16 Best Christian Movies, Ranked According to Rotten Tomatoes

Movies about faith and religion generally have a reputation for being subpar, often laughable exercises in message over substance. It’s lamentable that faith-based audiences haven’t had more selection historically. Especially considering the size of the demographic, it’s a pity this has long been the case.

COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

One of the surprise breakout hits of 2023, Jesus Revolution scored well with audiences and exceeded expectations at the box office. Critics generally endorsed the faith-based drama, with the film hovering just above a “Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. Movies dealing with faith can be challenging to evaluate, especially from a critical angle. But as films that deal with themes of Christianity have become more popular in recent years, many have scored well on Rotten Tomatoes with both audiences and critics.

16 ‘Breakthrough’ (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

'Breakthrough' (2019) (1)

Based on the true story of a young boy named John Smith, Breakthrough revolves around the miraculous recovery of John (Marcel Ruiz), who falls through the ice of a frozen lake and is declared dead for over an hour. But his mother, Joyce Smith, holds out hope and desperately prays for her son’s recovery. John’s heart begins to beat again through the power of prayer, and in defiance of initial medical expectations, he finally makes a full recovery.

Breakthrough is a rare example of a faith-based movie that respects the medical profession. Moreover, it isn’t afraid to show the characters’ doubts and difficulties, which makes the eventual breakthrough much more potent and poignant. The movie is more than just faith, it’s an all-encompassing movie that mixes faith, love, community, and hope to uplift, inspire, and bring joy. Even though it might not be a blockbuster, this movie could inspire others of the same genre to succeed.

Breakthrough

Release Date
April 10, 2019

Director
Roxann Dawson

Runtime
116

Main Genre
Documentary

Writers
Grant Nieporte

Tagline
Based On The Impossible True Story

Rent on Amazon Prime

15 ‘Jesus Revolution’ (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

Jesus Revolution is inspired by the true story of a Christian revival that took place in the late 1960s in southern California, led by, of all people, hippies. The story follows the intersecting narratives of Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith, and Lonnie Frisbee, all leaders and pastors in this movement where thousands of people in California started following Jesus, leading to thousands more across the country in subsequent years.

The three men playing these roles also couldn’t be more different. Greg Laurie is played by relative newcomer Joel Courtney, whose biggest role previously was as a child actor in Super 8. Chuck Smith is played by Kelsey Grammer, well-established in Hollywood and on television. Fans of Christian media will recognize Jonathan Roumie who plays Lonnie Frisbee from his role as Jesus in The Chosen. It’s the differing paths of these actors and ultimately their characters that create the perfect storm for revival to occur in this story.

Jesus Revolution Film Poster

Jesus Revolution

The true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California.

Release Date
February 24, 2023

Director
Jon Erwin , Brent McCorkle

Runtime
120 minutes

Main Genre
Drama

Watch on Netflix

14 ‘I Can Only Imagine’ (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine is a biographical drama about the real life of Bart Mallard, lead singer of the band MercyMe. The film traces Bart’s childhood in Texas, his abusive relationship with his father, and their eventual reconciliation. Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman are the heavy hitters of the cast, but Broadway performer J. Michael Finley gives a moving performance as Bart and handles all of his singing.

Because of its autobiographical nature, this story is intensely personal and resonates deeply with fans. It also has great music, and the popular MercyMe song “I Can Only Imagine” gets to be appreciated on a deeper level, as fans now know the origin story, not only of the singer but also of the song.

Watch on Tubi

13 ‘Come Sunday’ (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Come Sunday (2018) (1)

Come Sunday centers on Carlton Pearson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is a successful and charismatic Pentecostal preacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He belongs to the prosperity gospel movement, which promotes the idea that faith can bring about material success and personal wealth, and he has a sizable congregation. When Pearson gets a discovery that contradicts his long-held convictions, however, his life takes a drastic shift.

The movie offers a warning about the theological misunderstandings and abuses that can occur in charismatic societies where the phrase “God told me” is often used. It also raises questions about the nature of God, salvation, and the role of organized religion in the lives of believers, providing audiences with a provocative look at the path of a man who dared to doubt and develop his religion in spite of the difficulties it caused.

