"Big Four" Highlights


The Winner Is...

Although no films fit the Catholic mold, there are some worthy nominees

By James Breig

None of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture of the Year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences focus on religion, but some of them – perhaps as many as half -- are worth seeing for other reasons.

Here is a quick look at the 10 nominated movies, with ratings by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service (CNS):

Black Swan – The twisted story of a ballerina who begins to go mad. Called “a nightmarish, morally muddled drama [that] plays on the extremes of sexual repression and debauched license,” CNS noted its “strong sexual content, including graphic lesbian and non-marital heterosexual activity, as well as masturbation, drug use, a few instances of profanity, much rough and some crude language, and numerous sexual references.” O – morally offensive.

The Fighter – based on the true story of a Bay State boxer with one last chance to make it big. “’Rocky’-like fame and fortune are within reach,” said the reviewers, “but not without forgiveness and the love and support of the…raucously dysfunctional family.” Due to “excessive boxing and other violence, … non-graphic premarital sexual activity, explicit drug use, a handful of profanities, and frequent rough and crude language,” the movie is rated L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.

Inception – A tale of how spies can enter dreams, garner information and change history. With its special effects and ingenious plot, the reviewers called it “a tour de force of spectacle and suspense that eventually involves four adventures unfolding simultaneously at different levels of consciousness.” Because there is “much violence, some of it bloody, several uses of profanity, and a few crude and crass terms,” the movie rates A-III – adults.

The Kids Are All Right – A lesbian couple encounters difficulties when their children seek their father, a previously anonymous sperm donor. (Not reviewed by CNS.)

The King’s Speech – A true story of how the ruler of England overcame stuttering at a time when his steady voice was needed to lead his nation through World War II. The result, according to CNS, is “a luminous tapestry reinforced by finely spun performances and marred only by the loose threads of some offensive language.” A-III – adults.

127 Hours – Real story about a trapped climber who must choose between dying or cutting off his own arm to survive. As he lies along in the chasm, the climber reflects on his life. The result, said CNS, “is as straight up about moral consequences as any Sunday school lesson. Intelligently made and exciting.” The gruesome nature of the amputation and some rough language led to a rating of A-III – adults.

The Social Network – A recounting of how Facebook was created by a young genius. Labeling this movie “engrossing but strictly adult drama,” CNS listed some of the objectionable content: “a morass of excessive drinking and meaningless sex” and a milieu in which “the immature, ill-adjusted male characters treat women as disposable accessories.” A-III – adults.

Toy Story 3 – The third animated cartoon about toys who come to life. What’s not to like? “Satisfying” and “action-packed” with “valuable lessons” about family and friends. A-I – general patronage.

True Grit – Remake of John Wayne western about a teenage girl who hires lawmen to hunt the man who killed her father. “Exceptionally fine” and “captivating,” said CNS, which also took note of the many biblical and religious references in the film. Yet “considerable, occasionally bloody violence, brief gruesome imagery, a half-dozen uses of profanity, and a few crass terms” resulted in a rating of A-III – adults.

Winter’s Bone – A bleak tale about a teen caught in poverty who must find her father to save her home. (Not reviewed by CNS.)

(Homepage photo: Colin Firth played King George VI in "The King's Speech. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)