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The 2007 CineRose Film Awards
By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.



As usual, many promising new films flood theaters at the end of the year to make the cutoff date for the award season. This makes it impossible to see them all and keep the deadline for this issue.

Some films I hope to review in the near future are The Great Debaters, The Savages, Charlie Wilson’s War, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, P.S. I Love You, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, National Treasure: Book of Secrets and The Bucket List.

My criteria for reviewing all films and bestowing a CineRose Award on some of them once a year include: 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; the artistry and the ability to entertain. Not all the films meet every criterion, hence the number of roses.

There is a 10-way tie for the Bouquet of Roses this year; I couldn’t help myself. Many other films fall into the Four Roses category. The rest of my favorites have been relegated to Honorable Mention just because there isn’t enough space to give them all their just due.


THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (A-3, PG-13) is based on a true story and book about a French journalist who has a stroke at age 43. He cannot move any part of his body except an eyelid. He communicates by blinking, lives through his memories and imagination, and dictates a book about his life within. This masterpiece is by the artist Julian Schnabel. (In French, with English subtitles.)

JUNO (A-3, PG-13): From director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking), this story focuses on Juno, who is 16 and pregnant. On her way to get an abortion, she decides to give the baby up for adoption instead. Her nine-month journey is narrated with intelligent, witty, sharp dialogue, amidst often hilarious circumstances, pathos and love of every kind, especially between Juno and her parents.

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (A-3, PG-13): I love the heart and humanity of this film about the almost pathologically shy Lars, who orders a female mannequin off the Internet and makes up an entire biography about her. In his delusion, Lars relates to her as if she were real. His family, friends and community care for him as he finally becomes free.

AMAZING GRACE (A-2, PG) is the story of William Wilberforce, who was responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in Britain (and by extension France and Spain). This beautiful film is essential viewing for concerned citizens as the slave trade is now global: Trafficking of women and children especially is on the increase.

INTO THE WILD (A-3, R): As director, Sean Penn hits all the right notes in the true story of Christopher McCandless, who gave away all he had and searched for truth and spiritual freedom. Based on the best-selling book by Jon Krakauer, this film is imbued with authentic life. Hal Holbrook’s performance is Oscar-worthy. So is the film.

THE KITE RUNNER (A-3, PG-13) is a fine translation of the book into film by director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) about a young boy in Afghanistan who is offered a way to do good again years after he betrayed a friend.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (A-3, R) is the best film I have seen in 10 years. A Stasi agent of former East Germany is transformed by art and the lives of artists as he spies on them for the government. (In German, with English subtitles.)

PARIS, JE T’AIME (L, R): Twenty-two directors created brief vignettes about love: complicated, transcendent, redemptive, sacrificial and human. The inspiration of the powerful stories lingers, like the warmth of the sun on a spring day in Paris, as illustrated in the final chapter. (French/English.)

LA VIE EN ROSE (A-3, PG-13) is a brilliant achievement for director Olivier Dahan about the sad story of French singer Edith Piaf. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Marion Cotillard (Big Fish) becomes Piaf. This period piece is created with a palette of deep hues, amazing music and convincing performances. It is sure to be an award contender. (French, with English titles.)

INTO GREAT SILENCE (A-1, not rated): Director Philip Gröning spent six months filming daily life in La Grande Chartreuse, a Carthusian monastery. Gröning’s fly-on-the-wall approach allows the audience to experience ancient monasticism. This journey that transcends modernity can lead us to question the meaning of silence and the gospel in what some think is an arguably post-Christian world.



MICHAEL CLAYTON (A-3, R): George Clooney plays the title role of a legal janitor who cleans up after the messes made by the clients of a major law firm. He faces ethical and moral challenges in both his work and his personal life. Tilda Swinton is lead counsel for the firm’s major client: Her performance chills as she annihilates her character’s conscience in return for what? This is a brilliant moral mousetrap of a story.

JINDABYNE (A-3, R): I was haunted by the premise of this film, in which a group of friends on an Australian fishing trip discover the body of a dead woman. The men finish their trip before they contact the authorities. They broke no laws, but did they do the humane thing?

BELLA (A-2, PG-13): When a man gets out of prison, he befriends a pregnant waitress. Their life-affirming journey ends in joy and hope.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (A-2, PG-13) is based on the true story of a homeless dad who survived and worked his way back. The film, which engenders empathy for the working poor and the homeless, is good for all to see.

FREEDOM WRITERS (A-2, PG-13) is about an idealistic teacher who breaks through the gang biases of her students when she teaches about the Holocaust. What seems like a syrupy tale morphs into a strong and inspiring story.

HAIRSPRAY (A-2, PG) is an enjoyable remake of the 1988 film. The musical stays true to the themes of integration and tolerance, and the performances are energetic and entertaining.

ATONEMENT (not rated, R): A young English girl (Saoirse Ronan) sees something she shouldn’t, thinks she understands when she doesn’t and then lies about it. Lives are tragically changed in this love story, also starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Bridge to Terabithia, Breach, Arctic Tale, The Namesake, Evan Almighty, Ratatouille, A Mighty Heart, Becoming Jane, 3:10 to Yuma, Sicko

Trade, The Price of Sugar, In the Valley of Elah, Dan in Real Life, The Game Plan, Eastern Promises, Rendition, Martian Child

The strike that began on November 5, 2007, involves 12,000 film and TV writers in the entertainment industry. Thousands more are also affected.

The Writers Guild of America East/West ( is trying to negotiate a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). AMPTP represents, among others, the six major media conglomerates: General Electric, which owns NBC and Universal; the Walt Disney Company; Time Warner, which owns Warner Brothers and part of the CW network; Viacom, which owns Paramount and the other part of the CW network; the CBS Corporation; and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox.

WGA is asking that when the entertainment industry makes a profit, writers receive a royalty (residuals) for their work. This includes a raise from four cents to eight cents per DVD sold, 2.5 percent of the income from new media (including streaming media and downloads and emerging new media), and jurisdiction over writers for reality shows, animation shows and films.

The writers’ strike seems to meet the Catholic Church’s criteria for a just strike: The issue at hand is important and there seems to be reasonable hope for success if the parties will begin negotiations again without preconditions; the results will be proportionate to any harm done (e.g., loss of wages) if achieved; and serious negotiations did take place over a period of time before they failed, leading to the strike.

Writers do not have steady work: Many writers hold more than one job. The average annual income for a television writer is about $30,000. Like authors who receive royalties contingent on sales, film/TV writers deserve a reasonable share of the profits made from their labor.

We may be inconvenienced by not seeing our favorite shows in the near future because of the writers’ strike, but the biggest loss to our culture is that of skilled storytellers. A culture will shrivel and die without stories that shed light on the human condition, inspire and make us laugh.

Personalities who died in 2007 include Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Joey Bishop, Art Buchwald, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Fogelberg, Ed Friendly, Robert Goulet, Merv Griffin, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Don Ho, Betty Hutton, Deborah Kerr, Evel Knievel, Frankie Laine, Ira Levin, Marcel Marceau, Lois Maxwell, Barbara McNair, Gian Carlo Menotti, Tommy Newsom, Luciano Pavarotti, Carlo Ponti, Joel Siegel, Sidney Sheldon, Beverly Sills, Anna Nicole Smith, Ian Richardson, Charles Nelson Reilly, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Tom Snyder, Ike Turner, Miyoshi Umeki, Jack Valenti, Porter Wagoner, Dick Wilson, Jane Wyman.

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,

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


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