Movies dominate our office conversation; our presidents quote them when describing foreign policy; our preachers regularly use them for crucial sermon illustrations. Movies are as significant an art form as we have in America today, and the art of a people is perhaps the best barometer of the character and concerns of a people. If that is so, then Hollywood’s self-selected movies may well be, in the long run, the most influential movies made that year, rather than those that have their day in the short run of an annual box-office take. We will look at the five Academy Award Nominees for Best Picture last year (The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, and Sideways) and analyze what they have to tell us about America today.