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Does an Oscar Nod Make It Worthy?

  • Phil Boatwright Baptist Press
  • 2005 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
Does an Oscar Nod Make It Worthy?

KANSAS CITY, Kan.— The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences salutes stories and storytellers, typically without regard for the clout of their content. However, a film’s content is an element as influential as its artistic and technical merits.

With the Oscar nominations announced Jan. 25, those who seek to develop their spiritual walk by adhering to the biblical instructions set in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 and Ephesians 5:11 may wish to reconsider their support of a movie merely because Hollywood has granted it a prestigious honor.

Though the following films or actors from these films have received Oscar nominations, each contains explicit material you may wish to avoid.

“The Aviator,” nominated for Best Picture. It’s difficult finding a patch of dialogue not weighted down with profane language in this glitzy bio of Howard Hughes. “But Phil, that’s how the man spoke.” OK, but was it necessary to profane God’s name 70 times in order to reflect this man’s character? And where in Exodus 20:7 is exception given to storytellers concerning the defiling of the Fourth Commandment? It’s one thing having to hear it on the job, but to pay an entertainer for the privilege? Video Alternative: “The Spirit of St. Louis.” Here’s an entertaining performance by James Stewart as another famous flyer – Charles Lindbergh.

“Closer,” nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Actress. This film raises a profound question concerning infidelity – “Why isn’t love enough?” Intense and well-acted, it is an engrossing picture showing people struggling with commitment issues and trying to understand their own foibles. But these are four people unresolved, four people who not only avoid spiritual matters, they never even consider them. Perhaps the spiritual ingredient left out of the lives of these four characters will remind viewers of its importance. But is that reminder worth the viewing of the film’s carnal content? Besides the realization that these individuals lack a spiritual connection, we are also subjected to a constant barrage of sexuality, including nudity and sexual situations. Video Alternative: C.S. Lewis’ “Through the Shadowlands.” Not to be confused with the Anthony Hopkins/Debra Winger version, this one stars Josh Ackland and Clair Bloom. It is a lovely film about the Christian author’s friendship and eventual marriage to a woman who discovers she is dying.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” nominated for Best Original Screenplay. An artsy tour de force, the film examines a question we should all ask before exorcising a wayward friend or spouse from our lives: Is the relationship more valuable than the annoyances are irritating? While the film, whether intended or not, teaches that love can conquer all, including those little pesky quirks that build up over the years, it is well deserving of the R rating for its language and explicit sexuality. Video Alternative: “The Awful Truth.” This classic screwball comedy has Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a divorced couple sabotaging each other’s new relationships. Grant reveals his expert touch with physical and verbal comic timing. Forget its age, it’s a perfect comedy.

“The Incredibles,” nominated for Best Animated Film. Along with vivid animation techniques, every other element of the production had been given special attention, including story, character development and dialogue. What’s more, a sincere respect for audience members was paid, no matter the age. But some parents are still under the misguided assumption that if it’s animated, it must be OK for all ages. Not so. Though this PG film is creative, funny and addresses life issues, it is an action adventure about superheroes – which means violent acts of derring-do. The filmmakers did not hold back.

“Ray,” nominated for Best Picture. The lead performance is award worthy and the music should ignite a new interest in Mr. Charles’ incredible talents. Beware, however: Though the film paints a true picture of this complex and gifted musician, it does contain objectionable language and several sexual situations. Rated PG-13, "Ray" contains profane and obscene language throughout; depictions of drug use; sexual situations and adultery; a fierce depiction of an age of segregation; an overdose; excruciating detox withdrawal; and the death of a child.

“Sideways,” nominated for Best Picture. An incisive, well-acted movie, but "Sideways" is rightfully rated R for explicit sexual discussions and conduct. What’s more, in a film where people are attempting to find reason and direction, it’s disappointing that God is never addressed except as a profane expletive.


©  2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.