This year we have added a new category to our annual film awards: The Five Most Spiritually Literate Animated Films. Some amazing things are happening in this genre, and it is no longer limited to children's fare. Adults will enjoy and be challenged by the themes of this year's animated films. Here are powerful spiritual messages conveyed through the story of a robot who falls in love, the tale of a caring elephant on a mission of mercy, an adventure story about a kind-hearted mouse, a chilling account of a massacre in Lebanon, and a defense of protesters of the Vietnam.
We were impressed with the variety of characters in our Ten Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2008. They model different aspects of a fully realized life: a sister whose troubles are assuaged by the compassion that comes her way, two poor women who realize their connection with life, an enthusiastic woman, a professor whose closed-off heart is opened, a charismatic gay activist, a young girl who experiences the healing power of love, two religious leaders struggling with their faith, an angry old man whose heart is softened, an oddball outsider who gives all he's got, and a vagabond from India whose love remains true.
Many of our choices for The Ten Most Spiritually Literate Foreign Language Films did not open widely in the United States. That is why you should keep up with our weekly batch of DVD reviews so you don't miss seeing them. Some of the themes covered in this crop of excellent films include friendship, grace, hospitality, devotion to God, personal transformation, the Sufi path of the heart, and others.
Each year, it is harder and harder to choose the best documentaries since there are so many top-drawer releases. This year's selections covered such serious topics as the values of community and self-sacrifice, the global war over water, and Church-sanctioned violence against the Jews throughout history. Some of the truly remarkable people profiled include Liberian women nonviolent activists, an African-American topiary artist, prison inmates who meditate, elderly singers who tour as a choir, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, a highwire walker, and a 13-year-old boy with Down Syndrome preparing for his bar mitzvah.
Our look back at the best spiritual films of 2008 includes Ten More Spiritually Literate Films and more characters worth your time and interest: a man who experiences a miracle, a lonely wrestler, an idealistic Jiu-Jitsu teacher, a young woman who plunges into poverty, a woman from Bangladesh living in England, a former President and his interviewer, and a loser whose life is transformed by a simple practice. Rounding out the list are a story about beauty in everyday life, a black comedy about our crazy times, and an old-fashioned adventure story and romance. See our full list of "The Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2008."