21. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
directed by Terry Jones
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (officially helmed by Terry Jones) is an ambitious, problematic, and hilarious deconstruction of the Christian creation myth. The high-wire act is staggering: here’s a film that goes out of its way to respect traditional notions of Jesus-as-actual-religious-figure while simultaneously satirizing—and not gently—the mindset that allows an idea like the messianic “Jesus” to flourish in popular imagination in the first place. But why puzzle out the film’s complicated belief system when you can simply marvel at the sheer tonnage of its comedic set pieces? From “Biggus Dickus” to “Blessed Are The Cheesemakers,” Brian is a hugely joke-dense piece of writing that, while arguably not as quotable as The Holy Grail, is far more thematically and narratively consistent. In other words: a real movie. And for that, praise Jesus.