Director: Errol Morris

Errol Morris is justly famous for his explicitly political documentaries like The Fog of War and Standard Operating Procedure, works of non-fiction that capture the frailty of the human condition in the face of armed conflict. But his low-key best work just might be a small film about pet cemeteries that does big work. Gates of Heaven, about the men and women who love their pets so much they hold lavish burials in their honor, takes what could be a ludicrous occasion for mean-spirited jokes about unusual people and turns it into a profound look at death. No, really. Gates of Heaven, about departed cats and dogs, is one of the most bracing and compassionate conversations about the end of life ever made. —RS