Good media discernment is about guarding our eyes and hearts before we watch or listen. And it's also about grappling with the entertainment we do see or hear. That's why the Plugged In Blog is devoted to guarding, discussing and grappling.
Announcing the winners of the first ever Plugged In Movie Awards!
BEST MOVIE FOR KIDS
Nominees: Brave, Chimpanzee, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Plugged In's Pick: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted We do love our Pixar movies. WALL-E. Up. Toy Story 3. They're all instant classics that embody so many of the things we like to embrace here at Plugged In. And they prove again and again that you don't have to pile on problematic content to tell a world-class story. But while Brave still gave us a strong, heartwarming tale, it came with a bit more questionable content (much of it spiritual in nature) than Pixar films past. Madagascar 3, meanwhile, proved to be a delightful surprise—the best in the franchise so far—offering us an inspiring story and steering clear(er) of some of the bathroom humor we've seen in the earlier movies featuring those now-famous zoo animals on safari.
Readers' Pick: Brave We may have spurned Pixar's latest movie, but you sure didn't. Brave won far more reader votes than Madagascar 3. Interestingly, it might have had more of a fight on its hands if we had included Wreck-It-Ralph in our nominees list. Lots of you asked why we skipped it. Our answer? Hey, it's a movie about a video game. What's there to like about that!? No, no, actually it was the bathroom humor that turned into a bit of a fender bender for us.
BEST MOVIE FOR TEENS
Nominees: The Avengers, Chasing Mavericks, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Mirror Mirror, The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Plugged In's Pick: Chasing Mavericks Based on the true story of surfer Jay Moriarity, Chasing Mavericks wasn't seen by many people. It made just $6 million Stateside in 2012—about $216 million less than the first Hobbit flick and an whopping $617 million less than Marvel's The Avengers. But despite its disappointing ticket sales, this little movie that could road a pretty big wave in our view. It has a teen protagonist we can all root for, and a heartwarming story that hits its high notes in the area of mentoring.
Readers' Pick: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Votes came in for The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games even though neither made our nominees' list. But neither movie came close to joining the titanic showdown between The Avengers and The Hobbit. In the end, the golden ring was tossed to Tolkien-lovers.
BEST CHRISTIAN MOVIE
Nominees: Blue Like Jazz, Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure, October Baby, Rogue Saints, Unconditional
Plugged In's Pick: October Baby This category came down to the wire for us, with October Baby and Unconditional vying for the final nod. We love Unconditional for presenting a strong, well-told story with acres of heart—and in a way that may raise the bar for Christian filmmaking. But October Baby's vital pro-life message propelled it over the finish line first.
Readers' Pick: Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure Fans of Christian movies swarmed our Facebook page, driving up vote tallies for almost every movie under consideration. But much of the time it seemed almost like a rowdy vocal battle from two sides of a sports arena: One side would shout "Rogue Saints!" The other would holler "Monumental!" At the buzzer, Kirk Cameron's politically tinged but spiritually driven documentary edged out the direct-to-DVD Rogue Saints. More important than who won this friendly fight, though, is the reality that Christian filmmaking continues to get better and more diverse all the time. The category's collection of eclectic nominees simply couldn't be ignored.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Nominees: The Impossible, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Trouble With the Curve
Plugged In's Pick: Les Misérables Studies show that America is growing more secular all the time, but you wouldn't know it from 2012's crop of nominees in this category, three of which are also Academy Awards Best Picture contenders: Lincoln, Life of Pi and Les Misérables spend significant screen time talking about God, spirituality and divine purpose. But no mainstream movie was as overtly Christian—nor, perhaps, as emotionally (and musically) moving—as Les Mis.
Readers' Pick: Les Misérables In exactly the same way Les Mis sang to our souls here at Plugged In, so it sings to you. Indeed, when we tallied votes for the other four nominees together, this movie musical still wins.
I'm a bit surprised that Les Misérables got both pluggedin's and and the reader's pick due to the numerous content concerns.
^I meant despite instead of "due to" in the comment above. Where's the edit button when you need it? :)
Loved Les Miz! It's a diamond in the rough... Shocked Madagascar won for animated feature. After watching the first movie, the bathroom humor, and innuendo made the series a big "no no" in our house. Brave was excellent- the magic was not an issue for us! It's like Merlin's magic from Sword in the Stone. :P
Glad The Hobbit won!
Not surprised Brave didn't win. The animation was amazing but that's the only part of the story that came without issues for my family. Yeah for October Baby!
Hooray for Les Mis! It truly was a gem of a film and I applaud Plugged In for recognizing that. The whole beauty of the film was the light that shined in spite of very dark circumstances (that, yes, include prostitution and war). But the movie never celebrated any sort of debauchery (even the Thenardiers and the "Master of the House" sequence, arguable the most problematic, served as a sharp contrast between someone who doesn't desire and/or choose redemption, in contrast to the purity and redemptive paths chosen by Valjean and Cosette). I'm always confused when fellow Christians condemn the film for what it shows; I mean, the Bible itself is frank when describing instances of war, rape, and sin, but never endorses it, much like Les Mis (note: I am not equating Les Mis with the holy Bible).
It seems like PluggedIn's picks are all based on content and nothing on whether the movie is actually good, or really crappy.
Do you honestly expect PI to rate movies depending on artistic quality? PluggedIn's focus is giving a "commentary" of sorts to the current media.
In terms of quality, both Les Misérables and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted have a 75-78% approval rating.
I thought "Les Miserables" was BEAUTIFUL. Made me cry, moved and inspired me.
