The Top 5 Portrayals of Jesus in Film
Ryan DuncanCrosswalk.com blogspot for ChristianMovieReviews.com and Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Entertainment and Culture editor
- 2016 Mar 25
As we approach Easter, we are once again confronted by the mystery of Jesus. How could God leave his heavenly throne and take the shape of a man? How could one life pay for the sins of the world? Trying to understand the character of Christ is an endless journey, but this hasn’t deterred actors from portraying him over the years. The five performances below stand out because they sought to capture Christ’s time on earth in profound ways that would speak to the viewer. Do you agree with our list?
Here are the top 5 portrayals of Jesus in film,
Henry Ian Cusick – The Gospel of John
Though not the most compelling Jesus in cinema, Cusick nonetheless takes a spot on this list for two reasons. First, The Gospel of John is a word-for-word reenactment of Jesus’ life with no additions or alteration to the story. That level of scriptural commitment can be difficult for actors, and Cusick deserves recognition for giving a solid performance under such rigid guidelines. Second, Cusick played the character of Desmond in ABC’s Lost, and there are a lot of Crosswalk editors who loved Lost.
Diogo Morgado – Son of God
Dubbed “the Hot Jesus” by mainstream media, Morgado’s distracting looks kept him from advancing past #4 on this list. Still, of all the assembled entries, it’s the Son of God actor who best captures the overpowering love of Jesus Christ. Typically, Christian movies portray Jesus as a quiet, inscrutable figure. Not Morgado, his performance radiates with all the joy and tenderness of a shepherd rescuing his lost flock, and he has a way of making Jesus feel both grounded and relatable. It’s a refreshing take on what could easily have been a stagnant role.
Cliff Curtis – Risen
Ironically, Curtis’ best quality has everything to do with how little he’s seen. His version of Jesus is mysterious and aloof. One minute he’ll be sitting among friends, the next, he’s vanished into thin air. Scripture is filled with instances like this (Luke 24:31), but few actors have explored this side of Christ’s life in any detail. Curtis makes Jesus feel powerful, yet mysterious at the same time, in a performance reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Max von Sydow – The Greatest Story Ever Told
For many years, Max von Sydow was the face of Jesus. The Greatest Story Ever Told lived up to its name by being a film of epic proportions. Not only did Sydow have to shoulder the responsibility of playing Jesus, he had to stand out among veteran actors like Charlton Heston, Angela Lansbury, and a whole host of other names who appeared in the film. By succeeding, Sydow set the bar for anyone else looking to play the role Messiah in film today. Now that’s an accomplishment of truly biblical proportions.
Jim Caviezel – The Passion of the Christ
The crucifixion of Jesus might just be the most significant event in the entire Bible. How could anyone depict the fear, the pain, and determination of Jesus as he was nailed to the cross? Well, Jim Caviezel found a way. Though controversy still haunts The Passion of the Christ, it’s done nothing to diminish Caviezel’s epic performance. His raw emotion, combined with the sheer intensity of Christ’s death, earn him the top place on our list as the best movie Jesus of all time.