Top 10 Christian Films of All-Time (According to Me)

Last week, I asked the question: Why Do Christian Movies Suck? Many of you responded in both agreement, and in defense, of Christian films. I decided I would add to the discussion and compose a list of the Top 10 Christian Films. Turns out, this list was harder to compile than I originally assumed.

To be fair, this list is based on criteria of what I consider to be a great Christian film. Here they are:

* The film must be Christian in tone, although it does not have to be overtly “Christian.” It can simply imply Christin themes, as long as the message being shared lines up with scripture and/or Jesus Himself.
* The film should be of great production quality, including cinematography, set design, producing, editing., and of course, acting.
* The film should be timeless and enjoyable, both now and for future generations
* The film should be somewhat realistic in the story it is telling, choosing to steer away from Christian stereotypes and cliches.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 10 Christian Films of All-Time (In no particular order…well sorta).

1. The Ten Commandments. Yes, it’s old but man is it good. Heston rocks it. I heard him in an interview once say that he really did feel the presence of God while filming. He went on to say that he was never the same after making this movie. A classic for a reason.

2. The Apostle. I know some people take issue with this movie because of its harsh display of a pastor’s fall from grace. But I love it for its honesty and redemptive story-telling. I watched this movie for the first time, late one night around 2 a.m. when I was having a difficult time with the Lord. I was far from God in that time of my life. I remember crying and then being filled with hope as I watched this film. It is not to be missed.

3. The Mission.Sadly, I don’t think many people have heard of this film. It stars, oddly enough, Robert DeNiro. The premise: 18th Century Jesuit missionary’s arrive in some far removed American Indian tribal community. There the missionary men attempt to protect the tribe from being conquered by Portugal and forced into slavery. The movie as a whole is very sparse in terms of actual dialogue. It is the performances and the action however are rich and powerful. This movie reminds one the need to “not love with word or with tongue but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18.

4. The Passion of the Christ- If you have yet to see this movie please see it soon. If you have already then you can understand its place on this list. There is much to say about this film but my own personal note was that seeing such an accurate depiction of Jesus in His final days truly opened up the Gospels to me in a new way. The images of Him teaching on the Mount, carrying His cross, enduring His death, all brought vivid imagery to my mind’s eye. As a result, without overstating it, I experienced a greater feeling of appreciation and desperation for Jesus.

5. Beyond the Gates of Splendor-This film according to IMDB is “a beautifully crafted documentary about five young missionaries who were martyred by a savage tribe of Indians in the mid 1950s and the heroic effort of reconciliation that has followed.” Elizabeth Elliot, a prolific Christian writer, is the wife and subsequent widow of one of the martyred men. She later returned to the tribe , with her small child, and lived among them continuing to show Christ’s love. It is a powerful family tragedy and redemptive story. A movie that may be a somewhat familiar and is based upon this documentary is End of the Spear (2005), also worth checking out.

6. Ben-Hur- My dad woke me up at 4:00 a.m. one summer morning (that’s right, I said summer morning at 4 a.m.) to watch this film. I think I was 15 or so. It was playing on television, uncut, and he didn’t want me to miss it. I sat there staring at the screen angry that I was being forced to watch some ancient, Technicolor, 4 hour length feature at the crack of dawn. But as it went on, I got into it. It is full of action, drama, and God’s power. This bad boy won 11 Oscars alone! See it and make sure your kids see it too…maybe just let them sleep in a little.

7. Dead Man Walking– This film received considerable buzz and accolades when it was released in 1995. It stars Sean Penn as an inmate on death row and Susan Sarandon as a devoted nun who befriends him. This film is not overtly Christian but it certainly speaks to the power of forgiveness and friendship. And it’s just plain good.

8. Wings of Desire- This is a small foreign film (1987) which follows an angel as he travels the streets of Berlin. He falls in love with a mortal and must make a choice for love. It deals with free will and God’s unending love. Yes, the sappy and over the top City of Angels starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan is a remake of this film. See the original.

9. Chariots of FireAHHmazing classic. I saw this film for the first time last year and have to admit, I regret not seeing it sooner. Talk about giving God the glory and it’s based on a true story, which I always love.

10. Lars and the Real Girl– Yes, this one is a surprise to me too. It’s a bit of a stretch as far as calling it a “Christian” film. However, the community and church, which is quasi-Christian, in the film, come around a troubled young man and care for him. Definitely not what I expected. This film is a surprise gem.

So there you have it, my top ten. What are some of your favorite Christian films? What do you think should have made the cut? I know you have an opinion, let’s hear it!

57 thoughts on “Top 10 Christian Films of All-Time (According to Me)”

  1. First I like the page make-over. I just did a total re-do on mine too, even move to a new URL. It looks great.

    For Number 3, much of it was rumored in the movie to have happened in Brazil but actually took place in Paraguay. We live in Paraguay. There are still some random bootleg copies available down here. We watched one and then on the Saturday that followed went to the ruins of the Reductions to see the where it all went down. Stunning and surreal.

