Posted March 1, 2013 by Jeremy Armstrong in WL Picks

Top 20 Movies for Christians in the past 20 years

As what moves one person is vastly different from what moves another, the only preface to give here is the criteria. We simply judged the movies by these two things:

Primary criterion: Offers illustrations of the values and principles that reflect Jesus Christ and where he meets real life as expressed in story.

Secondary criterion: Is fresh, beautiful, and artful in the realms of film criticism.

(Rotten Tomatoes score is given when available. And this list was published in 2012)


20. A Man Named Pearl

Pearl Fryar becomes a nationally recognized topiary artist while overcoming bigotry and social stereotypes. This movie is a signal to the world that possibly the greatest response to hatred … is creativity.

19. Dead Man Walking (1995) 93%

Sister Helen Prejean: You are a son of God.
Matthew Poncelet: [in tears] Thank you. I’ve never been called a son of God before.
[laughs slightly]
Matthew Poncelet
: I’ve been called a son of a you-know-what plenty of times, but I’ve never been called a son of God.

18. Of Gods and Men (2010) 93%

Synopsis: Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s.

17. The Matrix (1999) 87%

We tried to avoid gun-toting messianic figures in this list, but with its thinly shrouded religious symbols and the protagonist’s self-sacrificial struggle, The Matrix was one of the most discussed films in the realms of Christian higher education in the past decade.

16. Soul Surfer (2011) 45%

Bethany Hamilton: “Surfing isn’t the most important thing in life. Love is. I’ve had the chance to embrace more people with one arm than I ever could with two.”

15. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  (2005) 76%

Mr. Beaver: “Aslan… is on the move.”

14. Kite Runner (2007) 65%

Those who loved this movie were likely more influenced by the powerful book, but still the movie was a good interpretation. Key principle: lives are radically transformed when people understand they are recipients of undeserved grace and love.

13. Shadowlands (1993) 96%

Synopsis: A portion of the life of C.S. Lewis when he falls in love and subsequently falls to the depths of doubt and pain as his wife is taken from him.
C.S. Lewis: That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

12. Up  (2009) 98%

Dug: I was hiding under your porch because I love you.

11. Blind Side (2009) 66%

Beth: I think what you are doing is so great. Opening up your home to him… honey, you are changing that boy’s life.

Leigh Anne Touhy: No, he’s changing mine.

10. Baraka (1992) 83%

Synopsis: Welcome to a wordless, emotionally affecting journey through worship when seen as a creation reaching out and reflecting a creator. In their beauties and their flaws.

9. Ushpizin (2004) 93%

Synopsis:  Broke and childless, a devout orthodox Jewish couple are “blessed” with a surprising sum of money … and two escaped convicts. Both factors begin to cause a rift in everything the couple holds dear.

8. Remember the Titans (2000) 73%

Older Sheryl: People say that it can’t work, black and white. Here, we make it work every day. We still have our disagreements, of course, but before we reach for hate, always, always, we remember the Titans.

7. Shawshank Redemption (1994) 90%

Red: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

6. A River Runs Through It (1992) 83%

Paul: Neal, in Montana there’s three things we’re never late for: church, work and fishing.

5. The Passion of the Christ (2004) 50%

Whatever one’s issues with the film’s producer, The Passion of the Christ radically impacted the production of Christian-based cinema in a favorable way. And it made songwriters think twice when they wrote insipid, sweet songs, about Christ’s victory on the Cross without thinking of the torturous death it required.

4. Planet Earth (2006)

It is nearly impossible to view the intricacies and complexities of the created world while watching the stunning images of this documentary series without worshiping.

3. Schindler’s List (1993) 97%

When goodness is uncovered in a flawed man, it blossoms into an obsession. A deeply touching and powerful reminder that those with the capacity to affect change also have a responsibility.

Itzhak Stern: “There will be generations because of what you did.”

Oskar Schindler: “I didn’t do enough!”

2. The Apostle (1997) 91%

Momma: That’s my son, that is. I’ll tell ya: ever since he was an itty bitty boy, sometimes he talks to the lord and sometimes he yells at the lord. Tonight, he just happens to be yellin’ at him.

1. Return of the King (2003) 94%

Not All Who Wander Are Lost:
Tolkien represents primary goal of Christian artistry: let the beauty of the art be the message. His stories were not sermons, they were simply stories. And they were masterpieces infused with the heart of a follower of Christ: redemption, sacrifice, forgiveness, hope and despair, power and temptation, multiple Christ figures (Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn). As well Tolkien was an artist fully present with the good and evil of his time period: the First World War, the dangers of modernization, and a divorce of humanity from the natural world. And few would argue, Peter Jackson accomplished an astonishing near-perfect transfer of art to the big screen.