Every December we announce our choices of the Most Spiritually Literate Films of the Year. In the excitement of the end-of-year releases, many critics overlook the films released in the first half of the year. Yet the "off-season" yields some surprising and inspiring movies. So we are giving you a preview of our best films lists at mid-year.

First Reformed
Directed by Paul Schrader
A slow movie classic which explores a rainbow mix of religious and spiritual themes.

Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf
Directed by Thomas Piper
An enchanting tour led by the world's most famous garden designer and avid plant lover.

The Heart of Nuba
Directed by Kenneth A. Carlson
An inspiring and enlightening portrait of a Catholic doctor in Africa serving over a million people every year

Lean on Pete
Directed by Andrew Haigh
A sobering portrait of a boy on his own that reveals the universal yearning for home.

Leave No Trace
Directed by Debra Granik
A thoughtful story about a father and daughter who discover that kindness is good medicine.

Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story
Directed by Ashley Bell
An extraordinary documentary focusing on two women committed to helping abused elephants.

Pope Francis — A Man of His Word
Directed by Wim Wenders
An inspiring profile of the Catholic Pope who truly walks his talk about love,
mercy, and service.

Puzzle
Directed by Marc Turtletaub
A lovely film about friendship and the challenges of middle age.

The Rider
Directed by Chloe Zhao
A deeply spiritual film about a Native American's experiences of loss, caregiving, and starting over.

Tully
Directed by Jason Reitman
An engaging dramedy about an aspiring supermom who discovers the importance of self-care and the value of the sameness of everyday life.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Directed by Morgan Neville
An inspiring portrait that reveals how Mister Rogers showed children that they are loved and capable of loving.