyone knows William Wallace’s story of pain, revolt, and ultimate demise. It must be a coincidence that most of the people of my list so far have met untimely deaths. Next, Gibson did The Patriot which proved his love of historically inaccurate movies.
3. Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
America, love it or leave it! Ron Kovic loved saying that phrase. After a nightmare tour in Vietnam, an extended stay in a veteran’s hospital, and several eye opening experiences at home, he finally changed his tune. Born on the Fourth of July tells the epic tale of a true American hero as he morphed from the Army’s idea of a wet dream into a leader for all veterans who were swept aside after returning home from Vietnam. The sad reality is that war doesn’t always end when a soldier returns. Think Jerry Maguire in a wheelchair.
2. Harvey Milk, Milk (2008)
Sometimes it’s staggering how long it takes for certain true stories to be told on the big screen. Selma and Milk are perfect examples of that. Not only do you get the story of the first openly gay politician, but you see the city of San Francisco going through a fascinating cultural revolution. Again, things don’t tend to end so well for these leaders. Oh man, when you hear about the sentencing of Josh Brolin you’ll wish Clyde Shelton was related to Harvey Milk. Think gay Spicoli.
1. Batman, The Dark Knight (2008)
My list means that I get to put the world’s greatest detective and comic book character as my number one. I also get to choose which Batman (Chris Nolan’s). Anyone who thinks that The Dark Knight isn’t the greatest comic book movie ever made is a dumbass. He will never give up and will always fights for what is just. Batman will protect the city of Gotham at all costs even though it’s clearly a really crappy city. His parents are dead so he doesn’t have anything else to do. Plus, he expects no recognition. He’s the ultimate leader. This movie gets the audience to accept the idea that one man can somehow turn the cell phone signals of an entire city into some sort of mapping system over night. I bought it! Bravo Nolan.
There you have it, the Top Ten Leaders for Change in Movies. Disagree with some of my picks? Feel free to leave comments. Want to give me god-like praise? Feel even freer to leave comments.
Matt P. is a podcaster, improviser, and film lover. He resides in Chicago, Illinois and by day he works as an accountant dreaming of a better life. By night, he co-hosts the Matt & Andrew Vs Society Podcast. Find it on iTunes. Matt has also studied improvisation and comedy writing at The Second City and Improv Olympics in Chicago.
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