Christianity Today offers a Top Ten list of the best movies ever made about Jesus. We haven't seen them all, but there really are only two films on the list that we could recommend: Franco Zeferelli's 1977 Jesus of Nazareth and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ made in 2004. Nothing else we've ever seen comes close. The others that we have seen seem too stilted, artificial, and implausible to merit a recommendation.
Jesus of Nazareth is much longer (six and a half hours) and has a wider scope, covering most of the life of Christ as revealed in the gospels. The Passion of the Christ depicts only his last twelve hours. Ironically, perhaps, our chief criticism of both Zeferelli's and Gibson's versions is the same: They both present a very unsatisfying portrayal of the resurrection. In both films this incomparable event seems almost like an "Oh, by the way" afterthought. Neither of them film it with the drama and power that one might wish for in such an astonishingly important and miraculous occurrence.
On the other hand, one of the best things about both movies is the actors who play the Christ. Robert Powell and Jim Caveziel do a wonderful job of making Jesus real and their portrayals are appealling and plausible. Both movies also have an outstanding supporting cast and both strive for a realism, or in Gibson's case, a hyperrealism, that avoids the cartoonishness of other films.
We recommend them both with two caveats: Jesus of Nazareth takes a couple of nights to watch and The Passion is not for children.