Faith-based films are more prevalent than ever. Whether that’s the growing number of Christians entering the faith-based industry or the larger number of Hollywood filmmakers dealing explicitly with religious issues in their films, it's easier than ever to find films that affirm and celebrate religious worldviews with truth and beauty.  

Therefore, it seems like the perfect time to start an annual (hopefully) top ten list of faith-based films.

For the purposes of this list, I define “faith-based films” as any movie that affirms religious beliefs and experiences as a primary part of its storyline. This includes, but not limited to “faith-based industry” films. 

READ: Why Sci-Fi Films Like ‘Rebel Moon’ Love Religion

This also includes representations of Christian faith, but is not limited to them. This seems to me to be the most fair way of giving a true evaluation of the best in religious filmmaking of 2023.

So, let us begin. First off, some honorable mentions. 

A Hiding Place”: A beautiful story of authentic faith. Technically a filmed stage production and not a film. 

The Prince of Egypt”: Also a beautiful story of authentic faith. Also technically a filmed stage production.

The Chosen Season 3: Continues being one of the best onscreen depictions of Jesus and his ministry. Technically a TV show and not a film. 

And here is my top 10 for the year: 


The true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California, “Jesus Revolution” follows Greg Laurie (played by Joel Courtney) as he struggles with the absence of a family and the challenges of embracing a new Christian family lead by two very different pastors, Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammar) and Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie).

The biggest and most ambitious Kingdom Storybook Company movie to date, the strengths of “Jesus Revolution” rest on the portrayal of the friendship between Lonnie Frisbee and Chuck Smith, and its willingness to get into messier and more uncomfortable territory than most faith-based films while still affirming the beauty of Jesus and Christianity.

Unfortunately, the script is still at war with itself in how honest it wants to be vs how much it wants to inspire its audience, which leads to a narrative and thematic (and at times dishonest) mess that undermines what could have been a true masterpiece of modern faith-based cinema.

Read my full review here.


When a young girl is kidnapped by people with a strange connection to their family, Rev. Jeremiah Jacobs and his wife Martha must overcome the lies of the past to find their daughter and repair their relationship with each other and their town.

“Birthright Outlaw” succeeds as a faith-based action western romance that knows exactly what it is and relishes it. The movie ticks all the boxes you want from a movie that falls within that genre hybrid: faithful Christians, good lessons, wild-West archetypes, sweet romance, and yippee-ki-yay adventure.

While other hybrid faith-based movies weigh themselves down with their cliches, or undermine themselves by its different genre cliches canceling each other out, “Birthright Outlaw” uses all of its well-known genre tropes as springboards for giddy genre fun with positive faith-based messages. If the movie had stuck the landing a little better or developed its themes a bit more, it would definitely be higher on the list.


On the day of his scheduled execution, a convicted serial killer gets a psychiatric evaluation during which he claims he is a demon, and further claims that before their time is over the psychiatrist will commit three murders of his own.

“Nefarious” is a groundbreaking and mostly successful attempt at bringing the faith-based genre with horror. The film pulls from 70s horror films like “The Exorcist” and “The Omen” to be a truly disturbing and horrifying experience unlike any you’ve seen in another faith-based film, while always steering that horror to help us viscerally experience how truly evil the compromises are that we make every day in our modern world, whether its euthanasia or abortion (its deeply disturbing portrayal of a demon’s celebration abortion is one that will never leave me).  

The agenda to use horror, not to “desensitize” but to “re-sensitize” as the film’s creators put it, is the perfect key to unlock how faith-based films can do horror without compromising their principles. If the film had stuck the landing rather than abandoning this magic hybrid for more traditional Christian preachiness, this would easily be in the top five on this list.

Read my full review here.


Based on real near-death experiences, “After Death” explores the afterlife with the guidance of New York Times bestselling authors, medical experts, scientists, and survivors that shed a light on what awaits us.

“After Death” is a really solid documentary that makes great strides in Christians being able to investigate topics that they’re curious about in a thoughtful way without preaching about them. The issue of Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) is a truly fascinating one that benefits from having a person of faith at the helm. The interviews are interesting, the production value is solid, and the imaginative illustrations of what people describe they experience when having an NDE is beautiful and affecting.

Unfortunately, the documentary undermines its feeling of honest exploration by not having any NDE skeptics interviewed, leading to an underlying vibe of propaganda disguised as inquiry. If they’d just had one or two skeptics in the movie, the film would be something I would feel comfortable recommending to any of my religious or non-religious friends.

Read my full review here.


A decades-spanning tale of love and resilience based on the musical adaptation of the classic story, Celie (played by Fantasia Barrino) overcomes abuse, neglect and tragedy to live long enough to see a happy ending orchestrated by God.

