'Tis the season when every expert on any subject is offering lists of "The Year's Best This" and "The Year's Worst That." Mainstream critics are busy trying to out-shout each other with raves for their favorite films of 2002. Some choose films that were merely audacious or technically excellent, while others are more concerned with films that meant something.

Next week, I'll provide links to the favorites lists of religious press critics, and then I'll suggest ten titles that I found particularly edifying this year. I'm interested: What films from 2002 meant something to you? Let me know. I'll post some of the replies in an upcoming installment.


Antwone Fisher penned his autobiography, turned it into a screenplay, and finds himself now the subject of Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher. Fisher's story is a painful testimony of childhood abuse, anger, forgiveness, and liberation. The film focuses on Fisher's relationships with two key individuals—his counselor and his girlfriend—who were instrumental in his healing.

For the first time, Washington is working on both sides of the camera. He draws strong performances from his talented cast, and turns in admirable work himself as Dr. Davenport, the naval psychiatrist who helps Fisher face his painful past. Newcomer Derek Luke makes a striking impression in the lead role. We come to care about this young naval officer who, prone to violent temper tantrums, needs redemption. Joy Bryant brings radiance and intelligence to the role of Cheryl, whose love for Fisher endures through breakdowns, challenges, and setbacks. They work together, sticking to the business of storytelling, avoiding clichés and cheap sentimentality. In a year full of stories about broken families ...

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