Watch on Netflix

12 ‘A Hidden Life’ (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Franz and Franziska lay in grass together in A Hidden Life
Image via Fox Searchlight

A Hidden Life is based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector during World War II, who refused to fight for the Nazis when they recruited soldiers from his small Austrian town. His fate is written on the wall, but the audience takes the journey with him, as he wrestles with his conscience, talks with his wife, and consults his local clergy about his moral dilemma. The punishment for not fighting is clear, but Franz accepts his death with sadness to lose his family but joy at having obeyed his Creator.

Directed by Terrance Malick, this is perhaps one of the most beautiful films ever made. There are wide, expansive shots of the family farm nestled in the Austrian mountains. We see the vastness of the country and also witness the intimacy between a husband and wife. We know that Franz’s character has changed from how he was as a young man, but the struggle the audience sees is more simple: the struggle to follow his conviction. Once he realizes that he cannot fight in the war, he is resolved. And while his bravery is simple, the audience sees the cost of his courage, culminating in his death.

A Hidden Life

Release Date
December 11, 2019

Director
Terrence Malick

Runtime
180

Main Genre
Biography

Writers
Terrence Malick

Tagline
Written & Directed By Terrence Malick

Rent on Amazon

11 ‘Chariots of Fire’ (1981)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83 %

A group of young men running on the beach in Chariots of Fire
Image via 20th Century Studios

An earnest and sentimental, undeniably touching Oscar-winning drama about love and friendship between men, this British classic directed by Hugh Hudson is based on the true story of Christian Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Jewish Ben Cross (Harold Abrahams), competitors in the 1924 Olympics.

Winner of four Oscars (from seven nods) including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire is widely regarded as one of the best sports movies ever. Perhaps most of all, it’s known for the pulsing and rousing electronic Vangelis score. One year later, Vangelis would compose and perform the equally brilliant score for Blade Runner.

Chariots of Fire Poster

Chariots of Fire

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, are driven to win in the 1924 Olympics as they wrestle with issues of pride and conscience.

Release Date
May 15, 1981

Director
Hugh Hudson

Cast
Nicholas Farrell , Nigel Havers , Ian Charleson , Ben Cross , Daniel Gerroll , Ian Holm

Runtime
123

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Colin Welland

Tagline
Two men chasing dreams of glory!

Rent on Amazon

10 ‘Silence’ (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Liam Neeson in Silence.
Image via Paramount

Silence is the movie Martin Scorcese waited over twenty years to make. It’s the story of two Jesuit priests, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, who go on a rescue mission to Edo-era Japan to rescue their mentor, played by Liam Neeson. Their mentor, Ferreira, is rumored to be dead or worse — to have renounced his faith. In their search, the two men experience persecution, hunger, and despair.

This film is clearly a labor of love for Scorsese, arguably his most personal film. It’s visually stunning, with sweeping shots of the Japanese coasts and forests. More intimately, Scorsese is able to showcase human suffering, loneliness, and hope (or the lack of it) through these characters. Silence is a bleak and grueling watch clocking in at over three hours, but Scorsese’s passion makes it essential viewing for any film fan. Justin Chang of Los Angeles Times named Silence the best film of 2016, calling it “shattering” and “an anguished masterwork.”

silence

Silence

In the 17th century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor, who is rumored to have committed apostasy, and to propagate Catholicism.

Release Date
December 22, 2016

Director
Martin Scorsese

Runtime
195

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Shusaku Endo , Jay Cocks , Martin Scorsese

Tagline
Sometime silence is the deadliest sound

Studio
Paramount Pictures

Watch on Paramount +

9 ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss rescuing a fallen soldier from battlefield in Hacksaw Ridge.
Image via Lionsgate Films

Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, an American who served in the Army during World War II but refused to handle a rifle or work on Saturdays because of his faith as a Seventh-Day Adventist and pacifist Christian. Regardless, Doss enlisted in the army as a medic following the attack on Pearl Harbor. After enduring beatings, verbal assault and nearly being discharged from the army, the explosive, powerful film culminates with Doss being accepted by his fellow soldiers, and saving 75 men at Hacksaw Ridge.

Garfield is known for taking on roles that explore faith and meaning, and this is a prime example. Directed by Mel Gibson, the intensity of the war scenes he captures offers a stunning backdrop to witness Doss’s unwillingness to bear arms.Hacksaw Ridge served as something of a comeback for once disgraced Gibson, garnering positive critical and audience response in addition to six Academy Award nods.

