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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: December 15, 2017.

The top pick December movies are about underdogs who teach us about ultimate love, kindness, and forgiveness that overcome evil. The ongoing top pick for this Christmas season is The Star. More than any other movie in theaters this month, The Star celebrates the real reason for the season in the birth of our Lord who came to give us the possibility of eternal life. This delightful Christmas movie is appropriate for the whole family and tells the story of the birth of Christ from the perspective of the animals in the story, especially that of the underdog little donkey Bo, who develops as a hero.

With excellent, charming animation, the voices are entertaining and engaging. As it tells the story of the birth of our Savior, it conveys valuable lessons of persistence, friendship, and true purpose. It demonstrates the truth that good overcomes evil, even through underdogs.  It is a lovely movie that portrays the story of the greatest, eternal Christmas gift of all!

Another top pick redemptive movie is Wonder with Christmas the central theme of the value of kindness. Based on the New York Times bestseller by the same title, it tells the inspiring, hopeful, and heartwarming story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), who has facial deformities. In the movie, he enters the fifth grade to attend an elementary school for the first time, after homeschooling with his mother, played by Oscar Award-winning actress Julia Roberts.

Ruth (Aidy Bryant), Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), Bo (Steven Yeun), Joseph (Zachary Levi) and Mary (Gina Rodriguez) in Sony Pictures Animation's THE STAR.

Ruth (Aidy Bryant), Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), Bo (Steven Yeun), Joseph (Zachary Levi) and Mary (Gina Rodriguez) in Sony Pictures Animation’s THE STAR.

The movie follows Auggie’s first year in school from his perspective and that of those around him.  While it discourages bullying, the movie encourages seeing others beyond external appearances, having quality friendships, and showing compassion. It is a family movie but there is some brief, mostly light, foul language.

It is a delightful, entertaining, uplifting movie that is suitable for older children through adults. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson (Auggie’s father), Izabela Vidovic (Auggie’s sister, Via), Mandy Patinkin (Auggie’s school principal), and Jacob Tremblay (Auggie) give endearing performances.

Another top pick during the second week of December is Ferdinand about a bull who doesn’t bully.  Coming to theaters December 15, Ferdinand is a CG-animated adaptation of the classic 1936 book by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson.

The movie begins in Casa del Toros, a bull training camp in rural Spain from which young Ferdinand bolts upon learning his dad never returned from a trip to that Madrid arena. He finds idyllic refuge on a farm belonging to Juan whose daughter Nina makes a pet out of Ferdinand. But when the docile creature grows to an enormous, threatening size, he is seized by the authorities and delivered back to Casa del Toros.

Julia Roberts stars in the new film based on the book of the same name, 'Wonder'.

Julia Roberts stars in the new film based on the book of the same name, ‘Wonder’.

Ferdinand plans an escape with the help of a team of misfits, who like Ferdinand defy stereotypes. The movie is a heartwarming, comedic adventure for all ages. Moments of comic entertainment include a literal “bull in a china shop” scene.  However, the characters also gracefully inhabit bright green rolling hills against azure skies. Ferdinand is an heroic, selfless, non-violent, courageous character who is concerned about the well-being of others.

Light continues to shine into our hurting, dark world in other top pick movies for the second week of December. Let There Be Light, about an alcoholic atheist, tells the story of Sol Harkins who is mourning the death of his son. Because he is bitter and angry with God, Sol enjoys writing books that mock belief in God, especially Christian belief.

However, at a party for his new book, Sol becomes very drunk. As he drives his fancy car home, he crashes and has a near-death experience in which he sees his son alive and happy. His son repeatedly says to him, “Let there be light.” This experience challenges Sol to reconsider his beliefs and actions. This engaging, inspiring movie is directed by Kevin Sorbo and produced by Sean Hannity. Kevin and his wife, Sam, who is also a writer, are lead actors for this captivating film.

Playing out in the hardhearted world of the Los Angeles criminal court system that was sorely lacking in moral convictions, Roman J. Israel, Esq., continues as a thought-provoking top pick for older teens and adults. It is a PG-13 movie due to content and some language. (For example, our Lord’s name is taken in vain to the face of Roman Israel, who ironically is in part a type of Christ figure.)

