Before Noah: Top 100 Proudly Catholic Movies

filmsIf you love Noah, we have more like it for you. If you hate Noah, here’s an alternative. The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College surveyed 6,500 online readers to vote on their favorite “Proudly Catholic Movies.” The result is a Catholic Hall of Fame list of the top 100 movies, available to print out here.

The Passion of the Christ was the favorite, but two 2012 movies rated in the top 10: Les Miserables at No. 4 and For Greater Glory at No. 6.

The “Proudly Catholic Movies” poll was born when I high-fived my wife when soldiers knelt for a blessing during a big-budget production of Henry V. Great film is an art, and art is something we experience apart from any ulterior motive — apart from feeling any need to high five anybody, for instance. We encounter art in order to encounter beauty and humanity in a profound way.

But when we queue up for a movie like Noah, art isn’t our only motivation. We anticipate great filmmaking and acting, but we also want to see it because it’s about Noah. We love Noah, we love the story of Noah, we love what Noah’s life says about God, and we love what it says about us.

The Proudly Catholic Movies were rated by readers on both their artistic and their “high five your spouse” power, as part of the Gregorian Institute’s mission to promote Catholic identity in public life. In introducing the survey we asked, “What film inspires you with the Catholic deeds of priests, religious or lay people living their faith? What movie makes you proud to be Catholic?”

The top 10, and their number of votes, is as follows:

  • 1. The Passion of the Christ (2004), 590 votes
  • 2. A Man for all Seasons (1966), 489 votes
  • 3. The Sound of Music (1965), 298 votes
  • 4. Les Miserables (2012), 275 votes
  • 5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), 273 votes
  • 6. For Greater Glory (2012), 243 votes
  • 7. The Scarlet and the Black (1983),190 votes
  • 8. The Song of Bernadette (1943), 181 votes
  • 9. The Mission (1986), 175 votes
  • 10. Ben Hur (1959), 153 votes

The list carries a disclaimer that not all of these films are family friendly. While Biblical epics and classics with Catholic elements were a staple on the list (as well as Ignatius Press’s recent string of saints stories), there were a number of surprises.

The action movies included Gran Torino, a Clint Eastwood movie about a tough guy living in a changing neighborhood, at No. 14, and two Mel Gibson action movies: Braveheart at No. 13 and We Were Soldiers at No. 52.

Several exorcism movies scored on the list, including The Exorcist (No. 28), The Rite (No. 37), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (No. 44) and The Conjuring (No. 83).

The Les Miserables story landed on the list in two versions: 2012’s version of the stage musical and 1998’s adaptation of the novel.

Comedies that may raise eyebrows made the list: Nacho Libre (No. 70), The Blues Brothers (No. 71) and Moonstruck (No. 75).

Several sports movies placed, including: Cinderella Man (No. 22), The Mighty Macs (No. 56), and The Perfect Game (No. 76).

Appropriate for The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, several monks movies made the list. Of Gods and Men, a quiet 2010 French film about monks willing to sacrifice themselves in an Algerian monastery rated No. 16. An even quieter monk film, Into Great Silence placed at No. 58; the 2006 film The Island about a Russian Orthodox monk, placed at No. 68.

So if you’re trying to avoid Noah, pop in one of these movies. Or if you’re inspired to see more after watching Noah, try this list.

Click here to print out the “Top 100 Proudly Catholic Movies.”

Is something missing? The ongoing poll is still available to receive new votes. After this weekend, you may want to vote for — or against — Noah.

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64 thoughts on “Before Noah: Top 100 Proudly Catholic Movies

  1. Pop says:

    Maybe I missed something, but what does “It’s a Wnderful Life” have to do with Cathloicism? An angel? Maybe I haven’t seen it in a while, but I don’t remember any priests, signs of the cross, churches, or anything Cathloic. Just the goofy angel who “gets his wings”. Great movie, but Catholic?

  2. Jozef says:

    I would have liked to see Molokai : the story of father damien. Thats one of my favourite movies.

    1. Pop says:

      # 48!! I’ve never seen it, but I’m a big fan of St. Damien. There’s a similar list published by National Catholic Register in 2004. Molokai was # 36 o that list.

  3. Faith says:

    I just remembered another nice Catholic oldie, Captains Courageous with Spencer Tracy is wonderfully Catholic.

  4. Matt says:

    Where is “Black Robe”? Those guys became saints.

    1. Tom Hoopes says:

      It’s on the list, but not in the top 100 … yet. Go vote for it: http://www.thegregorian.org/blog/vote-favorite-proudly-catholic-movies

  5. Andrea says:

    Were these movies picked just because there were things that had Catholic things in it or because it was Catholic itself? Where is Therese? Why the Exocist? Come on. Nacho Libre? Do people like watching a mockery of the religious?

    1. Tom Hoopes says:

      Therese is at No. 57 and No. 85 … The Exorcist because it shows the power of the faith against the devil. Nacho Libre? Comments have mostly been positive about the (tough) decision to leave it on the list.

  6. Daniel says:

    No Tolkein?!

    1. Tom Hoopes says:

      … probably because there was no Catholic Church in Middle Earth …?

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