Some amazing accomplishments in the faith-based film genre have occurred over the years.
Some films have simply used biblical stories as platforms for lame blockbusters — “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” come to mind.
But others have examined faith in deeply profound ways — and will not soon be forgotten.
Here is a look at the five best faith-based movies ever made.
1.) “The Ten Commandments” (1956). It doesn’t get much better than this. The iconic film has been annually aired for decades on television and for good reason.
Charlton Heston gave a commanding and memorable performance as Moses, owning the screen when he needed to while also perfectly bringing across vulnerability when the story required it.
It was only the 1950s in terms of film-making, but director Cecil B. DeMille pushed the boundaries of cinema far beyond what anyone thought was visually possible at the time.
2.) “Ben-Hur” (1959). Also starring Charlton Heston, this is a movie that has not lost its impact over the decades.
Even a remake from producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey could not allow people to forget the original’s powerful story about the thirst for revenge and the power of forgiveness.
If anyone ever asks what exactly “epic” cinema is — just show them “Ben-Hur.” In the age of an over-reliance on digital effects, they just don’t make ’em like this anymore.
3.) “The Passion of the Christ” (2004). Mel Gibson changed Hollywood forever with “The Passion of the Christ.” As the industry moved further and further to the Left, faith-based cinema was essentially abandoned. Studios convinced themselves there was no audience for such films anymore.
Gibson disagreed. He independently put together “The Passion of the Christ,” which told the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
This film took the world by storm. Produced on a measly $30 million budget, it grossed over $600 million worldwide.
The film is about as powerful as cinema can get. Jim Caviezel’s gripping performance as Christ is both heartwarming and heartbreaking during the film’s two-hour runtime.
When Gibson shows the actual crucifixion, he does so unforgivingly. It can be incredibly painful to watch — and many people could not see it through — but it is honest and unforgettable. Here’s hoping Gibson’s promised sequel is just as good.
4.) “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016). Gibson has a knack for playing with themes of faith far more maturely and wisely than most others on the big screen. After disappearing as a director for 10 years, Gibson returned in 2016 with “Hacksaw Ridge,” which told the story of Desmond Doss, a real-life Medal of Honor winner who was a conscientious objector to World War II.
While his religious convictions kept him from carrying a gun and taking life, Doss saved as many lives as he could and displayed the kind of courageousness few men have done.
Gibson examined Doss’ unique religious convictions in thought-provoking ways in this movie and created one of the most challenging war dramas to be released in recent years.
5.) “Heaven Is for Real” (2014). This was one of the highest grossing and most successful faith-based movies of all time. On a budget of just $12 million, the film earned a whopping $101.3 million worldwide. The majority of that came from its showing within the United States ($91.4 million).
Directed by Randall Wallace — who wrote “Braveheart” — the film followed the true story of Pastor Tom Burpo’s son, Colton. After a near-death experience, the boy tells his father that he has seen heaven. The pastor then struggles to grapple with his son’s revelation and to tell the world the amazing story.
Wallace’s writing chops made this picture a challenging and mature watch that anyone can enjoy — whether religious or not. Greg Kinnear (who plays Burpo) and the rest of the cast bring inspiring characters in a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story. Few modern films inspire the human spirit the way this one does.