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MOVIES: A look at this year’s Oscar nominations

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — This year’s Oscar nominations for Best Picture are a potpourri of genres and themes, with each of the films containing moments of insight, instruction or just uplifting entertainment. But it’s Hollywood folks, and very often, despite their artistic qualities, these choices bombard us with abusive content. I’ve included a link to a website where you can read details about the content. The critiques contain the reason for the rating and are meant to serve those who still care about what they put in their head.

— “Amour.” I understand this is a gut-wrenching tale of a loving elderly couple having to deal with her declining health. I lost my dad this year and just couldn’t bring myself to see this story. I’m at peace knowing where my dad is and that he was excited about getting to Heaven. My parents were married 71 years and he was 90 when he passed. I don’t have to see a film about a parent’s declining health. I just lived it. Sorry I couldn’t see it for you. (Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, including a disturbing act and brief language.)

— “Argo.” The dramatic thriller about a covert operation to rescue diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis contains one of my favorite cinematic lines. Assessing the state of the world as reported on the nightly news, one character responds in disgust: “John Wayne is in the ground six months and this is what happens.” (R for several depictions of brutality and for profane and obscene language throughout.)

— “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” I was saddened by this movie, but after viewing it, I realized that it’s not poverty that drains the soul, but the feeling of hopelessness. (PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language, including both profanity and obscenity, and brief sensuality as we see men and women in a brothel.)

— “Django Unchained.” I missed the screening. Even film critics get sick. (R for nudity, strong graphic violence throughout, including torture, and a whole lot of profane and obscene language.)

— “Les Misérables.” The most powerful component of the book/the plays/and past movie versions has always been Jean Valjean’s conversion once he experienced God’s mercy. Great news — this same spiritual truth remains intact in this rendition. (PG-13 for a few bawdy remarks, four or five obscenities; at least two uses of Christ’s name in vain; some sexuality and several violent acts, including the depiction of a revolutionary battle scene.)

— “Life of Pi.” Whatever the moviemaker’s intent, the film causes spiritual reflection. I get excited about a picture like Life of Pi because while we are mental, physical and spiritual beings, most films dwell on the here and now. This one causes us to ponder that which will last. (Warning: I felt this PG-rated film deserved a PG-13 for its jolting action sequences. This isn’t a Sinbad-like adventure meant for kids, as the film’s poster might suggest. Along with the reflective and ethereal subject matter, there’s substantial violent content (a hungry tiger and a defenseless goat, a vicious hyena and a downed zebra, etc. — get the picture?), none of which are suitable for little ones. But I think the symbolism and parables that make up this resonant tale will challenge and spellbind teens and up.

— “Lincoln.” Hard call, this one. Should we support a resonant salute to a historical figure who helped change the world? Or, do we refrain from attending a movie that profanes God’s name 12 times? (PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage, around 10 obscenities; the opening scene takes place on a battlefield; we see combatants go hand to hand, with several gory killings by bayonets. Several minor expletives, the use of a racial epithet, and 12 profane uses of God’s name.)

— “Silver Linings Playbook.” After a stint in a mental institution due to obsessive/compulsive/fluctuating behavior, a former teacher moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. There’s so much bickering and arguing, not to mention 60 uses of one particular obscene word from the four leads that it becomes an ordeal to sit through. It’s often funny, but it’s also like being stuck in a cuckoo’s nest. (R for some sexual content/nudity and for heavy language.)

— “Zero Dark Thirty.” It’s a manhunt for Osama bin Laden action war drama. A long, sometimes nonlinear film, Zero Dark Thirty is a magnificent production that realizes the darkness that surrounds us. But if you are hoping Hollywood will present such a story within a PG context, forget it. Those days are long gone. (R for strong and graphic violence and language throughout.) The review will be posted on PreviewOnline.org Friday.

The 85th Academy Awards ceremony will air on ABC, Sunday, Feb 24 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

For reviews of most of the nominated films, visit http://www.previewonline.org/. Read my choices for best/worst films of 2012 at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=39438
In addition to writing for Baptist Press, Phil Boatwright reviews films for www.previewonline.org. He is also a regular contributor to “The World and Everything In It,” a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Phil Boatwright