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OSCARS: R-rating prevalent in Oscar nominees

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — Recently I predicted that the majority of the films nominated this year as Oscar’s best picture would be rated R. Guess what?

I was right.

No matter the genre, no matter the story, it appears that many in the land of make-believe equate serious subject matter with R-rated content. Because of this, most positive themes found in many motion pictures this past year are eclipsed by abusive and coarse content. And for this, they get awards?

I don’t mean to insinuate that there aren’t good people, religious and secular, in the entertainment industry. Nor is this piece meant to imply that all movies from 2015 failed to uplift or amuse. There were examples of clever dramas (“Mr. Holmes”) and witty comedies (“Inside Out”), while the faith-based film industry met a need overlooked by major studios (“Woodlawn,” “War Room” and others). While Hollywood has much to answer for, my analysis is not meant as a critical evaluation of the nominees so much as an examination of what the culture now accepts as, well, acceptable.

The cinema at its best was once used effectively as an illusionary art form, wisely suggesting mature subject matter rather than graphically exploiting it. Filmmakers of days gone by dealt with the same issues moviemakers address today. The difference: The execution of the subject matter tended to be more profound when handled with discretion. For some reason, words such as discretion, taste and class don’t resonate with many merry moviemakers. Why is that?

Eyes begin to roll in certain circles when I complain about the content of films. Most in critic circles don’t even mention the content of films in their reviews, despite the fact that content influences the culture as much as a film’s artistic and technical merits. And once again, the Academy Awards will honor an industry for a secularist worldview that abides within content laced with obscenity, cynicism, perversion and irreverence to God.

What is the purpose of art if not to enrich the soul of man? Some artists may respond by suggesting that film must reveal man’s character truthfully, casting aside any moral facade. There’s some validity to that, but it isn’t enough to show the failings of man without giving examples of what he can become. Once he realizes that he is more than a mental and physical being, man may then embrace a higher meaning. Ah, there’s the rub. Any indication of a spiritual growth in the cinema will not be tolerated by some who make movies, or by most who watch them.

If R-rated content isn’t suitable for children, what makes it okay for adults? I’m not talking about subject matter children can’t comprehend, just the morass that seems to muddle grownup movie matter. How is an excess of such material not as harmful to the adult psyche as it is to the child’s?

Perhaps people have evolved into beings capable of processing any amount of abuse Hollywood puts before their eyes. But is that what our Creator intended for us?

Ephesians 5:11 reads “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

“It’s just a movie,” one might retort.

No, it’s nearly every movie. Which raises the question: Will Hollywood studios someday only offer R-rated movies for adults and PG-rated films for kids? It does appear to be going in that direction.

Certainly the listed nominees below have artistic merit; some selections arguably feature insightful perspectives. But as a whole, the content found in this year’s nominees signals a spiritual wasteland praised in the artistic community.

How would our national discourse sound if the following Scripture were considered before the making of each movie:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

2016 best picture nominees

Five of the eight films nominated are rated R. And nearly the same content can be found in the three PG-13 contenders.

The Big Short (R)
Bridge of Spies (PG-13)
Brooklyn (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road (R)
The Martian (PG-13)
Revenant (R)
Room (R)
Spotlight (R)

Comedian Chris Rock will host the 88th Academy Awards at 7 p.m. Eastern Feb. 28th on ABC.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright