Few of the nominees for this year's Academy Awards earn nods for promoting biblical values. But Christians say there is much to be hopeful about in Hollywood, even if the year's most faith-friendly films aren't being recognized on Sunday.
Actress Jenn Gotzon, who portrayed Tricia Nixon in Frost/Nixon, which is nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, said Christians were praying behind the scenes.
"We were praying for creative excellence throughout the production," Gotzon told Charisma. "We were dealing with heavy emotional experiences and history. We prayed, and I saw God's fingerprints."
Gotzon doesn't claim an inside track to an Oscar, but she does believe that director Ron Howard's commitment to the accurate portrayal of history and his decision to show [former President Richard] Nixon as a real person has great merit.
"The movie captures a moment of history, and it captures the humanity of Nixon," Gotzon said. "This aspect of truth being captured in such a powerful way is worthy of celebration."
Lani Netter, whose husband, Gil Netter, produced Marley and Me, said intercessors are making a difference in Hollywood.
"We were interceding and praying all over Marley and Me," said Netter, who attends Jubilee Church in Camarillo, Calif. "I was anointing with oil Owen Wilson's hands, Jennifer Anniston, the dogs, the director. I was thinking, 'I am going to get busted any minute.' Then my daughter is listening on the headset to Owen Wilson talking to Allan Arkin in a scene, she goes, 'Mom, Mom. Owen is singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands!'"
"God said to me at that moment: 'Stop working so hard. I've got it in My hands. I have the territory.' God is at work on sets and in films, and we don't even know it."
Both Netter and Gotzon participated in the recent Faith and Values Awards Gala, which recognized several of the year's most redemptive films. Gotzon was an awards presenter, and Netter accepted a Ten Best 2008 Movies for Adult Audiences award on behalf of her husband for Marley and Me.
At the Feb. 12 gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., Fireproof was named the most inspiring movie of 2008, and Hallmark's The Christmas Choir was named most inspiring TV show of the year. Both films won a $100,000 Epiphany Prize for producing a "great increase in man's love or understanding of God."
Actress Adriana Barraza garnered the Grace Award for Most Inspiriting Performance in Movies or TV for her role in Henry Poole Is Here. Meanwhile, WALL-E was named best family film while Iron Man ranked best for mature audiences.
"We want to encourage Hollywood to make more movies that have redemptive content, fewer movies that are corrosive to the values of society," said Ted Baehr, founder and president of MovieGuide, which hosted the awards gala.
In his annual Report to the Entertainment Industry, Baehr found that more than half of the 25 top-grossing movies in 2008 had strong or very strong Christian, redemptive and moral content. And nearly all of them had at least some moral, biblical and/or Christian, redemptive content.
"It is extremely important that we not just stand back and throw rocks and condemn things that we don't like," said veteran actor Pat Boone, who was one of the awards presenters. "We have to look for, commend and support the good things, and that's what Ted Baehr is doing with MovieGuide. He points out that if you want to make money in films, you better make family-friendly films."
Gotzon said both the Faith and Values gala and the Academy Awards have a place in Hollywood. "MovieGuide goes to the heart and celebrates not only the craft but also the content. It looks to honor great movies that edify the viewer, [that] build them up with redemption, love and enduring values.
"Oscars are given to great moviemakers for their cinematic masterpieces [regardless of the message]. They reward movies with strong production and artistic value-the best of the best."
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