Faithspotting: 2021 Academy Awards Best Directors

Chloe Zhao,David Fincher, Emerald Fennell, Lee Isaac Chung,Thomas Vinterberf

Follow link to listen to episode ‎Faithspotting: Faithspotting: Academy Award Nominated Directors on Apple Podcasts

In the 3rd of the 4 part series leading up to the 2021 Academy Awards (April 25th) Kenny and Mike offer their thoughts on the nominees, including their favorites, predictions, possible swaps. In addition, they discuss faith elements spotted in the film Another Round for which director Thomas Venterberg is one of the nominees. For faith elements spotted in the other nominees’ films see the Faithspotting episodes for the acting nominations. 

Faith Issues Spotted in Another Round:

Mads Mikkelsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, Thomas Bo Larsen
Zentropa, Samuel Goldwyn Films

The importance and place of having purpose and meaning in life. Such meaning and purpose, as desired by God impacts the lives of others as well as self and can come through vocation as well as avocation. 

Purpose and meaning are especially important when one’s life, plans, and hopes, fail to live up to one’s expectations.

Purpose, meaning, and passions are often discovered after intensional examinations of one’s interest, skills, and needs of others. Such can also change over time.

Living out of one’s meaning and purpose bring joy and pleasure to God.   

Scripture Reference: Jesus recognizes the offering of the poor widow. (Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1)

Film Reference: Chariots of Fire

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Faithspotting The 2021 Academy Awards Best Acting Awards

Kenny and Mike discuss the best acting nominees for the 2021 Academy Awards. The discussion includes their favorites, predictions, and swaps to the list they would have made.  The episode also includes  with a discussion of faith elements spotted in the films represented. More detailed notes on the films Faithspotting has covered are available for films discussed in previous Faithspotting episodes.

Click to listen to Faithspotting on Apple Podcasts

Best Actress Nominations:

Viola Davis     Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom   

Faith elements: Exploitation of others, either by race or gender or other reasons.  This is addressed by the call and teaching to love others as self (Matthew 22:34-40) and do unto others as one would have one do (Luke 6:31.) Also the dangers of pride and arrogance. Note: One element that is in the film that we did not mention in the episode is holding or expressing anger at God. (Psalm 22) Where God is in the midst of our suffering, and why is there evil and suffering if God is loving and almighty? (Theodicy) 

Andra Day      The U. S, vs. Billie Holiday

Faith Elements: The responsibility of leaders and government to serve as shepherds to members of the community:  Group, City, State, Nation. Also teaching regarding non-exploitation.   The need to fill voids,The loss, wounds, pain with things that lead to healing not just masking pain. 

Vanessa Kirby        Pieces of a Woman

Faith Elements: The place others offer in healing and regaining wholeness. Not transfering anger and pain from losses onto others. 

Frances McDormand      Nomadland

Faith Elements:  *  Healing Power of Community and sharing. (See the Promising Young Woman/Nomad episode notes for more details)

Carey Mulligan *     Promising Young Woman

Faith Elements:  The cost of revenge- returning hate rather than love and accountability. (See episode notes for more details. )

* All three of these films address bereavement (loss), and working through loss, grief, and pain, rather than getting stuck in the grief and mourning process.  All demonstrate the need for community and rituals to assist in that journey, but the individual must travel through the valley of pain, saddness and loss yet as Psalm 23 and others teach, s/he does not walk through the valley alone. Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) journey through his passion and suffering and death and be raised by God to eternal life with God the Father.

Best Actor Nominations:

Riz Ahmed     Sound of Metal

Faith Elements:  Faith amidst loss- Overcoming brokeness and dissapointment even if it requires change to ones life and direction. The transformative power of community. 

Chadwick Boseman   Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Faith Elements  (See Above)

Anthony Hopkins     The Father

Faith Elements: Finding strength and patience  to stay in relationships, serve, and love, especially when trials come- Particularly when the loved one’s personality changes.

Gary Oldham      Mank

Faith Elements: The Purpose and need of humility as taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Dangers of pride and arrogance.  Using talents for good rather than selfish desire. (For more details see the faith notes for the Mank episode)

Steven Yeun    Minari

Faith Elements: Obligation to serve community and put welfareof others above one’s own desires.  Shepherding means knowing the needs and capacity of others.

