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.
BEST CHRISTIAN MOVIE (NOMINEES)
Beyond the Mask: Herein lies an unusual combination of elements for films in this genre: historical intrigue, suspense and … explosions. Plus romance, just for good measure, and … Ben Franklin?! Penned by Adventures in Odyssey writer and co-creator Paul McCusker, Beyond the Mask tells the story of a British assassin who’s tired of killing. He desperately want to find spiritual redemption, and he hopes escaping England to pre-Revolutionary War Philadelphia can give him a fresh start. Alas, it only makes things more complicated for him as he’s continually confronted by his personal demons and baggage from his past … all while this prodigal assassin tries (with the help of the woman he loves) to foil a nefarious bomb plot planned by revolutionary patriots.
Captive: Sometimes it takes an extreme event in our lives to help us break destructive patterns. That’s exactly what happened to struggling single mom and meth addict Ashley Smith. Early in the morning of March 12, 2005, she’s taken hostage by Brian Nichols, a man who’s just killed four people while breaking out of Atlanta’s Fulton County Courthouse. Stories like these generally end tragically. But this one takes a surprising turn when Nichols asks Ashley to read aloud a book she just so happens to have on hand: Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. This gritty movies pulls few punches in its depiction of Ashley’s captivity, but it powerfully illustrates God’s providential care for us—no matter how badly we think we’ve blown it—even in a situation as unexpectedly harrowing as the one Ashley finds herself in.
Old Fashioned: “I made a promise—to never be alone with any woman who’s not my wife.” That’s what intense, thirtysomething Christian bachelor Clay Walsh tells a pretty new tenant moving into the apartment above his antiques shop. The woman, Amber Hewson, is equal parts amused and intrigued. She’s on the run from past hurts herself, and she’s never met anyone quite like Clay. It’s safe to say she doesn’t share his “old fashioned” sensibilities when it comes to purity, love and marriage, but you know what’s coming next, of course: a budding, unlikely romance that forces both of them to confront painful wounds and insecurities—and to trust God in deeper ways with the love that blossoms between them.
War Room: A movie about … prayer? It’s something only the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen, would contemplate. But the guys who brought us Fireproof, Courageous and Facing the Giants do more than just contemplate such a concept. They pull it off admirably in War Room. The room in question here is the place a widow named Clara retires to talk with God—spiritual conversation she knows can transform the life of anyone who commits to just an hour a week on his or her knees. That’s a lesson she longs to impart to her real estate agent, Elizabeth. The younger woman is unsure what to think of her prayer-proselytizing client, but when Elizabeth’s seemingly perfect marriage begins to crumble, she’s suddenly open to the ideas about intercession that Clara wants to help her (and War Room’s viewers) learn.
Woodlawn: It’s 10 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birmingham campaign, but volatile racial tension still grips the Alabama city—especially at Woodlawn High School where forced integration of bused-in black students has resulted in controversy and violent riots. That tension is particularly palpable on the school’s football team. But something truly unexpected happens when an evangelist shows up and leads just about the entire team to Christ. Racial strife is replaced with racial reconciliation among the players, and a modern-day revival redemptively ripples through the school, then the fractured and divided city of Birmingham at large in this true story.
Movie summaries written by Plugged In reviewer Adam Holz.