It was in many ways a kinder and gentler Oscars on Sunday night at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood. After losing viewers by the droves over the last few years, Sunday's affair recalled an old Hollywood elegance and class that was noticeably more family friendly. It even honored America’s men and women in uniform.
The Academy expanded the Best Film category to ten nominees this year, allowing for popular blockbuster hits like this year’s Movieguide Award and Epiphany Prize winner, “The Blind Side,” to be in the running. Not since 1943 have there been so many nominees, but it’s a ploy that seems to have worked. Sunday’s affair sought to reconnect this uniquely American ritual with the heartland of the nation. Apparently, it succeeded, because it became the most watched Oscar ceremony since 2005.
In contrast to this year’s Golden Globes, dual hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin delivered self-deprecating laughs and occasional good-natured roasting, following in the footsteps of Lewis and Martin. It was, in a word, entertainment, not entirely without, but, with markedly less innuendo and off-color humor. Apart from a puzzling and seemingly superfluous tribute to the horror film genre and a slightly off-color song sung horribly by Neil Patrick Harris, the night proved to be neither “cutting-edge,” nor off-putting, just, in a refreshing turn, a good show that was at points almost inspiring.
All of this raises the question: Is it possible that Hollywood may finally be getting the message that self-absorbed and sleazy is out, and family affirming and clean fun are in? Almost without exception, speeches were genuine, humble and heartfelt. From honoring the family of the late John Hughes and the “In Memoriam” segment, to individual honoree's acceptance speeches, there was a constant affirmation of family.
Best Actor Jeff Bridges thanked his wife of 33 years and their three daughters -- without whom he would not have "been there." Best Actress Sandra Bullock delivered a heartfelt, posthumous thanks to her late mother, while also affirming the importance of foster and adoptive families. And Best Director Kathryn Bigelow twice thanked the men and women of the armed forces along with her entire team for Best Picture, “The Hurt Locker,” a Hollywood movie that, for once, didn’t mock the American troops and their mission of fighting the War on Terror.
Finally, six years after the Academy Awards completely ignored “The Passion of the Christ,” including Jim Caviezel’s amazing performance in that well-crafted movie, the Academy Awards acknowledged Sandra Bullock’s heartfelt portrayal of a compassionate Christian conservative in “The Blind Side.”
Movieguide®’s Annual “Report to the Entertainment Industry” has found year after year that the most family-friendly movies without explicit objectionable content, such as “Up” and “The Blind Side,” make the most money. Darker movies with gratuitous violence and sex are not as successful at the box office.
Since the report began in the early 1990s, the number of movies with at least some positive Christian content has increased from only 27 movies, or less, to more than 150 movies in 2009.
That’s an increase of more than 455%.
Moviegoers clearly prefer family-friendly, conservative movies with strong, traditional faith and values, including values celebrating the best that America has to offer.
Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally seem to be getting the message. This year’s Oscar ceremony proved you don’t have to be dark and morose to be artistic. There are truly beautiful life stories that can be portrayed in film as positive and even inspirational.
We applaud Hollywood for finally affirming traditional faith and values. It took years of effort, but Hollywood is beginning to understand not only that those values do well at the box office, but also – and more importantly – that they resonate strongly with the average American citizen who holds them dear.
Editor's note: Jack Kelly and Tom Snyder of Movieguide® contributed to this article.
Dr. Baehr is Founder and Publisher of Movieguide®: A Family Guide to Movies and Television, which is approaching its 25th year. For more information about their work and Movieguide®, please visit www.movieguide.org.
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.