When this year began, I was skeptical. In addition to way too many sequels, the first film I reviewed was Fifty Shades of Grey. Ugh. To my utter joy, this slow start turned into a light speed finish – the best year for film since 2009 – and I didn’t even see half the films I wanted. Here are my top ten:
1. The Drop Box – Five Reels. A documentary on the ministry of Pastor Jong-rak Lee who has saved the lives of hundreds of abandoned babies in South Korea. If the most important measure of any movie is its ability to covert souls for the Kingdom, this is one of the greatest films of all time.
2. It Follows – Five Reels. A disturbing yet expertly crafted horror film about the tragic consequences of the sexual revolution.
3. Inside Out – Five Reels. Pixar returns to full form with a look inside the mind of a preteen struggling with a recent move to San Francisco. Bring tissues.
4. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom – Five Reels. Religion, including the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, plays a central role in a former Soviet bloc country’s struggle to break free from Putin’s grasp and create a future of its own.
5. Hotel Transylvania 2 – Five Reels. In the most unexpected turn of the year, an Adam Sandler written monster comedy breaks into the top ten. Wow.
6. The Walk – Robert Zemeckis’ riveting adaptation of Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk across the towers. Timely and beautiful.
7. Shaun the Sheep: The Movie – A simply adorable tale even toddlers can enjoy.
8. Beasts of No Nation – The importance of family becomes devastatingly apparent in this horrific tale of a child soldier in central Africa.
9. The Martian – One film reviewer called this tale of a marooned astronaut on Mars “the year’s best recruitment tool for engineering.”
10. War Room – Orson Welles once quipped that sex and prayer could never be convincingly shown onscreen. This film proves him wrong on the latter…and maybe Fifty Shades proves him right on the former.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Going Clear, The Good Dinosaur, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This article first appeared in Catholic World Report on January 4th, 2016.