Eric Repphun of the Dunedin School offers his pick list of The Top 11 Religiously Themed Films of the Decade, in no particular order, as follows:
1. Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)
2. Children of Men (Afonso Cuaron, 2006)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
4. Heaven (Tom Tykwer, 2002)
5. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
6. The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)
7. Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2006)
8. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk, 2003)
9. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
10. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
11. The Bothersome Man (Jens Lien, 2006)
I’ve seen seven of these (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10) and appreciate the reason for The Dark Knight‘s inclusion: “When the butler Alfred tells Bruce Wayne, Batman’s playboy alter-ego, that some men – the Joker in this case – just want to watch the world burn, he nails the character of religiously-motivated violence in the contemporary world, which is more performative and symbolic than strategic or tactical.” I’m also very pleased to see There Will Be Blood making the cut. The narrative and moral scope of this film is amazing, involving the power of charisma, hypocrisy, exploitation (of land and children), and alienation from society. I didn’t much care for Spirited Away, but then animation seldom impresses me.
Repphun then singles out what he considers the worst religious movie of the decade:
The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)
Readers know I admire this film, even if I’m light-years away from Gibson’s world-view, and in fact it’s one of my favorite three Jesus-films of all time — the others being Pasolini’s Gospel According to St. Matthew (praised in passing by Repphun) and Arcand’s Jesus of Montreal.
On whole it’s a nice list, and I’ll have to add the four I haven’t seen to my Netflix queue.
UPDATE: Mark Goodacre also has things to say about Repphun’s aversion to The Passion of the Christ.
UPDATE (II): Repphun inspired me to do my own pick list, on which three of his choices appear.