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Just Mercy, Dark Waters, and A Hidden Life did not receive any Oscar nominations when they were announced last week. These 2019 films were largely bypassed by the year-end buzz machine. But they deserve attention and praise—especially from Christians—for their moral clarity and courage.
In my December recap of moments of goodness in 2019 pop culture, I highlighted the “inescapable longing for justice” that showed up often in movies and TV shows last year. “Even as society tries to rid itself of God and religion,” I wrote, “we can’t rid ourselves of the realities of injustice and evil. Accordingly, our collective ache for a perfect justice is palpable.”
Examples - Grace - Narratives - Netflix - Just
There were many examples of these common grace, justice-longing narratives in 2019 (Netflix’s Unbelievable and When They See Us were especially potent). But Just Mercy, Dark Waters, and A Hidden Life stand out because they illuminate aspects of pursuing justice that are important and instructive.
Seeking justice is not for the impatient or easily distracted. Justice is not quickly won and often requires long-haul grit. A frenzied day of Twitter activism doesn’t move the needle; a decade of focused, organized action might.
Mercy - Destin - Daniel - Cretton - Short
Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and now in theaters, tells the true story of Walter McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx), an African American man wrongfully put on death row for a murder in Alabama he didn’t commit. A young lawyer, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), takes on McMillian’s case. The film is based on Stevenson’s 2015 book about the fight to exonerate McMillian and other wrongfully convicted prisoners. Though not a perfect film, Just Mercy powerfully captures the maddening anguish of innocent people who spend years of their lives behind bars—years they can never get back. The stakes of the fight are raised because the clock is ticking...
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