Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Christian Movie

PIMA Best Christian Movie

We’ve come to the end of our Plugged In Movie Awards nominations, and by now you know the drill. As I’ve said before, 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. 21 to vote. Winners will be announced March 2.

all saintsAll Saints: How does God move us to His purposes? That’s the question that the movie All Saints asks, and it answers it through the real life story of Pastor Michael Spurlock. When Michael and his family move to Smyrna, Tennessee, it’s for one purpose: to close the failing All Saints church and sell the property. But, in spite of those directives, Michael believes he gets a bit of path-changing guidance from God Himself. When a group of refugee Burmese farmers show up at the church door, Michael sees their need and comes up with a plan. They could turn the church property into a farm—supplying food for the families and even earning money to pay the church bills. It makes perfect sense. If they put in the necessary effort it could result in an exciting new beginning for the All Saints church. But what if that’s not what God has in mind? There’s very little here in the way of possible negative content other than a few people smoking and a pastor making what might be considered to be a rebellious choice. That said, this film is based on actual events, so there’s also no Hollywood spectacle here. The things happening on screen won’t make you gasp or cheer. But they might well make you think … about your purpose.

case for christThe Case for Christ: Award-winning Chicago Tribune journalist Lee Strobel hardly looked like a candidate for conversion to Christianity back in the early 1980s. He seemed anything but: a cynical, critical-thinking atheist whose worldview rested on the bedrock of proven facts and indisputable science. Not superstition. So when his wife, Leslie, becomes a Christian, Lee is determined to prove her wrong. His secretive quest to debunk her faith, however, takes him in some surprising directions, especially when the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection becomes harder and harder for him to deny. Eventually, he tells her, “When you became a Christian, I freaked out. I was scared. … I just had to prove the whole thing wrong. But I couldn’t. The evidence for your faith is more overwhelming than I could have imagined.” This story, based on Lee Strobel’s bestselling, autobiographical apologetics book of the same name, gives us glimpses of its main character’s hard edges, especially when it comes to his alcohol use (and misuse). But that’s the primary content concern in this film, one that tells the story of a skeptical reporter who confronts—and is in turn confronted by—the compelling claims for Christ’s resurrection.

same kind of differentSame Kind of Different as Me: Ron Hall had it all: a thriving business selling art, a beautiful wife, two beautiful kids, a beautiful home in Fort Worth, Texas. But beneath the surface, everything wasn’t quite so beautiful: His workaholism has all but destroyed his marriage. He was having an affair. Other secrets lurked, too. To his credit, Ron comes clean with his wife, Debby. And he commits to giving their marriage another shot. Little does he know that recommitting to Debby will require getting involved with a homeless shelter that she’s passionate about. There, Ron and Debby meet a volatile, violent man known only as Suicide. Ron and Suicide—whose real name is Denver Moore—could hardly be more different. But slowly they develop an unlikely friendship, one that helps Ron to see that the two men aren’t so different after all. It’s an inspiring story with some raw moments—especially painful scenes involving Ron’s alcoholic father and flashbacks depicting horrific moments from Denver’s childhood. But for teens on up, Same Kind of Different as Me paints a poignant portrait of the power of friendship to change people’s lives.

the shackThe Shack: What do we do with unspeakable loss? That’s the question that confronts Mack Phillips, a father whose young daughter has been kidnapped, probably raped and murdered in The Shack. Mack is understandably undone by his little girl’s unspeakable fate. That’s when he receives a mysterious letter in the mailbox from … God? Mack responds to the invitation to meet God—who goes by the name Papa here and is portrayed as an African-American woman—to talk about his loss, hope, forgiveness and heaven. This drama is based on author William P. Young’s bestselling-but-controversial 2007 novel of the same name. It includes some elements that definitely deserve a strong caution for any families with young children—namely, the abduction and implication of an assault on a young girl. That said, the film majors on themes of God’s love, goodness and sovereign nature, doing so in ways that remain true to Scripture, even if questions about sin and hell are largely minimized here. In his Plugged In review of The Shack, Bob Waliszewski concluded, “The Shack delivers significant messages about God in a world desperately looking and longing for answers. Does this story provoke valid, even significant theological concerns? Clearly, it does. But just as Mack was led in the film to discover more about God in his Gideon Bible, hopefully movie goers will respond the same way to the big-screen adaptation of The Shack.”