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Faithspotting The Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actors/Actresses

In the first of a 4 part series leading up to the Academy Awards, Kenny Dickson and Mike Hatch discuss the Actresses and Actors nominated for best supporting performances. Follow for episode to listen to episode:

Best Supporting Actress:

Maria Bakalova  Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Glenn Close     Hillbilly Elegy

An awareness and appreciation for life, and not taking life for granted.

Filling voids in life with service and purpose.

Living into God’s goodness, image, and likeness.

Call to love oneself as way of loving God and others.

Olivia Coleman   The Father 

Following call and finding strength to stay, serve, and love others, especially in the midst challenges and trials.

Amanda Seyfried    Mank

The purpose and need of Biblical teaching for humility.

Using God given talents for righteousness and not misuse them for personal revenge and punitive purposes.

Yuh-Jung Youn      Minari

The obligation and call to serve and love family and neighbors.

The need to come to know those in one’s care.

Best Supporting Actor:

Sacha Baron Cohen     The Trial Of The Chicago 7

The obligation to stand, risk, and even suffer for rightiousness.

The call to oppose pressure and temptation to reject and deny beliefs.

The call not to retaliate against hate and violence.

Daniel Kaluuya    Judas and the Black Messiah

The responsibility leaders and governments have to shepherd citizens under their care. (Jesus as Good Shepherd)

The command to love enemies and end cycle of violence. 

Leslie Odom Jr.    One Night In Miami

The faith to answer God’s call to serve and use God given talents for righteousness.

Demonstrates the purposes of community: support, accountability AND reconciliation following disagreements.

Paul Raci   Sound of Metal

Maintaining faith and overcoming brokenness and loss.

The place and transformative power of community.

LaKeith Stanfield    Judas and the Black Messiah

See Above

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Faithspotting “Mank”

2021 Academy Awards Series

Kenny and Mike discuss the film Mank and spot faith elements in the David Fincher, Academy Award nominated film starring Gary Oldman as screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. The film examines Mank’s writing the screenplay of Citizen Kane as he struggles to overcome the physcial injuries of an automobile accident, alcoholism, and the ever challenging demands of Orson Wells.  Listen to Mank episode of Faithspotting ‎Faithspotting on Apple Podcasts

Replicating the non-linear form of Citizen Kane, Mank uses flashbacks that depict Mank’s relationships within MGM and the Hollywood establishment, most William Randolph Hearst and Hearst’s mistress actress Marion Davies who would both become the primary subjects of Kane. Fincher wanted Mank to replicate the look, sound, and feel of Citizen Kane so he shot the film in stark black and white, employed similar audio techniques and dramatic editing.  

Faith Elements spotted:

Purpose and Call for Humilty. Mank and Citizen Kane demonstrate the purpose of Biblical calls for humility among the people of God.  Exodus 10:3, Numbers 12:3, Proverbs 11:2, Matthew 23:12, and 2 Philippians among many passages. In contrast to the Judeo-Christian traditions and teaching to humbly act, serve and honor God, pride takes the focus off God and places it on the individual and allows fame and self-glory to become an idol. The narrative about King David, (1 Samuel 16- 2 Samuel) shows the need for humility and consequences of pride as does the request of James and John to be elevated above other disciples. (Matthew 20:20, Mark 10:35)

Like the call to faithfully use talents spotted in One Night in Miami, the call is to use one’s talents (God-given) righteously, humbly, and avoid misusing them (pride). Followers of Christ are called to examine and reflect so as to be able to identify one’s talents.

#Mank, #AcademyAwards

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Faithspotting “One Night In Miami”

Kenny and Mike discuss and spot faith elements in the film One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King. Written by Kemp Powers and based on his play, the film stars Eli Goree, Kinglsey Ben-Adir, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. who was nominated for an Academy Award for Supporting Actor.