This uniquely told redemptive story stars Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a character whose “moral compass always points north,” says producer, Todd Black. “When you go to a courthouse or a prison, you see people struggling to prove their worth, to prove their story – not even necessarily their innocence; they just want their story to be heard,” says Black.  Of many lawyers, he says, “They’re cut and dry – does it fit the law or doesn’t it fit the law? – and they put zero moral value on right or wrong.”

As Roman J. Israel, Esq, Washington performs an idealistic, misfit, savant defense lawyer, Roman J. Israel, who is driven by conviction, courage, and compassion. The Esq. attached to his name refers to his being “a little above gentleman” and “a little lower than knight.”

Roman’s life is upended when his mentor, a civil rights icon, dies.  Israel is recruited to join a firm led by one of the legendary man’s former students, George Pierce (Colin Farrell), who is initially an ambitious and self-serving lawyer. Roman Israel is also pursued as a mentor by Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo), who is a young champion of equal rights.  Carmen Ejogo says that Roman ignites the embers in her character and that her character stands on his shoulders. A turbulent series of events tests Roman’s career and convictions, as well as of those around him.

I enjoyed a profound discussion of this multi-faceted, substantive movie in L.A. with Denzel Washington and director Dan Gilroy. You can hear excerpts from this discussion. One of the most profound insights from this discussion was that the movie is not just about Roman. The idea of one’s legacy is gripping in this movie.

Like Roman Israel, Dan Gilroy and Denzel Washington are men of strong convictions.  Denzel revealed that while shooting Roman J. Israel, Esq. that he and Dan prayed and read the Bible regularly. “Dan and I have been prayer partners in this whole collaboration…We were on the same page from day one. We know Who we work for, and we’re just trying to do our best work,” he said. Read and hear more about Dan Gilroy’s and Denzel Washington’s faith and convictions.

Dan Gilroy wrote the film on spec specifically for two-time Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington because he felt that Denzel is the only actor who could bring the character to life.  “I wrote this movie for Denzel because of his talent and because Denzel is a man who believes in human dignity and the human spirit. Knowing who Denzel is in real life, he brings that part of himself to this character.”

Dan Gilroy is well-known for Hollywood spectacles like The Bourne Legacy. Gilroy says, “I can write spectacle-driven, entertaining films, but what I learned…is that audiences love to watch something character-based…Audiences are hungry for a story that resonates in real life, that’s relevant.”gton stars in Columbia Pictures’ ROMAN J. ISRAEL ESQ.

Further remaining in theaters is Despicable Me 3, which is PG-rated, has some light crude elements and lots of cartoon violence, but is moral and redemptive as it celebrates faith and family in the midst of action-packed adventures. It has no foul language.  Gru, wife Lucy, and their three adorable daughters (Margo, Edith, and Agnes) along with the Minions and Gru’s twin brother, Dru (both twins are skillfully voiced by Steve Carrell), are involved with fast-paced adventures filled with heart and satirical humor for all ages. Despicable Me 3 (PG-13) is suitable for older children through adults.

It takes effort and research to find good movies with worthwhile values through good reviews from trustworthy, wise sources. Uniquely, each week Sonoma Christian Home not only provides valuable reviews and substantive interviews for worthwhile family movies, but it also publishes the top picks in movies in theaters for all ages that are not only entertaining; but they are redemptive, of good quality, and inspirational.

The top pick movies for the second week of December include the following:  The Star (PG) for all ages; Wonder (PG) for older children through adults; Ferdinand (PG) for all ages: Let There Be Light (PG-13) that is suitable for older children through adults; Roman Israel, Esq. (PG-13) for older teens through adults; and Despicable Me 3 (PG-13), which is appropriate for older children through adults.

Although release dates can change, this what we know about the promising movies yet to come in December:   The Bolshoi Ballet’s, The Nutcracker, December 17, and The Greatest Showman, December 25. Also, watch for many top picks in the new year of redemptive, Biblical, and faith-based movies that continue to improve in the ongoing Renaissance of artistry and Reformation of content in movies.

Remember to research films before you see them. Hold out for the best. What we see in movies affects our personal lives, our families, and our culture.  Support in every way you can, the best of family and redemptive movies, so that more like them will be made. Choose and support the best that will affect us all positively for eternal good.

Enjoy the Christmas season and celebrate the birth of our Lord with redemptive movies that display Christian character that our Lord has made possible.




To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard


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