Beginning largely with the impact and success of the Passion of the Christ, in recent years we have seen an ongoing Reformation and Renaissance in movies produced for theaters, churches, and home use. As this process of rebirth, renewal, and refreshment in movie entertainment has continued, we have most recently seen 10 top redemptive movies earn awards at the recent Movieguide ®  27th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala.

There have been many wonderful redemptive movies in theaters in 2018 and many more to anticipate in 2019. They have included the following 10 top picks: I Can Only Imagine; Unbroken:  Path to Redemption; God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness; Samson; Paul, Apostle of Christ; The Miracle Season; Beautifully Broken; God Bless the Broken Road; Indivisible; and An Interview with God.

Many of these good movies are now available on DVD or through various forms of streaming. They are excellent picks for libraries: personal, church, public and more. See this list on IMDb. See other top pick lists by year on IMDb.

#1I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine is the highly popular, number one inspirational movie of the year. The uplifting story demonstrates the power of forgiveness and redemption through its strong performances. The film tells the story behind the highly successful song by that same title.  This engaging movie, directed by the Erwin Brothers (Woodlawn), tells the amazing true story behind Christian band MercyMe’s iconic, history-making song I Can Only Imagine.  Dennis Quaid and Trace Adkins star in this inspiring true story behind MercyMe’s beloved hit song. Dennis Quaid gives one of his most powerful performances on screen in this movie. Recently at the Movieguide ® Gala, this movie was selected as one of the Ten Best 2018 Movies for Families and received the Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2018.

#2 – Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Unbroken:  Path to Redemption begins where Angelina Jolie’s 2014 movie Unbroken ends. It presents Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini’s intense struggles and journey in finding faith and a relationship with Jesus Christ when he returns to the U.S.  This is a heart-grabbing movie with good production values, good acting, and a strong ending.  After Zamperini’s return from imprisonment in Japan during World War II, he struggles with symptoms of PTSD that lead him to alcoholism, but he finds faith in the Christ and transforming victory over intense struggles.   The movie is dedicated to late Billy Graham, portrayed by his grandson, Will Graham. Movieguide ® recently named it as one of the Ten Best 2018 Movies for Mature Audiences.

#3 – God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is especially strong with its compelling, timely story with a powerful, unexpected ending. It also deals with critical issues for today and encourages forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption. This movie starts a critically needed dialogue.  In the marketplace of ideas today there are many loud, opinionated voices. Many of these monologues we hear today seem more about one-sided forcing of ideas and winning arguments than about collaborative problem-solving. Discussions and disagreements about faith seem especially sharper and more divisive than ever today. “In our society and culture right now, we have a lot of darkness,” explains David A.R. White, who returns to the role of the Rev. Dave in God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness and again serves as a producer. “There’s a lot of anger; there’s a lot of fighting. You can’t turn on the news for even a second without seeing something that’s really disturbing. This is a time in our society when it seems like we have so much tension … – we have the left, we have the right, and nobody can agree on anything… It’s a movie about hope, about love, about healing, and, ultimately, forgiveness.”  Recently at the Movieguide ® Gala, this movie was selected as one of the Ten Best 2018 Movies for Families.

#4 – Samson

In the film by the same name, Samson, is a Hebrew man with an unusual gift of strength, who must respond to the call of God on his life to lead his people out of enslavement. After his youthful ambition leads to a tragic marriage, his acts of revenge thrust him into direct conflict with the Philistine army. His brother mounts a tribal rebellion and Samson becomes involved with a Philistine seductress. However, Samson’s final surrender to the Philistines and most importantly to God turns his imprisonment and blindness into a final victory. This is a powerful, timely new movie which has fictional elements but is based on Biblical records in Judges 13-16.  

#5 – Paul, Apostle of Christ

Paul, Apostle of Christ, another top pick, has the theme of how to defeat evil with good without retaliation and revenge. This movie picturizes Christ’s love in His people even in the face of horrendous persecution. Based on biblical scriptures and historical accounts, this movie shows the context of Paul’s last days in the Mamertine Prison in Rome where he has been imprisoned and horribly condemned to beheading. Luke comes to visit Paul and starts to write about the Book of Acts under Paul’s direction. Luke also brings some money to a hidden group of Roman Christians suffering under Nero’s persecution. It is not clear how the two storylines of the Roman Christians and Paul are connected until the end. Recently at the Movieguide ® Gala, this movie was selected as one of the Ten Best 2018 Movies for Families and Jim Caviezel received a Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance in Movies in 2018.

