The phrase "Christian movie" is becoming increasingly difficult to define.
Does it only reference a movie with a strong gospel message, like Billy Graham movies from long ago? Or can it also include movies that don't quote Scripture but have biblical themes -- like forgiveness and redemption? And what about all those movies made by Christian filmmakers -- and even backed by faith-based studios -- that are void of sermons, though inspiring?
For this list, we're including all of the above.
The new year promises to be a solid year for Christian movies. It could be the best year ever. Angel Studios has an impressive slate. So does Kingdom Story Company. And the makers of War Room have a new movie, too. From what I've seen, 2024 raises the bar for excellence in the Christian film genre.
Here are 11 new Christian movies we're excited about for 2024:
1. The Chosen Season 4 (February)
Religious leaders join forces with the Romans to oppose Jesus. It's the latest season in the Bible-based hit series The Chosen. It includes several well-known scenes from Scripture, including the death of John the Baptist, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and Jesus telling the disciples, "Upon this rock I will build my church." Episodes 1-3 will debut in theaters on February 1, with episodes 4-6 following on February 15 and episodes 7-8 on February 29. The Chosen, if you've never watched, is the best faith-based entertainment project in modern history.
2. Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive (February 13)
The music legend and Grammy-winning artist Gloria Gaynor set out on a lengthy journey to write a gospel album. The documentary recounts the valleys of her life -- she went through financial ruin, health scares, and a divorce -- as well as her many triumphs. "I am finally at a place of joy and self-fulfillment, and I am ready to share my secret with the world to not only surviving but thriving," Gaynor said.
3. Ordinary Angels (February 22)
A hairdresser rallies a community and a church to assist a widower whose young daughter is critically ill. The film is based on a true story set in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1990s. It stars Alan Ritchson as the widower, Ed Schmitt, and two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank as the hairdresser, Sharon Stevens. It's one of the most inspiring films I've ever seen. It was produced by Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, I Can Only Imagine). Rated PG for thematic content, brief, bloody images, and smoking.
4. Cabrini (March 8)
An Italian woman moves to New York City in the late 1800s and overcomes racism and sexism to serve the poor and launch a hospital. The film tells the true story of a Catholic woman who was born Maria Francesca Cabrini but was known as "Mother Cabrini" by her friends. The organization she founded started hundreds of hospitals, orphanages, and schools worldwide. (We don't learn that until the credits.) Angel Studios is releasing it. It's the best Angel Studios movie yet -- even better than Sound of Freedom. Alejandro Monteverde (Bella, Sound of Freedom) directed it.
5. Forty-Seven Days with Jesus (March 11, 12, 14)
A family facing marital strife and teenage woes embarks on a spiritual journey to study the last 47 days of Jesus' life on Earth. The film stars Yoshi Barrigas (The Chosen) and Catherine Lidstone (The Chosen) as the husband and wife, Cameron Arnett (Overcomer) as Pontius Pilate, and Joshua Triplett (Grey's Anatomy) as Peter. Producer Kristen Brancaccio said the movie "radiates hope." The film "is a gentle, non-judgmental reminder to step back and reevaluate what really matters," she said.
6. Someone Like You (April 2)
A young man loses his best friend in a deadly tragedy and then discovers she had a sister she never knew. Wanting to give his deceased friend one last gift, he sets out to find the sister and tell her about her secret family. The film is based on a popular Karen Kingsbury novel of the same name and is the first movie based on a Kingsbury book to be given a broad, extended release. It was made by her new company, Karen Kingsbury Productions. "It's a story of reconciliation and redemption," Kingsbury told Crosswalk.
7. Unsung Hero (April 26)
A father moves his pregnant wife and their six children from Australia to the United States, only to face multiple obstacles in their new land. The film, set in the 1990s, is the true inspirational story of David and Helen Smallbone, the parents of future CCM artists Rebecca St. James and Joel and Luke Smallbone (For King and Country). It stars Joel Smallbone, Daisy Betts, Lucas Black, and Candace Cameron Bure. Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, I Can Only Imagine) produced it. Rated PG for thematic elements.
8. The Forge (August)
Isaiah Wright, a 19-year-old who lives for video games and basketball, faces the demons from his past as he learns to be a man. It's the latest movie from the director-and-producer brother team of Alex and Stephen Kendrick and spotlights the themes of mentorship and discipleship. It also includes characters from an earlier movie, Overcomer. The Kendricks have a track record of success; their 2015 movie War Room rose to No. 1 at the box office in its second weekend. The film will motivate viewers to live more like Christ, they say. "In our culture, so many people say they believe in God, but their walk with God is very lukewarm and half-hearted," Stephen Kendrick said.
9. Bonhoeffer (November)
A Christian theologian living in Nazi Germany stands up to speak the truth about the evil regime and then joins a plot to assassinate the country's leader, Adolf Hitler. It's the true story of theologian/pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and was written and directed by Todd Komarnicki, who co-wrote Sully (2016) and produced Elf (2003). Angel Studios is releasing it. "There has never been a time in history where we needed to be reminded of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer more than today," said Jordan Harmon, president of Angel Studios.
10. Homestead (TBA, 2024)
In this post-apocalyptic drama, a wealthy prepper family clashes with the military veteran family they've hired for property security. The film is based on the book series Black Autumn by Jeff Kirkham and Jason Ross and stars Neal McDonough, Bailey Chase, Dawn Olivieri, and Jesse Hutch. Ben Smallbone (Priceless, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon) directed it. Angel Studios is releasing it. "Homestead goes on a wild ride through the crash of civilization, only to reveal that family, community, and love are the ultimate survival advantage," said Jeffrey Harmon, co-founder of Angel Studios.
11. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (TBA, 2024)
Siblings from a troubled background win the roles in the local holiday play and teach the community the true meaning of Christmas. It's based on the popular 1971 book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Dallas Jenkins, the creator and director of The Chosen, is helming it. Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, I Still Believe) is producing it. "This is a dream come true and the movie I've most wanted to make my whole career," Jenkins said.
Originally published Monday, 05 February 2024.