Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Christian Movie

best christian movie PIMA 2019

It’s the last day to unveil our nominations, and we’ve saved the most spiritual for last. Christian movies are getting better with each passing year, and this year’s crop of nominees suggests the variety we’re seeing from them—from historical epics to modern dramas to the story of a bestselling song.

As always, chime in with your own thoughts. Pick your favorite among our nominees or, if you think we whiffed on one, choose your own. Let us know your own favorites down below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter, if you’re so inclined. You’ll have until Feb. 15 to vote. Winners will be announced Feb. 22.

God Bless the Broken Road: Amber Hill has given up: on her church community, herself and especially on God. After her military husband was killed overseas, she set aside her faith in favor of logic. But her young daughter hasn’t given up on God, and she’s still full of faith. That’s probably why she wants her mom to meet Cody, a cute new guy in town, so they can all move forward together. But Amber will need some supernatural healing before her life falls apart and she loses everything she holds dear. We see a few mildly violent scenes are witnesses and witness a lot of familial and personal conflict here. But those minor caveats aside, this could be a movie that helps some viewers navigate their own broken roads.

God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness: Division and conflict mar and mark our age, and the third God’s Not Dead movie seeks to speak into that cultural reality. Rev. Dave (a character in the previous two installments) seeks to deal with his anger and emotions when the campus church he pastors is burned down. We seem him struggle mightily to trust God in the aftermath, even as a pending lawsuit seeks to seize the church’s property—the church where Dave grew up, the one his father pastored before him. At times, it looks as if Dave’s bitterness may get the best of him. And some of his responses are downright ugly. Though it’s melodramatic at times, the story here moves toward an important message, which I summarized in my review: “Being light in the darkness requires listening and loving. It requires kindness and a willingness to sacrifice our rights. Those are important reminders for us all in the combative cultural moment in which we live, one in which being faithful is just as important—and perhaps even more so—as being a fighter.”

I Can Only Imagine: Sometimes overnight success is a lifetime in the making. And so it was with Bart Millard’s hit song with his band MercyMe, “I Can Only Imagine.” This drama tells Bart’s story—and it’s not an easy one. Young Bart was full of ideas and dreams. But his father’s had all died. And when Bart’s mom can’t take it anymore, she abandons her husband and son. Now Bart’s the only one left for Dad to unleash his bitterness upon. But even though the older man does his best to beat Bart’s “foolish” dreams out of him, Bart persists. He perseveres, pursuing his music—dreams that eventually pay off with him penning the biggest-selling Christian single of all time. Along that emotionally difficult and at times abusive road, both Bart and his father learn lessons about pain and redemption, about brokenness and forgiveness, about grace and second chances.

Paul, the Apostle of Christ: The streets of Rome are illuminated by burning Christians. Countless more are literally thrown to the lions. And the new faith’s greatest evangelist, Paul, is rotting in a Roman prison, counting his days until his own end comes. But Paul’s work isn’t done just yet. Luke, a doctor and writer, comes to visit, wanting to talk with Paul for a book he’s writing, one that’ll become known as Acts. And as they talk—and as a young, ambitious jailer called Mauritius puzzles over what to do with Paul—it becomes clear that Christianity’s story isn’t coming to an end: It’s just beginning. This powerful story from the Church’s early days is well told and well acted. But be warned: Rome can be a violent, deadly place, and we see that as well.

Unbroken: Path to Redemption: Following in the footsteps of the Angelina Jolie-directed story Unbroken, This sequel tells true story of war veteran Louis Zamperini after he returns from a Japanese POW camp at the end of World War II. Consumed by the terrors of his past, Zamperini wrestles to overcome his PTSD and destructive habits while supporting his wife and child. But his weaknesses become increasingly apparent, and he’s overcome by personal defeat—until he attends a Billy Graham crusade and encounters the God of heaven and earth. A few violent dreams are recounted, and Louis has a drinking problem, but all of his past mistakes are washed clean when he meets his Savior.

(All movie capsules written by Adam Holz, Bob Hoose, Kristin Smith and Paul Asay.)

