The Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2002
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Life is a sacred adventure a journey during which we are challenged to watch for signs of the active presence of God in our everyday experiences. Can movies help us see the world as infused with significance? We think so, especially films that tell stories about people expressing compassion, hope, and love; using their imaginations; working for justice and peace; being transformed; confronting the shadow; coming to know their true selves; and following through on their deepest yearnings. We’ve seen all that and more at the movies this year.
The Ten Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2002
Sunshine State (Sony Pictures Classics) calls us to deepen and nourish our connections to family, community, and the place that serves as our little corner of the universe.
Signs (Touchstone) is a spiritual shiver story about the meaning of coincidences, family solidarity in the face of the inexplicable, and how destiny unfolds in every moment.
Dragonfly (Universal) is a poignant drama that beautifully conveys how the great gifts hidden in the death of a loved one can bear fruit when we have the patience and faith to let them unfold.
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (Sony Pictures Classics) is a soul-stirring drama exploring the obstacles to happiness faced by five people in contemporary New York City.
Minority Report (20th Century Fox) is an audacious and imaginative sci-fi thriller that shows us the dangerous consequences of our fear-based way of living where we are willing to sacrifice our freedoms for the pipe dream of safety and security.
Changing Lanes (Paramount) is an ethically charged, character-driven drama about how troubles can be the catalyst to personal transformation.
The Hours (Paramount) is a mesmerizing and multidimensional drama based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about three women's yearning and their varied paths to passion, meaning, and happiness.
About Schmidt (New Line) is an American masterpiece about a 66-year-old retiree's quest to pick up the pieces of his disappointing life and to discover new sources of love and meaning.
Spirited Away (Buena Vista) is an animated feature that is nothing short of wonderful with its ten-year-old girl protagonist and its steadfast refusal to set up a dualistic battle between good and evil.
The Quiet American (Miramax) is a timely and formidable screen adaptation of a Graham Greene novel about the terrible aftershocks of a zealous young American's idealism and subterfuge in Saigon in 1952.
The Ten Most Spiritually Literate
Foreign Language Films of 2002
Talk to Her (Sony Pictures Classics) is a Spanish drama about two men who have the gift of tears and the patience to explore their different experiences of love and compassion.
A Song for Martin (First Look) is a heart-affecting Swedish drama about a married couple's adventures in love late in their lives.
The Way Home (Paramount Classics) is a wonderful Korean film on the miracles that can be wrought by the expression of unconditional love.
Secret Ballot (Sony Pictures Classics) is a playful Iranian parable about freedom and the need for openness wherever people are experimenting with freedom.
The Fast Runner (Lot 47)) is an Inuit masterpiece about communal discord, love, and the pursuit of justice.
Mostly Martha (Paramount Classics) is an original German drama about the slow and steady transformation of a talented but lonely chef.
Son of the Bride (Sony Pictures Classics) is a tender Argentinean film about a middle-aged man's personal transformation, thanks largely to the example of his very romantic parents.
Elling (First Look) is a Norwegian film that celebrates an unusual friendship and the ways two eccentrics come into their own.
Time Out (ThinkFilm) is a well-done French drama about the shattering debilitations of unemployment and the resiliency needed to survive while adrift in the world.
Monsoon Wedding (Universal) is an Indian cross-cultural comedy of manners about the joy, sadness, fear, envy, and resentment that often surface at weddings.
The Ten Most Spiritually Literate
Documentaries of 2002
ABC Africa (New Yorker) is a heart-wrenching documentary about efforts being made in Uganda to look after 1.6 million orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.
Ram Dass Fierce Grace (Lemle Pictures) is an illuminating documentary about the life and work of this visionary New Age author and teacher.
Promises (Cowboy Pictures) is a positive-thinking documentary about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as revealed through the voices of children who remain open to each other even in a milieu where hatred reigns supreme.
Nijinsky: The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (Wellspring) is a bold and well-realized profile of a defiant ballet dancer and artist slowly sinking into madness.
The Back of the World (UIP) is a highly ethical documentary about three individuals whose lives have been marred by economical, political, and social injustices.
Naqoyqatsi (Miramax) is a bold and irreverent non-narrative film that speaks its truths with spellbinding images and the entrancing music of Philip Glass.
Ayurveda: The Art of Being (Kino) is a fascinating documentary that provides a rounded and revealing overview of this ancient holistic healing system.
Daughter from Danang (Balcony Releasing) is a brutally honest documentary about a much anticipated family reunion that goes sour thanks to culture shock and a refusal to empathize with others.
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (First Run) is an enlightening documentary in which this 74 year-old MIT linguist and political philosopher speaks out against all forms of violence.
Bowling for Columbine (United Artists) is a kick-out-the-jams and no-holds barred examination of America's obsession with guns that concludes it's all about fear.
Ten More Spiritually Literate Films
Green Dragon (Franchise Pictures) is an inspiring film about Vietnamese refugees living in U.S. relocation camps in 1975 who are desperately trying to keep their hopes alive.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (ThinkFilm) is a tour de force drama about the astonishingly pivotal role of imagination in the soulful development of two rowdy teenagers.
Catch Me If You Can (DreamWorks) depicts how two arch-enemies, a youthful master of deception and a dogged FBI agent, become good friends.
Tully (Telltale Films) is a beautifully acted and emotionally rich film set in Nebraska about a young man's initiation into love and the damage done by a long-standing family secret.
Bloody Sunday (Paramount Classics) presents a documentary-like account of the cold-blooded murder by English soldiers of thirteen unarmed and peaceful demonstrators in a nonviolent march in Derry, Ireland, in 1972.
Rabbit-Proof Fence (Miramax) is an Australian spiritual adventure story about three young Aboriginal girls who have been forcibly separated from their mothers and decide to walk 1200 miles across the Australian outback to get back home.
Adaptation (Columbia) is the best movie in many a moon about the passions that sometimes fuel our best achievements and other times leave us stranded with nothing more than our lesser appetites.
Far From Heaven (Focus) is a remarkably alluring film about one suburban woman's yearning in the face of a discovery that shatters her cheery and tranquil life.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (DreamWorks) is a fine family film about a wild stallion who overcomes obstacle after obstacle to maintain his freedom.
Antwone Fisher (Fox Searchlight) salutes a young African American's desire to know and come to terms with his origins, a sacred task strongly recommended by a caring counselor.