Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Christian Movie (2021)

PIMA Christian collage 2021

While some of our previous nominees have featured films with a bit of Christian content, this category is for Christian movies—an important, often difficult-to-define subgenre that’s increasingly diverse and strong. As has been the case throughout our nominations process, some worthy contenders are left out of our stringent top five. And I think this year’s crop really showcases that diversity—given that it includes a biography, a couple of documentaries and even a musical.

But with that growing diversification and willingness to tackle difficult subjects comes with some potential content issues to navigate. So be sure to check out or full reviews before you and your family watch. But if you have watched, we invite you to participate in this little exercise, too! Vote for your pick on Facebook or Instagram, or in the comments section below. Let us know which of our nominees is your favorite—and which ones you feel we overlooked. When we announce our winners, we’ll announce yours, too!

And just when will we announce said winners? On our March 24 podcast, where we’ll fight over our selections and make our choices as you listen. (We’ll publish a blog announcing the winners the following day, too.)

So read on, take stock of what we’ve nominated and participate with us, will you? Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. (Movie summaries are written by Paul Asay, Emily Clark, Adam Holz, Bob Hoose and Kennedy Unthank.)

Blue Miracle:

When Casa Hogar—an orphanage in Mexico that works to get homeless youth off the streets of Cabo San Lucas—found itself more than $100,000 in debt back in 2014, the teens teamed up with a grizzled (and disgraced) boat captain to win a fishing competition. Blue Miracle is based on that true story and focuses on “Papa” Omar, Casa Hogar’s manager and pseudo-father to the boys living there. Omar teaches his boys to pray because God is always listening, even when He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He will. And that’s certainly the case here. Omar never thought his prayers would result in working with Captain Wade, a man who lost his own family because of his deceit, but that’s exactly what God does. The two men learn from each other (and from the boys) what it means to be a father. And it further demonstrates that integrity and good character are the most valuable assets a person can possess.

The Jesus Music:

We don’t often review documentaries here at Plugged In. So when we do, you know they’re something special. And this movie, which chronicles Christian Contemporary Music from its post flower-power beginnings through its 1990s heyday and into a new worship-driven age, is indeed special. Directed by the Erwin Brothers (who also directed another Plugged In Movie Award nominee in American Underdog), Jesus Music sits down with some of CCM’s biggest luminaries and unpacks their songs, their struggles and their hope of salvation. Some have criticized the film for skipping over some big names and big moments, and those critics have reason to gripe. But the movement is impossible to fully encapsulate in a scant 110 minutes. For those who want a toe-tapping, rapid-fire tour through CCM, this fits the bill—and it might invite many a viewer to sink their feet more deeply into the CCM sand.

The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis:

If you’ve ever wondered what compelled the brilliant thinker and ardent atheist C.S. Lewis to turn his life over to God, this is the finely crafted movie you’ve been looking for. Based on a successful stage play/monologue written by Max McLean, this pic features McLean as an elderly C.S. Lewis who walks viewers back through key dramatized moments in his younger years. From age 9 to sometime in his late 20s, Lewis embarks upon a journey of impassioned feeling, thought and logic. Granted, the idea of listening to a guy on screen attest to his rocky journey to faith might sound like a dry evening’s watch. (And for very young eyes and ears it might be.) But this thoughtful, inviting movie is anything but dry. For when the man on screen is a very well-portrayed C.S. Lewis—an individual of brilliant mind and fluent elocution—it becomes a nuanced experience worth having.

Show Me the Father:

The Kendrick Brothers, Alex and Stephen, are household names for many Christian movie fans. They’re the guys behind films such as Fireproof, Courageous, Overcomer and Facing the Giants, among others. With Show Me the Father, though, the Kendrick Brothers have produced their first documentary film. It takes a deep dive into the importance of fatherhood, telling the stories of men and how they were influenced by their dads. In some cases, that was a positive and redemptive influence. In others, we hear about how fathers failed. But with each turn of these men’s narratives, we see the redemptive and healing hand of God the Father at work. Ultimately, Show Me the Father invites us to remember—and to be moved by—the reality that our heavenly Father is perfect, even if we (or our earthly fathers) sometimes fall short. The result is a documentary that inspires and encourages dads everywhere to embrace God’s love and forgiveness, and to live out those virtues in our families.

A Week Away:

Camp Aweegaway isn’t just a summer camp, it’s a Christian summer camp. Unfortunately, cop-car-stealing foster kid Will didn’t know that when he chose the camp over juvenile detention. But despite his past, Will makes friends at camp who treat him with love and kindness because they know that God loves him. He learns they aren’t just “Jesus Freaks” but real people with real problems. Avery, the camp director’s daughter, lost her mom years ago. But she maintains her faith in God because she knows life without Christ is no life at all. George, Will’s foster brother, has been bullied for his unique personality. But the acceptance, nay, the affirmation George receives at camp gives him the confidence he needs to push through. And though it’s difficult for Will to believe that these people really don’t care about his past, he eventually realizes that Aweegaway has what he’s been searching for: a family who loves him and a place where he belongs. It’s also a musical. Which makes it even better.

You can also vote in these categories: Best Movie for Kids, Best Movie for Teens, and Best Movie for Adults. Voting ends March 11!

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Kennedy Unthank

Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. His favorite movie is La La Land.

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Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her fiancé indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

8 Responses

  1. -My vote goes toward both A Week Away and The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis. But out of curiosity, why wasn’t Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers nominated?

  2. -I saw the girl who believes in miracles from my local library last week and shockingly quite enjoyed it. I was expecting it to be hohummy at best but the sentiment and feelings along with the performance of the little girl really won me over.

  3. -Interested in the first one, but have to say not to sure about the Jesus music or a week away. Personally I think they’re fine for watching, but the last one would say definitely don’t expect any hard core sermon ie although have nothing wrong with movies being less preachy )which sometimes work best if trying to teach a secular audience) if they get too wishy washy or modern like to me can do the opposite effect…As for the Jesus music one- have no problem with it although have to say am not too happy with any grant and some of the others who in my opinion although don’t doubt their salvation think they’ve gotten to believe too many of the worlds lies ie not as strong sticking to biblical values as I would hope. But that doesn’t mean I would say shouldn’t watch the movies…

  4. -Blue Miracle should NOT be included as a Christian film to be endorsed. While the theme is encouraging and the true story inspiring… any movie that uses God’s most Holy Name with such disrespect should not be acclaimed. Just my thoughts.

  5. -I vote for the Most Reluctant Convert. It had both story and documentary elements, and it was fascinating to watch C. S. Lewis struggle with the truth.

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