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 5 days ago
5 for I Can Only Imagine
Anonymous 5 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I guess I'll have to go with I Can Only Imagine.
Anonymous 6 days ago
I Can Only Imagine
Cj lastrue 7 days ago
I nominate: Paul, the Apostle of Christ 
charitysplace 8 days ago
I'm going to mention one you haven't seen (at least, I couldn't search-find it on Plugged In) -- An Interview With God, about a young journalist returned from overseas whose marriage is falling apart. God meets him in a series of three heavily theological "debates" (interviews that continually turn personal, despite his annoyance) that change his life. I happened upon it at the library and watched it last night. It was a three-night event last summer. Raises a lot of interesting theological questions, offers some answers but asks you more to THINK. I woke up still thinking about it.

While I admire the desire to make more Christian movies, I'm going to be the odd one out here and say that "Paul" disappointed me. I realize very little about Ancient Rome was admirable and Christians had no reason to be "joyful" in those circumstances, but I think they made the film all about Catholic martyrdom (misery, suffering, angst over mistakes, punishment) and left out Paul's deeper sense of peace in his imprisonment and his joy in being a believer. Paul spends all of it tormented by his past, when Paul in scripture rejoiced in that he had been FORGIVEN. For Paul, it was all about an attitude of forgiveness and awe that he had been forgiven, rather than self-loathing and admonishment for his earlier crimes. So, I felt it somewhat got him "wrong."

Also, I did not like the ending -- apparently, "heaven" is a barren rock without color. You can't even die in Rome and go to a pretty place, it's just another dingy place just like the one you left behind. :P
Anonymous 7 days ago

I didn't see how 'Paul: An Apostle of Christ' had any Catholic overtones, or that the focus on suffering and his sin was inappropriate.  In his letters, Paul was very aware of his sin:  "What a wretched man that I am" (Rom 7:24); "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst" (1 Tim 1:15).  In both epistles, Paul is writing about his sinful condition in the present tense, not the past.  In Scripture, Paul knew he was forgiven, but he also knew that the heart is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). That's why he always warns us to avoid sin, and not take an "I'm okay, you're okay" approach.

Also, I don't think it's accurate to say that "Christians had no reason to be "joyful" in those circumstances."  Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we find joy in our circumstances.  We have joy in Christ, despite our circumstances:  "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:16-18); "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Rom 12:12); "That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:10).  We must search the Scriptures to find the truth of what the Lord says about following Him.

When I saw 'Paul: An Apostle of Christ', I felt that it was a very accurate depiction of what life was like for Paul and other believers in Rome at that time.  When I walked out of that movie with my teenage son, I said "I don't know how someone can watch that movie and still believe in the prosperity gospel".

charitysplace 5 days ago
I don't know how anyone can read history and believe in the prosperity gospel. ;)

Glad you enjoyed Paul. I was rather disappointed by it.
Anonymous 8 days ago

My choice for best Christian movie is the documentary "American Gospel: Christ Alone".  It wasn't in the theatres but is only available on iTunes, Amazon, and Vimeo.  It's about how (North) America has distorted the Gospel message.  It starts with a powerful presentation of what the Gospel truly is, and then it exposes the prosperity preachers for their false teaching and deception.  Every Christian should watch this movie.

My second choice is "Paul: An Apostle of Christ".