Glad to see the surprisingly underrated "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" get some loving, but I am torn about whether I would wanted it, "The Avengers", or "The Dark Knight Rises" to win in the end. I am not surprised at all that TDKR was overlooked despite all of its positives, given the strong-opinion divide that TDK suffered on here when it came out (I know the trilogy is not for everyone, and certainly not intended for or fit for families with small children, but the stigma the trilogy has suffered has gotten to be a little like taking six cold pills to wipe out a mild case of the sniffles). Given that PluggedIn essentially writes with families that may have young ones in mind, it makes a bit of sense in general, but given that this is a "Best Movie For Teens" category, the exclusion doesn't make so much sense in this case.
Glad "October Baby" won out of these (NOTE: I haven't seen "Unconditional" yet. The DVD hits on March 5th, so I expect I will get my chance then) for "Best Christian Movie".
Similarly, I am fine with "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" taking "Best Movie For Kids". None of the nominees on that list wowed me (for the ones I decided to watch), but probably Madagascar 3 is the best rated for me of them.
Oh, and I know this is going to trigger some conflict, but I kind of wish "Flight" had been a "Diamond In The Rough" nominee. Some of it's content was rather... extreme, but overall I still was wowed by Denzel's performance and even more so by the power of the film's message and depiction of the agony of addiction. And the positive content towards God was a very nice, significant part of why I found it to be such a good movie. (Yeah, the co-pilot's wife seems almost goofy in her wooden "praise Jesus!" declarations, but then I can think of instances where I have seen people come off similarly in real life and they are sincere and it just comes off as robotic in some way as a spectator. As for the bulk of the rest of the references though, they were definitely used for good.)
Please understand, I am NOT saying "Flight" is for everyone. It ISN'T. It isn't even for all ADULTS, let alone for FAMILIES (though somehow I think most discerning parents know that a movie about a man's battle with his multiple addictions is not one to screen with the little ones, even if the miss the MPAA rating (R)). I am not saying, "everyone! Go rent this movie RIGHT AWAY!!" That would be foolish of me. I am just saying that, in my opinion, in spite of some very real rough areas, that the movie has a good message and some very edifying (and moving) moments, and that it is quite fit for the title (perhaps even more than some) of 'a diamond in the rough'. :-) Thanks for not chasing me out of your village with torches and pitchforks. :-P
I don't think Les Mis should have won its category. I saw it, though I didn't see any of the others in that category, and I felt like it had more negatives than positives. Also, I really, REALLY disagree with the kids' category. I haven't seen Madagascar 3, but the first one was terrible (content wise), and so I'm really wondering how it could win. Most sequels tend to get worse, not better as they go along.
Magic is not a problem in movies. Unless it's demon-posessive weirdness, it's not at all real. I wish you PI guys would stop freaking out about it.
It's more about the occult and the people in it than worrying about the actual magic.
While I have yet to be impressed with Les Mis's musical talent (I still believe the entire thing was horribly miscast, a real shame, since it's one of my favorite musicals) you will still be hardpressed to find a story more focused on God's forgiveness and the redemption of a sinner into a saint. The movie is gritty, to be sure. But have you read the book?! With all it's talk of blood and sweat, of prostitution and thievery, of hopelessness and depsair, it was even MORE gritty than the film ever THOUGHT of being. And yet, no amount of grit can squash the heart of it's message of redemption and the power of God's forgiveness to us, and our forgiveness to each other.
October Baby totally made me cry! After I promised myself I wouldn't! Although, I may be biased. I'm pregnant, so it affected me personally.
While I always have and always will love LOTR, what kept me from voting for The Hobbit wasn't the content so much as the presentation. Jackson's decision to drag the book out from 2 books to 3 caused the plot to move at a much slower pace than anyone wanted, and I found myself occasionally checking my watch throughout the viewing. I'd rather watch Avengers any day, with it's moral compass, it's spirit of teamwork, and a little old-fashioned Captain America patriotism.
Brave? Eh. I love Pixar. I really do. And if I had to pick between Madagascar and Brave, I'd rather have Brave. It was better told, better animated, and had more of a moral compass (dark magic aside) than Madagascar did. It actually hit close to home for me, since my mother and I have.... issues that we still have yet to work out completely. That fact may have made me, again, a bit biased. Had I had other options, I may have picked Wreck-It Ralph. Honestly, though, the kids' films were slim pickin's last year. Here's hoping this year is better. Based on the previews I've seen thus far, I doubt it.
Just finished listening to the podcast where the winners were announced. Really glad Hobbit won the fan voting over the Avengers. And great to see Les Miserable win.
As to the comment when they were talking about the teen category and Wreck-it Ralph, all I really have to ask is “really?” Ralph had more “kid unfriendly humor” than Madagascar 3? Said humor was more problematic than the magic/spiritual issues in Brave? Personally I don’t get it. I haven’t seen Madagascar 3, but based on the content of the first movie (which I did see) and the review of movie 3, as well as it being a Dreamworks picture, I’d be surprised if I found it to be “cleaner” than Wreck-it Ralph was. And I definitely think Ralph was less problematic than some of the stuff in Brave. I posted this comment on a boundless blog post as well, but I’d like to ask the same question here. I don’t really understand what the big deal is with “bathroom humor”. What is the moral imperative against fart jokes and the like?? I understand people getting upset about humor that is mean spirited or relies on stereotypes or is blasphemous to their belief system and such, but why do some people seem to be almost as equally offended by “bathroom humor”. I really want to know.
To be in conspiratorial mode for a moment, I’d make the speculation that the reason Brave got the nomination over Ralph, despite the spiritual content issues, is because Brave was about a mother and daughter, were as Ralph did not have that family element to it (it is “Focus on the FAMILY” afterall).
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