I have a confession to make — I love movies. This time of the year, I am itching to see many of the films that are hitting the theaters. The holiday movie season isn’t even in full swing, and I already have a long list of movies that I want to watch: “Lincoln,” “Life of Pi” and “Skyfall,” to name a few. 

So for me, this week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12) is a delight. Catholic film critic David DiCerto highlights high-profile movie releases of the season, such as “Rise of the Guardians,” “Les Misérables,” “The Impossible” and, of course, “The Hobbit.” On Pages 9-11, he previews family films, “prestige pictures” sure to garner Oscar buzz and action-and-adventure films that are lighting up the cineplexes this month. I hope my fellow film buffs enjoy it. 

And I hope that Catholics who are (understandably) wary of the movie industry also enjoy the package. There is, of course, a lot of bad content out there, but, as DiCerto points out, when chosen carefully, movies have the power to inform us, to inspire us and to just plain entertain us. 

That’s something Blessed Pope John Paul II understood, as well. Though acknowledging that “some cinema productions merit criticisms and disapproval,” he noted in a March 1995 address to the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications that “[t]he Church’s overall judgment of this art form, as of all genuine art, is positive and hopeful. We have seen that masterpieces of the art of film- making can be moving challenges to the human spirit, capable of dealing in depth with subjects of great meaning and importance from an ethical and spiritual point of view.” 

Pope John Paul also noted the “profound influence” that the film industry has had on public opinion and people’s attitudes and choices over the decades. Yet another good reason to be aware of what’s playing at a theater near you. 

Catholics who want some guidance on appropriate fare can get reviews from a faithful point of view by watching “Reel Faith,” which DiCerto co-hosts, at netny.net/reelfaith or by visiting www.decentfilms.com, hosted by fellow film critic Steven D. Greydanus. 

In addition to current releases this Christmas season, DiCerto lists his favorite Christmas movies — a mix of the classic (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) and unconventional (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”) (see Page 12). 

Still looking for great Christmas films to watch on your own or with family? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has on its website a list of 20 Christmas movies, along with short reviews and ratings. Visit www.usccb.org/media/movie-reviews/20-christmas-movies.cfm.  

In this time of the year, when families gather, watching a movie together can be a memorable experience. I still recall going to the movie theater with my mother and friends to see the now-classic “A Christmas Story” in 1983. (That film, by the way, makes both DiCerto’s and the USCCB’s Christmas movie lists.) 

What movies are you looking forward to seeing this month? And which Christmas movies are at the top of your list? Write to us at feedback@osv.com.

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