Commenting on the latest Oscars awards, the Vatican daily L' Osservatore Romano said in an opinion column that the most awarded movies portray the image of a hopeless America.
The article, written by Gaetano Vallini, says that the awards night was dominated by two visions of evil, two instances of using images to portray evil.
"On one side, the story of perdition, described by Paul Thomas Anderson in 'There Will Be Blood,' on the other, a contemporary Western, with a modern incarnation of evil, 'No Country for Old Men,' produced by Joel and Ethan Coen," each one of them receiving eight nominations.
L'Osservatore says that, aside from the awards given to these two films, Hollywood has been dominated this year "by dark films, filled with violence but mainly with hopelessness."
The author of the column asks if this is not a "sign of the times." "Maybe,” Vallini wrote.
“Since there were films capable of expressing different emotions in the running, with brave openness, like Juno, directed by Jason Reitman, which tales the story of a teenager who decided to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', from Julian Schnabel, a secular hymn to life despite grave disabilities."
From a movie-making perspective, the author finds “No Country for old Men” "well crafted, with a solid story line and a compelling rhythm."
However, Vallini found the Cohen brothers’ story "marked by absurd and mindless acts of violence, a world in which there is no place for old values."
"In the film, moral conscience is lacking, and perhaps deliberately, it faintly appears in the sheriff. Too little to justify so much gratuitous violence," he noted.
The film reviewer also pointed to the unbalanced portrayal of the Cohen brothers saying, "Even if in the Cohen movie there is no complacence in showing the evilness of a killer … there isn't the slightest sign of credible compassion either."
In this way, L'Osservatore says, "the American dream is obliterated, described by the directors in bold strokes, without offering any anchor for hope, no hope for the future;" unlike the original novel, "in which the author leaves some room open for hope."
Vallini says that "this clearly pessimistic view that the United States offers of itself through the movies "seems to be shared by the jury of the Academy awards, which has awarded a film that leaves no doubts about its goal, which is to show the decline of modern society, the decay of values."
"The voyage is over. So are the illusions. In short, not a very encouraging sign," he adds.
L'Osservatore, nevertheless, expresses optimism in the fact that "the 'Oscars' of the independent films, which don't have to respond to the big Hollywood producers, have awarded Juno as the best film, best original screenplay (with Ellen Page as best actress), and 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' for best direction and photography." "In short, an award for [a film] which, going against the mainstream, tells about the beauty of life."