Listen to Podcast episode ‎Faithspotting on Apple Podcasts

The film is an historical fiction narrative about 4 of the most famous black leaders of the time, Cassius Clay, soon to become Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke, gathering together on February 25th 1964. the night Clay became the World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion. Each of the four are on the precipice of changes in their lives that mirror the social, political, and economic changes that the United States will soon experience.

Leslie Odom Jr, Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree Amazon Studios

Faith Notes:

The faith to answer God’s call to change:

As with Abram (Genesis 12) and the first Disciples (The Gospels and Acts) who were called to leave their homes and families and other converts to the early Christian church, God calls followers to change and even defy family custom and tradition if necessary (Luke 14:25-26.) Whether the call is to personal changes in living one’s life according to the desire of God and way of the Kingdom of God,or drastic, public changes that significantly alters the arc of life, responding to God’s call requires faith.  Ultimately one must exercise faith to answer God’s call to live as Kingdom People rather than the known comfort of worldly ways of being and power. 

The Parable of the Talents and faith to employ skills given by God (Matthew 25:14-30): 

Does one use the talents God has given in Godly ways or does one bury them and pursue personal, sometimes more profitable and comfortable ways that lend to an easier life. The Recognition that God does not give talent to play it safe and remain in one’s comfort Zone requires faith.

The Importance and Place of Community:

Faith in God is intended to be experienced in the midst of community. While one’s faith and relationship with God is personal, it is also intened to be expereinced in communithy with other persons of faith. Faith is not to be private. Godly Community offers support, strength, as well as accountablitity. While the first two aspects of community are well known and accepted, the third is often overlooked and forgotten. (Matthew 18:16-17 and Paul’s Epistles) The tribes and Nation of Israel and the depiction of the Church as well as the Trinitarian God is communal.

The Place, Purpose and Power of story to lead to understanding and unity even in the midst of conflict. The people of God are a people of Story, God’s story of salvation.  

One Night in Miami recieved 3 Academy Award Nominations: Best Supporting Role (Leslie Odom Jr.), Best Adapted Screenplay (Kemp Powers), Best Original Song (Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth) #academyawards

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Faithspotting “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Michael Hatch and Kenny discuss the film and spot the faith elements in Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Follow link to listen to the episode.

Lakeith Stanfield Warner Brothers

Faith Issues Spotted:

The Judas betrayal of Jesus Narrative- presented in each of the Gospels. Though William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) did not initiate the contact with the FBI, he agreed to inform and eventually betray Chairman Fred Hampton and requested and accepted payment. 

Through his powerful voice, teaching, and personality Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) becomes the leading populist voice and Messianic leader challenging the treatment of marginilized persons and brought together competing groups.

J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) serves as a Chief Priest Caiaphas petitioning that Hampton be killed even as he was heading back to prison to finish serving an earlier sentence. 

Jesus’s teaching on not returning violence for violence, but loving even enemies. (eye for an eye, offer one’s other cheek)  Matthew 5:38-48,  Love of enemies. Luke 6:27-36.  Paul’s teaching of marks of a true Christian, Romans 12:9-21.  Such and other teaching stops cycles of violence.

Those in authority (leaders and governments) have responsibility to serve as shepherds to citizens and look out for the well being. 2 Samuel 5:1-2 (David annointed King), 2 Samuel 7:4-7  (The Lord appoints Tribal leaders to shepherd the people)  Psalm 23 (God models shepherding role for leaders and those in authority) John 10 (Jesus models shepherd for leaders) The film depicts the accumulaiton of the failure of  governing and societal agencies to ensure fair access to economic, judicial and educational resources and opportunities to establish generaltional wealth and support. Such still continues. Refer back to Faithspotting review of The Bankers in season 1.

Daniel Kaluuya

Openness to examine oneself and one’s society as righteous or not is act of faith.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6

@revkennydickson @mikehatch

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Faithspotting “Promising Young Woman” and “Nomadland”

Mike and Kenny discuss the faith elements spotted in the films Promising Young Woman and Nomadland. Both films were nominated for Golden Globe awards with Nomadland winning Best Dramatic Picture and Chloe Zhao winningh the Best Director globe. Promising Young Woman is available on Amazon Prime and Yahoo Video on Demand, and Nomadland is available on Hulu.

