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How The 2024 Oscars Wrestle With A Post-Christian West

Warning: This column contains spoilers. 

(ANALYSIS) This year’s Best Picture nominees at the 2024 Academy Awards showcase how our culture is wrestling with a post-Christian society, whether or not these films feature religion or not. While Hollywood has gained a reputation for being deeply secular — even anti-religious — after Oscar nominees over the past two years featured rather complex portrayals of religion.

For example, 2022’s Best Picture nominees prominently portrayed nuanced examples of both the good and bad sides of faith. The list of 2023 Best Picture nominees showed a stark split, with cynical portraits of religion in the real world; positive ones when it came to religions the filmmakers got to invent.

This year, by comparison, there are fewer movies that prominently feature religion. Many don’t at all, like “Oppenheimer,” “Maestro” and “Zone of Interest.” Those that do, treat it largely as a relic of the past (“Past Lives”) or something that needs to be totally re-imagined (“Barbie”).

What’s most fascinating is that these movies, whether they feature religion or not, tell a story of different attempts to answer the question of what kind of world we will have in a post-Christian West. The movies in this year’s Best Picture category — even those that feature no religion at all — tell that story loudly through its absence.

The movies with no religion all largely feature stories of hopelessness, where there is no apparent answer for the problems that plague life. Meanwhile, the most hopeful stories require either faith or an appropriation of it of some kind.

The 2024 Academy Awards ceremony will take place this Sunday at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

Read more at Religion Unplugged 

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