Five 'true story' films now streaming on Amazon Prime that you'll want to watch

Hacksaw Ridge tells the powerful true story of Christian pacifist Desmond Doss.(Photo: Lionsgate)

You might despair at the negativity and depravity in many modern films, but if you're already subscribed to a streaming service, there are hidden gems to be found in their vast databases, including big budget films that have a positive message and small, independent Christian films. Here are five you can access on Amazon right now:

Hacksaw Ridge (rated 15, 2016)

If you catch this before it leaves Prime on Wed 22 May (though it's likely to return), this unmissable film is expertly made. It's rare for stories of Christian miracles to be produced in Hollywood, and even rarer for those films to be really excellent. Both are true of Hacksaw Ridge, which tells the extraordinary experiences of WWII hero Desmond Doss and is directed by Mel Gibson.

It was so good when I watched it first in the cinema, that I returned to see it twice on the big screen. Both times, the audience was completely astounded – which is its effect on every person I've ever watched the film with, on a DVD or on Prime.

Without betraying the plot, Doss achieved feats that can realistically be described as miraculous while being doggedly determined to obey God's commandments in the USA's fight with Japan, especially 'do not kill'. He even refused to carry a gun on the battlefield, bringing all kinds of mockery and ill-treatment upon himself. An added bonus is a very wholesome love story woven through the film.

Andrew Garfield's performance as a humble and devout farmer from Virginia facing severe pressure to abandon his principles is outstanding. Supported by comedic moments from Vince Vaughn and a powerful performance from Sam Worthington, the viewer is transported into the ethics and dilemmas of wartime America and left awed by the power of faith.

Sensitive viewers should be warned that the war scenes are extremely graphic, but in this particular case I believe the violence is justifiable, not only to show the human disaster of war, but also just how incredible Doss's story is.

Apollo 13 (PG, 1995)

Older generations may have seen this extraordinary film that won multiple awards, and features on many 'best ever' lists – but it's well worth watching again, and will be a real treat for anyone who has not seen it before.

It tells the true story of the 1970 NASA space mission that went wrong, and the incredible fight to succeed in the seemingly impossible mission to bring the astronauts back safely. The virtues of love, hope and faith are interwoven throughout the story, which is gripping throughout.

Ed Harris gives an unforgettable performance as the flight director who doggedly refuses to consider failure and abandon his men, while Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton shine as the troubled team of astronauts.

'The Case for Christ' stars Mike Vogel as Lee Strobel.

The Case for Christ (PG, 2017)

This is a surprisingly gripping and high quality adaptation of the story of Lee Strobel, a Chicago Times journalist and atheist who was incensed when his wife found Christian faith, and set out on a mission to prove her new beliefs to be false.

Most Christians will be aware of his ultimate failure at this task and later career as an evangelist for the faith – his books, sharing the title of this film, sold in their millions and made academic Christian scholarship accessible for a mainstream reader.

This film touches on the apologetic arguments for the resurrection that Strobel came to find compelling. But its real charm is the love story between husband and wife, expertly portrayed by Mike Vogel and Erika Christensen, dressed in a funky 1970s wardrobe.

There is a lot more focus on their relationship than in the book, and it makes for compelling viewing, and not just for evangelicals, though it undoubtedly comes from this perspective. Still, a non-Christian viewer told me that they thought it an excellent film.

Beautiful Boy (15, 2018)

This film does not make for comfortable viewing, though that would be impossible for a realistic rendition of the agony that addicts and their parents endure. Some of the most shocking and horrifying elements of the written memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff have been left out however, which might be a relief - but it is certainly not family friendly.

Neither is faith a strong element of the story, but the themes of the film will be familiar to anyone who has wrestled with the limits of love, and the despair of addiction. When should we respect personal freedoms, even when it leads to disaster? What can we do when all hope seems lost? How can we cope with the pain of observing self-destruction and discovering we are entirely impotent?

The lead roles of father, Steve Carell, and son, Timothée Chalamet, tell the story beautifully. Happily, the real life story has a Hollywood ending.

Unplanned (15, 2019)

Another famous Christian testimony brought to the big screen, this movie is often used by pro-life groups to demonstrate the darkness of abortion. But the film's greatest success is in showing a well-intentioned Planned Parenthood director, who genuinely believed she was helping women, be brought horrifyingly down to earth when witnessing an abortion for the first time.

Some of the other pro-abortion characters lack this complexity and are depicted as the "baddies" of the story, which is this film's main weakness. But nothing can take away from the distressing reality of the subject matter, and you might find that it provokes powerful emotions.

The real woman it depicts, Abby Johnson, is now firmly established as a conservative pro-life campaigner. Though flawed, the film offers a window into the naivety of liberal sympathies and the banality of evil.

Heather Tomlinson is a freelance journalist. Find her at or on twitter @heathertomli