Hacksaw Ridge Film Poster

Hacksaw Ridge

Release Date
November 4, 2016

Cast
Andrew Garfield , Richard Pyros , Jacob Warner , Milo Gibson , Darcy Bryce , Roman Guerriero

Runtime
139 minutes

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Robert Schenkkan , Andrew Knight

Tagline
When the order came to retreat. One man stayed.

Studio
Summit Entertainment

Website
http://www.hacksawridge.movie/

Watch on Netflx

8 ‘Ben-Hur’ (1959)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Charlton Heston steering white horses in a chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959)
Image via MGM

One of the most spectacular period movies on record, The Best Years of Our Lives helmer William Wyler‘s astounding epic is based on the most popular Christian novel of the 19th century: Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The story follows a wrongly convicted and enslaved Jewish noble whose adventures parallel, and even intertwine, with the story of Jesus.

Featuring Charlton Heston‘s best performance, Ben-Hur won a record 11 Oscars (only matched by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The climactic chariot race is still among the most rousing action set pieces ever committed to film. It’s definitely worth mentioning the 1925 silent MGM feature here as well, a landmark in its own right that every film fan should experience. A laughably under-cooked 2016 remake came and went.

Ben-Hur Movie Poster

Ben-Hur

After a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend in 1st-century Jerusalem, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Release Date
November 18, 1959

Director
William Wyler

Cast
Charlton Heston , Jack Hawkins , Haya Harareet , Stephen Boyd , Hugh Griffith , Martha Scott

Runtime
212 minutes

Writers
Lew Wallace , Karl Tunberg , Maxwell Anderson , S.N. Behrman , Christopher Fry , Gore Vidal

Tagline
The Entertainment Experience of a Lifetime!

Watch on MGM+

7 ‘The Tree of Life’ (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Jessica Chastain marvels at butterfly in "Tree of Life"
Image via Fox Searchlight 

Director Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life is arguably one of the first and biggest mainstream films to deal with the concept of faith, pulling explicitly from the Bible, especially the Book of Job. The movie follows the adult Jack O’Brien, played by Sean Penn as he reflects on his childhood, his parents being played by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

One of the most theologically profound aspects of this movie is the attention it gives to two opposing forces of humanity: the way of grace and the way of nature. The adult Jack O’Brien feels both of these forces within himself as he remembers his childhood. His mother who is kind, nurturing, and patient, embodies the way of grace. His father who is short-tempered, restless, and at times cruel, exemplifies the way of nature. The adult Jack tries to work out who he is as these dual forces battle within him like they do for all of us. Though it’s somewhat divisive, Tree of Life was an overall triumph, garnering three Oscar nods including Best Picture.

The Tree of Life

Release Date
May 17, 2011

Director
Terrence Malick

Runtime
138

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Terrence Malick

Tagline
Summer.

Watch on Hulu

6 ​​​’The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) (1)

Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind follows William (Maxwell Simba) as he is forced to drop out of school due to a famine that devastates his village. Despite having no formal education, William is motivated to find a solution to the issues affecting his community, especially the starvation and drought that endanger their way of life. He becomes passionate about using wind energy to power a water pump and irrigate the fields, giving a lifeline for his village’s survival after being inspired by a book he finds in the neighborhood library.

The movie’s themes of resiliency, ingenuity, and the strength of the human spirit are set against this backdrop as it emphasizes how faith can bring comfort, motivation, and a sense of purpose during trying times. Although it’s frequently tough to watch due to its honest depiction of human suffering, this only helps its high points pay off and makes the movie one of the most inspirational stories about human resilience and faith.

Watch on Netflix

5 ‘Calvary’ (2014)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Calvary
Image via eOne

Calvary follows the story of a sincere, yet imperfect priest seeking to minister to a town that is burdened by sin and doubt. After an anonymous source warns Father James will pay for the sins of other priests with his life, the weight of the problems of the town seems to grow, and it seems there is a limit to the reconciliation Father James is able to usher in. Brendan Gleeson plays the priest Father James perfectly.

The film provides an interesting premise: rather than telling a story of a bad priest in a good world, this is the story of a good priest in a bad world. The values of forgiveness and restoration are strong, though they are always contrasted with despair and melancholy. Nearly a decade before his Oscar-nominated turn in The Banshees of Inisherin, Gleeson displayed his distinct gift for grounding dark comedy in layers of humanity.

