What makes a good movie?
Ask a secular movie reviewer, and they’ll talk about the writing, the acting, cinematography, relevance. Ask some Christian movie reviewers, and they’ll talk about how aspirational the themes are and how free it is from nudity, violence and naughty words. The former might rank a movie like, say, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, near the very top of their “good movie” list. The latter might slap it right near the bottom.
I’ve had my foot in both worlds for a while. I work for a Christian site that counts f-words as a matter of course. As a member of my local film critics society, I look at the film’s aesthetics, craftsmanship and narrative power.So when it comes to this list—my own personal top 10 list—how do I judge? Using a little bit of both. I look at a movie’s artistry, but I also look at its themes. And since the blog is called Watching God, after all, it’s great if I can find some spiritual themes in these films, too—either explicit or implicit, stuff its makers intended or elements that inexplicably remind me of my own spiritual journey. While lots of them wouldn’t earn an unreserved thumbs up at Plugged In, most of them offer something spiritual … if you dig enough.
Perhaps it’s only natural that this list feels pretty eclectic. You’ll find blockbusters and tiny indie flicks, cats and wolverines, an old British lion and a knee-high Florida dynamo. Let’s begin.