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12 Catholic movies to watch during social distancing


ARC Entertainment | Columbia Pictures | Paramount Pictures | Renaissance Films

Andrew Fowler - published on 03/18/20

A list of quality films that will inspire you as well as entertain you.

With movie theaters shutting down across the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, people are turning to streaming platforms to occupy their time during social distancing. 

Make the most of your time by watching something that will not only entertain but lift your mind and heart to something higher.

Here’s a list of quality films that are perfect to engage Catholics in thoughtful reflection. To delve more deeply into each movie, click on the titles for helpful study guides prepared by the Knights of Columbus.

1. A Man for All Seasons

St. Thomas More was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. He held to his faith and conscience and refused to declare Henry VIII as head of the Church of England, even though he knew he would be executed for it.

This film won several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Plus, it has an all-star cast with Orson Welles, Robert Shaw (or Quint from Jaws) and John Hurt (who holds the record for most on-screen deaths).

2. Judgment at Nuremberg

This Best Picture-nominated film centers on a fictional military tribunal and offers a glimpse at what happened to Nazis after World War II and their role in the Holocaust. Spencer Tracy leads an all-star cast including Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland and William Shatner.

The movie is also the first time Nazi concentration camp footage was used in a commercial film. Judgment at Nuremberg explores why we must value every single human life.

3. On the Waterfront

If Marlon Brando’s stunning performance doesn’t sell you, this Best-Picture winner tells the story of an uneducated former boxer who stands up against corrupt union bosses who have unmitigated power. Is it anti-Communist? Yes. Does it include pro-Catholic teachings? Yes.

Plus it features one of the greatest lines in movie history. You’ll know it when you get to it.

4. Henry V

This film adaptation of the Shakespeare play deals with themes of war and peace, brotherhood and leadership, manipulation and trust. But it’s also an underdog story, as the British troops were outnumbered 5 to 1 against the French at the real, historic battle.

And here is a future trivia answer for you: HBO’s Band of Brothers gets its name from the Henry V line “We few, we happy few. We band of brothers.” 

5. The Mission

Robert De Niro stars in this movie about a Jesuit missionary evangelizing the native people of 18th-century South America. It was nominated for seven Oscars and won the Palm d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

6. We Were Soldiers

Although violent, the battle scenes are accurate portrayals of the events that changed the course of the Vietnam War. The movie, starring by Mel Gibson, shows the men who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for God, country and their brothers.

7. Liberating a Continent

St. John Paul II’s trip to Poland in 1978 brought hope to a continent split by the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain.” It’s a story of real people, real lives, real consequences and the real power of prayer.

8. For Greater Glory

In the 1920s, Mexican Catholics were persecuted by their government, forcing them to fight for their lives and the right to practice their faith. Many were martyred during the conflict — including six Knights who were later canonized.

The film’s theme of religious liberty remains powerful, as Christians are still persecuted throughout the world today.

9. Shane

Dealing with themes of heroism, redemption and justice, the film centers on a former gunslinger who tries to help a family of farmers harassed by cattle ranchers who have hired their own gunfighter. Shane is a classic film, listed number 45 on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list.

10. Michael Collins

First he played Holocaust hero Oskar Schindler. Then he played Irish hero Michael Collins. Liam Neeson stars in this biopic about the Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who struggled for Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom in the early 20th century.

It was nominated for two Academy Awards (cinematography and score), and Neeson and the film won top prizes at the Venice Film Festival.

11. Katyń

If you’re looking for a foreign film, put Katyń at the top of your list. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 80th Academy Awards, it tells the story of Soviet atrocities against the Polish during the Second World War — including a mass execution and its cover-up. Although the characters are fictional, the Soviet actions are not. 

12. Becket

Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton star in this classic film about the disintegrating relationship between King Henry II and St. Thomas Becket due to the latter’s commitment to the Catholic Church. 

Becket received 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and two Best Actor nominations. (Although O’Toole and Burton didn’t win, making it a combined 14 times they were nominated for acting but never won.)


To learn more about the Knights, click here.

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