Calvary

Release Date
April 11, 2014

Director
John Michael McDonagh

Runtime
105

Main Genre
Comedy

Writers
John Michael McDonagh

Tagline
Killing a priest on a Sunday. That’ll be a good one.

Rent on Amazon

4 ‘Women Talking’ (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Women Talking
Image via Universal

Women Talking is just what it sounds like. The film centers around a conversation between female representatives of a Mennonite community in Bolivia who must decide together how to respond to a crisis in their community. Over a period of four years, the women have been attacked in the night by certain unknown men in their community. They have a small window of time when the men are away from the colony and the women must decide — should they run, fight, or do nothing?

This movie grapples with the question so many Christians deal with: What happens when I’m suffering and God is silent? Working out the answer to this question is exquisitely achieved in this film, which calls itself “a work of female imagination.” The cast and crew were made up of nearly all females, with particularly excellent performances by Claire Foy and Rooney Mara. In the end, the women make their decision communally. They share their stories, their anger, and their hurts. In the end, they do come to a decision, and while they know it’s right, it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Women Talking Film Poster

Women Talking

Release Date
December 23, 2022

Runtime
104 minutes

Main Genre
Drama

Watch on MGM+

3 ‘First Reformed’ (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Father Toller and Mary sit on a couch together and both drink coffee

First Reformed deals with crises of faith. Ethan Hawke plays Father Toller, pastor of a historic church in upstate New York with a dying congregation. Amanda Seyfried plays Mary, a pregnant woman worried about her husband, a man consumed by the thoughts that the earth will become uninhabitable for their child due to climate change. These characters come together, dealing with the weightiness of their personal lives, local politics, and a worldwide existential threat.

The most marvelous thing about this film is the relationship between its two main characters, played by Hawke and Seyfried. They’re calm and understated, yet carrying the weight of the world within themselves. Yet this resonates as a human experience. Humans carry on in the face of death, loss, failure, uncertainty, and fear. These two characters look to Christianity for answers, but the answers don’t come easily.

Watch on Max

2 ‘Mass’ (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

mass-ann-dowd-jason-isaacs

Mass is the story of one conversation that takes place entirely in a church basement. Two sets of parents who are connected by tragedy meet in an attempt to heal from the deaths of both of their sons. And while the setting is simple, the movie deals with the incredibly heavy issues of blame, guilt, and reconciliation. The movie is the directorial debut of Fran Kranz (he played the pothead in Cabin in the Woods), who also wrote and directed.

Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton all give moving performances of parents dealing with grief and hurt. The four of them create a lasting tension in the room together that makes trudging through their feelings difficult and volatile. Despite overwhelmingly positive response from critics as well as audiences (the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is 91%), Mass more or less went under the radar upon release. It’s one of the most powerful drama movies so far this decade, a gut punch about grace and redemption.

Mass 2021 Film Poster

Mass

Years after a tragic incident that changed their lives, two sets of parents agree to meet in a small church basement to discuss the unimaginable pain caused by their sons. Through their conversation, they confront their deepest grief and seek a path toward understanding and reconciliation.

Release Date
October 8, 2021

Director
Fran Kranz

Runtime
111 Minutes

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Fran Kranz

Watch on Hulu

1 ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ (1928)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Maria Falconetti holding a cross and praying in The Passion of Joan of Arc

A breathtaking triumph of the silent era, Carl Theodor Dreyer‘s masterpiece depicts the trial and execution of the eponymous defender of France who claimed to hear the voice of God. The film was released eight years after the Roman Catholic Church made Joan of Arc a patron saint.

Stylistically, The Passion of Joan of Arc is the place where French Impressionism, German Expressionism and Soviet Montage meet. The director was famously meticulous in research surrounding the life and death of the subject, the production exquisitely framing Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance that’s long been regarded as among the best in film. Few films if any have relied so heavily on close-ups to such remarkable effect.

passion-of-joan-of-arc-poster

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Release Date
April 21, 1928

Runtime
1 hr 50 min

Watch on Tubi

NEXT: The Best Religious Horror Movies


Source link

Check Also

Lana Del Rey Wrote the ’24’ Chorus for 2015 James Bond Film ‘Spectre’

Lana Del Rey wants the 4-1-1 on the next 007 soundtrack. The singer/songwriter told the …

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger