Do you remember the movie The English Patient? Boy, I sure do. In 1997 it won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director. It also holds the distinction of being the only movie I’ve seen where more than half the crowd was booing and heckling as the credits rolled. It wasn’t a just a bad movie, it was the worst movie I’d ever seen and I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an overwhelming relief than when it was over. Soon after I saw the much ballyhooed film, The Titanic, which also won Best Picture and Best Director, but in the year after The English Patient. The Titanic also makes my most hated list, due to the obvious ending (c’mon, you all knew Jack was going to die) and the fact that I just didn’t like Rose. She seemed bratty and her storyline didn’t feel very legit, but maybe that’s just me overanalyzing stories again.
If we jump into the movies I have loved, like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and The Matrix, I think we can agree for the most part we’ve had to endure the brutal aftermaths of movies that obliterated our hopes of another cinematic work of perfection. With zero thanks to The Hobbit Movies, Star Wars Episodes 1 through 3 and Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, you and I had our greatest of expectations smashed as we shoved the popcorn down our throats in the horror of bad storylines, over-acting, and casting mistakes that will never make any sense.
Let’s be honest. How many times has Hollywood let us down on the big screen?
Whenever I sit through a bad movie, I get a bit ticked, because I’ll never get back the money and time I’ve wasted. There are almost zero redeeming qualities in movies today, except for a few which might inspire or educate us. In comparison to Christian movies with a positive message about Jesus, even if the movie is pretty low budget and horrible, I’m often left with feelings of hope, being challenged, and God’s love and acceptance despite our own brokenness. There are many movies with a Christian theme that have impacted my life, so here is my ranking order of the best Christian movies I’ve ever seen. And along with this, I will include the Rotten Tomato Ratings from Critics and Users.
- Facing the Giants (13% Critics/85% Actual Humans with a heart, also called the Audience Score) – Even though their entire budget was about what it costs for us to take our six kids out for ice cream, this is one of my favorite films of all time. From a great script, to a little shaky but heartfelt acting, to an ending that will have you clutching the arms of your sofa, this is the best of the best. Watch this with an open heart, and you won’t be let down!
- Courageous (30% Critics/86% Audience Score) – The follow up to Facing the Giants with Alex Kendrick as the star did not disappoint. There is one scene that might be the best original comic writing I’ve seen in years, and the ongoing tension throughout the movie kept me on the edge of my seat. The thoughtful storyline about being a father has some awkward moments, but I wonder if those aren’t because of what we have lost in our country as fathers, and our lack of initiative to be leaders in our homes. This is a must see movie, with a few surprising twists.
- The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (42% Critics/87% Audience) – a light hearted romp through a familiar feeling narrative, that continued to make us laugh, question, and even cheer a little throughout the whole movie. There are no car chases or high impact scenes, just a very well-acted, heartfelt story that brings that satisfied feeling as you’re pulling out of the theatre parking lot. The lead actor, Brett Dalton, was perfectly cast as the wayward son/Hollywood wanna-be, working on his comeback, while figuring out his life. This is the first Christian movie The World Wrestling Entertainment company has produced, and it leaves us hoping there will be more.
- The Island aka a Russian film titled OCTPOB (63% Critics/81% Audience) – Although this film was well received by some critics, it has never been given its credit due. The subtitles take a little getting used to, but after a few minutes, it feels like a movie spoken in the language of Russian is quite fitting. It’s a sad, but inspiring tale, and almost akin to The Dead Poet’s Society, which I appreciated, but still found a little disappointing throughout. The Island rarely let me down, and when I found out the lead actor (a former Russian Rock Star) actually lives on this island in Russia, I was even more in awe. By the way, it’s free on Youtube!
- War Room – (33% Critics/87% Audience) –This movie bounces cleanly from tension to heartache to humor, and the acting is the best of any Christian movie I’ve seen. It all flows well together, as real life collides with the promises of God, as prayer takes center stage throughout this movie. There is a deep brokenness exposed in its most revealing moments, especially towards the end, but not as much as Courageous, which was almost too heavy at times. This might have been my top movie, but its climactic scenes didn’t leave me catching breath, as was the case withFacing the Giants and Courageous. But the directing, acting, and story were all top notch.
- Flywheel – (too low budget to make Rotten Tomatoes) – This is the first movie from the Kendrick Brothers, and has the most heart of any low budget movie in the history of film. From top to bottom you can see the director had little to no money to make a movie, but this was the launching pad into his next movies.
- The Passion of the Christ (49% Critics/80% Audience) – This doesn’t even feel like a normal movie, so I’m barely sure how to rank this. As far as cinema goes, this is the closest we can get to the final days of Jesus before his great ascension into heaven. Though The Passion is brutally violent, I wouldn’t hesitate bringing kids age twelve and up to see it.
If you haven’t noticed, the Audiences are high on these films, while the pros pan them. The critics continue to dismiss the inspirational messages, and the impact it makes on moviegoers lives. If you’re looking for the English Patient or Titanic or even the movie Chicago (which I hate only because it won Best Picture over the Fellowship of the Ring), then none of these movies are for you. For everyone else, add these to your library and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
In closing, here’s a few more Christian themed movies, in no particular order –
- Soul Surfer
- God’s Not Dead (the original)
- Chariots of Fire
- Amazing Grace
- One Night with the King