‘Blind Side’ Leads Slate of Year’s Most Uplifting Movies

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Steven Lawson

The Blind Side topped the winners at the 18th annual
Movieguide Awards this week in Beverly Hills, Calif., taking home the $100,000
Epiphany Prize for most inspiring movie of 2009.

The film, which
also received a best picture Academy Award nomination, stars Sandra Bullock and
tells the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless youth who was adopted by a white
family in Mississippi and eventually went to college and became a professional
football player. It beat out the Arthur Blessitt documentary The Cross, Disney’s
A Christmas Carol
, Knowing, T.D. Jakes’ Not Easily Broken,
The Soloist, and Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself for the
top prize.

Quinton Aaron, the
6-foot-8-inch actor who played “Big Mike” in the blockbuster film, accepted the
award Tuesday on behalf of the cast and crew. He said the film’s message of
faith and triumph over adversity are themes he personally can relate to. And
the film is one his church and family can see without hesitation.

“I am a strong
believer,” Aaron told Charisma. “God has my back; He has my blind side.
And I want this movie to tell kids across the nation who have dreams or are in
a similar situation that they can get out, they are not stuck to that way of
life. The role of Big Mike fit me as a human being because I went through some
tough things and God brought me out.”

Gifted Hands:
The Ben Carson Story

received the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring TV Program of
2009. Its stars, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise, also received the Grace
Award for the most inspiring performance in television in 2009.


Actor Albert Hall, who portrayed Bishop Wilkes in Not
Easily Broken,
won the Grace Award for most inspiring performance in a feature
film in 2009. Other nominees included Sandra Bullock and Ray McKinnon for The
Blind Side
, Nicholas Cage for Knowing, Jim Carrey for A Christmas
Carol
, and Tyler Perry for I Can Do Bad All by Myself.

Movieguide
sponsors the annual gala to honor Hollywood productions that feature faith and
family values. The Camarillo, Calif.-based organization that also reviews
movies and hosts a Web site meets with studio executives to encourage them to
make more positive and family-friendly movies. The group also compiles an
annual report card on how Hollywood is performing.

“Every year gets
better,” said Ted Baehr, publisher and founder of Movieguide and author
of The Culture-Wise Family.
“It is all God’s grace. Last year when 43 percent of the movies in Hollywood
had Christian content, I thought we had hit the mountaintop, and this year it
is 54 percent. When we see people from studios here talking about Jesus, [it]
is a big change.”

The Blind Side centers around a Christian family, but Baehr
said most of the top-grossing films this year had clear Christian content. “Knowing,
Up and Invictus-the press couldn’t figure out why these were
popular but we figured it out a long time ago,” Baehr said. “Create movies for
families because that is what people want to see.”


The Stoning
of Soraya M.
, about an Iranian woman whose arranged marriage to an abusive
tyrant leads to tragedy, tied with Invictus, based on events following the election
of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to
receive the Faith and
Freedom Award for promoting positive American values.

“Forgiveness
leads to reconciliation,” said Invictus producer Lori McCreary, who
attends the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in West Los Angeles. “It doesn’t take
very big gestures sometimes for people to come toward you. This is what Mandela
was genius at.”

Other honorees
included Up as the best film for family audiences and The
Blind SideBedford:
The Town They Left Behind
as the best film for mature audiences. The television film also was awarded the Faith and Freedom Award for
promoting positive American values in 2009.

 Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, a $50,000
Kairos Prize for spiritually uplifting screenplays by beginning screenwriters
was awarded to four films: $25,000 for The Good Doctor written by Dwight
Carlson and Gregory Carlson, $15,000 for The Shoebox by Sherry Cook, and
$10,000 divided between Lion of the North by Johnny Davis and The
Translator
, written by Alan Sproles and co-written by Lizanne Southgate.



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