Ice Age: Continental Drift was named the best family movie of 2012 and The Avengers was named the best mature-audience film Friday night at the 21st Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala.
The event at the Hilton Universal City was emceed by Criminal Minds star Joe Mantegna and daughter Gia Mantegna and attracted 500 movie and television executives, each of whom received a detailed report attempting to make the case that movies promoting “high moral standards and redemptive values” attract the largest audiences.
The evening’s host, Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, began the procedures by telling the audience that five times more Americans attend church than go to the movies, but that film and television have an outsize impact on children – a point he illustrated with video of a child imitating Michael Jackson.
Montegna and his daughter got off to an uncomfortable start when the teleprompter stopped working as they stepped onto the stage. “Give me a script and I’ll read from it,” the actor joked. “This didn’t happen. You didn’t see it,” his daughter said as they walked off stage, returning moments later when the technological glitch was fixed.
Unlike myriad other Hollywood events, some of the awards handed out by Movieguide include cash prizes. An award for Les Miserables, for example, came with $100,000, which a Universal Pictures executive announced would be donated to two charities.
Movieguide is a donor-supported publication that rates movies on a plethora of detailed criteria, the biggest being whether or not they promote Biblical principles. Also dissected are messages of perceived patriotism compared to anti-Americanism and capitalism compared with socialism. “Political correctness” is frowned upon, as are more obvious plot points, such as infidelity and drunkenness.
While Movieguide nominated its share of mainstream movies in various categories – The Dark Knight Rises, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Amazing Spider-Man, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty – it also recognized a slew of much smaller movies, many with overt Christian themes, such as For Greater Glory, or obviously patriotic messages, like Act of Valor.
If there was a noteworthy snub from the conservative Christian organization, it was probably Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg-directed movie about the country’s first Republican president. The film is among the frontrunners for a best-picture Oscar next week.
Winning awards for television were The American Bible Challenge, Raising Izzie and A Smile as Big as the Moon.
New this year was the Friess Free Enterprise Prize, presented by Foster and Lynn Friess. Beyond a sizeable cash prize, the award includes a bronze sculpture created by Marilyn Quayle, wife of former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle.
Criteria for the Friess Free Enterprise Prize is that the movie “improve understanding of free markets, ownership and stewardship by showing a positive or more balanced view of American enterprise than commonly seen in the mass media.”
The prize went to Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary distributed by Magnolia Pictures that is about an 85-year-old sushi master.
Some of the evening’s presenters included Corbin Bernsen, Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan and Bella Thorne and an enthusiastic and well-received Jerry Mathers of the vintage TV series, Leave it Beaver.
Among the musical acts were American Idol’s Ruben Studdard and a couple of songs from The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who earned perhaps the most-sustained ovation of the night.