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  • Movie Recommendations

    My Movie Recommendations (A Running List)

    March 12, 2014

    Our family doesn’t own a TV, but we love movies, including and especially indie and foreign films. If you also prefer to live off the beaten path, you may want to check out this running list of some of my favorites (which does include mainstream movies). I’ll keep it updated. (Just click on “blog categories” on the sidebar of my website, and find “movie recommendations”). 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 parent guides! And don’t judge others based on movie content; I’d rather watch a well-made (well-acted, well-written with beautiful cinematography) movie than a squeaky-clean, low-budget, poorly written/acted film that presents an unrealistic picture of life.


    A Brand New Life (true story of orphan in Korea)

    Akeelah and the Bee


    A Quiet Place (More thriller than horror, or it wouldn’t be on this list)

    Arrival (What if you knew the future, including every tragic thing that would happen to you?)

    August Rush


    The Best of Men (The doctor in this movie is like a pastor trying to heal broken people; there will always be nurses and colleagues (lifelong pew warmers) who resist his efforts, who worship “sacred cows” and insist on doing things “the way we’ve always done it.” 

    Beauty and the Beast (the new one, with Emma Watson)

    Big Eyes

    The Blind Side

    Blue Like Jazz (If you don’t like the book by the same title, you will hate this movie.)

    The Book and the Rose (If you only have about twenty minutes to watch a good movie.)

    The Book Thief

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

    The Brooke Ellison Story

    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.)

    The Case for Christ (Finally! A Christian film that didn’t make me cringe. Well-written, acted, excellent!)

    THE CHOSEN (I put this in all caps like a Grandma because it is seriously the only non-cheesy Jesus series ever made. You will LOVE this Jesus and His disciples and their families. The characters are REAL and actually act like we do.)

    Colonia  (One of the best edge-of-your-seat movies ever! Starring Emma Watson AND it’s based on a true story. I absolutely loved this movie. (parental guidance suggested!)

    Dangal (required watching for my teen girls. They can do life God’s way, or the world’s way)

    Darkest Hour (about Winston Churchill)


    The Devil Wears Prada

    The Diary of Anne Frank

    The Dog Lover

    Dolphin Tale

    Emma (the one with Gwyneth Paltrow)

    The End of the Spear


    Evelyn (with Pierce Brosnan)

    Faith Like Potatoes (slow-moving, Christian-made film that I haven’t seen for years. I just remember it made my husband cry so…)

    Field of Lost Shoes

    Finding Forrester

    Fireproof (Stilted acting and bad screen-writing with forced Christian message. But for someone who isn’t turned off by those things,  this could be a marriage-saver.)

    Forever Strong

    Freedom Writers

    Frozen (The movie’s punchline, “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart” says it all.)

    The Ghost and the Darkness

    Gifted Hands

    Gimme Shelter (2013 movie, not to be confused with the one about the Rolling Stones by the same title)

    The Giver

    The Good Catholic

    The Good Lie (similar to the documentary, “God Grew Tired of Us”, which I also recommend)

    Hacksaw Ridge

    The Hammer

    Harriet (2019)

    Haute Cuisine

    The Help

    Her Majesty Mrs. Brown

    Hidden Figures


    Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Hilarious, adorable, heart-warming, gorgeous, endearing gem of an indie flick!)

    I Know My First Name is Steven (A heart-wrenching true story that shows the importance of the parent-child relationship during the teen years. The account of a kidnapping involving sexual abuse; it is not explicit or graphic.)

    I am David

    If I had Wings

    I’m Not Scared

    The Imitation Game (Parental discretion advised; check parent guides.)

    Imperial Dreams

    The Impossible

    The Innocents (the one about nuns in Warsaw)

    The Insanity of God


    The Invisible Guest (A suspenseful murder mystery that’s well-made)

    Jane Eyre (2011 version)

    Joni (the true story of Joni Eareckson Tada; about the value and purpose of suffering)

    Joy (starring Jennifer Lawrence)

    Julie and Julia

    Keep on Keepin’ On

    King’s Faith

    The King’s Speech

    Kite Runner

    Knives Out (Sheer fun! A who-done-it unpredictable murder-mystery. Parental discretion.)

    Life is Beautiful

    Life of a King

    Like Sunday, Like Rain

    The Lion King (I can’t decide if I like the original or the new one best)

    Little Boy

    Little Women (2019 as well as the older version with Susan Sarandon)

    Lion (on my top 5; starring Nicole Kidman)

    The Lost Honor of Christopher Jefferies


    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. (I’d checked pluggedin.com and knew it was coming.) It’s not important to the rest of the story–it simply shows his pre-conversion lifestyle. After that the swearing is all but eliminated. But the rest of 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 in Africa are brutally murdered by the thousands, and I am doing nothing to help stop it.]

