It has been a winter of discontent for film critics. As 2002's finer films fade from the screens, the box office has been ruled by mediocrity (at best). This week's new releases are not improving matters. Religious press critics are sorting through the current titles like dirty laundry, and mainstream critics are far more interested in talking about industry scandals, the Oscar ceremony, and the more promising titles of spring. (Curious? Check out this detailed preview by Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times.)

And speaking of the Oscars, you are invited to join me on Oscar night, March 23, to discuss the films of 2002 and respond as the statues are handed out. We will be looking at the spectacle of the Oscars and discussing what it celebrates. What is it that draws people to these movies? Are any of the nominated efforts truly excellent, artful, and meaningful? Will there be any admirable sentiments divulged by the parade of celebrities? I look forward to hearing from you.

In fact, I'd be glad to hear from you in advance. In an ideal world, would any of this year's nominees be singled out for special honors? Did a movie or a movie star do anything meaningful for you in the last year? Let me know. (I may share some of your responses during the Oscar-cast. Please advise me if you want your comments shared anonymously.)

Gibson in trouble for his Jesus movie before anyone has even seen it

Mel Gibson's current project, Passion, a film about the last 12 hours of Christ's life, is already provoking heated debate.

Yahoo News reports that Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, asked Gibson "to make certain that his new film … does not portray the Jews as collectively responsible for the crucifixion." Rabbi Hier is ...

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