Follow link to listen to podcast episode:

‎Faithspotting: Faithspotting “Promising Young Woman” and “Nomadland” on Apple Podcasts

Carey Mulligan Focus Features

 Faith Elements Spotted:

Processing Grief and Loss:

The two films demonstrate the consequences in trying to avoid or ignore dealing with and processing grief and loss vs working through loss, grief, and anger.

Cassie in Promising Young Woman responds to the attack and loss of her friend by withdrawing from others and holding on to much of her pain and anger. This results in her leading a life of self-imposed segregation built on and fueled by anger and resentment and seeking retribution and revenge rather than accountibility for those responsible. Rather than filling her voids of pain and loss with peace, seeking revenge only feeds her appetite for more vengence.

Frances McDormand Searchlight Pictures

Seeking and Living in and by the Peace of God offered in Christ. John 14 and Philippians 4. The place and work of community to be a source of exeriencing and accepting the Peace of God. 

Nomadland offers an example of living the peace that is of God and found through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Such peace is experienced through taking time and reflection as well as through the care and love within community. This peace of God is in contrast to the peace that the world offers that is in reality not peace. Revenge may seem to offer peace or closure, but such is not the peace of God, that Christ offers and is not truly peace.

The place and work of community as an agency of God’s peace: The journey motif as an avenue to God’s Peace:

The place and role of time within community in preparing for the new life of peace found in God. The Wilderness experience of the Isrealites: Numbers 14 to Joshua though not easy, allowed the Israelites time and opportunity to better understand themselves and their God.

In Christian worship, Passing the Peace prior to the sacrament of Communion as ways to prepare to receive the true peace of God and the new life such peace provides.

Lastly, one of the over-arching themes in Nomadland is not judging others for answering and following different callings in life. Those who believe they are called to live differently than others are not less than, just living a life that is not conventional, and visa versa. Also, there is the recognition that that callings and circumstances change in life, and persons should not be judged for turning into different roads in their life journeys.

Searchlight Pictures
Focus Features
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Faithspotting “The Trial of The Chicago 7” and “Mangrove”

Kenny and Mike discuss the films and faith issues spotted in two court dramas, The Trial of theChicago 7 set in 1969 Chicago and Mangrove set in early 1970’s London. Both films depict protest movements, violent response and trials where the justice is not blind and scales are not balanced.

Faith Elements Spotted:


Chicago 7: Place of war within Christian teaching & tradition.     Is war compatible with Christian teaching, and if so in what circumstances, PacifismJust War (morally justified) Theory?  The 7 were on trial for leading a demonstration against the Democratic Convention for the party’s support of the Viet Nam War.  Interesting debate between Stanley Hauerwas and Nigel Biggar.  Matthew 5:38-48,  Luke 6: 27-36 Do not retaliate and love for enemies. Romans 12:9-21 Let Love Be Genuine

The responsibility of Governments, leaders, and officials to serve the people and use power appropriately and seek justice. Mark 10:41-45, Matthew 20:24-28 James and John’s request and servant nature of leadership.

Obligations to stand for righteousness and oppose pressure to act in ways one believes are unrighteous. The Daniel Narrative, Chapters 1-6 ,  Matthew 4:1-11 , Luke 4:1-12: Jesus tempted in wilderness.  Matthew  26:36-46 Jesus prays in Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 5:6,10 Blessing for those who thirst and are persecuted for righteousness. Romans 14:13-23  Resist temptation to be a stumbling block.


BBC 1 and Amazon Prime Video

Responsibilies of Government and leaders to care for citizens. See above

Community: Place and Purpose – a place that provides support and nurture. In the context of faith it is where one expereinces the presence of God and others of faith unlike other times and places (churches, synagouges, mosques in diaspora.) Ezekeil 11:16-17  God is Sanctuary for Israel in exile. Paul and others preaching in synagogues during missions in Gentile areas. 

Body: the body is made up of many parts that have different jobs etc, yet all are necessary to support the health of the body. Applies to faith communities, cities, states and nations.  I Corinthians 12 Spiritual Gifts and Members of the Body.

