Films or movies as forms of communication and/or storytelling occupy an important place in contemporary culture. They are the fruit of the dialogue between faith and culture. We see in their stories, characters, and ideas either a love for the faith, an interest in aspects of faith, or even a rejection of faith. Dr. Holly Ordway, with the help of C.S. Lewis, notes how stories form our imagination and our imagination is always involved in our faith and our pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful. The Church teaching at Vatican II through Inter Mirifica not only calls for supporting good films but even sees film as contributing to the Church’s mission.
In unison with Vatican II and to assist with the evangelization of the imagination, the Evangelium Institute instructors want to share with you our movie recommendations for you and your family. We hope you will consider sharing with us some of your favorites as well.
Deacon Omar Gutiérrez
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Quite apart from Wes Anderson's singular style, my whole family has enjoyed this moral tale about a Mr. Fox and his many vices. My little kids love the animation, the art, the music, and the humor. My teens enjoyed the depiction of the teenage characters. I enjoy the moral lessons about the dangers of greed and the importance of family.
Babette’s Feast (1987): This is a foreign film, so subtitles are involved, but if you have any teens who are interested in art and the role of art in culture and faith, then this is hands down one of the greatest movies ever made. It is also one of the original "food movies." Good for pre-teens and up.
Twelve Angry Men (1957): This classic film is a case study in human psychology, and it can spur a great many conversations between parents, teens, and even pre-teens about civic responsibility, justice, prejudice, charity, and much more. Mine enjoyed it a great deal.
Dr. Keith Jiron
Blue Miracle (2021): This Netflix film, starring actors like Dennis Quaid, focuses on a group of kids working to win a fishing competition to save their orphanage damaged during a storm. It is based on the true story of an orphanage in Cabo San Lucas. It has a small faith element and is a good wholesome show.
The Perfect Game (2009): Rated PG for thematic elements, this is based on the true story about a group of boys from Mexico that defied expectations and won the Little League World Series. This film does a good job presenting a faith element and is okay for children.
The Star (2017): While the talking animals are not based on the true story of Jesus' birth, this is a fun animated film for the whole family during the Christmas season or any other time of the year. The Catholic director sought to bring fun, joy, and orthodoxy into this film with many well-known actors. It is very well done.
Deacon Peter Kennedy
Swiss Family Robinson (1960): This is one of my favorites from my childhood. On a whim, I recently forced my family (against their will) to watch this film on family movie night. was shocked that my wife had never seen it. In the end, they all thanked me for the experience. The film is filled with history, nature, adventure, and several whimsical moments.
The Sound of Music (1965): I have a penchant for older films. I consider this film a must see for every human being. While it may appeal more to the ladies in your life, I found that my boys do not mind watching it either. The elements of family life and dealing with growing up and interfamilial conflict all with the backdrop of impending war, add an element of excitement to this beautiful and chaste romantic classic.
The Wizard of Oz (1939): There is a reason that none of the remakes of this movie have ever had any staying power. The classic is simply a classic. Set in the backdrop of rural Kansas, this is a great film to rewatch when the world gets you down. It is a throwback to a simpler time that helps us appreciate the things sitting right in front of us: family, friends, and furry little dogs. Younger children may need a bit of prompting to get through the black and white intro, but once the color takes hold they always seem to dive right into the story.
Dr. Brandon Harvey
Mom’s Night Out (2014): In an age when comedy seems dead, this PG film is great for the family. It is about a group of moms going out for a girl's night and everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. My kids have been quoting it for years. The movie also touches on various faith topics.
A Man for All Seasons (either the 1966 or 1988 version): This is a more explicitly religious story. It depicts Saint Thomas More’s decision not to abandon the Catholic Church or her teachings on marriage, even if his apparent loyalty to the king and More's life are on the line.
Risen (2016): This is one of my favorite biblical movies, although I do like a lot of them, because it considers how a gentile might have struggled with understanding Jesus as dead one moment and then seeing him risen from the dead. All the main character, played by Joseph Fiennes, knows is that he will never be the same. I have always thought Paul, the Apostle (2018) seemed like a sequel to Risen.