This year's nominated selections for best film are a potpourri of genres and themes, with each of the films containing moments of insight, instruction or just uplifting entertainment. But this year's lineup reverses itself from recent tradition. In years past, R-rated movies have dominated this list. The 84th Academy Award nominations, however, only contain one R-rated movie. That said, the content of each film should be examined before viewing. I've included a link to the review of each of these contenders. The critiques contain the reason for the rating so you can decide if they are suitable for your family's viewing.
-- "The Artist" (PG-13). Hollywood 1927: George Valentin is a very successful silent movie star; the arrival of talking pictures will mark the end of his career; Peppy Miller, a young woman extra, becomes a major movie star; their lives intertwine and both find meaning. Rated PG-13 for a crude gesture and a disturbing image. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3739
-- "The Descendents" (R). Matt King (George Clooney) finds his life suddenly dysfunctional. His adulterous wife is in a coma, he's lost that Papa connection to his two troubled daughters, 10 and 17, and his relatives want him to sell the land that has been in their family ever since the days of Hawaiian royalty. But how can I recommend a movie to you wherein the 10-year-old gives the finger to people on two occasions, the older girl uses the f-word throughout and Clooney once again profanes God's name? Rated R for violence, disturbing images, and language. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3729
-- "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (PG-13). Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis are featured in this tale about a boy who tries to solve a mystery left by his father after he is killed on 9/11. I wanted to like this film. But unlike, for an example, To Kill a Mockingbird, which dealt with a child discovering the realities of life, the emotional drive of Extremely Loud and Incredibly is forced and too eccentric for its own good. Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, thematic material and language. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3738
-- "The Help" (PG-13). This is an empowering story about very different and extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project. The Help is funny, poignant and inspiring; one of the best films of the year. Rated PG-13 for thematic material and language. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3702
-- "Hugo" (PG). A young orphan lives in a Paris train station, having taken over his drunken uncle's profession as the caretaker of the station's giant clock. Rated PG for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking. A clean film, here language is lifted up rather than molested, and tragedy, while incorporated to reveal the darker side of man's nature, is never allowed to bombard viewers. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3730
-- "Midnight in Paris" (PG-13). Coming to terms with the fact that he has little in common with his fiancée, a frustrated writer (Owen Wilson) begins roaming the streets of Paris at night, whimsically thinking of a better life in a better time. His illusions suddenly become a reality. It's mostly a clean film. There's little if any crudity in conversation or action, and with the exception of two misuses of Christ's name, there's no other profanity or obscenity. Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3683
-- "Moneyball" (PG-13). This sports biopic is based on the true story of Billy Beane -- once a would-be baseball superstar who turned his fiercely competitive nature to management. Fascinating, funny, and moving. Rated PG-13 for some strong language. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3710
-- "The Tree of Life" (PG-13). Director Terrence Malick ("Badlands," "Days of Heaven," "The Thin Red Line," "The New World") offers up his fifth film, an impressionistic story of a Midwestern family coping with a death, embittered relationships, and haunting questions concerning God and the afterlife. IN this film, the director uses language; he doesn't abuse it. Rated PG-13 for some thematic material and brief language. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3679
-- "War Horse" (PG-13). A boy-and-his-horse story progresses into a World War I epic tale, with the animal affecting the lives of several people. Not enough can be said about the look of War Horse. The cinematography, the lighting, the set and art direction are as good as any film I've ever seen. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war action. http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3737
The awards presentation will be held Feb. 26 and will be broadcast live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET. It will be hosted by actor/comedian and veteran host, Billy Crystal.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective for Baptist Press and is the author of "Movies: The Good, The Bad, and the Really, Really Bad," available on Amazon.com. He also writes about Hollywood for previewonline.org and moviereporter.com. 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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