Fall / Winter is serious film season. Sure, there will still be explosions and Adam Sandler just put on a dress. But there will also be serious films about historic figures, war and dysfunctional families in upcoming films such as “The Descendants”, “War Horse”, “The Iron Lady”, “A Dangerous Method” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”.
Critics are guessing these films to be likely Oscar winners.
They could be great films. But most probably won’t have Christian worldviews. These days, films that do so are in the minority. It wasn’t always so. But great Christian films have always been rare. But through the years, there have been Best Picture Winners that not only deserved to win, but also let people understand the God and His call a little better.
So if you have a little extra time to stream a flick over the holidays, consider my TIME FIVE CHISTIAN(ISH) BEST PICTURE WINNERS:
5) 2003’s LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING
This film doesn’t an explicit Christian message. But it is based on a series of novels written by one of the most prominent Christian writers, J. R. R. Tolkien. Of course, this films and its two predecessors (2001’Ss FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS and 2002’s THE TWO TOWERS) present a Biblical view of good and evil. But one of the things that I’ve always found most encouraging about the film is the characters of the hobbits, Biblo and Samwise. They are models of humility, gentleness and self-sacrifice, living out the Sermon on the Mount in ways that is rarely seen in human characters.
(Rated PG-13 for violence.)
4) 1984’s AMADEUS
This film tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart whose musical gift is envied by Antonio Salieri. Salieri argues with God that he is more worthy of the gift because he is a more righteous man. The film teaches that with God’s gifts and grace, “dissevering’s got nothing to do with it” (to qoute Clint Eastwood in that other Best Picture winner, UNFORGIVEN.)
(Rated R for nudity and sexual suggestions.)
3) 1981’s CHARIOTS OF FIRE.
Tells the true story of Eric Liddell, a man who ran in the Olympics before serving as a missionary in China. When he ran, he “felt God’s pleasure”. What do you do that allows you to feel the same?
(Rated PG for I’m not sure exactly what.)
2) 1966’s A MAN FOR ALL SEASON
Sir Thomas Moore, like Eric Liddell, faced a moral choice that was made before the nation and the world. But Moore faced his choice with his life and the line. Robert Bolt’s screenplay, based on his play, presents an elegant and passionate battle between following God or Caesar.
1) 1959’s BEN HUR
You could argue whether a couple of the above are truly “Christian” films. But since this one is subtitled “A Story of the Christ”…
Ben Hur is a Jewish prince who pursues a path of revenge. But crossing paths with Jesus of Nazareth turns him in the direction of forgiveness. (As a bonus, there is a chariot race that is arguably the best action sequence in the history of film.)
Honorable mention to 1944’s GOING MY WAY and 1965’s SOUND OF MUSIC for their positive presentations of priests and nuns. (Though SofM’s song “Something Good” is theologically wretched.) Happy viewing.