Thirteen things about the Alone Yet Not Alone kerfuffle

There has been a lot of sound and fury over the past six days as industry insiders and pundits of all kinds respond to the Academy’s decision to rescind the Oscar nomination for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’, the title song to a small Christian film that almost no one had heard of until a few weeks ago, but which will now have ample fodder for its publicity campaign when it gets a wider release later this year.

I wrote about the rescindment last Wednesday, within hours of it being announced, but I figured it would be good to both take a step back and look at the film’s background, on the one hand, and summarize what the fallout has been since the Academy’s decision, on the other hand. Here, below, is a point-form summary.

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A Christian indie: the most obscure Oscar nominee ever?

Perhaps the most surprising Oscar nomination announced this morning was for an obscure independent Christian film called Alone Yet Not Alone, which was nominated for its title song, sung in the film by Joni Eareckson Tada.

One of the reasons most people hadn’t heard of the film, which is set during the Seven Years’ War (or the French & Indian War, as it is known in the United States), is that it hasn’t actually had a proper release yet. According to Deadline, the film did have a week-long Oscar-qualifying run back in September, but according to the film’s website, it won’t actually play in most theatres until sometime in June!

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Oscar nominations — my own two bits, and a complete list

It is extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without also being nominated for its director, its film editing, and its screenplay. So it looks like this year’s top Oscar will go to either the frivolous but entertaining American Hustle, which scored 10 nominations altogether, or the serious and historically significant 12 Years a Slave, which scored nine.

Between American Hustle and last year’s The Silver Linings Playbook, director David O. Russell has pulled off the neat trick of getting nominations in all four acting categories for two years in a row. This had happened only 13 times prior to Russell’s films, and while no film has ever won all four acting categories, all but two of the 14 films so nominated in the past have won at least one of the acting awards (the sole exceptions being 1936’s My Man Godfrey and 1950’s Sunset Boulevard).

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Billy Graham’s Top Five / A handful of World Wide Pictures films worth watching.

The Hiding Place (1975)
One of the best and most ambitious Christian films ever made, this moving, realistic, and superbly-acted historical epic — based on Corrie Ten Boom’s account of how she was sent to a concentration camp with her sister for hiding Jews from the Nazis — doesn’t flinch from some of the more graphic and disturbing aspects of the Holocaust. Yes, Minister’s Nigel Hawthorne has a bit part as a cowardly pastor.

Joni (1979)
Based on Joni Eareckson’s popular account of how she found a deeper faith after a diving accident left her a quadriplegic, and filled with subtle visuals and silences, this just may be the most “cinematic” of World Wide’s films. Eareckson, playing herself, proves she is a more than capable actress as she recreates some of the most traumatic experiences in her life. Ghostbusters’ Ernie Hudson plays one of the hospital orderlies.

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Billy Graham Goes to the Movies

For more than 50 years, the evangelist’s organization has been making films for the purpose of bringing viewers to Christ. And it’s worked—more than 2 million times.

Forty years after the fact, Denny Wayman can still remember one of his first experiences with evangelism — and it took place in a movie theatre in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wayman was still in junior high school when World Wide Pictures, the movie studio founded by evangelist Billy Graham, produced The Restless Ones (1965), a film about juvenile delinquents, teen pregnancy, and other social issues. The film ends with Graham issuing an altar call at one of his crusades, and just as the characters in the movie are encouraged to come forward, so too the audience in the movie theatre was invited to take a stand for Christ. And Wayman was one of the counselors who stood, waiting, at the front.

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