Monday, 13 February 2012

Christian Oscars Honor Family Friendly Films

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On Friday, February 10, the winners of the 20th Annual Faith and Values Awards were announced at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Hollywood. A number of worthy films and television programs received prizes for their positive elements from patriotism to family values.

The Movieguide Faith and Values Awards are sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission and Movieguide, founded by Dr. Ted Baehr. The glittering event, also dubbed the “Christian Oscars” attracted a number of Hollywood executives, producers, writers, and directors, and major celebrities including Joe Montegna, Kevin Sorbo, James Patrick Stuart, and Pat Boone.

This year’s event was emceed by Dean Cain, star of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Beverly Hills 90210, Las Vegas, Smallville, and the made-for-television movie The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story.  And for the second year in a row, it was aired on the Hallmark Channel.

A number of worthy films were honored at the Awards Gala for their wholesome, family-friendly and Christian natures.              

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 Alex Kendrick for his performance in Courageous, a film that Kendrick also directed. In the inspiring film, Kendrick plays Adam Mitchell, who is an Albany, Georgia, police officer struggling to uphold his professional duties while simultaneously trying to provide spiritual guidance to his family. Ultimately, Courageous is a film about the role of the male as husband and as father, and the necessity to be godly, and both Kendrick’s uplifting direction and performance helped carry that message through to the end. Other nominees for that award were Robert Amaya for his role in Courageous, Justin Bieber in Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Jessica Chastain for her role in The Tree of Life, Sam Claflin in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Viola Davis for her performance in The Help, Robert Duvall in Seven Days in Utopia, Nathan Gamble in 25 Hill, Anthony Hopkins in The Rite, Dennis Quaid, Anna Sophia, and Kevin Sorbo, all for their performances in Soul Surfer, and finally, Martin Sheen for his performance in The Way.

The Grace Award for television performance was awarded to Kirstin Dorn for A Christmas Wish, an inspiring movie focused on a mother who finds herself homeless with her two young daughters and stepson just one week before Christmas. A Christmas Wish is a godly film about the power of prayer and the love and mercy of God’s Grace.

Hugo was honored as the Best Family Movie of the Year for its Dickensian nature and devotion to the art of cinema. It edged out a number of worthy contenders, including The Adventures of TinTin, Cars 2, Courageous, Hugo, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Mars Need Moms, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Muppets, Puss in Boots, and Soul Surfer.

 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 prize is evenly divided among the people in the following five categories — the director, the credited writer (s), the prouder(s), the senior distribution executive exclusively responsible for distributing the feature film, and the senior motion picture studio executive responsible for production. This year’s winner of that coveted prize is Courageous from Affirm Films/Provident/Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The other worthy nominees for the Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie were Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Of Gods and Men, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Seven Days in Utopia, Soul Surfer and The Tree of Life.

For the Most Inspiring television program, the nominees for the Epiphany Prize were Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call it Christmas?, A Christmas Wish, Donata Wenders, KJB: The book that Changed the World, The Lost Valentine, Love Begins, Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith, andA princess for Christmas. For its faithfulness to the impact that the Bible has had on our world, KJB: The Book that Changed the World edged out its competitors, earning the coveted $100,000 Epiphany Prize.

The Movieguide Awards also honors films espouse American ideals with the Faith & Freedom Awards. Dr. Baehr explains, “We began the Faith & Freedom Awards to encourage filmmakers to choose themes which will honor the values that have made America great.” This year’s Faith & Freedom Award winner was Captain America: The First Avenger. Other nominees for that award were 25 Hill, Coriolanus, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

The television winner of the Faith & Freedom Awards went to “The Lost Valentine” from Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, though there were other worthy contenders, including “Engaged” from NCIS, the “Indelible” episode from CSI, “KJB: The Book that Changed the World,” from BBC Two, “Vietnam in HD, Part 1 and 2” from the History Channel, and “Who is Simon Miller?” from Procter & Gamble Productions and Walmart.

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. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earned this admirable award, defeating worthy competitors like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, The Tree of Life, The Artist, Seven Days in Utopia, Sarah’s Key, Thor, and The Way.

In addition to these awards, $50,000 in Kairos Prizes were awarded to spiritually uplifting screenplays by first-time and beginning screenwriters. This year’s winners were Halo Theory by Amy Williams of Marina Del Ray, who won the $25,000 prize, A Dolphin in our Lake by David Hartmann of Mason, Ohio, who won the $15,000 prize, andI, John by Sean Paul Murphy of Baltimore, Maryland, who received the $10,000 prize.

Throughout the evening, Movieguide also posted a variety of interesting facts acquired from Dr. Ted Baehr’s Annual Report to Hollywood. 

For example, data shows that the most family-friendly movies averaged over $40 million per movie in 2011 in the United States and Canada, while the least family friendly movies with a number of obsecene or immoral scenes averaged under $20 million.

“The evidence is abundantly clear,” said Dr. Ted Baehr. “Moviegoers greatly prefer family-friendly movies.”

In general, movies with the least about of nudity and foul language earned more money in the box office than films comprised of sexual content and crudeness.

“Moviegoers and TV viewers prefer movies and television programs that celebrate traditional American values like liberty, private property, the free market, patriotism, and limited government,” explained Dr. Baehr.

The Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala continues to stand out amongst the other Hollywood awards shows in a number of ways. Unlike the Grammy Awards or the Academy Awards, or any of the other award shows for that matter, it begins with a prayer. And in contrast to the award shows with which we are all too familiar, the Movieguide awards are entertaining without adhering to dirty jokes or sexual innuendoes. The jokes are funny, but clean, and the celebrities are dressed to impress without being too scantily clad.

The Movieguide Awards remains one of the few places in Hollywood where values and faith are celebrated not scoffed at, and where crudeness and immorality are unwelcomed.

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