Oscars: “Juno” Lights Up a Dark List

Stephen Simon by Stephen Simon | January 25th, 2008 | 5 Comments
topic: Inspirational Media

Never have I written a blog or column that generated as much response as the last one I wrote about the dark, violent preferences of both critics and Hollywood. Now it’s plain that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the party line: The Academy Award nominations were announced on January 22 and, sure enough, the parade of darkness continues.

Leading the pack were the eight nominations each for “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood.” I wrote extensively last time about the former, but the latter is almost as bloody and bleak.

Two other dark films, “Atonement” and “Michael Clayton,” were also nominated for “Best” Picture.

There was one (hurrah!) ray of hope — the absolutely delightful film “Juno” was the other film nominated for Best Picture. One positive film about humanity out of five. That ain’t great, but it’s better than none out of five, yes?

In the “Best” actor category, all five of the nominations give nods to very dark, violent films: George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”; Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd”; Tommy Lee Jones, “In the Valley of Elah”; Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises.”

Well, we can only hope that “Juno” somehow works its way through the morass of darkness. Or that maybe the continuing writers’ strike cancels the Oscar show altogether.

In any case, we who love inspirational films that celebrate rather than denigrate our humanity will have to look elsewhere for our kind of entertainment: To Spiritual Cinema Circle (shameless plug acknowledged) and to films that have been around for a while but have gone either unnoticed or unappreciated.

Next blog: 1998 — an eerily amazing year for our kind of films.




  1. Not gonna comment on the rest because I think it’s too easy to generalize and be downbeat about supposed “dark films,” BUT I did see Juno last night and absolutely loved it!

    It had a degree of innocence and sincerity that I haven’t seen in any other film in years. I think it’s fantastic and Ellen Page did a fantastic job. Can’t wait to see her win the Oscar :)

    Joe Rogel | January 25th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. I saw Juno last night and loved it. I won’t be seeing most of the films nominated because they’re violent. I can’t even “handle” commercials for the CSI shows.

    Andrea | January 28th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. Ever since I found out the film industry put out over 70 films to popularize WW II to get young men to join I have noticed the same trend. Although, because of independent film makers, we do see more honest films now…so there’s hope. The one thing to remember is that “we” control the industry by our choices, I should say “conscious choices.”

    Rahasya Poe | February 15th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  4. Hi Stephen, Yes I agree, 2007 was a dark year for Hollywood, but so was the world in general. With Iraq and the killing in Dufar, whats a person to think of this world? While there are many good and well-meaning organizations worldwide—we can do more. I read the script for “Juno” without ever seeing the film. I think anytime a teenager, or any female for that matter—avoids an abortion and remains positive all the while is a GOOD thing. Kudos to Diablo Cody for offering a fresh perspective. Aaren J. Stewart

    Aaren J. Stewart | February 15th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  5. Couldn’t agree more. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Juno. Stayed with me, too. Moving, clever, witty. And very profound. I was in awe. Gave me great hope for the up-coming generation– they are an amazing bunch, aren’t they?
    Those dark, violent, disturbing movies seem so pointless, and actually struck me as very old school. Juno seems like a promise of the future. The Academy is just a few steps behind…but what else is new?

    Erin Donovan | February 16th, 2008 | Comment Permalink

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