    I know this is may be a stretch too, but what about “The Book of Eli?” Great action apocalyptic film.

    1. Ken,
      I checked out your new site and it looks great!

      Very cool that you were able to visit the site where the Mission events took place. How amazing it must have been.

      And I have wanted to see the Book of Eli. I have heard mixed things, but I happen to love post-apocalyptic films so I bet I would enjoy it.

  2. I think the best “Christian” movie I’ve seen is the movie Saved. It’s a movie about a girl who goes to a Christian high school that gets pregnant over the summer and how her friends and the school reacts to her pregnancy. Very honest and somewhat convicting to me as a Christian watching it.

    1. Dan,
      I’ll be totally honest and admit that those are the types of films that I judge from afar. I’m guilty. However, enough people have said good things about these two movies for me to give them a shot.

      1. You’ve never seen them?! Yes, please do give them a chance. They may not be made with hollywood’s usual 100+ million dollars but for their budget and resources they’re amazing in my opinion – and much better quality than the first 2 movies made by this studio (facing the giants and flywheel). if they’re good enough to have changed a great amount of people’s lives in the areas of marriage, family, fatherhood, etc (and they have) then they’re successful in my book.

  3. Actually, Fireproof is really good. Also, I love Prince of Egypt – especially as a family film. We’ve had some powerful talks about God’s sovereignty, plan and provision with our 4 and 6 year old after watching this movie.

  4. Great list! I happen to LOVE “One Night with the King” based on Esther and am looking forward to seeing, “The Way” with Martin Sheen – although not sure if that is explicitly Christian.

    My husband happened to love the Courageous film, especially in light of the fact that we have 2 daughters. He related to it and was inpsired as a father. I had more critiques to offer and when I told a friend of ours how unrealistic I thought it was that a group of men signed the resolution – our friend said he went to work the next day and told his buddies to keep him accountable as a father. So I know if God can use a burning bush to speak to Moses – he use a film to reach someone.

    1. Hi Melissa! Nice to hear from you.

      I have wanted to see :One Night with the King.” I’ll take your recommendation. And I haven’t heard of “The Way,” or maybe I have. I think I heard an ad on the radio for it. Hmm…

      I love hearing stories like the one you shared too. It is cool to watch God use a movie to speak to someone, even if I happen to not adore the movie.

    1. Dave,
      Still want to see the book of Eli. I also love the Matrix. I know a lot of Christians think of it as a “Christian” film and while it does have so much Christology in it, I hesitate to call it a Christian film.

      I just wonder if an unbeliever would sit down, watch the Matrix, and understand or have received the Gospel. It’s like the Matrix is a Christian movie for only those “in the know.”

    2. Oooh, good call on Book of Eli. When I first saw that movie, I really didn’t like it. But, the more I thought about it, the more I got out of it.

  5. I just saw The Book of Eli this weekend and I would definitely have to add it to my top 10. It’s pretty graphic and the language is awful, but the point of the movie is awesome.

    I would also add Soul Surfer and Luther.

  6. “The Mission” isn’t just a great film but has a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack as well. “The Passion of the Christ” does drive the Passion home, but I found it a bit gratuitous in terms of blood. It’s clear that Jesus suffered terribly; whether this is “accurate” is a tough call.

    Another film that might be considered “Christian” is M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs.” Yeah, it’s about aliens, but pay attention to the spiritual struggle of the backslidden clergyman played by Mel Gibson. Really poignant.

    1. Matt,
      Yeah, I’m not sure exactly how accurate The Passion really is either, but considering Jesus received 39 lashes, which was the equivalent to a death sentence at the time, I’m sure there was a fair amount of blood. Either way, we can agree that He suffered and I think the film does a powerful job of underscoring that fact.

      As for the movie SIgns, I really liked it when I originally saw it, but that was years ago. I’ll have to watch it again with new eyes and see what jumps out at me.

      Thanks for adding to the list Matt.

  7. I like the Jesus Film. It doesn’t have the special effects of newer movies but it is a film which tries to stay close to the Bible text and not add or subtract important things about the life of Jesus.

  8. I have to admit that I’ve only seen one movie from this, that being “Ben-Hur.”
    I my favorite Christian movies, if i may add my opinion, are “To Save a Life” and “End of the Spear,” both of which I had the pleasure of watching with the youth group at my church.

  9. Have you seen The Fourth Wiseman? It’s a 1985 TV movie, starring Martin Sheen and a very young Charlie has a tiny part. Also Alan Arkin and his son Adam has a tiny part.

    It’s cheesy, yet WONDERFUL! We watch it every Epiphany since I was a child. And I cry every single year.

