The month of December is when most busily employed people will be having their longest vacation in a year. It’s a good opportunity to do some things everyone’s been longing to do besides attending family reunions, celebrations and other Christmas activities.
Christmas however is not only a time for ourselves to get entertained and enjoy the absence of the hustle and bustle of work and do whatever we have planned to do. I believe that as this year ends, this season calls for a time for us to reflect, assess, meditate, pray and hear from God.
Some may have other plans how they will spend their long vacation, but for those who got nothing special prepared this year and decided to stay at home – here is a movie list that I have watched this year. They’re not Christmas films but they give the same message everyone should remember this season, and I believe that it will help anyone reflect and get inspired. I have watched all the films and I highly recommend it. Except for Trouble with the curve, Moneyball, Chasing Mavericks, Bernie, The Ultimate Gift and Crooked Arrows, the rest are Christian/ Faith-based films that give emphasis about the redemption that God offers to those who seek and will receive HIM.
To make it more enjoyable, watch it together with your family with cheese popcorn and hot chocolate.
The storylines and reviews were mostly taken from imdb.com.
My Not Christmas Movie List (randomly sorted):
1. October BabyStoryline
As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah-unscripted-collapses in front of the stunned audience. After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt. Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future. In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah learns that every life is beautiful. Written by Jon Erwin
A woman’s idyllic life is shattered when her husband is killed in a senseless act of violence. As she prepares to take matters into her own hands, two unexpected encounters begin to change everything. The film is based on the actual story of Joe Bradford, who grew up in a rural area of Tennessee. When he developed kidney disease, Joe and his wife Denise were forced to move to a low-income area of Nashville. When they arrived, they were confronted by the needs of the underprivileged children in their neighborhood. Joe and Denise began to reach out to them and also started directing a choir of inner-city children. Many of the fatherless children embraced Joe, who became known as “Papa Joe.” Together with his wife, he founded Elijah’s Heart, a non-profit organization, in 2005 to help children in need.
The film is the first feature-length project directed by Brent McCorkle, who also wrote the screenplay and edited the film. He previously worked on several short films, including The Rift, which won an award in the 2009 Doorpost Film Project. [wikipedia]
3. People Like UsStoryline
Sam has been keeping his distance from his father. When his father dies, he goes home for the funeral, and to see if his father left him any money so that he could bail himself out of his latest jam. But he learns that his father left all of his money to someone named Josh Davis. He finds him and learns that he is the troubled son of a woman named Frankie. Sam thinks she is his sister. He doesn’t give the money cause he needs it. He makes contact with her but doesn’t tell her who he is. Eventually they become friends and even helps Josh with his problems. [Storyline Written by email@example.com]
[Review taken from imdb: The writing/dialogue in People Like Us is believable and very good; the music score is beautiful and sets the emotional tone well; the ending to it is so touching and downright perfect that it made me left the theater with emotion. This movie does a great job talking about the loss of a loved one and trying to re-think choices in life.]
4. Change of PlansStoryline
Sally and Jason Danville’s life are turned upside down when a tragic accident suddenly names them the caretakers of four young children.
“Change of Plans” focuses on a couple that happens to be completely married to their careers: one is an aspiring singer named Sally, while her husband, Jason, designs high-tech planes for the government. Just as both of their careers are about to take turns for the better, Sally receives a shocking phone call: one of her closest friends has passed away, naming her as the sole guardian to the deceased woman’s child. To complicate matters, Sally realizes that the woman’s family has grown to include three more children that were adopted from different third-world countries from around the globe. Rather than see this family unit split up, the couple agrees to take all four kids into their home until somebody can be found to adopt them all together. [review from http://reviews.wikinut.com/Change-of-Plans-2011-Television-Movie-Review/k1becoby/]
5. Trouble with the CurveStoryline
Gus is a baseball scout. The team he works for thinks he should retire. He asks them to let him do one more scouting job to prove himself. His friend, Pete, asks Gus’s estranged daughter, Mickey, if she could go with him to make sure he’s OK as his eyes are failing. The doctor tells Gus he should get his eyes treated but he insists on doing his scouting assignment, which takes him to North Carolina. Mickey decides to put her work on hold to go with him and she wants him to explain why he pushed her away. Whilst there he runs into Johnny, a scout from another team who was a promising player Gus once scouted. Johnny and Mickey take an interest in each other. Written by firstname.lastname@example.org
Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives. With action, drama, and humor, the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures embraces God’s promise to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” Souls will be stirred, and hearts will be challenged to be … courageous!
