More spirituality in Oscar films

By MSGR. JOHN MYLER | Culture Columnist

In the last issue, we looked for at least a thread of spirituality in five of the ten films nominated for the “Best Picture” Academy Award: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, THE FABELMANS, and TRIANGLE OF SADNESS.

Here are the other five:

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is fantasy adventure, a sequel to the original “Avatar” (2009). Director James Cameron uses stunning visual effects to revisit the tale of the tall, indigenous “blue” humanoids –  their joys and their struggles.  Throughout, “water connects all things, life to death, darkness to light.” (Rated PG-13 for strong violence and intense action; partial nudity and some strong language.)

ELVIS tells the familiar story of the iconic singer, from boyhood to death. This is fast-paced, high energy movie-making.  In Elvis’ rise and fall – his innocent beginning and his destructive end – we can see a mirror image of many others, perhaps even ourselves. Well-acted by newcomer Austin Butler. (Rated PG-13 for substance abuse; strong language; suggestive material and smoking.)

TAR is a film all about power – and the abuse of it. Intelligently made by lauded writer/director Todd Field, the world of music is the setting for world-famous composer and conductor Lydia Tar (the always brilliant Cate Blanchett). In a highly competitive atmosphere, she wields her power as deftly as her baton – until all comes crashing down. (Rated R for some language and brief nudity.)

TOP GUN MAVERICK is a blockbuster,  the return of Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, thirty-plus years after the original.  He’s older, wiser, experienced, and ready to teach a young group of pilots lessons of skill, courage, and patriotism. The flight sequences are nothing short of exhilarating. (Rated PG-13 for scenes of intense action and some strong language.)

WOMEN TALKING might seem like “simple” cinema – a group of abused Amish women, young and old, meet to decide whether to do nothing, or stay and fight, or leave.  As one character asks her sisters (and us viewers),  “Why does love – the absence of love, the end of love, the need for love – result in so much violence?” (Rated PG-13 for mature themes, bloody images and some strong language.)
The Academy Awards will be presented Sunday,  March 12.