Support Our Work File an FCC Complaint Movie Reviews Join Us Family Guide to Primetime Television Home
Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching


1%-5% of your purchase will help support the PTC.

Finally, Oscar Nominations Families Can Cheer For!


On Tuesday (February 2, 2010) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards. While many of the films were expected to have gained Oscar attention, what caught me off guard was the number of nominations for movies that we gave glowing marks to at Parent Previews.


The biggest surprise were the nominees for Best Picture. This is the first year the Academy has increased the number of nominations for best picture from five to ten. Two movies in the category are titles we awarded with A-grades this year: Up and The Blind Side. Two other movies on the list came close to our recommended grades, with Up In The Air and Avatar both being recognized as fine films with just a tad too much content to be suitable for family viewing.


The nomination of Up is somewhat surprising, as the Academy often appears to view animations as a category unto themselves (and, yes, there is a separate category for Best Animation, and Up will certainly be a prime contender -- and my prediction to win). Yet itís thrilling to see the members of the Academy recognize this wonderful story, which speaks to old and young alike, in their most notable category. As I mentioned in an earlier column, itís my pick for Best Picture this year.


Perhaps even more of a shock was the kudos given to The Blind Side. When was the last time Oscar looked favorably upon a movie that extols positive religious values within a reasonably happy well-functioning family? Certainly, I like The Blind Side, but it just doesnít have the typical Oscar-feel to it. Is it gritty enough? Dark enough? Maybe all that will be added in the home video directors cut! (Complete sarcasm noted...)


I think many industry insiders were (ahem...) blindsided by this feel-good filmís amazing $238 million domestic box office run. That is a huge take for a relatively low budget film. (In fact, compared to Avatar, which as of the moment Iím writing this, is now the all-time highest grossing movie in history, The Blind Side -- which, according to boxofficemojo.com, cost $29 million to produce -- is delivering a far greater investment return on a percentage basis.)


Of course dollars and Oscars shouldnít be in the same sentence, but for years I have speculated about the fact that the Oscars are slowly alienating themselves from the general film-going audience. Again, returning to boxofficemojo.com, the siteís founder and writer Brandon Gray has noticed that last yearís five nominations held the dubious record for being the least attended movies at nomination time. Brandon notes the nomination of Avatar alone more than triples the cumulative gross of all five of last yearís Best Picture nominees.


Iím certainly not claiming to be an original thinker in speculating that this yearís Oscars are trying to bring mainstream audiences back around the tube and cheering for their favorite film. And there are still nominated titles that fall far more into the art house category, like An Education. However, I am pleased to see Oscar extending his tastes toward a wider range of genres and audiences.


To this point I have only discussed the Best Picture category. Other fine movies have received major nominations as well. Both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon have been recognized for performances in the inspiring film Invictus. Sandra Bullock is nominated for The Blind Side and Meryl Streep for her performance in the charming Julie & Julia. Yet another interesting film, The Young Victoria has been recognized in both Art Direction and Costume Design. Finally, the oft overlooked Harry Potter franchise has won a nomination for cinematography for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.


So perhaps this is the year to return back to watching the telecast on March 7th. Itís always more fun to watch the awards when it involves films you may have seen. As long as the celebrities can keep their tongues in check during this live event, this yearís Academy Awards could end the decline in popularity for Hollywoodís grandest night.


Rod Gustafson


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previewsģ - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

Click here to comment on this column




JOIN US ON:          .

Parents Television Council, www.parentstv.org, PTC, Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting children against sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval, and Family Guide to Prime Time Television are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.