In all the major religion-related films that came out in 2014, God got just one cameo: Isaac Andrews, an 11-year-old from Britain, played a rather obnoxious version of the Almighty in December's Exodus: Gods and Kings. Nonetheless, God played major roles in films ranging from the Biblical epic Noah to the apocalyptic Left Behind and the polemical God's Not Dead, causing floods and raptures and existential crises in university students from far off set. Plus, Jesus got lots of screen time, portrayed in Heaven Is for Real as a white guy on a horse and in Son of God as a white guy with an undeniably smarmy smile.
Some of these movies were big hits at the box office. Noah grossed $101 million and Heaven Is for Real hit $91 million, while God's Not Dead and Son of God both netted roughly $60 million. Exodus was cinematographically beautiful, despite its ridiculous script and casting, and Left Behind featured such venerable actors as Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray.
Despite their varying levels of success, these films all share one quality: They're culturally awkward. Which suggests it’s difficult, probably impossible, to frame the "character" of God in a way that will attract a core religious audience while not alienating more secular or casually observant viewers. Ticket sales indicate there's a strong appetite for religion-related film in America, and the best may be yet to come: Ewan McGregor is slated to star as Jesus in Last Days in the Desert in 2015. But even if the economic case for making more God flicks is clear, it's not obvious that these kinds of movies will ever qualify as interesting art.