15 “Redemptive” Films You Should See Now

I just came from speaking about film criticism at the Biola Media Conference, on a panel with myself and Justin Chang of Variety. The topic of “Christian” or “redemptive” film was raised, and the moderator (Biola film professor Lisa Swain) asked Justin and I which filmmakers we thought were currently making the most “redemptive” films–were they Christians or non-Christians? Even in spite of the nebulous meaning of “redemptive film,” Justin and I both immediately jumped to the films of the Dardenne Brothers as examples of some of the best “redemptive” cinema happening these days. But there are many others I could have mentioned. So, for those who were in the session this morning (or anyone else), here are some other recent films I would recommend that you immediately Netflix, if you haven’t seen them yet:

Once (John Carney, 2007)

United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2006)

The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002)

A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)

The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2009)

Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2009)

Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)

Before Sunrise / Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 1995, 2004)

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)

Ballast (Lance Hammer, 2008)

Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2009)

Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, 2007)

11 responses to “15 “Redemptive” Films You Should See Now

  1. Nothing before 2005?? Really??

  2. Let me correct myself….Nothing before 1994?? And only Linklater before 2005???

  3. Brian- that’s why I said “recent films…”

  4. Summer hours absolutely belongs on this list. Great choice. Simple, yet profound. A great setting and cinematography. This is a film that breathes new life into the viewer and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

  5. ink needs to be on this list as well.

  6. Joyeux Noel, God Grew Tired of Us, The Namesake….

  7. It should be noted that Old Joy is not connected in any way to Old Gregg despite character similarities.

  8. How about The Visitor?

  9. Brett–*sigh*

  10. I’ll join in the list-making: Lars and the Real Girl

  11. Brett,

    I know I’m commenting on an old post (I was searching your site for film recommendations) but I’m curious as to why you recommend Linklater’s ‘Before Sunset’. I loved Before Sunrise, but found very little redemptive quality in Sunset. SPOILER ALERT, the guy decides to leave his wife and kid at the end or so we’re lead to believe. What’s edifying about a man abandoning his marriage over nostalgic emotion from running into an old flame in Paris? I wanted to like the film, but I find myself getting hung up on the implied adultery or what seems like a celebration of it. Am I missing something? I would love to read a full review of this one from you.

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