The Best 100 Best Films list


Like many lapsed Catholics, I look for transcendence in other places, especially ones that haven't burnt heretics. That's one reason I love film: when done right, it achieves immanence, conjures up epiphanies, touches on the numinous, and vindicates the spirit  more than any other art form (okay, except maybe for some music and an occasional cryptic crossword puzzle). Of course, I am routinely scoffed at for holding such an opinion; just calling film an "art" is enough to get you a razzing. But I challenge anyone to watch any half a dozen of the films on The Arts and Faith Top 100 Film List  - say, Kieslowski's Dekalog (#2), Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthazar" (#6), Pasolini's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" (#10), Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" (#13), Ozu's "Tokyo Story" (#21) and Rohmer's "The Green Ray" (#41)  - and continue to scoff.

You might bicker about the ranking, and you might think there are some omissions (Kiarostami's "Taste of Cherry?" ) but there isn't a stinker in the bunch. Hardly.

Who are the people who chose these? They describe themselves  as a "small but articulate group of cinephiles interested in discussing the intersection of film and faith ... comprised of professional and amateur film critics from around the world in addition to academics, clergy, authors, artists, and actors."

Their mission statement, in part: "A culture is governed by its reigning myths. However, in the latter days of the twentieth century, there is an uneasy sense that materialism cannot sustain or nourish our common life. Thankfully, religion and art have always shared the capacity to help us to renew our awareness of the ultimate questions: who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going."

Maybe it's creeping Papism. But they've got good taste.

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