By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – The Academy Award nominations are out and the best picture nominees are all over the map, but if you look closely at the plot lines you can see some common themes.

Read: Full List Of Oscar Nominees

Perhaps the most timely nominee is the movie “Arrival,” about an invasion of UFOs threatening global war and the struggle to figure out how to communicate with them. If every operative in Washington isn’t going to see that one and taking notes, they should be.

Speaking of war, “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the amazing true story of a conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor for bravery during World War II despite his refusal to use a weapon. Our political class and all the vicious Twitter trolls who rally behind them might also benefit from watching that one.

Hollywood is often at its best when it tells the moving stories of the anonymous, and “Hidden Figures,” about female African-American mathematicians who played a key role in our space program, along with “Moonlight,” the story of a young black child’s struggles to overcome violence and neglect, fit the bill.

My personal choice for best picture is “Manchester by the Sea,” the beautifully-told story of a damaged guy trying to cope with grief. Great acting all around in this one, and for once, they get Boston accents right.

But it’s telling that the apparent odds-on favorite to win best picture and the most-nominated entry is “La La Land,” an escapist musical about love, loss and compromise. These days, it seems, even the movie musicals are political.

  1. I dispute your point, Jon, about “movies” being strong infuences in our national conversations.

    That may well have been true until the 1970’s or so, but its influence has been significantly diminished by the good dramatic work done through televison and the rise of gaming as an occupier of the attention of young adults.

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