As the days grow shorter and humanity settles in for a fall and winter amid a pandemic, good films can help the spirit grow. Here are Catholic Sentinel staff picks for this season.

‘Waking Ned Devine’

1998, PG, Amazon Prime


“Waking Ned Divine” celebrates the bonds that endure despite human flaws and foibles and — or elaborate schemes to obtain lottery winnings. With its lively Irish music and charming characters, this an especially refreshing flick amid this fall’s pre-election vitriol.

A resident of a small Irish town holds a winning lottery ticket, and detective work by villagers Jackie O’Shea and a fellow codger, the scrawny and hilarious Michael O’Sullivan, uncovers that the winner, Ned Devine, is in fact dead. The close-knit Catholic community then attempts to secure and share the winnings in spite of this apparent hiccup.

The film at times has a screwball comedy feel, like when O’Shea and O’Sullivan ride a motorcycle through backroads in the buff.

In one scene that mixes humor, absurdity and poignancy — an amalgamation perfected by the Irish — O’Shea offers a eulogy for his beloved friend O’Sullivan, who is sitting in a front pew. It’s part of a convoluted plan to dupe the lottery official by presenting O’Sullivan as Ned Devine and vice versa.

There’s a sincerity in the eulogy in spite of it being situated within a wacky scam, and along with the rest of this delightful film it honors friendship — an essential feature of a life richly lived.