Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services are something of a parenting paradox. In a way, they’ve made parenting harder, because so much problematic content is available on any Smartphone with just a push and a swipe. But these services make some pretty good content more widely available, too—and that includes some pretty good Christian movies.
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the faith-based films that we consider to be the best of the best available on three of the most popular streaming services: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We tried to cast a pretty wide net, offering a little something for every taste, be they parent, kid or just someone wanting to watch a film that reflects their faith. And we start with …
Joseph: King of Dreams (NR, 2012): We begin our rundown with an animated film from the same team that created The Prince of Egypt. Joseph: King of Dreams chronicles the life of the patriarch, from his days as a pampered son to his difficult imprisonment in Egypt to, of course, his stirring reconciliation with his brothers. The movie stays pretty true to the biblical narrative, according to our reviewer Bob Smithouser, who also called it “impressive.”
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (PG, 2017): It’s rare to combine the words comedy and Christian movie together. But that’s what The Resurrection of Gavin Stone—the story of a narcissistic former child star who discovers faith in a church-based Passion play—gives us. Our critic Adam Holz tells us that “Gavin comes face to face with his own shortcomings and sins, as well as the gaping spiritual void in his heart.” And it makes us laugh along the way, too.
A Week Away (TV-PG, 2021): If a Christian comedy is rare in the world of cinema, a live-action Christian musical is practically unheard of. This Netflix production, which rolled out just this spring, stars up-and-comers Kevin Quinn and Bailee Madison as Will and Avery, two teens who discover each other, a purpose and a new sense of faith at a Christian summer camp. It’s a delightful film, and reviewer Emily Clark said it’s a great illustration of “what happens when Christians do life together.”
The Young Messiah (PG-13, 2016): The Scriptures are silent about the life of Jesus between the time of his birth and his visit to the temple as a 12-year-old. What might’ve happened in between? The Young Messiah speculates on what Christ might’ve been like as a 7-year-old, just as He’s coming to grips with His divinity as well as his humanity. While you’ll not find this story in the Bible, it’s a well-made movie that undergirds Scripture, rather than undermining it. And in his review, Adam Holz wrote that “it will prompt many to consider anew just who the Son of Man really was.”
Courageous (PG-13, 2011): Few lists of faith-based films would be complete without an offering from Sherwood Baptist and the Kendrick Brothers, who helped put the industry on solid faithful—and financial—footing. Courageous is a story about a handful of police officers who try, and sometimes fail, to be the best husbands, fathers and Christians they can be in the wake of a terrible tragedy. It’s grittier and not as family-friendly as some of the Kendrick brothers’ other offerings, but packs a wallop—especially for dads.
The Pilgrim’s Progress (NR, 2019): John Bunyan’s original 1678 book—one of the earliest bestellers—is one that loads of people have heard of but few, today, have read. But this allegorical journey of Christian Pilgrim is well worth a look—and Vision Video has you covered. This animated film offers a pretty faithful, digestible take on Bunyan’s original story, showing the difficult-but-rewarding path that Christian—and all Christians—walk. And as Holz says in his review, it “opens the door to discuss a timeless spiritual classic.”
Same Kind of Different as Me (PG-13, 2017): This film soft-pedals faith more than most on this list. It’s a largely subtle undercurrent as opposed to the movie’s main theme. Based on a bestselling book, Same Kind of Different as Me is about Ron and Deborah Hall, who work to save their marriage after Ron’s infidelity—in part by volunteering at a soup kitchen. There they meet Denver, a troubled man who, in his own way, helps lead them to healing, understanding and redemption. Starring an all-star cast (including Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger), Same Kind of Different as Me shows what sort of dividends love, forgiveness and a willingness to help can earn—even if you never collect a dime.
I Still Believe (PG, 2020): Based on the real-life love story between Christian singer Jeremy Camp and his wife Melissa, I Still Believe is a difficult, tragic but ultimately inspiring story—so much so that the movie won our very own “Pluggie” for Best Christian Movie for 2020. While the story can be bitterly sad, it embraces an important question that all Christians ask eventually: Where is God in our tragedies? The film reminds us that God is always with us—but that doesn’t make our losses hurt any less.
Watch our video review of I Still Believe on YouTube.
The Miracle Season (PG, 2018): Christian cinema has long used sports as a catalyst for its stories. But faith-based movies involving volleyball? Those are a little more rare. But 2018 saw a good one in The Miracle Season. The story focuses on an Iowa high school volleyball squad that loses its most inspirational player to a tragic accident. The team loses its faith in itself but, more importantly for our purposes, a grieving father loses his faith altogether. Starring Helen Hunt and William Hurt, The Miracle Season makes a dramatic and effective turn-around that will move even viewers who can’t tell the difference between a volleyball and a hockey puck.
Where Hope Grows (PG-13, 2015): This film is about a boozy ex-ball player, his estranged daughter and a local man with Down syndrome named Produce—and how redemption saved them all. Produce—said to be the first main character in a feature film with Down syndrome—is the movie’s real hero, what with his ever-present Bible and disarming positivity. And we learn that while turning your life around is hard work, it’s possible, as long as God’s in the mix.