With the Academy Awards upon us—the event will be televised Sunday on ABC (7/6c)—everybody's talking about the best movies of the year. So why not talk to somebody who really knows movies, somebody right in the middle of it all?

Ralph Winter has been producing movies for almost three decades, starting with 1984's Star Trek: The Search for Spock. A devout Christian who once considered going to seminary and becoming a pastor, Winter has more recently overseen such projects as the X-Men and Fantastic 4 movies, plus a handful of independent films geared more toward a faith audience (including The Least of These, Thr3e, House, The Visitation).

Ralph Winter

In a Sunday school class many of us would gladly pay to attend—at Montrose Church in Montrose, California—Winter teaches about how movies connect with our everyday lives, exploring the theological and sociological themes of film. Paul Shrier, a practical theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, recently interviewed Winter about the class, how others might replicate it in their own churches, and, of course, about the upcoming Oscars.

What's the significance of the Oscars?

We get to honor the best of the best. As an Academy member, we get to highlight what we think is the best achievement in various categories of our storytelling artistry, and what we think inspires others to do great work and achievement. For producers, the Oscar goes to the producers of the Best Picture; it is our highest award, the last one of the show, and frankly what we all aspire to someday.

What stands out about this year's nominees?

The Oscar nominees are a reflection of what's swirling around in the minds and hearts of filmmakers and ...

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