the starThe Star: Have you ever wondered what the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth must have thought about it all? Yeah, I’ve never wondered about that either. But The Star imaginatively retells the nativity story from exactly that point of view: that of an idealistic donkey named Boaz who dreams of bigger things than he’s experienced so far in his lowly life of servitude. Boaz is joined by Dave the Dove and Ruth the Sheep on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary. They play a crucial (if obviously fictional) role in dealing with a hunter sent by Herod (who’s accompanied by two mean dogs). We get a smattering of bathroom humor and some mildly perilous moments along the way. But unlike some other disappointing mainstream biblical epics (Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings come quickly to mind), this one stays remarkably true to the core biblical narrative (with the addition of those talking animals, of course).

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

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.

Cj lastrue More than 1 year ago
:The Case for Christ:  : vote
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I haven't seen any of these, but I'll go for The Case for Christ since I loved the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Shack!
nadiatolkien More than 1 year ago
Not sure why The Resurrection of Gavin Stone didn't make it? It was a genuine, funny movie about church and redemption. I'd definitely rate it above The Star. 
Airship Prodigy More than 1 year ago
The shack
library_girl More than 1 year ago
I haven't seen any of these, but the book version of A Case for Christ was very good, so that has my vote! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Case for Christ.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Case for Christ. Subtlety is often lacking in Christian cinema, but Case for Christ is a big step up!
John A More than 1 year ago
The Shack
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, bobed. Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite out of the Best Christian Movie nominees that Plugged In has chosen this year? Also, what are your all-time favorite Christian movies?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, even by the unfortunately low standards of Christian Cinema, this is just kind of a poor list. (Excluding A Case for Christ, heard good things about that one and I need to see it.) Seriously? Why are The (Shake) Shack and The Star are both on here?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I still gotta watch the The Star, but it just doesn't seem very interesting to engaging to me as someone who wants to work in animation. It seems kind of shallow and lacking in depth to me. (Being made by the same company as the Emoji Movie certainly doesn't help.)

The Shack is just sketchy from a theological point of view (you said to yourself) I remember reading the beginning A Same Kind of Different as Me when I was a teen, but it didn't really grab me. (The constant, though period appropriate, use of the N-Word was kind of off-putting to me.) Never heard of All Saints, and a Case for Christ looks good and I want to see it. But never got around to it.

Hope that clears thing up for you. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think their problem is that most if not all of these movies weren't very well-received by critics (if you look on Rotten Tomatoes, nearly all of these films sit around 50% or well below - with the exception of All Saints, which I discovered to have a 93%!). I'm not sure about audiences and while I haven't seen any of these films personally, a lot of people consider the Christian film industry to be somewhat sub-par with the quality of most of their movies. I think that's what the commentor above you meant. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why, in the name of all sense, would you ever consider The Shack to be a good Christian movie? It's bordering on obscenity, if not outright blasphemous, by depicting God as female. Shouldn't that automatically disqualify the film as a "Christian" movie?

- Lionsong
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
God is neither male nor female. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Then explain why, in the Bible (the most important source), He is referred to as He? Why not refer to Him as "It"? Or "They"? Or this newfangled abomination of a pronoun, "Xe"? Why is He referred to as our Father, not as our gender-neutral parent?

Why does He refer to Himself as male, if He is neither male nor female? Go to random Bible verses where God is speaking - there are, I'm sure, probably a few hundred of them where He explicitly refers to Himself as male. 

Completely random examples: Isaiah 65:15 and Jeremiah 2:17. Isaiah 41:4: "[...] I, the Lord - with the first of them and with the last - I am He." God is speaking about himself in those verses. And again, these are just random verses. I found these flipping pages. If I can find them just by skimming through various books of the Bible, I'm pretty sure you can find dozens more.

God is referred to as male for a reason: He is male.

- Lionsong
Benjamin Torrie More than 1 year ago
THE SHAAACK!! ❤️❤️❤️
Caleb Lancaster More than 1 year ago
The Shack gets my vote. It's one of the best Christian movies I've ever seen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I vote for The Case for Christ.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What impressed me most about The Case for Christ was the satisfying arc of development that the filmmakers gave to their skeptical protagonist. When his conversion happens, it's well-earned.