UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – Hollywood celebrated faith and values films at the 21st annual Movieguide Awards Gala held on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, honoring the best motion pictures in 2012 presenting uplifting and family-appropriate messages.

Hosted this year by Joe Mantegna, currently staring in the CBS television series “Criminal Minds,” and his daughter, Gia Mantegna, the Movieguide Awards dinner was attended by sold-out 450-person audience, including top studio heads and executives in Hollywood, prominent actresses and actors.

Two important awards were presented by noted philanthropists and patrons of faith and values films: Dr. Jack Templeton, president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, and Foster Freiss, head of the Freiss Family Foundation.

Out of this year’s semifinalists, 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney studios garnered the highest number of nominations in the Best Movies for Families category, with Fox having five semifinalists and Disney having four semifinalists. Magnolia Pictures’ documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” was a surprise nomination, completing the list of family films along with New Line’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and DreamWorks’ “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Rise of the Guardians.”

Movieguide Awards honors two categories of films: The Ten Best Movies for Families and the Ten Best Movies for Mature Audiences are awarded to films that exhibit moral values and/or a redemptive storyline. Any feature film can be nominated, regardless of box office gross or number of major stars. Movies rated G or PG are eligible for the “Family” category, while those rated PG-13 or R may be nominated in the “Mature” category.

The 2012 Movieguide Awards winners

The winner of the Best 2012 Movie for Families was “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Runners-up among the 10 Best 2012 Movies for Families included:

The winner of the Best 2012 Movie for Mature Audiences was Marvel’s “The Avengers.”

Runners-up among the 10 Best 2012 Movies for Mature Audiences included:

Dr. Ted Baehr and his wife Lili created Movieguide in 1985, holding the first Movieguide Awards in 1991, with a mission dedicated to promoting family movies with strong moral and Christian content.

Get Dr. Ted Baehr’s “How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul)” – autographed! – from the WND SuperStore.

Dr. Ted Baehr

“Most people want good to triumph over evil, and all over the world people are looking for love, peace, and joy,” Baehr, Movieguide president, told WND in an exclusive interview. “Movieguide has been able to demonstrate to the heads of the major movie studios in Hollywood that movies of faith and values are also successful money-making movies, typically at the top of the box office revenue list year after year.”

Dr. Templeton and Dr. Baehr presented the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2012 to “Les Misérables,” and the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Television Program of 2012 to “The American Bible Challenge.”

Also nominated for the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2012 were: “For Greater Glory,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” and “Lincoln.”

Also nominated for the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Television Show of 2012 were: “Blue Bloods: The Job,” “Tim Tebow’s Wild Rise,” “Raising Izzie” and “Married to Jonas: Prom Night with the In-Laws.”

Epiphany Awards are supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and are presented for the movie and television program of the year that best helps people know and understand God.

Foster Freiss presented the $50,000 Freiss Free Enterprise Award for Movies to “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” while also nominated were “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”

Ace Young and Diana DiGarmo of "American Idol" fame

The Freiss Free Enterprise award is supported by a grant from the Freiss Family Foundation and is presented for the one movie of the year that, though fine craftsmanship and inspirational storytelling, does the most to encourage appreciation of free markets, ownership and stewardship.

Lynn and Foster Friess are well-known humanitarians, donating millions of dollars to aid organizations across the world.

The Grace Award for the Most Inspiring Movie Performance of 2012 went to Andy Garcia for his role in “For Greater Glory.” Also nominated were: Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”; Mauricio Kuri, “For Greater Glory”; Kristen Stewart, “Snow White and the Huntsman”; Kevin James, “Here Comes the Boom”; and Colm Wilkinson, “Les Misérables.”

The Grace Award for the Most Inspiring Television Performance of 2012 went to Kyla Kennedy, “Raising Izzie.” Also nominated were: Rockmond Dunbar, “Raising Izzie”; “Jeff Foxworthy, “The American Bible Challenge”; Tom Selleck, “Blue Bloods: The Job”; Paige Hemmis, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Harris Family, Part 1 and 2”; and Cedrick the Entertainer, “Soul Man: Lost in the Move.”

Simon Swart, executive vice president and general manager of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and the John Templeton Fund, along with Movieguide presented the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays, with cash awards honoring grand prize winner Randall Hahn of Miami, Fla., for “Gideon” ($25,000), 1st runner-up Romeo Ciolfi of Toronto, Ont., for “Play Ball” ($15,000) and 2nd runner-up James M. De Vince of Wallingford, Conn., for “The Basketball” ($10,000).

The Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters are supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Special Guests at the Awards Gala included Alexey Komov, Movieguide’s representative in Russia and David Peters, the general director of Galilean International Films & Television Services.

