Tweaked from last year. I'm never as interested in "Jesus" movies as I am in mainstream films with food for thought about sin, reparation, and redemption.
These movies run the gamut so if you haven't heard of them be sure to check reviews for ratings. There are some excellent ones that use bad language and violence to make their point. For that matter, The Passion of the Christ was not for wimps. Just as Jesus' real story wasn't.
Links go to my reviews. A number of these have been discussed by Scott Danielson and me on our A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Those links follow the descriptions.
- Ushpizin ... a tale of love and living your faith to the fullest. As well as a template for how marriage should work. Simply charming. [Good Story episode 66]
- Departures ... by turns funny, moving, and inspirational. Each character, no matter how small, is important in the big story which is something like an orchestra playing a symphony in this story.
- In Bruges ... for me, this is the perfect Lenten movie. Redemption, sacrifice, humanity in it's worst and best are all mingled and shown here. [Good Story episode 29]
- The Intouchables ... Wealthy quadriplegic Philippe needs an assistant to help him with all the functions of daily life. He hires immigrant, ex-con Driss because the regular applicants are missing one important quality and the lives of both men are changed. Sounds predictable. Isn't. [Good Story episode 146]
- The Overnighters ... This documentary focuses on Pastor Jay Reinke's ministry to homeless men who have flocked to the North Dakota oil fields for work. His ministry, the congregation's reaction, and the town's response lead us into challenging, thought provoking waters.
- Gone Baby Gone ... A private investigator and his partner agree to search for a kidnapped girl because he has connections to the locals that the police do not. This can be tough to watch but you won't find a stronger examination of free will, the difference choices make in our lives, and personal responsibility in the face of evil. [Good Story episode 126]
- Stranger Than Fiction ... I'm continually amazed at how well this story is told and what a wallop it packs. Redemptive and life affirming. [Good Story episode 8]
- Of Gods and Men ... a group of Trappist monks in Algeria must choose between the practical choice to abandon their monastery when extremist Muslims terrorize the area ... or following spiritual calling even when there doesn't seem to be any reason to do so. [Good Story episode 58]
- Les Miserables (2012) ... as Scott Danielson said, "This film makes me want to be a better person. Could there be higher praise for a movie? [Good Story episode 117]
- The Women's Balcony ... Friendships are broken, marriages are stressed, and budding romances are tested as the moderate-extreme, male-female lines are drawn in this battle over something very dear to the hearts of all: how to practice their faith. However, it is all handled lightly and with good-natured humor. [Good Story episode 175]
- Lars and the Real Girl ... this sweet film shows unconditional love and complete acceptance, in the family, in the town, and in the most unusual love triangle you can imagine. [Good Story episode 27]
- Babette's Feast ... huge underlying message about God's unexpected and overflowing generosity and Jesus' complete self-sacrifice ... all wrapped up in a woman who gives all her lottery winnings to cook a perfect meal for a village.
- Mary & Max ... a rich story for those who are not afraid to explore the heights and depths that imperfection humanity bring to our lives and the lives of those we touch. [Good Story episode 43]
- Calvary - Not for the faint-of-heart. But simply astounding. A real masterpiece that provides food for thought for everyone from Catholics to atheists. [Good Story episode 101]
- Pan's Labyrinth ... as Joi reminded me in years past, "the imagery is amazing, the language beautiful, and the story mythic, AND it honors self-sacrifice as the truest expression of love. [It shows] the road to virtue is not easy, and it's about doing what's right, even if you don't always know why, and even when it hurts. [Good Story episode 70]
- Looper - An interesting time travel concept that avoided going expected directions. It is about much bigger themes than one would think and the way those are connected leave one with much food for thought, especially appropriate for Lent.
- Groundhog Day - A classic that delves much more deeply than one would expect into what it takes to really die to oneself and come alive. [Good Story episode 14]
- Inception - perhaps the perfect heist movie doubling as a thriller, as well as being a wonderful look at truth and love. [Good Story episode 16]