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Religion films enjoy capstone with 'Ida' Oscar win

Director Paweł Pawlikowski’s film, "Ida," not only became the first Polish film to win an Oscar (it won Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars), but it was also an achievement for films about faith in Hollywood's unofficial "Year of the Bible."

Bible films like "Son of God," "Noah" and "Exodus: Gods and Kings" raked in healthy box office profits in 2014, inspiring other productions, The Daily Beast reported.

"The trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2015 (or beyond)," Andrew Romano wrote. "For an industry that spent much of the 2000s shying away from explicitly religious fare...it's a remarkable about-face that's as surprising as it is sudden."

A blockbuster "Ida" is not, but as this year's Sundance film festival demonstrated, Bible blockbusters are making the way for different kinds of thought-provoking faith films like "Ida," "Calvary" and "Last Days in the Desert."

"Ida" is the story of a soon-to-be nun in 1960s Poland who suddenly learns her family (killed in the Holocaust, save one alcoholic aunt) was Jewish, throwing her into personal turmoil.

Similar to other smaller, independent faith films like "Last Days in the Desert," "Ida" is an example of what's missing from big-budget Bible movies: understated intricacy. Maybe a more complicated, rich approach to faith is what filmmaking needs to keep the streak of faith films going.

"Artistic complexity is admittedly not a virtue on display in the well-known religious films of 2014," Thomas Hibbs wrote for the National Review of "Ida." "With a main character as a nun about to make final vows, Ida illustrates — in a year in which religious films were prevalent — the way that film can be both sympathetic to religion and artistically satisfying."

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson