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The 2006 CineRose Film Awards
By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Q U I C K S C A N

A BOUQUET OF ROSES
FOUR ROSES
THREE ROSES
SPECIAL MENTION
HEROES
SISTERS OF SELMA: BEARING WITNESS FOR CHANGE
PICTURING MARY
MAY THEY REST IN PEACE
CATHOLIC CLASSIFICATIONS



Several 2006 films continued the previous year’s exploration of the impact of war, globalization, the environment, politics, history and immigration.

I’m writing this column just after Christmas, having seen almost 100 movies in 2006. Some additional films might have made my list if there had been more time to see them (Dreamgirls, Children of Men, Miss Potter, The Good German and Letters from Iwo Jima). I hope to review them in the future.

My criteria for reviewing all films and bestowing a CineRose Award include the following: the degree to which the filmmaker tells the story through the creative use of image and sound; how well the main character grows as a person and member of the human family; the promotion of the gospel values of human dignity, family and community, justice, peace and fair representation of cultures, races, genders, ages, religious faiths and spiritualities, and care for the earth; and the ability to entertain. Not all these films meet every criterion, hence the number of roses.

A BOUQUET OF ROSES

BABEL (L, R): This gritty film could be called the Crash of 2006. Its ensemble cast and butterfly-effect approach explore blocked communication among people.

BLOOD DIAMOND (A-3, R): This factual film highlights how the illegal diamond trade finances revolutions that use children as soldiers, and use killing, maiming and rape as weapons. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fictional soldier after Djimon Hounsou’s pink “blood” diamond is discovered in Sierra Leone. This film is worthy of major awards.

CARS (A-1, G) is my favorite animated film of the year. This tale about a small town populated by autos is a road trip for all ages that headlights what’s really important in life.

END OF THE SPEAR (A-3, PG-13) is based on the true story of Christian preachers who were killed by a homicidal tribe in Ecuador during the 1950s. This stunning film recounts how the wives forgave and lived among the people.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD (A-3, R): This intense account of the creation of the C.I.A. is directed by Robert De Niro. It evokes questions about elitism, Caucasian male patriotism and religion in America. The film deserves serious consideration for awards.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (not rated, PG): My August review of Al Gore’s spiffy lecture on global warming netted the most negative mail I have received since becoming this magazine’s entertainment columnist in 2003. I am going to risk the wrath of our readers again by giving the film top honors: It provoked much awareness, conversation and debate about the environment and our responsibility to care for the earth.

THE NATIVITY STORY (A-1, PG): Director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Mike Rich’s moving, authentic and inspiring cinematic interpretation of the infancy narratives of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke is beautifully crafted.

WATER (A-3, PG-13): This poignant story focuses on Hindu widows in India during the 1930s who must live out their lives in ashrams, never again to marry—no matter how young they are. The film parallels India’s journey to democracy under Gandhi.

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FOUR ROSES

AKEELAH AND THE BEE (A-1, PG): This warmhearted film is about a young African-American girl in South Los Angeles who competes in the National Spelling Bee. It celebrates community, cultural diversity and perseverance.

THE DEPARTED (L, R): Martin Scorsese’s Irish-American violent crime caper elicits compelling performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. This film may garner an Oscar for Scorsese at last.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS (A-3, R): Too few people saw Clint Eastwood’s admirable film about the true image of U.S. servicemen raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima in February 1945. The filmmakers expose how myths and heroes are created and why we need them.

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND (L, R): Forest Whitaker’s powerful performance as the cruel, narcissistic, unstable Ugandan president Idi Amin (1971-1979) should put him in Oscar contention.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (L, R): Shining performances abound as a dysfunctional family journeys to California so the youngest member (Abigail Breslin) can be in a beauty pageant. Though Alan Arkin’s crass persona is off-putting, the film’s truth, beauty and goodness are evident.

A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (A-3, PG-13): The late director Robert Altman’s final film elicits entertaining performances from a stellar cast in the nostalgic style of Garrison Keillor’s radio show.

THE QUEEN (A-2, PG-13): Stephen Frears directed the biography of the year, in which Helen Mirren is flawless as Queen Elizabeth II in the days following Princess Diana’s death.

THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO (not rated, R): This disturbing and courageous docudrama by Michael Winterbottom (codirected by Mat Whitecross) reveals what happened to three British citizens of Pakistani parentage when they were incarcerated as terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in 2001 until they were released, without being charged, in 2004.