#6 – The Miracle Season

The Miracle Season is another inspirational, redemptive family movie in theaters in 2018.  After the tragic death of star volleyball player Caroline “Line” Found, a team of dispirited high school girls band together under the leadership of their tough-love coach to win the state championship. The Miracle Season is a true-life drama, in which the girls’ volleyball team, from Iowa City West High School, brings their community together, and Caroline Found – or “Line,” as she nicknamed herself – is their inspiration for the season. After Caroline’s death, her best friend, Kelley Fliehler, won’t let down the girl she loved since childhood. Kelley encourages her classmates, the coach, and even the opponents the City West team faces across the net to “Live Like Line” – to never back down, never stop smiling, and always give 100 percent, even against seemingly impossible odds. 

#7 – Beautifully Broken

Ashes transform into beauty and pain is transformed into a passion to help others in Beautifully Broken. This movie is based on a true story that shows real and powerful redemption. Beautifully Broken is an amazing, heart-grabbing movie with scope and universal Truth about the authentic story of the convergence of a refugee’s escape, a prisoner’s promise, and a daughter’s painful secret.  In this touching, hopeful movie, as three fathers fight to save their families, their lives become intertwined in an unlikely journey across the globe. As ashes in their lives turn into beauty, they learn the healing power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Three fathers (one American and two Rwandan) stop at nothing to protect their children. In this true story, a child sponsorship through Compassion International changes the real lives of real people, who include the giver and the recipient. We learn as William does that if everyone believed in the concept of “an eye for an eye” the whole world would go blind.

#8 – God Bless the Broken Road

God Bless the Broken Road tells the timely, inspirational story of a young mother who loses her husband in Afghanistan and struggles to raise their young daughter without him. The film focuses on many significant topics:  surviving grief and loss; the importance of the support of family and friends; the camaraderie of soldiers; the bedrock of faith and more. The movie honors the sacrifices of soldiers and families in the United States Military. This is an uplifting film for the whole family. It tells the heartfelt story of a young widowed mother who, in the wake of losing her husband finds the strength and courage to love and believe again. 

#9 – Indivisible

Indivisible is based on a true and honest story of Army chaplain Darren Turner during the Iraq War. When Darren is deployed to Iraq for fifteen months, his wife Heather cares for their three young children, home, and other military moms. During his overseas tour, Darren counsels and supports soldiers in Iraq; but when he returns home, he has been changed by the horrors and stresses of war and suffers from the same emotional issues and marital problems as the veterans he counseled. He and his wife fight to save their marriage and family.  Indivisible has universal themes of brokenness, forgiveness, and redemption.

#10 – An Interview With God

An Interview with God  is a timely, engaging, thought-provoking movie with excellent actors. In this film, journalist Paul Asher has covered the war in Afghanistan with some of the best stories of his young career. However, this experience has also cost him much more than he ever could have anticipated. When Paul deals with the aftermath of his experiences, which includes a failing marriage and dying faith, he accepts an interview with a mysterious man claiming to be God. Over the course of three life-changing days with this mysterious man, Paul finds himself answering as many questions as he asks. While wrestling with that of which he is sure and unsure, Paul grapples with who God is and with some of life’s biggest questions.

An Interview with God is a well-performed, fictional movie that is best understood as a parable that picturizes important elements of faith, prayer, and a personal relationship with God that we have through Christ.  Harrison Powell (co-producer of this movie, as well as executive producer on Paul, Apostle of Christ) manages Giving Films, a company that funds life-giving films and donates the profits to charity.

Why Redemptive Films?

Good, redemptive Christian movies continue in production, distribution, and screenings.  The best is yet to come when we continue to support the ongoing reformation in content and renaissance in artistry in media and movies. As audiences continue to see good family and redemptive movies in theaters, keeping them at the top of the box office, more good movies like them are being made.

Watch for many top picks this year of redemptive movies that continue to improve in the ongoing renaissance of artistry and reformation of content in movies. Remember that the teams of good family and redemptive movies include consumers and supporters, who determine the success and wide global distribution of good family, redemptive movies. We are making good progress in encouraging major Hollywood studios to produce good family and redemptive movies, as well as supporting independent studios to do the same.

See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb.

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