The opening prayer was said by Dave Butts, chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee and president of Harvest Prayer Ministries; the closing benediction prayer was said by William J. Murray, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Religious Freedom Coalition and author of seven books, including “My Life Without God,” a WND Book that was included for each attendee in a gift package handed out at the end of the ceremony.

The program featured a musical presentation by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who received a standing ovation.

Reuben Studdard, the “American Idol” talent crowned 2003 winner after he pulled 24 million votes and became a household name, also was featured in a musical presentation at the awards ceremony.

Among the many actresses and actors making presentations on stage were Jerry Mathers, who played Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver in the 1957-1963 television sitcom series “Leave it to Beaver.”

Jerry and Rhonda Mathers

Also making presentations was Corbin Bernsen, known for his roles as divorce attorney Arnold Becker on the NBC television series “L. A. Law” and as retired police detective Henry Spencer on the USA Network comedy-drama series “Psych,” as well as for his movie role as Roger Dorn in the films “Major League” and “Major League II.”

“The Movieguide® Awards are one of the only places where the greats of Hollywood walk side-by-side with the entertainment industry’s youngest and most promising newcomers,” says Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher and founder of Movieguide.

In the week before the Gala, the two semifinalist lists were boiled down to 10 nominees each; at the Gala each of the nominees received a special award, and then one movie was be crowned as winner in each category.

The Movieguide Awards’ criteria make this the only show in Hollywood where many large-grossing popular movies have a chance at winning an award. However, smaller movies also have an equal chance. “Act of Valor” from Relativity Media and “Red Dawn” from Sony Pictures made less in the box office, for example, but are both semifinalists for a Movieguide Award.

WND asked Baehr what message he wanted to send to the movie industry with the 21st Annual Awards ceremony.

“We want to encourage moviemakers to open their eyes be committed to building faith and values in the next generation of children and grandchildren,” he said. “You will hear me encourage filmmakers that they are making movies for a purpose. We want people to make movies of faith and values that will last for an eternity.”

Faith and values films make money

At each year’s Movieguide Awards, Baehr releases to the movie industry a much-anticipated and widely read “Report to the Entertainment Industry,” examining with empirical evidence the economics of the movies made in the previous year, plus the changing demographics of moviegoers.

This year’s report documents the impact Movieguide has had on the film industry:

  • 70 percent of the Top 10 movies made in the U.S. had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive, moral or biblical content or worldviews;
  • 90 percent of the Top 10 movies overseas had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive, biblical, moral or heroic (good conquering evil) worldviews, with all the top five being Movieguide Award winners;
  • Nearly three-fourths, 72 percent of the Top 25 DVD sales in North America had strong or very strong Christian, biblical, moral and/or heroic content.
  • Movies released in 2012 with very strong Christian worldviews averaged nearly $90.78 million per movie by the end of 2012, while movies with very strong mixed, non-Christian or anti-Christian worldviews overall averaged $20.22 million.
  • Movies with very strong humanist or atheist worldviews did far worse, averaging only $2.4 million.

“We discovered that, once again, the most family-friendly movies and movies with the strongest positive redemptive content and worldviews make the most money, on average, of any other kind of movie,” Baehr wrote in the 2013 report. “Also, they made a ton more money than the worst films, the ones filled with graphic violence, explicit sex and nudity, sexual perversion and false, anti-Christian worldviews, including those that promote atheism and paganism.”

Movieguide has been analyzing movies in depth since 1985, using a comprehensive rating/scoring system that helps pinpoint which movies will succeed and why.

“To understand the economic viability of a movie, we look at its entertainment and artistic value and then beyond that at its production value, content, worldview, philosophy, theology, politics, economics, genre themes and characters,” Baehr notes. “Through its analysis, Movieguide has consistently chosen 25 percent to 40 percent of the winners at the box office, whereas other groups and critics have consistently chosen only zero to eight percent of the winners.”

This year’s Movieguide Award winners include 6 of the Top 10 movies in domestic box office: “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Skyfall” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

By comparison, none of the 2012 Best Picture Academy Award Nominees are among the Top 10 movies in domestic box office.

Each year, Movieguide ranks all of the approximately 300 movies that gross more than $1 million in annual box office revenues, rating each movie at least 30 separate ways overall, including aesthetically, thematically, morally, biblically, cognitively, philosophically, politically and spiritually, in more than 150 different categories. Movie reviews are published on the Movieguide website.

Movieguide publishes an annual “Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment,” a donor-sponsored publication of the Christian Film & Television Commission.

Want to make a difference in the world of entertainment? Dreams of red carpet? Get Dr. Ted Baehr’s “How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul)” from the WND SuperStore.

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