Dear Academy: Here’s A Challenge

Dr. Ted Baehr of Movieguide® Challenges Filmmakers To Make and Promote Family-Friendly Movies that Can Win Oscars

By Natalie Fertig, PR Editor

The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced Thursday morning. The biggest takers were Lincoln with 12 nominations and Life of Pi with 11 nominations. Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook came in third with eight nominations.



But, where are the family films?

Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide®, points out that Les Misérables is the only movie that borders on being family-approved, but most parents would still refrain from taking children to see it. Or even grandma, for that matter. 

“Families want a movie that kids, parents, and grandparents can all enjoy. A good storyline and good acting, without extraneous sex and violence.”

Dr. Baehr listed Ice Age:  Continental Drift, The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and Wreck-It Ralph as possible family-friendly contenders for best movie.

The days of Oscar winners also being the biggest box office successes are long gone, Dr. Baehr also points out. The “glory days” of Ben-Hur have given way to the present day – where the Oscars often are not well received by a large section of the American population.

According to John Horn of The Los Angeles Times, “audience support for serious cinema waned” in the last few years (

“Though the little gold man is an imposing addition to any bookcase and briefly slakes the unquenchable vanity of filmmakers, producers and studio executives, wrote Mr. Horn, its effect on a film’s ultimate profitability is routinely negligible.” He also said, in an article from 2008, “In some cases, an over-the-top campaign. . . can actually slash a film’s profitability (”

“Middle America is starting to see the Oscars as a key to which movies they want to avoid, rather than which movies they want to see,” Dr. Baehr says. “The Academy should reevaluate that problem.

“Movies are a form of art,” he adds. “Wouldn’t it be incredible art to see a director represent the horror of war without scaring away families with extreme gore and bloodshed? That would be much harder to do than splashing blood across the screen.”


Dr. Baehr’s Picks Among the Oscar Nominees:

Best Motion Picture of the YearLes Misérables, produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, and Cameron Mackintosh.

Best Actor:  Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

Best Actress:  Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Best Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Rich Moore

Best CinematographySkyfall, Roger Deakins

Costume DesignLes Misérables, Paco Delgado 

Best DocumentarySearching for Sugar Man

Best EditingZero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Makeup & HairstylingThe Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater, and Tami Lane

Best Original ScoreSkyfall, Thomas Newman

Best Original Song:  “Suddenly,” Les Misérables (music by Claude-Michael Schonberg, Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil.

Production DesignLes Misérables, Eve Stewart (Production Design) & Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration)

Sound Editing Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers

Sound MixingSkyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson

Visual EffectsThe Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and R. Christopher White

Best Screenplay (Adapted)Life of Pi, David Magee

Best Screenplay (Original)Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

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