February 25, 2009
Did The Right
Movies & Actors Win?
By Mike McManus
Did the right movies and actors/actresses win
If the crown is given to films which uplift the
spirit, promote good character and reflect high moral, biblical and
Christian standards – a few movies were among those winning Academy
WALL-E won for the best animated feature.
Interestingly, it was also #5 in box office receipts during 2008,
earning $223 million. “Who would guess that a movie with minimal
dialogue and a love story between robots could emerge as one of the best
films of this summer?” asked Claudia Puig in “USA Today.”
How about a movie that begins with the seduction of
a 15-year-old boy by a NAZI war criminal? “That is pedophilia,” asserts
Ted Baehr, President of MOVIEGUIDE, published by the Christian Film &
Television Commission. Years later, the boy is a law student who goes
to a trial where the woman is convicted crimes at Auschwitz. Yet the
film makes viewers feel compassion for her.
“If you told me that Hollywood would make a heroine
of such a person, it would be beyond my imagination,” Baehr said. The
actress was Kate Winslet, Academy Award winner for Best Actress in THE
Is this a movie people want to see? NO! Box office
receipts: a dismal $6 million.
Who should have won? I supported nominee Meryl
Streep in DOUBT. She is cast as a stern Catholic nun in the 1960s who
suspects that a priest, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a pedophile
– decades before the scandal of priests molesting boys made national
news. It takes courage for the nun to confront the priest.
Yet it is unclear whether he is guilty. Thus the
apt title, DOUBT. Walking out of that theater, my wife and I debated
the issue with others leaving the theater. In 60 years of movie-going,
that never happened before. A memorable movie experience.
Box office receipts: a more respectable $31
million, but not a blockbuster.
By contrast SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which won Best
Picture plus seven other awards is called a “modern day fairy tale about
hope and hard times in the slums of Mumbai” India by “The New York
Times. “It is a rousing, romantic film” about a young man who is bright
and loyal, but “is not a person I want as a hero,” says reviewer Ted
Baehr. “He lies, cheats and steals though he has very good
characteristics. He is bright, loyal and determined to do what he thinks
He falls in love with a girl taken under the wing
of a gangster. To win her, the “slumdog” enters a TV show contest, wins
a million dollars, and ultimately, the girl.
The feel-good movie earned $100 million in sales,
though it cost only $6 million.
How about MILK the story of Harvey Milk, the first
openly gay man elected to a major public office? But only after Milk
framed his political opponent, unfairly stacking the deck against him.
The movie extols homosexuality as if it were a Christian virtue. Sean
Penn, who won Best Actor, earned his Award.
MOVIEGUIDE gave it four stars, its highest ranking
for quality, but its lowest moral ranking, -4. Box office receipts?
Only $17 million in 2008. Few want to see a movie celebrating
Brad Pitt, nominated as Best Actor in THE CURIOUS
CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, is a man with a mysterious disease that causes
his body to grow younger as he ages. As a baby he appears to be a
decrepit old man. His father takes him to a home for the elderly, where
he becomes younger. He falls in love with a young woman who becomes a
ballerina. They are separated, meet in middle age as she ages, but he
does not. Clever computer graphics add to the story.
Box office: $142 million.
Robert Downey Jr. plays an imperious, sarcastic,
boozing arms merchant captured by terrorists in Afghanistan. He creates
a high-tech armor suit enabling him to thwart his enemies and fly away.
The IRON MAN comes home a changed man who leaves business. Meanwhile
the terrorists put together the remains of his suit, requiring him to
come out of retirement.
MOVIEGUIDE named it the best picture for adult
audiences; it cleaned up at the Box Office with $318 million sales in
2008, but no Academy Award.
MOVIEGUIDE”s conclusion? The top 25 movies in
sales” reflecting high moral, biblical and Christian standards do much
better at the box office than movies that violate those high standards.”
Why make money losers like MILK? Hollywood’s
The most inspiring film of 2008? MOVIEGUIDE chose
FIREPROOF, which won a $100,000 Templeton Prize – but no Academy
Awards. However, it has saved thousands of marriages.