UNIVERSAL CITY, California – Under the palm trees on a perfect, Los Angeles evening, a parade of stars strolled down the red carpet. Paparazzi flash bulbs lit the twilight sky. Reporters jockeyed for position to conduct their interviews. And everywhere, beautiful smiles and glamorous styles were on full display.
But Friday’s Movieguide Awards ceremony wasn’t about fame and fashion, Hollywood money or the politics of winning a statuette.
The stars that gathered, performed, presented and delivered acceptance speeches were there for one purpose: to honor the films that go against the grain and give audiences quality entertainment with themes of faith, family and freedom.
Movies like “50 Shades of Grey” need not apply here – the Movieguide Awards honor films like “God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven Is for Real” and “The Giver” instead.
And this is no tiny, churchy, Christian festival. The 23rd annual Movieguide Awards brought big names like a performance from Grammy Award-winning rapper Lecrae, a surprise appearance from 25-time Grammy winner Stevie Wonder, members of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, soap opera stars, Billy Boyd (Pippin) of “The Lord of the Rings” and more. Major Hollywood directors, producers and studio executives were also on hand to honor the movies and television shows that make a positive impact on American culture.
For example, Movieguide selected the following Top 10 best movies for family audiences in 2014:
- “Big Hero 6”
- “Dolphin Tale 2”
- “God’s Not Dead”
- “Heaven Is for Real”
- “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
- “Muppets Most Wanted”
- “The Penguins of Madagascar”
- “Planes: Fire and Rescue”
- “Son of God”
“Muppets Most Wanted” walked away with the prize for best family-audience film.
“God’s Not Dead,” meanwhile, was the night’s big winner, garnering the prestigious Epiphany Prize, given to the most inspirational movie, awarded for “entertainment value, for craftsmanship and for creating programming that is uplifting, inspirational, moral and redemptive,” according to the ceremony’s guide.
Through a partnership with the John Templeton Foundation, “God’s Not Dead” received the $100,000 prize to “encourage the production of feature films and television programs which are uplifting inspirational and acknowledge God’s love, His mercy and His grace.”
“Love Finds You in Sugarcreek,” made for UP TV, won the Epiphany Prize for television.
Other winners included “The Giver,” which won the Faith & Freedom Award for film and “The Gabby Douglas Story,” a TNT production that won the television Faith & Freedom Award.
Recognizing some movies may not be best suited for the entire family but still present uplifting and redemptive themes, the following films were nominated as the best movies for more mature audiences:
- “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
- “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
- “The Giver”
- “The Good Lie”
- “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
- “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1”
- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
Of the 10 honorees, “Unbroken” walked away with the top prize.
The Grace Awards, givens to the actor or actress who “through their performance, best exemplify God’s grace and mercy towards us as human beings,” were won by Imani Hakim of “The Gabby Douglas Story” for television and Diogo Morgado, who played the role of Jesus in the movie “Son of God.”
Finally, Movieguide gives a pair of prizes to scriptwriters, including this year’s Chronos Prize, given to Dave Alan Johnson, Gary R. Johnson and Joan Considine Johnson of “The Star of Bethlehem” and the $25,000 Kairos Prize for first-time scriptwriter and Pastor Jeff Peabody for “When Mountains Moved.” Peabody’s script tells the fascinating story of when author Charles Dickens met with George Mueller, a Christian evangelist in England who relied on faith and answer to prayer to care for over 10,000 orphans and educate over 120,000 children in the 1800s.
“We’re so thrilled and proud of the Movieguide Awards,” Stan E. Hubbard, CEO of the REELZ television network, told WND. “If you think back, there’s always been some good shows, some hit movies that have amazing faith elements, and yet the industry is always surprised by it. What Movieguide does is provide a forum to honor these folks who direct their creative energies to movies that are grounded in something – in values, in faith, in real stories. And it’s not just chasing the higher dollars, but what what’s nice is the dollars are catching up with this [faith and family] industry, and I think that’s healthy.”
The Movieguide Awards will be broadcast on REELZ Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. ET.