  10. I’m really getting in to these movies that are not strictly Christian but have strong Christian characters like the book of Eli.
    Cowboys and Aliens has a strong preacher who talks about redemption.
    The last exorcism has a backslidden preacher who comes back to faith when faced with real evil.
    My favorite though is the movie Priest. Yes it was cheesy but the hero stops in the middle of losing a battle and prays, then he gets up and wins the fight with new supernatural strength. Thats a message I want my kids to see!

  11. Nice list there Nicole, I’ll try to watch the movies i haven’t seen… You can check out The Grace card, What would Jesus do, Saving God, Letters to God, and The Greatest Love. I am sure they will be a blessing…

  12. One movie that is NOT on your list that I absolutely LOVE and brought tears to my eyes:

    The Nativity Story! It’s a Christmas movie and just AMAZING!!!

    Another movie that I LOVE, which is amazing . . . and comes from the book of a Christian-Fiction author whom I ADORE is “The Last Sin Eater”. Francine Rivers is phenomenal and all her books should be read. Every Christian woman 18+ should, yearly, read her book “Redeeming Love”.

    Amazing Grave is another movie worth seeing! It tells the story behind the hymn and is pretty amazing actually!

    Another fairly current one I LOVE is Joshua! It’s is a modern parallel of the story of Christ and what it could be like if he walked in a current town today. It spurs up a lot of amazing discussions for sure!

    1. Emily,
      I liked the Nativity Story, but I felt like they made Mary to be a sad, confused, scared little girl. I’m not sure, but I don’t think she was like that. I imagine her to have been full of God’s joy and hope. She smiled like one time in the movie, which was a disappointment for me.

      I’ve read some of Francine Rivers and loved her. Have not read that one though.

      Thanks for sharing some other great ones to the list Emily.

  13. Great page and I love your movie list; mostly because it’s not typical. Most pages I’ve looked up on this topic have the typical “Fireproof”, “Left Behind”, etc. Kudos for mixing it up! One movie I really like is Stigmata. It’s classed as “horror” but it’s not overly gruesome and actually has a pretty powerful message; that God does not live in temples of wood and stone. The movie follows a young atheist girl who gradually moves to faith by being inflicted with the stigmata and possession. I’m not Catholic and the subject content is admittedly a little twisted (and not for kids), but the message is very positive and pro-Christ. It’s also interesting that the Catholic Church opposed the film and wouldn’t let them film at the Vatican because the movie entertains the notion that it’s possible to have a relationship with God outside of organized religion.

    I also agree with another writer here that Priest is a great movie! It addresses an important subject that many will be familiar with. Churches can sometimes be oppressive and I love how this guy stands up to the religious authorities for the sake of truth and justice. The sad part is that he thinks that by going against the church he is going against God, but a lot of people face this struggle when then have been abused by religion and wake from a spiritual slumber. I love how his friend tries to help him understand that true power comes from God not from religion. There are some great pro-God themes in this movie along with some kick-butt action.

    So many Christian-made films are so incredibly cheesy and embarrassing, though some (despite this problem) have moments that are very effective. I guess anyone who is in the right place to receive a message, God can use anything to do it. Fireproof is one of the lesser cheesy films that does ride close to the edge of cheese, but manages to come off strong and effectively portrays the value of the Gospel.

    I liked The Rite, which is about a young guy who doesn’t believe in God but enters Catholic seminary to get away from his family and avoid having to go into the family business of being a mortician. While at school he is trained by a priest (Anthony Hopkins) and introduced to the reality of evil. In the end he finds faith by the realization that if the devil is real, so must God be real and also much more powerful than the devil as well. It’s a pretty cool moment when he comes to this revelation and the devil realizes that his own plan backfired and God used what the devil intended and turned it around to defeat him.

    Book of Eli, I agree, AWESOME!!!

    Matrix, awesome… Equilibrium also good – though I agree that both movies don’t necessarily fit in the “Christian” category but have themes that can be interpreted that way.

    Other great Gospel films include Luther and I really like God’s Outlaw. It’s old, but I love the story of William Tyndale. I also love the old movie Brother Sun Sister Moon, which is about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. I love his rebellion from the pomp and wealth of typical religiosity to a simple devotion to God. Some will find the movie a little slow, but it’s full of inspiring meaning and one of my favorites.

    Ok… I’ve rambled on too long. hehehe… Thanks for a great post! :) Glad I found it!

  14. hi, Nicole! i think nobody ever mentioned “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” i stumbled upon it on TBN. it’s a great Christian movie about friendship, forgiveness, and best of all how to share your faith in the Lord Jesus.

  15. There’s one of a boy that had a disease and got adopted by a family who did not believe in Christ. Through the Grace of God he changed their lives. I have forgotten the title though.

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  18. Wonderful list! Along with Mission, one of my favorite movies is Marcellino Pan y Vino and the true story of Father Damian, entitled Molokai, both true gems. And of course, War Room, Courageous, and Fireproof, esp. for young people.

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