100 Best Catholic Movies Ranked from 1-100
(CGOL) In 2014, I published a list of ‘100 Best Catholic Movies.’ Below I have arranged the list not by their year of release but by my ranking of their comparative achievement. Naturally, this is a personal, and somewhat subjective, evaluation, but ranking serves to spur us to think more deeply about what makes a film great and what makes a film Catholic. I agree with Paul Schrader — screenwriter, director, and critic — that greatness in movies can be judged by the following criteria: strangeness, unity of form and content, tradition, repeatability, and morality. To put our finger on the ‘Catholic identity’ of a film is more difficult, but let me try: For a film to be regarded as Catholic, it’s subject matter must engage the mystery of human existence in a way that reflects, either in agreement or disagreement, the Catholic understanding of homo viator, men and women on a journey to God. Thus, a Catholic film will be morally and spiritually significant regardless of the director and his or her professed faith. Although films are often identified as ‘Catholic’ by their explicit engagement with Scripture, saints, or the Church, they must be films that achieve worth as films in order to make this list. Sadly, many films that set out to ‘have a message’ fail when it comes to their artistic values as films. Messages are far more powerful when they are met amid a very well-made film such as those below.
Top 100 Catholic Movies Rated 1-100
1. Fred Zinnemann, A Man for All Seasons, 1966.
2. Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ, 2004.
3. Carl Theodore von Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928.
4. Krzysztof Kieslowski, The Decalogue, 1988.
5. Robert Bresson, Au Hasard Balthasar, 1966.
6. Roland Jaffe, The Mission, 1986.
7. John Huston, Wise Blood, 1979.
8. Robert Bresson, The Diary of a Country Priest, 1951.
9. Pier Paolo Pasolini, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1964.
10. William Friedkin, The Exorcist, 1973.
11. Carl Theodore von Dreyer, Ordet, 1955.
12. Bruce Beresford, Black Robe, 1991.
13. Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront, 1954.
14. Robert Bresson, Mouchette, 1967.
15. John Ford, Three Godfathers, 1948.
16. Mark Pellington, Henry Poole is Here, 2008.
17 Alfred Hitchcock, I Confess, 1953.
19. Alfred Hitchcock, The Wrong Man, 1956.
20. Xavier Beauvois, Of Gods and Men, 2010.
21. Frank Borzage, Strange Cargo, 1940
22. Leo McCarey, Going My Way, 1944.
23. Vittorio De Sica, The Bicycle Thieves, 1948.
24. Fred Zinnemann, The Nun’s Story, 1959.
25. William Wyler, Ben Hur, 1959.
26. Robert Bresson, Pickpocket, 1959.
27. Paul Schrader, First Reformed, 2017*
28. Akira Kurosawa, Ikiru, 1952.
29. Vittorio De Sica, Umberto D, 1952.
30. Ida Lupino, The Trouble with Angels, 1968*
31. Henry King, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.
31. Anthony Harvey, The Abdication, 1974.
32. Robert Bresson, L’argent, 1983.
33. Franco Zefferelli, Jesus of Nazareth, 1977.
34. Jerry London, The Scarlet and the Black, 1983.
35. Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire, 1987.
36. Gabriel Axel, Babette’s Feast, 1987.
37. Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946.
38. Mel Gibson, Braveheart, 1995.
39. Michael Powell, Black Narcissus, 1947.
40. Maurice Pialat, Under the Star of Satan, 1987.
41. Pavel Lungin, The Island, 2006
42. Alejandro Monteverde, Bella, 2006.
43. John Ford, The Fugitive, 1947.
44. Cecil B. DeMille, King of Kings, 1927.
45. Leo McCarey, Make Way for Tomorrow, 1947.
46. Ermanno Olmi, Tree of the Wooden Clogs, 1978.
47. Liv Ullmann, Kristin Lavransdatter, 1995.
48. Roberto Rossellini, Stromboli, 1950.
49. Richard Fleischer, Barabbas, 1961.
50. Robert Bresson, The Devil Probably, 1977.
51. David Lynch, The Straight Story, 1999.
52. John Patrick Shanley, Doubt, 2008.
53. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life, 2011.
54. Agnieszka Holland, The Third Miracle, 1999.
55. Philip Groning, Into the Great Silence, 2007.
56. Leo McCarey, The Bells of St. Mary’s, 1945.
57. Martin Scorcese, Silence, 2016*
58. Roberto Rossellini, The Flowers of St. Francis, 1950
59. Joseph Hardy, The Lady’s Not for Burning, 1974.
60. Bruce Beresford, Evelyn, 2002.
61. Denys Arcand, Barbarian Invasions, 2003.
62. Alexander Payne, About Schmidt, 2002.
63. Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, Night of the Shooting Stars, 1982.
64. Ulu Grosbard, True Confessions, 1981.
65. Charles Sturridge & Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Brideshead Revisited, 1981.
66. Francesco Rosi, Christ Stopped at Eboli, 1979.
67. Luis Bunuel, Nazarin, 1959.
68. Alain Cavalier, Therese, 1986.
69. Denys Arcand, Jesus of Montreal, 1989.
70. Krzysztof Kieslowski, A Short Film About Love, 1988.
71. M. Knight Shyamalan, Wide Awake, 1998.
72. Nancy Savoca, Household Saints, 1993.
73. Lee David Slotoff, Spitfire Grill, 1996.
74. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, L’enfant, 2006.
75. Martin Provost, Seraphine, 2008
76. John M. Stahl, The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944.
77. Peter Glenville, Becket, 1964.
78. Luis Bunuel, Simon of the Desert, 1965.
79. Martin Scorcese, The Age of Innocence, 1982.
80. Stijn Coninx, Daens, 1992.
81. Mervyn LeRoy, The Devil of 4 O’Clock, 1961.
82. John Ford, The Informer, 1935.
83. Hugh Hudson, Chariots of Fire, 1981.
84. Patrice Leconte, The Widow of Saint-Pierre, 2000.
85. Jim Sheridan, In America, 2002.
86. Norman Stone, Shadowlands, 1885.
87. Ermanno Olmi, Legend of the Holy Drinker, 1988.
88. Raffaello Matarazzo, The White Angel, 1955.
89. Klaus Haro, Letters to Father Jaakob, 2009.
90. Joe Johnston, October Sky, 1999.
91. John Huston, The Dead, 1987.
92. John Duigan, Romero, 1989.
93. Rodney Bennett, Monsignor Quixote, 1987.
94. Franco Zefferelli, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, 1972.
95. Tommy Lee Jones, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, 2005.
96. Michael Anderson, The Shoes of the Fisherman, 1968.
97. Marta Meszaros, The Seventh Room, 1996.
98. Gordon Douglas, Come Fill the Cup, 1951.
99. Frank Capra, Lady for a Day, 1933.
100. Otto Preminger, The Cardinal, 1963.
*Added to Top 100
Ida Lupino, The Trouble with Angels, 1968*
Martin Scorcese, Silence, 2016*
Paul Schrader, First Reformed, 2017*
**Removed from Top 100
Nicholas Ray, King of Kings, 1961.**
Carol Reed, The Agony and the Ecstasy, 1965.**
Christian Carion, Joyeux Noel, 2005.**
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