Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Christian Oscars Awards Wholesome, Christian Films

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On Monday evening, the 19th annual Movieguide Faith and Values Awards enjoyed a public airing on the Hallmark Movie Channel. The airing of the show marked a major transition for the Movieguide Awards, as it indicates that not only is the Awards show gaining a foothold in Hollywood, but so are wholesome, Christian films.

The Movieguide Faith and Values Awards are sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission and Movieguide, founded by Dr. Ted Baehr. This year's glittering event, also dubbed the “Christian Oscars” attracted a number of major celebrities, Hollywood executives, producers, writers, and directors. The event was hosted by Kevin Sorbo, whose performances in Hercules, Soul Surfer, and Sam Steel and the Crystal Chalice earned him a level of recognition.

A number of worthy films were honored at the Awards Gala for their wholesome, Christian nature. How to Train Your Dragon and What If both earned a Crystal Teddy Bear Award for Dedication to Redeeming the Values of the Mass Media of Entertainment. Such an award is reserved for films that are said to “present the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the mass media.”

The Grace Award honors those actors whose performances “exemplify God’s grace and mercy toward us as human beings.” This year’s recipient of the Grace Award is Kevin Sorbo, for his performance in What If. In the inspiring film, Sorbo plays Ben Walker, who 15 years ago ended his relationship with his college sweetheart and rejected his calling to be a preacher to pursue a business opportunity. Walker is then visited by an angel of God to show him what his life could have been had he not made such a choice. Ultimately, it is a film about finding one’s purpose in life and embracing the value of faith and family, and Sorbo’s uplifting performance helped carry that message through to the end.

Toy Story 3 was honored as the Best Family Movie of the Year for its espousal of universal themes like sacrifice, loyalty, and determination. It edged out a number of worthy contenders, including The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Despicable me, How to Train Your Dragon, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Letters to God, Megamind, Shrek Forever After, Tangled, and What If.

At the Movieguide Awards, the$100,000 Epiphany Prizes are given to one movie and one television program that have increased man’s love and understanding of God.

The nominees for the Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie are The Book of Eli, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Get Low, Letters to God, The Secret of Kells, To Save a Life, and What If. This year’s winner of the Epiphany Prize for Movies is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

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For the Most Inspiring television program, the nominees for the Epiphany Prize are Amish Grace, Christmas with a Capital C, Ice Dreams, November Christmas, The Way Home, When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story. For its inspiring message of forgiveness in the face of a tragic shooting at a Pennsylvania schoolhouse, Amish Grace edged out its competitors, earning the coveted $100,000 Epiphany Prize.

Though the majority of the films and television programs celebrated at the Awards Gala are considered family friendly, the Movieguide Awards also include a category for mature films that, while they espouse Christian themes, may not be suitable for younger audiences. Get Low earned this admirable award, defeating worthy competitors like Alice in Wonderland, Book of Eli, Iron Man 2, The King’s Speech, Mao’s Last Dancer, Letters to Juliet, The Prince of Persia, True Grit, and Secretariat.

The 19th Annual Movieguide Faith and Values Awards show also featured praiseworthy performances. Ace Young performed an uplifting rendition of Rufus Wainwright’s "Hallelujah," from Shrek Ever After, while Mary, Mary entertained audiences with their performance of “I’m Walking,” a song that celebrates life’s journeys.  Likewise, the Greater Los Angeles Gospel choir regaled audiences with Bonnie Tyler’s “I need a hero,” which featured clips from this year’s nominees for Best Family Movie of the Year.

The evening also celebrated the work of Al Kasha, who earned Movieguide’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in film, theater, and radio. Throughout his life, Kasha worked with a variety of wonderful artists like Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, and Jackie Wilson, and earned two Oscars and two Academy Award nominations for his critically acclaimed work. Al’s personal and professional story are inspirational, as he endured a number of family struggles that Al somehow managed to overcome, allowing him to achieve success and notoriety. Most encouraging, however, is Al’s rediscovery of his faith and transformation to a born-again believer. Since then, Al’s commitment to his faith and to the Church has been life-altering and resonates in nearly everything he does, marking him as a worthy recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Throughout the evening, Movieguide also posted a variety of interesting facts acquired through Dr. Ted Baehr’s Annual Report to Hollywood.  Perhaps the most interesting fact was that of all the top ten money-making films of 2010, none were rated R. Such a tidbit speaks volumes about the current climate of American pop culture, and emphasizes once more the need for more Christian and family-friendly films. Addressing this fact, Dr. Baehr said, “This kind of entertainment is becoming more and more popular.” He also noted that the Movieguide Awards are a wonderful opportunity to reward such entertainment, as the films honored at the Movieguide Awards are “redemptive and spiritually uplifting.”

Overall, the evening was an absolute success, and proved to be quite entertaining. Additionally, as the Hallmark Movie Channel often features programs that include wholesome, family, and Christian values, it proved to be an excellent venue for the Movieguide Awards. Encouraged by the public airing of the awards show, Movieguide is asking viewers to write or email the Hallmark Movie Channel to let them know what they thought of the show, so that the channel may continue to be a platform for the Movieguide Awards.

Related article: Christian Oscars to Air on Hallmark Channel Tonight