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  • Our family doesn’t own a TV, but we love movies! I personally like raw, gritty stories about the human condition. I’m not much for mainstream comedy (especially “rom-com”) or sci-fi (I have never seen Star Wars!). If you also prefer to live off the beaten path, you may want to check out this running list of some of my favorite movies. As I add new ones I’ll keep them highlighted in red for a while. Some I comment on, but most I don’t, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen them, I don’t remember why I liked them. I just know that I liked them enough to include them in this list, which is very much off the top of my head. There are hundreds more I like, especially documentaries, that I’m not thinking of.

    I’ve broken this list down into two categories: drama and documentaries.

    Please make use of the comment section to add your own recommendations, or to comment about any of the movies on my list.

    (Disclaimer: check out pluggedin.com or commonsensemedia.org to before deciding whether to watch some of these with your kiddos).


    Akeelah and the Bee

    August Rush

    Blue Like Jazz (If you don’t like the book, you will hate this movie. I recommend it for the “spiritual-not-religious”, college age skeptics and people who’ve been burnt by religion.)

    Captain Phillips (I got to hear the real Captain Phillips when he came to our home town, and this is pretty true to his story. Tom Hanks got the New England accent down pat.)

    Emma (the one with Gwyneth Paltrow)

    Faith Like Potatoes

    Fireproof (Stilted acting in some places, but well worth the watch, especially if you or someone you know struggles with pornography. This could be a marriage-saver.)

    Forever Strong

    Freedom Writers

    Gifted Hands

    Grace Unplugged (A sweet family movie that shows the downside of the mainstream music industry and the perils of fame. I recommend this for church youth groups.)

    Haute Cuisine

    Her Majesty Mrs. Brown


    Julie and Julie

    King’s Speech

    Kite Runner

    Machine Gun Preacher [Skip the first fifteen minutes if you don’t want to hear the F-bomb going off like a machine gun, or have to watch a rather explicit sex scene. After that, because of a dramatic plot shift, the swearing is all but eliminated. But this movie is graphically violent and at times hard to watch. Why am I recommending it? Because it’s a true story that left me pondering about things like the issue of gun control, fighting the enemy “in the flesh” versus “in the spirit” (Ephesians 6:12, the main character’s biggest downfall, with or without guns), and the fact that much of my time is being wasted on trivial pursuits while children are brutally murdered by the thousands, and I am doing nothing to help stop it.]

    Mr. Bean’s Holiday (for plain old family fun and belly ache laughter, if you like slapstick)

    My Left Foot

    October Baby (I tend to shy away from a lot of Christian-made films because they often mean “low budget”, i.e. bad acting and insufferable script writing. But this was a pleasant surprise. One of the best family movies ever.)

    Regarding Henry (The spilled orange juice scene gave me a jolt. This movie makes me want to be a better parent, and get a grip on my priorities before it’s too late.)

    Saints and Soldiers

    Searching for Bobby Fischer

    Soul Surfer

    Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson (Once upon a time I sent my action/thriller-loving hubby to the video rental store to pick out a movie. He picked this one and it became my all-time favorite.)

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    The Devil Wears Prada

    The Diary of Anne Frank

    The Ghost and the Darkness (a fun ride if you like animal thrillers and a true story combined)

    The Impossible

    The Magic of Belle Isle

    The Matrix (Yes, I once preached a sermon dressed as Trinity.)

    The Mighty (One of my favorite family movies, a touching story about friendship and the underdog. The adorable wit of the character played by young Kieran Culkin alone makes it worth the watch.)

    The Mighty Macs

    The Passion of the Christ

    The Peaceful Warrior

    The Secret Life of Bees

    The Ultimate Gift

    The Visitor

    The Way Back

    The Way Home


    Waking Ned Divine (If you like foreign and/or indie films and appreciate off-beat humor, and need something light with which to unwind, this is your flick.)

    Whale Rider

    What Maisie Knew

    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape




    A Walk to Beautiful

    An Unconventional War (Is there a supernatural realm in which demons—or prayer—can change the course of entire nations? You be the judge after watching this.)

    Forks Over Knives (This film turned me into a vegan. For two whole days.)

    Inside North Korea


    Last Train Home

    My 600 Pound Life (Because I want to understand, and have compassion)


    Sons of Perdition (I am fascinated by people who join cults. One of my dream jobs would be a counselor in a cult exile rescue mission. That is what was missing from this heart-wrenching film about how fundamentalism can ruin a person.)

    The Imposter

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