[Review taken from imdb: ‘Courageous’ is in the top 10 of my favorite faith-based movies. It really is a tremendous uplifting film that leaves you in tears from the very beginning to the very end. And it’s all attributed to God. Kudos to Alex Kendrick for being in the film and giving a terrific performance! I give Courageous a 10 out of 10]
Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team. Written by Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
[Review taken from imdb: “Pitt is at the top of his game”. Moneyball is not the action-packed sports outing one may be expecting. Director Bennett Miller spends very little time focusing on the game of baseball, or even the personalities of the players. Moneyball is a movie about management. Its deadpan, forthright approach is fresh compared to the typical underdog story filled with home runs and stolen bases. There’s no electrifying music or thrilling speeches, but the excitement found in a phone call is realized as well as one could imagine. I don’t think any actor other than Hill could pull of his slowly clinched fist.]
Like the good sports films, Moneyball shares a deeper meaning than simply winning. Immediately the value of loyalty comes to mind. The sports genre is changing, much like how the crew of this story changed talent scouting. Just last year a movie rose up about the struggle to manage a boxer, and now here’s the struggle to manage a team.
8. To Save a LifeStoryline
Jake Taylor has everything. He has a beautiful girl, he’s the champion in basketball and beer pong, and everyone loves him. Then, an old childhood friend, whom Jake used to be friends with, commits suicide. Jake begins to think. He wonders what he could’ve done to save his friend’s life. A youth minister tells him that Jake needs God. So Jake becomes a Christian. However, things begin to spin out of control. His dad is cheating on his mom, his girlfriend is pregnant, and his former friends ridicule and mock him. During all this, Jake is going to realize just what it means to be a Christian and how, to save a life. [Storyline Written by J. Montgomery]
9. The Grace CardStoryline
Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else. Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man. Can they somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences-especially the most obvious one? Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love. Written by David G. Evans
10. The Ultimate GiftStoryline
Jason thought his inheritance was going to be the gift of money and lots of it. Was he ever in for a big surprise. Based on the best-selling book “The Ultimate Gift” by Jim Stovall, the story sends trust fund baby Jason Stevens on an improbable journey of discovery, having to answer the ultimate question: “What is the relationship between wealth and happiness?” Jason had a very simple relationship with his impossibly wealthy Grandfather, Howard “Red” Stevens. He hated him. No heart-to-heart talks, no warm fuzzies, just cold hard cash. So of course he figured that when Red died, the whole “reading of the will” thing would be another simple cash transaction, that his Grandfather’s money would allow him to continue living in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. But what Red left him was anything but simple. Red instead devised a plan for Jason to experience a crash course on life. Twelve tasks, which Red calls “gifts,” each challenging Jason in an improbable way, the … Written by Sajbel, Michael O.
11. Not TodayStoryline
Caden Welles has the world at his disposal. With the resources of his wealthy father, he’s living life as large as any 20-year-old could dream. But what happens when that dream becomes a nightmare halfway around the world? Traveling with his friends to Hyderabad, India on a whim, Caden’s expectations of a never-ending party crash hard. But not as hard as his conscience when he refuses to help a starving man and his little girl. Haunted by the images of Kiran and Annika, Caden attempts to right his wrong-only to discover Kiran has been forced to sell his own daughter. Caden’s eyes are now opened to a world few Americans know still exists: a thriving human-trafficking trade. Add the dehumanization of Kiran and hundreds of millions of other Dalits due to India’s caste system, and Caden could easily turn his back. Yet spurred by a true purpose, an unlikely new friendship, and the prayers of his mother and girlfriend back home, Caden chooses to help in Kiran’s unlikely search to find his … Written by Not Today
Jay Austin, a dishonest car salesman in lots of debt, comes to a turning point in his life where he becomes a born-again Christian, turns from his dishonest way of business and begins trusting in God to take care of him. Even when things get hard he trusts God, and God provides him with a way to pay off his debt honestly. Written by Elias L.
[Review taken from imdb: This movie was a great example of how God works. The movie itself is a true to life as it gets for a born-again Christian. Flywheel makes you think, cry, laugh and praise God. This movie was only to be in one theater for a couple weeks, a very limited engagement. However, the response was so great it was held over for a long time and then spread to other theaters, and is now at Blockbuster. It is a great way to spend 2 hours. Although the quality is not what movie-goers are used to, the film more than makes up for that with a great story, awesome music and terrific actors. Within a few minutes you will forget the lack of production quality.]
