Arts & Faith Top 25 Spiritually Significant Films About Crime and Punishment

A woman talks to a man through vented glass in a prison
Susan Sarandon as HELEN PREJEAN, Sean Penn as MATTHEW PONCELET

In this episode, we cover the recently released Arts & Faith Top 25 spiritually significant films about crime and punishment, chosen by a jury of 17 film critics. I was one of the jurors, along with my co-host today, Christian Jessup. We talk about Arts & Faith, how this list came to be, and then list all the selected movies, focusing on some for deeper dives.

You can find the full list on the Arts & Faith website, at, as well as a justification of each film from one of the jurors.

About Arts & Faith: The community originally began as a discussion board where members met to discuss the intersection of arts and faith. Today it's a website, but there's also a discord for people who want to join. The community collaborates to release three kinds of lists. One is an annual ecumenical jury that chooses the top 10 films of interest to Christians for the year. This has been going on since at least 2014.Then not every year, but some years, they release a top 100 films, which is ranked list. The last year this was done was 2020. Lastly, the group puts out top 25 lists on a particular theme. This can include movies from any year. This last kind is what we are talking about today.

Three lawyers talk to the judge in a courtroom
[L-R] Joseph Welch as JUDGE WEAVER, Jimmy Stewart as PAUL BIEGLER, Brooks West as DA Mitch Lodwick, George C. Scott as CLAUDE DANCER in ANATOMY OF A MURDER

About Christian Jessup: Christian Jessup is a filmmaker and critic based in Raleigh, North Carolina. With a diverse background in online media, podcasting, television appearances, and jury selections, he brings a unique perspective to film evaluation, exploring the intersection of faith and cinema, recommending films with moral and spiritual depth. Christian has written the music for 16 feature length and short films, as well as directing the award-winning 2020 documentary, The Dancin’ Bulldogs. You can find Christian at or on social media @ChristianJessup

About Lindsey Dunn: Lindsey Dunn is a film critic with membership in both NC Film Critics and Southeastern Film Critics. She loves all things Cobra Kai, Netflix Dark, indie horror, and any stories about complicated relationships. You can find her at and most social channels @1ofmystories.