From Focus on the Family's Plugged In Blog
It's our third day of announcing our nominees for the first-ever Plugged In Movie Awards. On Tuesday we rolled out our picks for Best Movie for Kids. Yesterday it was Best Movie for Teens. Today we're looking at the category of Best Christian Movie released in 2012.
This is our effort to recognize some of the work being done in the Christian film industry. As it grows, gaining momentum in terms of both box office clout and artistic merit, we're seeing more things every year that are worth taking a second look at. Or, as the case may be, handing out accolades to.
Vote for your favorite on our FACEBOOK PAGE. Note that you're more than welcome to vote and speak your mind anonymously, but if you want it to count, you'll have to JOIN our blog community and use your forum name. We'll announce our winning picks right alongside yours on Feb. 14 during that day's Official Plugged In Podcast. The following day we'll publish the details on this blog.
Remember, our nominees aren't perfect films. There is no such thing. But they're all movies that have merit—capable (we think) of inspiring you and/or making you think. So please read our linked reviews carefully before watching any of them.
BEST CHRISTIAN MOVIE
Blue Like Jazz (PG-13): Let's be honest: Fireproof this film is not. A very loose retelling of Donald Miller's best-selling book of the same name, it's prone to proffering scenes that flirt with sexual subjects, drugs and foul language. It shows us quite a lot of bad behavior. And it's often sharply critical of evangelical Christianity, and evangelical Christians (including those at Plugged In) have often been critical right back. But when this story is winnowed down to its core— shaky, halting, imperfect walk toward faith—we find a valuable nugget here. While Blue Like Jazz has both theological and content problems, it does eloquently give voice to Christianity's central premise: a perfect God, reaching down to a very imperfect people and rescuing us from our own personal porta-potties.
Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure (PG): Have you ever said (or merely thought) that the United States of America—while still a great country—is just not as great as it once was? This documentary builds on this perception, then examines how America could slow what the filmmakers believe to be its downward spiral and become truly great once again. WithGrowing Pains and Fireproof star Kirk Cameron as host, the movie asks viewers to metaphorically pack their bags and travel to various locales in search of answers. We visit an English expert on the Pilgrims, asking what lessons can be gleaned from knowing why these devout Christian men and women headed to America in 1620. Then it's on to Plymouth and a visit to a little-known monument to liberty, paid for by Congress 130 years ago. Could this remembrance hold the keys to rebuilding America? With each new stop it becomes increasingly clear that Cameron and his experts may be on to something.
October Baby (PG-13): Hannah Lawson has battled debilitating health problems most of her life. And now the college freshman has reached a breaking point. She knows something isn't right. "Something is missing," she writes in her journal. "Why, God, do I feel so unwanted?" Those questions are answered, at least in part, when her parents reveal the hard truth about her birth: She survived a "botched" abortion, after which she was adopted. The news awakens new questions in Hannah's heart. Who was her birth mother, and why did she try to have an abortion? Those inquiries result in a poignant, powerful journey of self-discovery for Hannah—one that winds its way, eventually, to forgiveness, freedom and a new sense of identity. (But not before she's forced to confront some even harder revelations along the way.)
Rogue Saints (NR): Nick and Dylan are just boys when they overhear what they call the "Old Lady Wright legend." As the story goes, wealthy Mrs. Wright had one of the world's largest diamonds encased in the concrete support system that holds up the baptistery at her church—ready for Jesus to claim when He returns. Fast-forward to today. Nick and Dylan are all grown up, and neither has forgotten the story they heard as boys. What's more, both are facing their own unique set of financial difficulties. So they decide to go after the diamond. But doing so won't be easy. That's because they'll have to blend in with the congregation at Wright's church, and that'll take some good acting by these non-Christians. They believe that by using the proper Christianese, attending services and volunteering, they might just fool everyone and pull off this major heist. What they aren't counting on is ending up with an entirely different sort of fortune.
Unconditional (PG-13): It can sometimes feel like the things of life are stacked against you. And in this film, four people struggle with their own particular miseries. One of them, though, grits out a soft plea that God's hand might somehow move and deliver help. And It does, by bringing them all into each other's lives. Led by a pair of talented young actors (Lynn Collins and Michael Eally),Unconditional is an involving film with a little violence but a deft message of consistent grace and loving service. At one point a character shares her philosophy that "there truly is enough love to go around … all you have to do is share it." And this well-made pic gives that simple idea an appealing and pleasing coat of cinematic paint.