Christian films, can be cliché and even a little-bit cringe worthy and then there are films that break through, finally coupling good cinematography with the really Good News. This is a tribute to those films, the ones that challenge and can open conversations on our spiritual journey.
In no particular order here are twelve must-see Christian films.
Robert Duvall writes, directs, stars in and personally finances The Apostle. The film follows the Pentecostal preacher Euliss “Sonny” Dewey who leaves Texas and changes his name, after his life begins spiralling. The impact and authenticity of the film is far-reaching, with the film even featuring real gospel preachers, specifically selected from parishes in the Deep South. This coupled with the performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Miranda Richardson and Farrah Fawcett, gained critical praise. The film also scored Duvall an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Read more.
Lee Strobel went out of his way to prove that God doesn’t exist, but this journey saw Strobel turn from Atheist to Christian. Strobel is the former legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and is a best-selling author. The film follows a young Strobel as he interviews leading minds in science, theology, and archaeology in surprisingly compelling case. Read full review.
The Good Lie focusses on four children who are part of ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’ where 20,000 Sudanese displaced children due to the second Sudanese civil war. Two of the children and brothers Jeremiah and Paul, faith and survival skills are particularly poignant from their escape from violence to the Kenyan Kakuma Refugee Camp. Fifteen years later the four children are resettled in Missouri, United States. Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon) is tasked with helping them rebuild their lives and find jobs.
“While the trailers for The Good Lie would suggest it will be The Blind Side without gridiron, its great strength is allowing this story to not be hers. Rather than another white-person-rescuing-black-people narrative, the young Sudanese characters are the heroes of their own story.” - Duncan McLean. Read the full review.
Pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) revitalizes a struggling church in Tennessee with the help of Burman refugees in the community. The story explores what could happen when instead of fearing the ‘other’ we put our trust in God. Read full review.
The film revisits the mystery behind the 1996 Tibhirine massacre where seven French Cistercian in Algeria monks were kidnapped and beheaded. Their bodies were never found. Instead of trying to solve the mystery, Of Gods and Men focusses on the monks’ daily life and why they didn’t try to leave the Monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas and save their lives. The result the director Xavier Beauvois and the cast deliver thought-provoking dialogue on Christian martyrdom, faith and sacrifice. The film also won the 2010 Grand Prix at Cannes film festival. Read full review.
Mel Gibson directs this true story of Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) a US Army soldier that received a Medal of Honour, despite refusing to bear arms. Doss served as a paramedic, often providing assistance under live fire. In one night he had rescued between 50 and 100 men. The reason he didn’t bear arms? His resolve was keeping to the Sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’.
“Without telling anyone else how to live their life, he showed how God had called him to live his – and he kept telling people who his commanding officer is.” – Ben McEachen. Read full review.
The Passion of the Christ is another Mel Gibson directed film and undoubtedly one of his most well-known directorial debuts and Christian films in the 21st Century. The Passion of the Christ illustrates the 12 hours leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. Extremely graphic, violent, and marred with controversy this film is a challenging retelling of the gospel. Read full review.
NGO Human trafficking investigator (Dermot Mulroney) and his wife (Mira Sorvino) are in Southeast Asia rescuing young girls from sex trafficking. The husband and wife are also mourning the murder of their own daughter. Mira Sorvino’s own personal faith also shines through this film as she is a devout Christian and is UN’s Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking. Read more.
Directed by Garth Davis, this film is an intriguing and fresh look at Mary Magdalene. With limited biblical accounts of her and her relationship with Jesus, Mary Magdalene does take liberties with artistic freedom but shares a different perspective of one of the bibles interesting characters. Starring Rooney Mara as Mary and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. Read full review.
Based on the 1966 novel by Shūsaku Endō and directed by Martin Scorsese, Silence follows the persecution of Christians in 17th Century Japan. One the original Portuguese Missionaries to take the gospel to Japan, Father Christavao Ferreira (Liam Neeson), is missing and presumed dead. His students Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) head to Japan in search of their missing mentor, in a time where priests in the country were tortured until they renounced their faith. Read full review.
Soul Surfers details the true story of pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton (played by Anna-Sophia Robb). At 13 years old Bethany lost her left arm after shark attack while surfing Hawaii’s waves. Her personal faith and support from family members, is what helped Bethany as she recovered and debated whether she would be able to compete in the water again. Read more.
Machine Gun Preacher is a film of another true story and powerful testimony. Sam Childers (played by Gerard Butler) underwent an incredible transformation from ex-con to a man of God who responds to a call to save kidnapped and orphan children in East Africa amidst of a civil war. His journey while fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Raises questions of the use of violence and anger that can become all-consuming when trying to help and protect the most vulnerable of society. Read more.