13. Faith Like PotatoesStoryline
Frank Rautenbach leads a strong cast as Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage, who leaves his farm in the midst of political unrest and racially charged land reclaims and travels south with his family to start a better life in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. With nothing more than a caravan on a patch of land, and help from his foreman, Simeon Bhengu, the Buchan family struggle to settle in a new country. Faced with ever mounting challenges, hardships and personal turmoil, Angus quickly spirals down into a life consumed by anger, fear and destruction. Based on the inspiring true story by Angus Buchan the book was adapted for the big screen by Regardt van den Bergh and weaves together the moving life journey of a man who, like his potatoes, grows his faith, unseen until the harvest. Written by Frans Cronje
In Albany, the marriage of Caleb end Catherine Holt is in crisis and they decide to divorce. However, Caleb’s father, John, proposes that his son delays their separation process for forty days and follow a procedure called “The Love Dare” to make them love each other again. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
[Review taken from imdb: I am a born-again Christian. I am also somewhat of a film snob who counts movies among his favorites that are decidedly R rated (I have no problem with sin being presented in movies as long as it’s not presented as something good), and some of my favorites are over 100 years old. Just to let you know where this review is coming from.
With “Fireproof” the Kendrick brothers have matured. Their first film, “Flywheel,” was a wonderful story with almost no budget, and amateurishly done. Then came “Facing the Giants,” which was pretty good but ultimately forgettable. “Fireproof” finally puts together solid production values, mostly topnotch acting, and a very nicely written script that includes some clever plot twists.
Yes, it is explicitly Christian in its message. Yes, it upholds the sanctity of marriage and celebrates a man fighting for all he’s worth to win the love of a wife who’s filing for divorce.]
15. The Secrets of Jonathan SperryStoryline
In 1970 a 75-year-old man named Jonathan Sperry starts mentoring three boys – Dustin, Albert, and Mark – to follow the Lord. Written by Anonymous
[Review taken from imdb: Our family watched The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry last night and each one of us thought it was an absolutely wonderful movie. We have had this film in our Netflix Watch Instantly queue ever since Netflix acquired it, but had never taken time to watch it. When we decided to watch it as a family last night, my 11-year-old son balked and said it looked like it would be “boring”, but even he was brought to unexpected tears and smiles here and there throughout (as were the rest of us); and at the end he was the first to say what a great movie this was and that “we really need to buy this”. The main theme that stood out to me in this film was the impact that one person could have on so many other people’s lives, especially if they truly live what they profess to believe. I highly recommend this heart-felt, family-friendly, thought-provoking film.]
Husband and wife doctors Paul and Kim Jordan need a drastic change. Distraught by the inexplicable death of their baby, Paul (C. Thomas Howell) convinces Kim to abandon their American lives and join a medical mission in Thailand. It seems to be just the distraction they need, until the day Paul is kidnapped by human traffickers who need a surgeon to operate on their wounded leader. Kim is left alone in a strange country, trying desperately to find her husband with no proof of what happened. While captive on the gangs’ secluded island, Paul is caged with Malcolm Andrews (John Rhys-Davies), an Englishman being held for ransom. With nothing to do but talk, the two men quickly clash over philosophy, as Malcolm relies on a bold faith in God and Paul believes no god would allow these evils to happen in the world. Paul takes another hit when he finds his patient’s condition much worse than he can handle on his own in such primitive conditions. With his value to the criminals plummeting, the only hope for both he and Malcolm is to plot their own escape. They must trust each other with their very lives in order to outwit the traffickers and make a run for freedom.
17. The Way HomeStoryline
An inspirational true story about how a rural community rallied around a distraught family to search for their missing two year-old boy and through doing so changed the lives of many of those involved.
[Review taken from imdb: This was a wonderful movie and showed the example that God wants us to love our neighbors. We are to be God’s hands and feet and that’s what these neighbors did. I don’t understand the previous reviewer who said that he and his wife sat down on a Saturday night thinking that the film would be action, drama, or comedy… This movie was not an experience in religion, but a story of hope, faith, and dependence upon Our Creator, God. As God’s creation, we have free-will to choose Him and His love or reject it. I pray that you will not reject it. The joy of knowing God is too extraordinary for description! Peace and Grace to you and your wife.]
18. A Walk in My ShoesStoryline
[Synopsis taken from imdb: Ever judge someone just by looking at them? Of course, we’ve all made snap judgments about people. But what if we really got to know them? How would our opinions change? And what if we were forced to become them how would the shoes fit then? Stressed-out high school teacher Trish Fahey can’t understand her students’ lack of effort why their parents don’t seem to care. This is especially true of Justin Kremer, a popular, skateboard-loving, basketball star who is under-performing in her class. Trish has him suspended from the team and quickly chalks up the situation as a case of bad parenting. This perspective dramatically changes when Trish meets Molly, a mysterious stranger intent on helping her see things differently. When Trish wrecks her car, Molly is there as Trish wakes to find herself living the life of Cindy Kremer, the woman she has personally judged and criticized. Trish discovers that there is often more to the story and learns a powerful lesson that affects everyone she interacts with. Her husband, her daughter, the ex-Marine next door. No one is left unchanged.]
