The picture says it all. A priest who struggles with the very answers he is giving. He has tired of giving the tried and true answers to people, likely because of the damage it feels such a thing does. But when he ceases to give answers insincerely, the damage he does is worse. There are all sorts of interpretations to this story, of course, but above you see a man crumbling under the weight of it all while a woman can only look on. And the sun continues to shine bleakly yet brightly through the window. This is a masterpiece of faith and the human soul.
8. Ordinary People (1980)
When people say that movies can never do justice to the books they are made from, don't believe them. Here is another fantastic movie from a fantastic book. You still want to read the book, but the movie does capture it well. Very well. Oh the subtleties of this family's turmoil and their striving to pull together while so much seems to tug them apart. The grief and tragedy and yet the persistency of hope. The tension of love and self-protection. It is all there in picture and story where words and definitions fall short. Like a Dostoevsky novel I felt a bit of me in each character in this story.
7. Tears of the Sun (2003)
This one likely seems out of place. I have never spoken to anyone other than myself who found this movie entertaining let alone influential. That's fine. I'm a bit of a sucker for Bruce Willis, so that helped. But that's not the point. This film hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh man, the depravity. (Is this list getting anyone down?) Catholics have saints, and evangelicals swing back and forth between saying that there are no saints and that we are all made saints by grace, but there are no saints in this film. Even though there are good guys and bad guys, the truer sense is that the world is soaked in evil and there are some just trying to limit and lessen it. Bruce Willis' character has no pretension to greatness or even hope, he just fights against evil incarnate to his last breath. Not because he has anything to offer, but just because he has to. I thought he did a great job of the role. You could see it in his face. And I don't know. It just ripped me apart inside. You don't forget stuff like that.
6. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)Lest we get all down and out here, this is a movie with pure heroism and innocence. It is also the penultimate courtroom drama. All the time in this stroy Atticus Finch's kids are "losing their innocence", but their father is giving them reason yet to hope and retain it. In a society full of the most twisted type of ignorance, racism, and snobbery there remain some who see through the crap and hold on to what is right, and remain pure doing it. Another film from a book excellently done, it has to stay in my head and heart because it is every bit as true as Tears of the Sun. Thank God.