STRANGER THAN FICTION (A-3, PG-13): This quirky “dramedy” creates a three-dimensional universe in which an IRS office hack (Will Ferrell) discovers he is living his life the way a novelist (Emma Thompson) writes it.

WORDPLAY (not rated, PG) is my favorite for most enjoyable film of the year. This documentary about an annual crossword-puzzle tournament includes the history of these puzzles in The New York Times.

CHARLOTTE’S WEB (A-1, G): This charming and amusing version of E.B. White’s classic book is filled with the seeds of gospel virtues and values. It’s entertaining for young and old.

GLORY ROAD (A-2, PG): When the African-American Texas Western Miners college basketball team plays the Kentucky Wildcats at the NCAA finals and wins, it changes history. This inspiring story is based on real events.

ROCKY BALBOA (not rated, PG): An aging Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) seeks solace after the loss of his wife and wants to renew his relationship with his son.

WORLD TRADE CENTER (A-2, PG-13): Oliver Stone’s inspiring and cathartic story focuses on two Port Authority police officers who survive the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan.

THE ILLUSIONIST (A-3, PG-13) deserves attention for an original story and riveting performances by Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti; THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (A-2, PG-13) for its clear media-literacy lesson about the image industry; THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (L, R) for its ironic truth about the tobacco industry; GUADALUPE (not rated) for its timely commemoration of the 475th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Mexico City; THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (A-2, PG-13) for giving audiences an experience of how easy it is to become homeless; RV (A-2, PG) for its humor and for showing that people can change for the better; and SUPERMAN RETURNS (A-2, PG-13) for its quality as a sequel, with stunning special effects and offering us once again the image of the superhero as a Christ-figure.

HEROES (NBC, Mondays): Graphic novels are comic books, only longer, with more illustrated narrative. Although I find graphic novels visually challenging to read, they are gaining in popularity. The good ones follow the Comic Book Code (see www.longbox.com/info/cca.asp).

NBC’s newest smash hit is called Heroes, a graphic novel come to life even as it is being designed. The mostly reluctant heroes who hail from diverse cultures include a cheerleader whose wounds heal instantly, a gentle Japanese office worker who can time-travel, an artist who draws the characters and scenarios before they even happen through the help of narcotics while a friend helps him detox. As in the film Spider-Man II, the humans with superhero powers must grow to accept their calling to lay down their lives for others.

Heroes is imagination in high gear with ratings that soar off the charts. The show appeals to young people, and its cultural diversity makes the series salable in many countries.

Parents, pastors and catechists will want to watch Heroes with students to look for seeds of the gospel (love, kindness, integrity, self-sacrifice, etc.) and talk about what’s really going on in one of network television’s hottest new shows.

SISTERS OF SELMA: BEARING WITNESS FOR CHANGE (PBS, check local listings): This documentary investigates Catholic nuns who risked their safety by joining Alabama’s 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting-rights marches. (Read a related article in our March 2007 issue.)

PICTURING MARY (PBS, check local listings) is a companion piece to The Face: Jesus in Art. Produced in association with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and narrated by Jane Seymour, this stunning pilgrimage of artistic images of the Blessed Virgin is available on DVD (Thirteen/WNET: 800-336-1917).

Personalities who died in 2006 include Edward Albert, June Allyson, Robert Altman, Joseph Barbera, James Brown, Peter Benchley, Peter Boyle, Ed Bradley, Red Buttons, Mike Douglas, Glenn Ford, Tony Franciosa, Betty Friedan, Curt Gowdy, Arthur Hill, Barnard Hughes, Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, Bruno Kirby, Don Knotts, Al Lewis, Darren McGavin, Sven Nykvist, Jack Palance, Gordon Parks, Chris Penn, Wilson Pickett, Gene Pitney, June Pointer, Lou Rawls, Dana Reeve, Aaron Spelling, Mickey Spillane, Maureen Stapleton, William Styron, Jack Warden, Wendy Wasserstein, Dennis Weaver, Shelley Winters and Jane Wyatt.

 

A-1 General patronage
A-2 Adults and adolescents
A-3 Adults
L Limited adult audience
O Morally offensive

USCCB Movie Review Line: 1-800-311-4222, www.usccb.org/movies/index.htm

At www.CatholicMovieReviews.org, readers can search Sister Rose's and hundreds of other film reviews.

 


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