The Painted Veil
and The Pursuit of Happyness
are among the top 10 movies of 2006 according to the U.S. Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting. Happy Feet
and The Nativity Story
are among the top family films of the year.
The annual lists were compiled by Harry Forbes and David DiCerto, who review movies for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting. Forbes, director of the office, emphasized the "rich palette of films -- both domestic and foreign" available in 2006.
"There was a surfeit of superior films in 2006, with solid moral underpinnings," said Forbes. "From powerful anti-war films to inspirational true-life (though highly disparate) stories to a superior adaptation of a literary classic, they ran the proverbial gamut."
Not all of the top 10 were family-friendly. The office chose another 10 films for its separate Family category, headed by "The Nativity Story," one of the best recent biblical films, and stories involving fighting against the odds.
Below are the top 10 films in alphabetical order. Following each title is its classification by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A-I signifies suitability for all audiences; A-II for adults an adolescents; A-III, for adults and L for a limited audience due to problematic content despite a worthy theme.
Akeelah & the Bee
-- Irresistible story about a South Los Angeles
11-year- old loner who reluctantly agrees to compete in a national spelling bee -- under the tutelage of an emotionally fragile English professor. There are inspiring messages about conquering fears, winning by honest means, the strength of community, and, above all, the beauty and potency of words. A-I
-- Quietly powerful film charting three interconnected stories: an American couple stranded in Morocco; the deaf-mute teenage daughter of a widower father in Tokyo who achingly longs for love; and a Mexican governess and her nephew who take her two young charges across the border with disastrous results. Conveys an admirable message about a shared global humanity and the senselessness of violence. L
Flags of Our Fathers
/Letters From Iwo Jima
-- It wouldn't be fair to separate these companion World War II dramas that tell the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the American and Japanese perspectives respectively. "Flags" recounts the story of the iconic flag-raising photograph, while exploring heroism and the power of images to exploit and inspire. "Iwo Jima" illustrates our shared humanity and shows ignorance as a root of international conflict, by focusing on Japanese soldiers on the island as they prepare for the U.S. invasion. A-III
Joyeux Noel -- Moving World War I tale of soldiers -- Scottish, French and German -- who spontaneously agree to a cease-fire on Christmas Eve, intermingle and bond on a human level, to the eventual disdain of superiors. Tells a powerful message about the senselessness of war, A II
Little Miss Sunshine
-- Immensely likable film about an Albuquerque, N.M., family who trek to Los Angeles in a creaky van so their daughter can compete in a beauty pageant. A refreshingly offbeat tale that, underneath the zaniness and some troubling elements, comes over as an extremely positive validation of family and genuine values. L
-- Beautifully crafted story of "Peter Rabbit" author Beatrix Potter and her bittersweet romance with her awkward young publisher, despite the disapproval of her class-conscious parents in turn-of-the-century England. The kind of quality film that's all too rare. A-I
The Pursuit of Happyness
-- Feel-good tale based on the true story of a selfless medical supply salesman who raises his 5-year-old son on his own while pursuing a new career path as a stockbroker while enduring financial struggles, homelessness and other vicissitudes. The protagonist nurtures his son under trying circumstances with admirable decency throughout. A-II
Sophie Scholl-- Gripping true-life drama chronicling the final six days of a 21-year-old German college student executed by the Nazis in 1943 for distributing anti-war leaflets at her university, resulting in a quietly powerful testament to bravery while examining themes of freedom of conscience and peaceful resistance to tyranny and imparting a strong
anti-war message. A- II
The Painted Veil
-- Excellent adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham novel set in the 1920s about an English doctor who vengefully takes his adulterous wife to a remote Chinese village during a dangerous cholera epidemic there, and how, over time, they establish an abiding love. The love story, spiritual journey and final redemption of its heroine, are movingly conveyed. A-III
-- Tense, well-acted documentary-style drama about the hijacking of an aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, when passengers fought back, downing the plane in the ensuing melee and preventing destruction of a probable Washington target. A testament to heroism and a vivid cautionary tale, sensitively handled. A-III