By Christopher White, National Correspondent
NEW YORK — Hollywood actors Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins received Oscar nominations on Monday for their portrayals of Popes Francis and Benedict XVI, respectively, in the new film “The Two Popes.”
The film, which was released in December, is a fictionalized account of the relationship between the two men and is premised on the idea that while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio traveled to Rome to ask then Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to accept his resignation.
In the film, the two spar over a range of ecclesial matters and pastoral priorities, ultimately resulting in Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI confiding in Bergoglio that he plans to resign the papacy, paving the way for Archbishop Bergoglio to go on to be elected Pope Francis.
Although the film’s two stars both received nominations, the film itself did not receive the coveted nomination for “Best Picture.”
The film, however, was nominated for “Best Adapted Screenplay,” from its adaptation of the play “The Pope” by Anthony McCarten. His past three works, “The Theory of Everything” (2014), “Darkest Hour” (2017), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) are all biopics where the leads have taken home the Academy Award for “Best Actor.”
At a premiere of the film in Rome in December, Argentine film director Fernando Meirelles described the film as a meditation on themes of reconciliation and forgiveness.
The movie is about the two, talking “about what they feel guilt for, and they have to forgive themselves and forgive the other,” he told journalists.
The film’s nominations come at a time when there is increased scrutiny of the two men in real life. On Sunday, it was announced that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has co-authored a new book defending priestly celibacy despite his vows to live a life a silence following his resignation from the papacy. The book comes at a time when Pope Francis is weighing whether or not to allow married men to become priests in Amazonia in response to the priest shortage in the region.
On Monday, the Vatican issued a statement saying that Pope Francis is committed to the discipline of priestly celibacy and that the work of the Synod on the Amazon, where the proposal to ordain married priests under some conditions was formally proposed to the pope, had much broader aims than selective intra-ecclesial debates.
The Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest night, will take place in Los Angeles on February 9.