    The Magic of Belle Isle

    The Man Who Invented Christmas

    Marie’s Story (one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever seen on the power of patience and unconditional love to transform a person)

    Max (The one about the military service dog.)

    The Matrix (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

    Million Dollar Arm

    Mostly Martha

    Mr. Church

    The Music Never Stopped (If you’ve had a strained relationship with your teenager or adult child, please watch this!)

    Mustang (the one about five sisters growing up in Turkey)

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

    Mr. Church

    My Left Foot

    Mr. Pip  (Do not watch this movie if you only like “feel good” movies.  It is based on a true story and is at times gruesome and hard to watch. But it is artistically and philosophically rich.) 

    The Nativity

    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 screen writing. But this was a pleasant surprise. One of the best family movies ever.)

    One Night with the King

    Paradise Recovered

    The Passion of the Christ

    Paul the Apostle (starring Jim Caviezel)

    The Peaceful Warrior

    Pelé (saw on Netflix, the true story about the soccer player)


    Photograph (An Indian drama, sweet romance with superb acting; Amazon Prime)

    Pride and Prejudice

    The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

    Race (The true story of Jesse Owens, who faced the decision of whether or not to participate in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as a black man. Lots to think about.)

    Ragamuffin (I think this is my favorite movie ever. I’ve probably said that about other movies.)

    The  Railway Man (Truly the most powerful true story of forgiveness I’ve ever seen. Probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, for that matter.)

    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.)

    Run Boy Run

    Saints and Soldiers

    The Salesman

    Sand Storm

    Saving Mr. Banks

    The Secret Life of Bees

    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Secrets of War

    Searching for Bobby Fischer

    Sense and Sensibility (I like the one with Emma Thompson)

    Silas Marner

    Slumdog Millionaire

    Soul Surfer

    Stand by Me

    (Star Wars is not on this list. I tried to like it but failed.)

    Temple Grandin

    Today’s Special (I love this movie! If you like culture and GOOD FOOD, you might enjoy this as much as Dave and I did. Caution: crude and vulgar language at times. Parental discretion advised. I liked this movie for the remarkable way the son treated his father. Great moral lesson on honoring parents in their old age.)


    Trash  (If you liked Slumdog  Millionaire, you will like this) 

    The Tree of Life (If you’re used to nonstop action and mainstream movies, you won’t like this. But if you want to see what narcissistic fathering does to boys, please watch. Skip past the long, wordless parts. The story will pick back up.)

    The Ultimate Gift


    Unbroken (Excellent, but the book is even better!)

    Unbroken: Path to Redemption (faith-based sequel to the first “Unbroken” movie; it’s pretty good! Billy Graham is played by his grandson. This movie deals with whether or not PTSD can be healed supernaturally, without drugs or therapy).


    The Visitor

    Waffle Street

    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.)

    Walt Before Mickey

    The Way Back

    The Way Home

    Whale Rider

    What Maisie Knew

    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    Within the Whirlwind

    Woman in Gold

    4-Minute Mile



    A Walk to Beautiful

    Accidental Courtesy

    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.)

    Camp 14: Total Control Zone (His words at the last three minutes astonished me and left me thinking for a long time. I hope they change me. BTW I wrote to the star of this film and he wrote back! He is a Christian convert. 🙂 ) 

    Conscientious Objector

    The Dark Tourist

    The Dawn Wall (this left me in tears, soul-searching. Tommy is an incredible example of brotherly love, at huge personal cost)

    First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon

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

    The Green Prince

    Happy People

    The Imposter

    I Shouldn’t Be Alive

    Inside North Korea

    ISIS: Women Unveiled

    Journey to Greenland

    Keep On Keepin’ On


    Last Train Home

    Living Hope (Amazon Prime)

    Living on One Dollar

    Living Proof (watch if you have an autoimmune disease, especially MS)

    My Octopus Teacher (the scene with the octopus on the shark’s back gave me a new approach to confronting egotists)

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

    Omo Child (Amazon Prime; in my top 5! Spectacular)

    Particle Fever


    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/extremism can ruin a person.)

    The Most Dangerous Ways to School (series on Amazon Prime)

    Undivided (the one about an inner city school in Portland)

    3 thoughts on “My Movie Recommendations (A Running List)

    1. Barbara says:

      I had seen you recommend the movie The Mighty a while back and recently watched it with my family. I was disappointed to hear someone use Jesus name as a curse word. I could not find this movie on Plugged in, so I had no warning. We refuse to watch anything that would use His name in that way. So, heads up for anyone else considering this movie.

    2. Claudine Campbell says:

      “Not Today” is a great movie. We also like “The Last Sin Eater”

    3. Kate says:

      Maudie. True story. A must.
      The Professor and the Madman. Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. The creation of the Oxford Dictionary. True story based on two books. Another must. Forgiveness.

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