All this week we’re unveiling our picks for our Plugged In Movie Awards, wherein we select the movies we feel best nourish both the mind and soul. (But make sure to read our full reviews before deciding whether you or your family should see any of these!) Our four categories are Kids, Teens, Adults and Christian movies. We’d love for you to chime in, either here or on Facebook, and vote for your favorites. Then, in a few weeks, Jake Roberson and Paul Asay will unveil the winners—both our “official” selections and the top popular vote-getters—on our Plugged In Vodcast.
The 33: In 2010, a massive cave-in trapped 33 Chilean miners nearly half a mile under the skin of the earth. No one had ever been rescued from such a depth. And some, it seemed, were ready to write off the miners’ fate. But thanks to the efforts of their families and key government officials, as well as the fervent prayers of millions, the miners survived more than two months underground. All of them lived to see the sun again. This movie, based on a true story, is a rare secular film that not only acknowledges faith, but embraces it as a powerful and positive influence in people’s lives. The 33 celebrates hope, love and especially life—telling us that you can’t put a price tag on it.
Bridge of Spies: In the heat of the Cold War, a Soviet spy is caught, red-handed, as it were, stealing secrets in the U.S. Not long after, an American pilot crashes down somewhere in the U.S.S.R. while performing a little high-altitude spying of his own. Of course, the two great world powers standing behind those two men find it impossible to admit that any official wrongdoing has taken place. So it’s left to Jim Donovan, a good insurance lawyer and a good man, to step out of his depth and try to save both men. Director Steven Spielberg’s experienced filmmaking touch and actor Tom Hank’s seasoned everyman dexterity are tarnished by a few awkwardly profane moments that seem wholly out of place in context. But this is also a film of immersive drama and compelling, perfectly filmed images—a movie that talks of integrity as a central ideal, and concern for others as a matter of course.
Brooklyn: A lovely young woman chooses to migrate to America in 1952, leaving the pretty-but-dowdy community of Enniscorthy, Ireland, behind. But starting a new life in a new land is no easy task. Through seasickness and homesickness, from career struggles to the loss of a dear one back home, she must learn how to rise up on her own two feet and stand by the choices and commitments she makes. Director John Crowley and a solid cast craft this sweet coming-of-age story into a film that’s quiet, emotional, hopeful and giving. It’s set in a nostalgic yesterday where the kindness of strangers is valued, where a priest can be a loving hero and the most frown-worthy villain is an old bitter gossip. Touches of foul language and a short but sensual just-before-the-wedding coupling scene are the only real drawbacks.
The Martian: We’ve all been lost. We’ve all felt alone. But astronaut Mark Watney has us all beat. Stranded on a planet 249 million miles from Earth, Mark must figure out how to survive on a Martian landscape inherently hostile to life—and, in his spare time, somehow let the folks back home know that he could, y’know, use a little help. The Martian is a simple, straightforward and ultimately inspirational story of survival—one that lauds ingenuity, teamwork and the flat-out human gumption to live despite all odds. Less pristine is the movie’s language. More eloquent are its actions.
Mr. Holmes: The great detective Sherlock Holmes is in his waning years. He’s retired now, withered and struggling with memory lapses. But he still has a number of things from the past that nag at him—and one last haunting case to solve. Fortunately, a young boy named Roger, the son of his housekeeper, is eager to give the elderly clue-solver a bit of youthful help. Based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, Mr. Holmes is a deftly crafted cinematic tale. It’s a moving and well-acted rumination on the place of cold logic—Sherlock Holmes’ stock and trade—in a world full of brokenness and heartache.
Movie summaries written by Plugged In reviewers Bob Hoose and Paul Asay.