My Favorite Christian Movie Critics

I want to say thank you to two Christian movie critics and two Christian movie review communities that have been essential to the personal growth I feel I’ve experienced over the last 3 years. In many ways, they saved my life.

Thank you to Steven D. Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet.

And thank you to the movie critics of Christianity Today and the community at Arts and Faith.

I’m glad that communities like the ones at Christianity Today and Arts and Faith exist. They are a much-needed alternative to the kind of Christianity found in a community like Movieguide:

  1. “Christianity, a form of ethical monotheism, is superior to all…non-Christian or anti-Christian worldviews…” (What’s Your Worldview?)
  2. “…most feature films often require stereotypes, even negative ones, to tell a good story…they appeal only to narrow-minded bigots with an ax to grind, whose mental faculties and hearts have been poisoned by their sinful misanthropic prejudice.” (Movieguide’s review of There Will Be Blood.)
  3. “…Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist demagogues… The pro-abortion, pro-gun control leftists in Hollywood are the rightful heirs of these socialist monsters.” (Movieguide’s review of Runaway Jury.)
  4. “Naturally, [Roger Ebert] was also obviously attracted to the steamy sex scenes in MONSTER’S BALL. He also apparently didn’t mind ogling the naked breasts of Halle Berry, who plays Leticia (he got to see similar sightings of a voluptuous nude black woman in BELOVED, it should be noted)…” (Words that have been changed in Movieguide’s review of Monster’s Ball.)
  5. “…THE COUNSELOR has no heart, no moral courage, not much intelligence or wit, and no honor. Also, there is no Wizard of Oz to lend it any of those things. Except, perhaps, for the obsequious, phony pseudo-intellectual elitists running the news media and America’s critic organizations, who like to insert redeeming qualities and artistic value when there are none.” (Movieguide’s review of The Counselor.)
  6. “Bill Murray sounds like every loony leftist National Socialist politician. His sycophants do a perfect job of creating an aura of National Socialism, or liberal fascism with a happy face. He may remind many viewers of another politician currently running for president.” (Movieguide’s review of City of Ember.)
  7. “Regrettably, a new wave of Christian media courses sends vulnerable children to movies with corrosive, corrupting immorality and philosophy so that the children can talk to their peers about them.” (The Key to Real Media Wisdom.)

If it wasn’t for Steven D. Greydanus and his Decent Films website, I would’ve never found movies that changed my life, like AI Artificial Intelligence (2001). And I wouldn’t have found my favorite movie — a movie that has helped me to overcome feelings of depression I’d struggled with since dropping out of college and coming home to discern my vocation — Whisper of the Heart (1995).

Whisper of the Heart2

I don’t always agree with him — for example: I liked Prometheus (2012) and Watchmen (2009) — but his writing always makes me think, and I am a better person for it.

The same is true for Jeffrey Overstreet: I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me go:

Oxnard Montalvo
Oxnard Montalvo, in “The Day the World Got Really Screwed Up!”

Jeffrey Overstreet taught me that there is a difference between portraying evil and condoning evil. Thanks to that revelation, I now feel like I’m more able to discern goodness, truth, and beauty, and shun immorality (Philippians 4:8). No longer is my mindset, for example: “This movie showed a woman’s breast! It’s Hollyweird trash!” Now it’s: “What does this scene of nudity contribute to the movie? Is the nudity essential to conveying the story’s themes, or is it just there for the sake of being there? Hmm…”

Thank you, my fellow believers in Jesus.

Live long and prosper.

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