Excerpted from Spirituality & Health--The Soul/Body Connection

Good movies are usually mirrors of the lives we lead or wish to lead. Spiritually literate ones also help us discover the sacred dimensions of our everyday experiences. This year's ten best put the spotlight on such essential practices as recognizing beauty, living contentedly, seeking forgiveness, working for justice, and striving for truth. Other stories revolve around such meaningful endeavors as sharing with our loved ones, recalling significant memories, remaining open to the mysterious, and finding a vocation. Another film explores the suffering wrought when the spiritual practices of hospitality and peace are missing.


American Beauty (DreamWorks) focuses on the spiritual transformation of Lester, a sad-sack middle-ager, into a man who's glad to be alive. He's inspired to make changes in his life by a sexy teenage cheerleader and a young man who makes home videos of the wonders he notices around him. By the end of his story, Lester realizes that "it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world."

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The Castle (Miramax/Miramax Home Video) is an offbeat Australian comedy about a truly happy working-class family who possess the greatest wealth of all--a gift for living contentedly in the present moment. Even when they have to go to court to save their home from being demolished for an airport expansion, they take time each day to nurture themselves with love, gratitude, and reverence.


Miramax's trailer for The Castle.

Requires Quicktime Download


The Straight Story (Walt Disney) revolves around the unusual pilgrimage of a 73-year-old Midwesterner. When Alvin learns that his estranged brother has had a stroke, he is determined to visit him in Wisconsin. Since he doesn't have a driver's license anymore, he must travel across Iowa on a riding lawn mower. This elder's yearning to reconcile with his brother gives him the energy and strength he needs to fulfill his mission.

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The Hurricane (Universal) is based on the true story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a black boxer who spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The lifeline of hope that eventually sets him free is comprised of many little acts of kindness, love, and hard investigative work by an African-American teenager and his white Canadian friends.

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The Insider (Touchstone) is passionate filmmaking at its best, a drama where following one's conscience is the heartbeat of heroism. The central characters are a determined investigative reporter and a courageous whistle-blower, whose expose of corporate malfeasance within the tobacco industry blew open the biggest health issue of the century--the connection between cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction.

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