USCCB News Release
January 30, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
'Life of Bees,' 'The Visitor,' 'Wall-E' Make USCCB Office for Film, Broadcasting
Top Ten List
WASHINGTON—The Secret Life of Bees, The Visitorand Wall-E stand among 2008 movies on the top ten list of the Office for Film and Broadcasting (OFB) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Top family films include Bolt, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The OFB reviews mainstream movies from a Catholic perspective and classifies them based on overriding spiritual and moral values, presentation of ethical choices and artistry.
The alphabetical list of winners, and their OFB classification and rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) follow.
The Top Ten list of family-friendly fare follows the primary list.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button": Director David Fincher's expansion of F. Scott Fitzgerald's tale of a man born old who ages backward, has fine acting by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and presents an often profound view on the transience of human life. (A-III, PG-13)
"The Express": An inspiring fact-based sports drama amidst the civil rights movement as a hard-driving coach (Dennis Quaid) hones the skills of a gifted African-American football player. Director Gary Fleder shows how faith shapes a player's values. (A-III, PG)
"Flash of Genius": Greg Kinnear plays the real-life inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper who sued Ford Motor Co. over infringement of his patent. The story of aman standing up for his rights is irresistible and the film beautifully underscores family and human dignity. (A-II, PG-13)
"Happy-Go-Lucky": A likable, nearly plotless comedy from Mike Leigh, about a persistently good-natured grade schoolteacher (Sally Hawkins) with unshakable optimism and deep compassion for others. (A-III, R)
"Henry Poole Is Here": A moving fable of a depressed loner (Luke Wilson) whose life changes when his kind neighbors discern an image of Christ's face on his stucco wall. Director Mark Pellington sustains a delicate mood, and Wilson's path to redemption is believable. (A-II, PG)
"The Secret Life of Bees": A beautiful adaptation of the novel about a spiritual beekeeper (Queen Latifah) who takes in a young runaway (Dakota Fanning). Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood elicits fine acting in the tale of forgiveness and reconciliation. (A-III, PG-13)
"Slumdog Millionaire": A vibrant drama wherein a Mumbai street kid (Dev Patel), accused of cheating on a quiz show, tells police his incredible life story. Director Danny Boyle's panorama is harrowing yet stresses the dignity of the poor and primacy of spiritual values. (A-III, R)
"Son of Rambow": A touching chronicle about the unlikely friendship between a reserved schoolboy and a rambunctious fellow student collaborating on a home-made sequel to "Rambo." Writer-director Garth Jennings' warm, humor film affirms faith and friendship. (A-III, PG-13)
"The Visitor": A sensitive drama in which a repressed professor (Richard Jenkins) discovers two undocumented aliens unwittingly squatting in his vacant apartment. Writer-director Tom McCarthy's film makes a political point with insight, humor and compassion. (A-III, PG-13)
"Wall-E": A deeply touching animated futuristic fable about a soulful-eyed robot. Director Andrew Stanton mixes sharp humor, honest sentiment and potent romance with a timely environmental warning. (A-I, G)
Top Ten Family Films (also in alphabetical order):
"Bolt": Disney's cute animated tale about the canine star of a TV show (voice of John Travolta) who learns to cope with the real world. Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard's adventure sees its hero learn to trust himself and discover the value of friendship and teamwork. (A-I, PG)
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian": The second film in C.S. Lewis's series has the children returning to Narnia to help the title character (Ben Barnes) stage a revolt. Director and co-writer Andrew Adamson's faithful adaptation makes robust entertainment. (A-II, PG)
"City of Ember": A futuristic tale about an underground city and a brave girl finding the secret way out. With a clever production design, and a cast that includes Bill Murray, director Gil Kenan's film imparts values and makes entertainment for all but the youngest viewers. (A-I, PG)
"Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who": An enchanting animated adaptation of the classic book about a warmhearted elephant - voice of Jim Carrey -- who finds that a speck of dust is home to the microscopic town of Who-ville. The film, co-directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, promotes excellent values. (A-I, G)
"High School Musical 3: Senior Year": A breezy musical romance in which a basketball star (Zac Efron) and his brainy girlfriend rehearse a show based on their own lives. Director Kenny Ortega's big screen sequel to the made-for-TV films urges viewers to resist stereotypes. (A-I, G)
"Kit Kittredge: An American Girl": The charming chronicle of a 10-year-old aspiring reporter (Abigail Breslin) and her life during the Depression. Director Patricia Rozema's adaptation of the titular children's stories fosters persistence and condemns wrongful preconceptions. (A-I, G)
"Kung Fu Panda": A delightful fable about an out-of-shape bear (voice of Jack Black) who must transform himself to combat a villain. Co-directors John Stevenson and Mark Osborne's film, both amusing and spectacular, promotes determination and self-confidence. (A-I, PG)
"Marley & Me": The true story of a couple (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) who adopt an unruly Labrador. Director David Frankel's adaptation of John Grogan's best-seller affirms marriage and parenthood, but a bittersweet ending makes it best for teens and older. (A-II, PG)
"Nim's Island": A winning yarn set on an island where a young girl (Abigail Breslin) e-mails an adventurer for help when her dad doesn't return from an expedition. Directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett deftly combine humorous, sentimental, fantastical aspects. (A-I, PG)
"The Tale of Despereaux": A charming tale of a chivalrous mouse (voice of Matthew Broderick) banished to a rat-filled tunnel. Co-directors Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen's adaptation of the novel is innocent and idealistic and reveals its hero's sense of honor and forgiveness. (A-I, G)
And in the "honorable mention" category,
"Boy A" (A-III, R)
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (A-II, PG-13)
"The Counterfeiters" (A-III, R)
"Frost/Nixon" (A-III, R)
"Frozen River" (A-III, R)
"Last Chance Harvey" (A-III, PG-13)
"The Longshots" (A-II, PG)
"Miracle at St. Anna" (A-III, R)
"Under the Same Moon" (A-III, PG-13)