NEW YORK (January 23, 2006) - The Chronicles of Narnia, based on the C.S. Lewis classic, and Crash, a searing study of racial prejudice, stand among the top 10 films of 2005 hailed by the U.S. Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting.
The Office also listed top 10 family films of 2005.
"There were some wonderful movies this year that presented a strong and clear moral vision even as some dealt with adult themes," said Harry Forbes, director of the Film and Broadcasting Office. "While much on theater screens is reprehensible, it is important to acknowledge those outstanding pictures from Hollywood and abroad that not only exhibit high artistic merit, but also reflect gospel values."
Below are the films in alphabetical order with the classification from the Film and Broadcasting Office and their rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America):
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, captivating live-action fantasy adventure based on C.S. Lewis' beloved children's classic set in World War II-era England about four siblings' adventures in the enchanted realm of Narnia. Seeded with Christian symbolism and subtext, the beautifully told and faithful adaptation explores themes of good and evil. A-II (PG)
Cinderella Man, moving true-life story of Depression-era boxer Jimmy Braddock who - after several years out of the ring - took up fighting again to support his loving wife and their three young children, making a miracle comeback. The human story of Jimmy's devotion to his family is paramount. A-III (PG-13)
Crash, powerful drama with a strong moral center about a disparate, racially mixed group of Los Angeles residents whose lives intersect in unlikely and redemptive ways. A transcendently moving essay on the benevolence that may lie beneath racial intolerance, and the interconnectedness of human beings, showing how good and bad can coexist in all of us, and how the former generally prevails. L (R)
Dear Frankie, heartwarming film set in Scotland about a loving single mother who pretends to her 9-year-old deaf son Frankie that his father - who m the boy has never seen -simply away at sea, and forges letters purporting to be from the absent father, then pays a stranger to pose as the father for a day. A beautifully written story that is immensely appealing, sensitively acted, and sure to bring a lump to the throat. A-III (PG-13)
The Greatest Game Ever Played, absorbing and inspiring true-life story of a young amateur working-class golfer, Francis Ouimet, who played against British golf champion Harry Vardon in the 1913 U.S. Open. The themes of class conflict, overcoming the odds, loyalty, and good sportsmanship are vividly drawn. A-I (PG)
Millions, disarming fable about 7-year-old enthralled by the lives of the saints, who finds a stash of stolen money and, believing it is from God, tries to do good with it by giving it to the poor. There are delightful vignettes in which the young hero talks with various saints, and the modest film touches on themes of the corrupting influence of money, and humanity's basic decency. A-II (PG)
The Ninth Day, quietly arresting drama about an interned Catholic priest who is given nine days to convince the staunchly anti-Nazi bishop to sign a letter supporting Hitler. Based on the prison diaries of Father Jean Bernard, the film is an emotionally forceful and morally complex meditation on faith, redemption and the cost of true discipleship. A-III (Not Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.)
North Country, compelling drama set in northern Minnesota about a struggling single mother who takes a job at a local mine, encountering hostility and abuse from the predominantly male ranks, eventually filing a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against the mining company. Touching on issues of gender discrimination, justice, family, community and human dignity, the film's highlight is a tender scene with strong pro-life undertones. L (R)
An Unfinished Life, absorbing story of an embittered Wyoming rancher who takes care of a ranch hand badly mauled by a bear, and gives shelter to his son's widow and the 11-year-old granddaughter he never knew he had, when the woman flees her abusive boyfriend. The film vividly conveys an admirable message about forgiveness and letting go of the past. A-III (PG-13)
The Upside of Anger, profoundly moving comedy-drama set in a Detroit suburb about an embittered wife deserted by her husband who finds healing with a burned-out DJ who becomes a surrogate father to her four daughters. A sharply observant spin on the nature of anger, which intercuts the story with clips of hatred's ramifications on a global scale, and imparts a strong moral about the destructive nature of misplaced animosity. L (R)
The Film and Broadcasting office also praised "Cache" A-III (R); "The Constant Gardener" A-III (R); "Daltry Calhoun" A-III (PG-13); "Good Night, and Good Luck." A-II (PG); "The History of Violence" L (R); "Innocent Voices" A-III (R); "Keane" L (R); "Look at Me" A-III (PG-13); "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" A-III (nr); "Nine Lives" L (R); "Paradise Now" A-III (PG-13); "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" A-II (PG-13); "Proof" A-III (PG-13); "Rory O'Shea Was Here" A-III (R); "Saint Ralph" A-III (PG-13); "Turtles Can Fly" L (nr); "Up and Down" A-III (R); "Walk the Line" A-III (PG-13); and "The White Countess" A-III (PG-13).
The top ten family films are listed below.
Because of Winn Dixie, a gentle and disarming story about a Baptist preacher and his young daughter, who move to a small Florida town, and - with the help of a stray dog - change the lonely lives of several of the town's misfits. A-I (PG)
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, heart-tugging crowd-pleaser set in rural Kentucky about a dispirited racehorse trainer, his young daughter and his estranged father, who nurse an injured thoroughbred back to championship form and in the process mend their own broken relationships through the healing power of love. A-I (PG)
Duma, first-rate coming-of-age adventure set in Africa about a headstrong young boy who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when he resolves to trek across hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain in order return his pet cheetah -- which he raised since it was an orphaned cub -- to its rightful home in the wild. A-II (PG)
Howl's Moving Castle, marvelously imaginative and deeply moral Japanese animated fable about a young girl transformed into an old lady by a witch's curse who becomes the housekeeper to a handsome, but reclusive, wizard who lives in a dilapidated fortress that moves around on mechanical legs. A-II (PG)
Little Manhattan, warm and winning romantic comedy set in New York City about a 10-year-old who thinks that girls are "icky" until he falls for an apple-cheeked cutie and finds himself adrift in a befuddling sea of newfound emotions as he sweetly experiences the agony, ecstasy and magic of first love. A-II (PG)
March of the Penguins, exceptional nature documentary which details the annual mating migrations of emperor penguins in Antarctica, during which they endure treacherous treks across inhospitable terrain, facing sub-zero temperatures and starvation to insure the survival of their species. A-I (G)
Oliver Twist, director Roman Polanski's handsome version of Charles Dickens' timeless classic about an orphan boy's misfortunes among a gang of thieves in 19th century London. A-II (PG-13)
Pride & Prejudice, fine retelling of Jane Austen's evergreen romance concerning five unmarried sisters whose mother is strenuously determined to marry off in class-conscious 18th-century England. A-I (PG)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, whimsical clay-animated adventure about a cheese-loving inventor and his faithful pooch, who are hired by a batty blueblood to catch a monstrous rabbit terrorizing neighborhood gardens on the eve of the town's annual vegetable competition. A-I (G)
Zathura: A Space Adventure, fancifully entertaining and visually dazzling adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's children's book about two bickering brothers who play a magical board game that transports their suburban home into outer space, where they learn tender lessons about family and forgiveness. A-II (PG)
Also cited for quality are "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" A-II (PG); "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" A-I (PG); and "Madison" A-II (PG).
A full review of each film can be found at www.usccb.org/movies
Since 1965, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting has compiled an annual list honoring the top 10 films. Beginning in 2005, the OFB has also issued a supplementary roster of best family films. Throughout the year, the office reviews all mainstream movies as well as many smaller, independent, and foreign films, along with television series and specials and new DVD releases, assessing all of them for their moral content as well as artistic merit.
USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classifications, A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III - adults; L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. MPAA ratings: G -- general audiences. All ages admitted; PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.