God makes appearances in a number of Oscar-nominated films, but the Almighty doesn’t play a leading role on screen or preach a theologically orthodox message from the clouds. Rather, spirituality plays a supporting role in those films that either focus on characters’ quest for redemption or provide a fresh take on the eternal battle between good or evil.A year ago, films like Avatar (with its sci-fi eco-Gospel) and The Road (with its depictions of a lonely, post-apocalyptic world) duked it out for Oscar statuettes. This year, films competing for the 83rd Academy Awards, which will be broadcast Feb. 27, focus on an obsessive ballerina, a hard-working boxer and a handful of families struggling to do the best they can against difficult odds.
Films Focus on Families
Many parents were surprised by how much they were moved by “Toy Story 3,” an animated Best Picture nominee starring a group of under-employed toys that grieve the loss of Andy, who leaves them behind as he matures and heads off to college. But the film, which Christianity Today named its “Most Redeeming Film of 2010,” features moms but no dads. Perhaps the fathers are at work paying for the film’s suburban homes?
There is a father figure in" The Kids Are Alright," which received film, actor and actress nominations. But in this case, dad is a sperm donor tracked down and ultimately embraced by two teen children who are growing up with two mommies. This post-traditional take on family values features gay sex scenes that some viewers will find troubling, but when it moves from the bedroom to the family room, The Kids Are Alright shows young people in a valiant struggle to make sense of the world their parents have given them.
“Family is foundational for who we are as people and what we become, and the Academy Award nominees this year, in their own way, really reflect that,” says Paul Asay, associate editor for Plugged In, a youth culture and media web site produced by Focus on the Family. “But this year’s nominees also give us a look at what happens when something in a family goes wrong, or a family goes through a really difficult transition. Many of these films deal with people trying to patch up their relationships with their families, or fix circumstances brought on by their families.”