The power of diversity and difference to enhance and enlarge experiences in life and faith. Diversity is seen in the Genesis 1 and 2 creation accounts depict the variety and diversity of creation and life.  In addition are the various expressions of the early Christian church: Jewish converts and Gentile converts in Acts and letters. Acts 18 Paul in Corinth, Ministry of Apollos, also I Corinthians 3.

Follow link below to listen to this episode. Rate, Review, and Subscribe by clicking “Listen On Apple Podcast link”

‎Faithspotting on Apple Podcasts

@theTrialoftheChicago7, @Mangrovefilm, #thetrialofthechicago7, #mangrovefilm @aaronsorkin, @steveMcQueen

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Faithspotting “The Black Church:This is Our Story, This is Our Song”

Kenny and Mike discuss the upcoming PBS Series, The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song with series director and producer Stacey Holman. The Black Church premieres February 16 and 17 at 9pm ET on PBS.

Follow link to listen to the episode

‎Faithspotting: Faithspotting “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song on Apple Podcasts

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home church Waldon United Methodist in Piedmont, W.Va.
Courtesy PBS

Hosted and produced by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Black Church series examines the 400 year history of the Black Church and it’s place at the heart of black history and culture in America. Dr Gates travels throughout the country interviewing church leaders, theologians, historians, and celebrities who have been inspired and nurtured by the Black Church. Contributors include Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. Rev William Barber, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Cornel West, Oprah Winfrey, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson, and John Legend.

Through 400 years of slavery, persecution, and prejudice the Church has served as the hub where African Americans could not only be reminded of their place as beloved children of God, but also experience the Kingdom of God through powerful preaching, singing, and community. Such experience of God and God’s Kingdom offered hope, promise, and assurance of rising beyond the struggles imparted by racism and hate.

The Black Church in America also served as the organizing force behind protests for civil rights, education programs, employment programs and other social initiatives. The Church also served as a place where some of the greatest singers and musicians were nurtured and developed their talents that would have a most profound impact on American culture.

Below are links for a Bible Study, Coloring Pages, and Recipies.

Bible Study

Coloring Pages

Dine and Dish 


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Faithspotting “Soul”

Due to Covid protocols, Kenny joins Mike by phone for a virtual recording of Faithspotting as they share their thoughts about, and spot faith elements in the newest Pixar film Soul. We apologize for the less than optimum sound quality.

Listen to Soul episode:

Disney Pixar Jamie Foxx

While Soul is perhaps the most impressive Pixar film visually, it is a complicated film that addresses age old questions, experiences, and wonder.

Soul is the most faith oriented film Pixar has yet to produce. By its name alone, it conveys a faith that life extends beyond the here and now limitations of finitude. In Soul there is the here and now, as well as the great before and the great beyond. 

Faith Elements Spotted:

The understanding of soul as wholeness, that which makes life complete, is of God and connects one to God. (Genesis 2)

The place of joy in life:  Joy is found in all most or all aspects of life, the big events and everyday moments.  Marriage, Meals, Harvest, Sexuality, the gift of the Messiah.  (Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Genesis, Isaiah and other prophetic books.)

Similar is the Hebrew and Jewish understanding of Shalom which addresses peace, wholeness, integrity, and well being.

The New Testament echoes this call for joy and extends to heavenly as well as earthly joy. (Luke 1, 2 birth narrative, 15 Parables of lost and found,) The joy of advent and the Incarnation and  gift of Christ and the return of Christ and promise of the end of time /God’s Kingdom (eschatoloy.)

The Variety of Spiritual Gifts: Persons are given different gifts, passion/spark and purpose. Each of these have value and are rooted in God and help bind together and support others.       I Corinthians 12

Victor Frankl “Man’s Search For Meaning” the joy and strength purpose and meaning offer, even inthe most difficult of circumstances. For Christians hope and joy of the majesty and strength of God over those things that seem overpowering. Proverbs 19:21, 2 Samuel 23:1-4, Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:16-19, Romans 8:18-30, I Corinthians 3:7-9, James 5:10-11

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