We meet Bernie Tiede (1958- ), a chubby undertaker, who takes pride in his work. He’s a Gospel-singing tenor. In a series of interviews with townspeople, mixed with flashbacks, we follow Bernie: he arrives in Carthage, Texas (pop. 7,000), where old ladies adore him; he befriends a wealthy, mean-spirited widow named Marjorie Nugent; they become companions in both daily routines and expensive vacations. Among those interviewed, only her stockbroker and Danny Buck, the local district attorney, are unsympathetic toward the sunny, sometimes saccharine Bernie. Marjorie changes from sour and alone to happy with Bernie; then she gets possessive. What will sweet Bernie do? [Storyline written by ]
20. Crooked ArrowsStoryline
A story centered on a Native American lacrosse team making its way through a prep school league tournament.
Review taken from imdb: “Crooked Arrows” is one of those movies that even if you know almost nothing about the sport of Lacrosse you get involved in the game so much so that you might just find yourself yelling at the screen and that is part of “The Formula” that works so very well for movies about sports.
If you start watching this movie thinking that “The Formula” is all there is to it, get prepared for a BIG Wake-up call. This movie has managed to twist Native culture, Traditions, History and even Language all together so expertly that you are not only being entertained but being educated at the same time.
Saying that this movie is an emotional roller coaster would be akin to saying that Tecumseh was a great warrior. Both are major understatements.
I’m not going to give anything away here because I really believe that potential viewers should just watch and ENJOY this movie from start to finish without knowing more than what is in the synopsis.]
21. Seven Days in UtopiaStoryline
After a disastrous debut on the pro circuit, a young golfer finds himself unexpectedly stranded in Utopia, Texas and welcomed by an eccentric rancher.
Review taken from imdb: A perfect case of a message adding up to more than presentation in film terms. Three things elevate this movie to above average for me. One, Robert Duvall… that guy is a treat to watch in just about any performance. Two, I love the game of golf. Finally, the message of altering and living life on your own terms with faith and conviction resonates in a big way. I really loved this line from Duvall’s grace before his meal… “Thank You for faith in a world filled with fear.” Regardless, this movie is NOT a pure religious film at all. It’s a story about golf and struggling to better oneself by prioritizing what is really important in life.]
22. Chasing MavericksStoryline
The inspirational true story of real life surfing phenomenon Jay Moriarity. When 15 year old Jay discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is not only real, but exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson to train him to survive it. As Jay and Frosty embark on their quest to accomplish the impossible, they form a unique friendship that transforms both their lives, and their quest to tame Mavericks becomes about far more than surfing. [Storyline rritten by Twentieth Century Fox]
23. Soul SurferStoryline
13 year-old Bethany Hamilton is a champion surfer who was born to be in the water. But after a fun night out night surfing and what should be a fun day in the water, she is attacked by a shark and loses her arm. Rushed to the hospital, she remains calm, and maintains her faith in God. Now she has to re-learn how to do everything with only one arm – including how to surf. It will take her friends, family, and her Christian faith to get her back into the water, but if that is where she is meant to be, she will find a way to get there. [Storyline Written by napierslogs]
Review taken from imdb: The film includes great cinematography and well-done surf scenes which add to the overall effect. If this movie does not inspire you, I don’t know what will. The target audience is teenage girls, but the whole family can enjoy Soul Surfer. You will leave the theater feeling uplifted after viewing this great film. SEE THIS MOVIE! You will not be disappointed.
24. The ClimbStoryline
In this intense ice-and-snow mountain drama, two climbers temporarily forced together for a rescue mission find themselves as uneasy partners in the adventure of a lifetime. Derrick Williams (Jason George) is a hotshot climber who wants to prove to the world he can do it himself. Teamed up with Christian “Safety-Man” Michael Harris (Ned Vaughn), another stunning professional world-class climber, they are given a fully funded ascent up one of the most deadly mountains in the world; the monstrous Mt. Chicanagua in the Chilean Andes. The battle doesn’t begin on the slopes however, it is a test of wills, a question of faith and beliefs that begins immediately and doesn’t stop until the stunning conclusion. [Storyline Written by Mckenzie2467 (with edits by ReecyBoy42)]
25. Facing the GiantsStoryline
An action-packed drama about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. In six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. After learning that he and his wife Brooke face infertility, Grant discovers that a group of fathers are secretly organizing to have him dismissed as head coach. Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he searches for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe God for the impossible on and off the field. When faced with unbelievable odds, the Eagles must step up to their greatest test of strength and courage. What transpires is a dynamic story of the fight between faith and fear. [Storyline Written by Anonymous]