Nadine 11 days ago
I Can Only Imagine
Teal Neighbors 15 days ago
Paul, by far. It is so rare to see the after-Christ stories of the New Testament acted out on screen. Very well-done and engaging.
Maya J. Toman 16 days ago
I Can Only Imagine is very good, so that's my vote! (I don't even like the song, but the movie was very well done.)
Veronica Pyle 17 days ago
Hey, I've actually seen more than one of these movies! Paul: Apostle of Christ gets my vote. It was well-acted and it was pretty, and I love stories about the martyrs.
Zach's Gaming And Stop Motions 18 days ago
May I ask where Indivisible is? But in the ones you all included, it's nearly a 3 way tie for me: Paul, the Apostle of Christ, God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, and I Can Only Imagine. But the winner in my opinion would have to be I Can Only Imagine. I Can Only Imagine took our family on the beautiful journey of redemption that is Bart Miller's life, and boosted so much respect for this great man of God. Thank you for doing these awards, Plugged In! Praying for you all, and I really appreciate you.
Jacqui Torena 18 days ago
I vote for "I Can Only Imagine."
Helen Ernst 18 days ago
Unbroken was very well done and not campy at all. I felt it really captured the nightmare qualities of living with PTSD. It get's my unqualified vote.
Anonymous 18 days ago
Unbroken all the way.  It's a genuine shame that more people don't know this man's story.
Anonymous 17 days ago
If you read the book the full story is in there. The first movie didn't want to put the conversion part of the book in the film. The book by Luara Hildenbrand is really good. One of the best books I've read.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse 
Anonymous 18 days ago
Will check several of these out. We saw I can only imagine and it was good.   Just saw The Least of These” about missionary Graham Stained that we saw last night
Eva Schon 18 days ago
Paul: Apostle of Christ is the movie I vote for.  Powerful stuff.
Anonymous 18 days ago
God's Not Dead 3 definitely gets my vote, though Unbroken 2 comes in close behind. Besides I Can Only Imagine those are the only ones I've seen, and like I've said many times before I Can Only Imagine definitely had great musical performances in it, but the story itself was nothing special. Certainly not like the questions of violence, faith, and doubt that God's Not Dead 3 asked, or even like the fractured spiritual journey that Louis went on in Unbroken that ultimately led him to both Billy Graham and God. Imagine was sort of like a watered down version of Johnny Cash's epic Walk the Line movie without all the wonderful moments that that movie had. The book by Bart Millard on the other hand is quite good and has far more emotional depth than the movie itself does, so while the book is awesome the movie is not.
Rocketshipper 18 days ago

no contest.  My vote goes to "I Can Only Imagine". 

Julienne Dy 18 days ago
Hmm, I've only seen two movies on this list.  The one that gets my vote is I Can Only Imagine. 
Anonymous 18 days ago
I saw all but God Bless the Broken Road. I had seen the first Unbroken, so I wanted to see the sequel to it, and it did not disappoint. Great movie with a great message. I Can Only Imagine was a powerful movie, and I loved it - saw it twice, as a matter of fact. I think many people can resonate with the family difficulty (even if their circumstances were different), which I think made it very powerful in message and content. That movie and Paul, the Apostle of Christ would get my vote. People tend to write off Bible-based movies, but Paul was well-written and acted. It brought me to tears on several occasions, and brought to light, even if on a partial, inadequate basis, the persecution of followers of Christ in those times. It's easy to read what Paul went through and think it had to be 'hard' or difficult, but putting it in this medium was heart-wrenching to watch bc it engaged the emotions. And made them real people, not just a Bible "character." 
Anonymous 18 days ago
There is only one appropriate answer here as well....

...Into the Spider-Verse! ;)

Anonymous 18 days ago
Ok I totally agree with that one!
-David the Clown
Anonymous 18 days ago
Here here!
- M@
Anonymous 17 days ago
I agree!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Jamey Perrigin 18 days ago
I also haven't seen any of these, but a lot of people I know have vouched for I Can Only Imagine, so if you're willing to count my vote, that would be it.
Anonymous 18 days ago
Haven't seen any of these
-David the Clown

I have heard good things about I can Only Imagine
Anonymous 18 days ago
First Comment! First Comment! FIrst Comment!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 18 days ago
Now to the subject matter:
I did not see any of these because they all didn't look that great (-I Can Only Imagine, I kind of wanted to see that one but I'm pretty sure it came out while a couple of small indie movies you may have heard of were showing, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War). So because of this, I will not vote. But judging by looks I would probably vote for I Can Only Imagine if I voted.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 18 days ago
You cant forget about ant man and the wasp. Those 3 were really good indie movies......

-some guy
Anonymous 17 days ago
Well I put Infinity War and Black Panther because they were out around the same time that I Can Only Imagine was (unless I'm remembering wrong...)

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 18 days ago
Oh shut up LOL!
-David the Clown