As a movie lover, I desperately try to get my kids excited about the Academy Awards every year. I’ve tried doing a mock red carpet with formal wear. I’ve tried catering the telecast with their favorite foods. I’ve tried having them live tweet. Eventually, my daughter drifts up to her room to watch “iCarly.” I don’t blame her, the Oscar nominees are typically not family friendly. Eight-year-olds just don’t get jokes that end with “I drink your milkshake!”
However, this year the Academy has bestowed a beautiful gift to parents … enticing nominees who carry the potential to get Oscar pools going among 6th graders. You doubt? Let me lay it out for you:
1. Kids can see most of the best picture nominees. In the years past, the best pics are mostly rated R and very art-house. Of this year’s nominees, seven are rated PG-13, one is PG and several are straight-up family films. I recall when I told my teen he could see an R-rated movie as long as it was a best picture nominee. The Wrestler felt like it would never end.
2. Kids on the red carpet. Youth may be lacking in the actor categories but several of the best picture nominees do tout young stars. The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley, Moneyball’s Kerris Dorsey, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’s Thomas Horn, and Hugo’s Asa Butterfield and Chloe G. Moretz will rock the red carpet in fashions that are kid applicable.
3. Kids love to laugh! With so many comedic actors nominated, the show is sure to be more fun. Jonah Hill is up for supporting actor (Moneyball), Kristin Wiig for original screenplay (Bridesmaids), Jim Rash (better known as Dean Pelton on “Community”) and Nat Faxon (who had a funny turn in Zookeeper) are up for adapted screenplay (The Descendants), not to mention the funny duo of Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer from The Help – and that film’s star, Emma Stone, should be in attendance, too!
4. Even the technical categories (read: boring) give kids a film to root for. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Real Steel will be included at times when the audience’s eyes usually start to glaze over.
5. Billy Crystal is hosting. Yes, he’s 63 and hasn’t starred in a kid’s movie in a decade. BUT, he is main monster Mike Wazowksi in the kid classic Monsters, Inc. Plus, if your child hasn’t seen The Princess Bride yet, then 1) you’re a bad parent and 2) the Oscar telecast provides a perfect reason to watch it now.
6. The original song category. Watching the entire awards show is worth it just to see “Man or Muppet” performed, especially because don’t we all wonder if Billy Crystal is a manly Muppet or a Muppet-y man?
In the meantime, here are the most family friendly films of the Best Picture nominees:
Hugo. Still in theaters, Hugo is about a lonely orphan in post-World War I Paris who finds a friend and a mystery surrounding an autobot. While the film is kid-appropriate, the slow pacing makes it a better choice for the middle school set and older.
The Help. Changing the world isn’t always met with open arms. The Help shows it’s possible for one person to make a difference but it takes courage, strategy, and the support of like-minded individuals to make an impact.
Moneyball. Sure, it’s about number crunching and baseball, but Moneyball is really a heartwarming film about priorities and challenging yourself to find a better solution.
To find out what kids think of the Best Picture nominees and other movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.