Reader Rebuttal: The 10 Greatest Catholic School Movies of All Time
Catholic schools are the perfect setting for a film. There are preset costumes with uniforms and habits, clear hierarchies and social orders—not to mention characters at the ripe spot in their lives, ready to come of age.
Ciaran Freeman spent last summer, after his year as an O’Hare fellow at America Media, combing through movies about Catholic schools and ranking them. The findings were published here. Since then, readers have written in to let Mr. Freeman know what films he overlooked in his top-10 ranking.
What film is missing from our list? Make a case for why it belongs.
“Heaven Help Us” This is a wonderfully acted coming of age story set in New York at the fictional St. Basil’s academy, a strict Catholic school where the protagonist bonds with some unlikely allies, falls in love and comes to terms with and confronts what he (correctly) perceives as injustice coming from his peers, teachers and other adults. A beautifully nostalgic piece for anyone who attended Catholic school, especially in the 1970s or 1980s.
“Wide Awake” The movie, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is about the fifth grader Joshua Beal, who is searching for God after the death of his beloved grandfather. Rosie O’Donnell plays Sister Terry, a decidedly “modern” sister. She is a far stretch from the strict “nun-teachers” of the past. The film was panned by most critics but loved by those looking for spiritual values in film.
Sandra Rodemyer, B.V.M.
“St. Ralph” is about a Catholic school teenager who hopes for a miracle to bring his mother back from a coma. He decides to try to win the Boston Marathon, which he figures should be a miracle deserving of such a reward. It captures the struggles of puberty and “fitting in” of adolescence and the power of faith. The priests are real people who are really concerned about how the main character survives his struggles.
“Au Revoir les Enfants” Your list has a strong American bias. The biggest overseas absence is this film by Louis Malle. It is set in a French Carmelite boarding school in the winter of 1943-44 and deals with the themes of friendship, identity, charity, bravery and betrayal.
“Sister Act 2” A wonderful depiction of a dedicated, holy and passionate group of nuns who are shown as real people, who make a huge difference in the lives of a diverse group of inner-city kids.