Few movies are as effective at bringing a worship service to life while answering why God allows bad things to happen as the 2023 remake of “A Color Purple.” The movie literally shouts for joy its praises and laments to God through its captivating musical numbers, which are as beautiful as any musical performance captured on film and blur the line between film and church, and deals explicitly with the questions it raises about how you can believe in God even though bad things happen in a deeply and explicitly Christian way.

Its main weaknesses involve how it contrives some of its plot lines more than the Spielberg film did, both in its romanticized lesbian subplot, and the fairy-tale-like nature of its happy ending. 


After their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight, Doug White (Dennis Quaid) has to safely land the plane and save his entire family from insurmountable danger.

“On A Wing And A Prayer” proves that a straightforward Christian inspirational drama can be great if it's done well. The film’s first half perfectly captures the vibes and experiences of being in a traditional churchgoing Christian family and the inevitable doubts and questions about God, while the second half deals with a life-altering experience which revives their faith. Other faith-based films this year were more ambitious, but few nail the ambitions they have so well. Everything works, from the writing, to the performances, to the music. Low key inspirational Christian drama at its finest. 

Read my full review here.


While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.

One of the few entries on this list that doesn’t deal directly with a real world religion like Christianity, “Knock At The Cabin” is one of the finest and most chilling examinations on film of how one knows whether or not they should trust someone who claims to be speaking for God. As the Pentecostal Christian movement continues to grow around the world, the more friends and families (whether they are religious or not) are clashing over claims of prophecy and the miraculous, this film deftly and entertainingly challenges skeptics to ask how much proof they would require to believe – and believers how far they’re willing to go.


Having suffered a crisis of faith, a young, media-savvy Catholic priest enlists a malevolent hacker to blackmail a wealthy parishioner with secret recordings of his confessions.

The best non-Hollywood faith-based film of the year, “Exemplum” is both experimental and timely in its examination of how a good man — even a man of faith — can go very wrong when he starts compromising his values. The story of a man caught between the traditional Christian values and the modern world he succumbs to is deftly portrayed not only in the narrative in the filmmaking craft, where the black and white filmmaking and medieval imagery contrast viscerally and visually with the prevalence of modern technology.

As is how a very modern gritty indie story is nestled in an explicitly old-fashioned Christian morality tale. Not every character choice feels earned, and the film sometimes shows its budget in ways that feel like budget compromises rather than creative choices.  


Based on the book by David Grann, the film follows the true story of how members of the Osage tribe in the United States were murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, sparking a major FBI investigation. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, a soldier who comes to live in the Osage town with his uncle “King” Bill Hale, whose plans to keep the Osage money for himself facilitates and threatens Buckhart’s relationship with his new Osage wife, Molly Burkhart, played by Lily Gladstone. 

Martin Scorsese is at his best and most religious in “Killers of The Flower Moon”, a film about how God still saves those who call on him and how truth and repentance is the only way to save a corrupt soul. Scorsese is at the top of his game as a filmmaker, embracing quiet moments and giving every shot purpose, while Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Dinero excel in their roles.

Scorsese also does some of his most explicit affirmations of faith, both showing the most sincere religious people as the most noble, and explicitly affirming the FBI’s bringing down the villains as the sword of God’s justice. There are times that the movie doesn’t know when to pick up the pace, but when it embraces the quiet moments, the film is transcendent. 

Read my review here.


When her family moves from the city to the suburbs, 11-year-old girl named Margaret navigates new friends, feelings, and the beginning of adolescence through a growing prayer life with God.

The best faith-based film of the year is the unassuming long-awaited film adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic book “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” Kelly ;alksjdf Craig, the writer-director of the criminally underrated film “The Edge of Seventeen” tells a gentle and non-judgmental raw honesty to the coming-of-age genre, which in this case involves a young girl wrestling with her relationship with God as she wrestles with her relationships with her parents and her peers.  

Margaret’s changing relationship with God as she navigates her changing sense of identity is so rarely covered in coming of age stories, and is treated as both beautiful and normal, without the cheesy inauthenticity of many faith-based depictions, nor the crass cynicism of secular depictions — just like her relationships with her parents and peers. Add to that the brilliant writing and performances, and a faith-affirming ending, and you have easily one of the best faith-based films of the decade. 

Read my colleague Jillian Cheney’s review here.

What do you think? What would you rank as the top 10 faith-based films of the year? Let us know in the comments below.

Joseph Holmes is an award-nominated filmmaker and culture critic living in New York City. He is co-host of the podcast “The Overthinkers” and its companion website, where he discusses art, culture and faith with his fellow overthinkers. His other work and contact info can be found at his website