Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Time Shift Your TV – The 2013 Oscar Nominees for Families

Life of Pi
Life of Pi (2013)

On Sunday, Feb. 24, Hollywood champions its own with the 85th Academy Awards. The show airs live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET with Seth MacFarlane as the host. He’s the brains behind TV shows including Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, none of which is recommended family viewing and all of which employ raunchy, irreverent and often offensive storylines and quips. MacFarlane will likely snap off quick one-liners from the Oscar stage and undoubtedly the network is hoping he’ll appeal to a younger audience.

While MacFarlane, along with the fashion, performances (Barbra Streisand will be singing on the show for the first time in 36 years)  and speeches are likely to provide a lot of Tweet-worthy water cooler chatter, there are bound to be any number of better ways to spend your time on a Sunday night. After all, the movies are what the Oscars are really about.

There are nine films nominated for Best Picture. Zero Dark Thirty, Argo,  Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook are rated R. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Les Miserables, Amour and Lincoln are rated PG-13. And Life of Pi is rated PG.

Should you take your kids to see any of these fine films? Would they want to see any of them? Here’s what to expect from the PG and PG-13 rated Oscar nominees:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Life of Pi is a visual feast and an emotional story of friendship and faith. See it in 3D and you will be mesmerized from the opening scene, which takes place in a zoo in India. Be prepared, however, to discuss what the film means; it’s quite a tale. It may be rated PG, but there are tense and harrowing scenes of an accident at sea, and the concepts are complex.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is available On Demand on your TV now. This gritty story of a little girl in the bayou backwaters and her alcoholic father is tough to watch, as it incorporates some whimsical big beasts along with the very real poverty of their existence. Ultimately the film is about home and friendship and community. Heed the PG-13 rating.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

Les Miserables is a musical based on the book by Victor Hugo. And in this musical, every single word uttered comes in the form of a song. While it seems like that could make it unappealing to young teens, it is such a gripping piece of filmmaking that it holds your interest from start to finish, with grand scenery (including grimy prisoners and prostitutes), top-notch performances (Anne Hathaway is thought to be a shoo-in for the best supporting actress Oscar), a love story and battle scenes. In the end, it’s really about hope and kindness. If you think your teen would appreciate a musical, this is an excellent one to see. Younger children are not likely to appreciate it.

Amour is probably the least accessible of the films for families. The winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize is shown in French with English subtitles. It chronicles the story of an elderly couple dealing with declining health. Its subject matter is most appropriate for adults.

Lincoln, a history lesson of the political maneuverings behind the 13th amendment, has been widely-praised on many levels, but don’t go expecting epic battle scenes. Do go to see Daniel Day-Lewis’ amazing transformation into Abraham Lincoln.