During awards season, nominated movies get an extended pass at the theaters so people, who weren’t that motivated to see a film originally, now have the opportunity to go out and see what all of the buzz is about. And there is a lot of buzz. People talk about why movies are nominated, why certain acting jobs are worthy of honor, etc… but at the core of all the buzz, people are going to be discussing the stories themselves. What did you think? Did you like this one? How about that one? Why? Oh, I didn’t like it at all, what did you see in it? It’s like the world, for a small period of time, all joins together in this giant book club (with movies instead of books – easier homework that way!), and they are all willing to enter into the discussion, evaluating the movies for their various merits.
I love it. It’s this fantastic communal event that is sort of on neutral grounds that gives incredible opportunity for rich, meaningful discussion. There are other fantastic communal events too, but this one is unique. Holidays aren’t as neutral, since they are centered around the holy (for many of us anyway). Sporting events like the Super Bowl are more neutral (at least from a religious standpoint), but the material doesn’t as easily lend to the deep kinds of discussions about life that the movies do. Sure, movies are there all the time, but during awards season, there is a heightened interest and conversation that happens, usually around movies of some depth and insight.
This year was a particularly good year for movies of quality…movies which were worth seeing and were “safe” to see (meaning, I have been scarred by watching some of the movies that have been Oscar favorites in years past – and this year there was only one which I refused to see, and another which I haven’t been able to see yet, but that was a matter of logistics, not morals). Several of the movies really honor character and being truly heroic (such a refreshing contrast to our usual celebrity focus). Several have an interesting dialogue about who God is and how he relates to mankind. Many are inspirational. All provide wonderful, safe, non-threatening opportunities for you have meaningful discussions which center around ideas of faith and the Christian life, etc., with others, whether they be Christian or not.
If you aren’t sure how to use a particular movie to start such a conversation, then let me help you! I’m posting links below to reviews of many of the Oscar nominees (in no particular order). These reviews focus on the major themes, with an emphasis on the spiritual connections. There are questions at the bottom that you can use to start the dialogue. The best thing is: you don’t have to see a movie to have the conversation! The reviews will give you enough information to begin the conversation. What you really are after isn’t so much a talk about the movie itself, after all. The movie is just the springboard to the more important conversation about the bigger themes that apply to all our lives.
Finally, if you have chosen not to see a movie due to moral convictions, even that can provide a fantastic opportunity to have a productive, challenging conversation with people (even those who love that movie), if you do so humbly, with grace and love.
Please note that there are MANY ways to interpret the movies and there are many different ties to the Christian faith that could be highlighted, so don’t let these limit you, let them inspire you to look for Jesus in everything you see and do!
Also note that reviews are posted for non Oscar nominees as well, so go to www.ShepherdProject.com and search by title for any others that you would like to find a way to connect to with the Christian faith. If you don’t see it, then please feel free to contact me (Stacey@shepherdproject.com) and ask about it!