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2017 Plugged In Movie Awards: And the Award Goes To …

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, after long and arduous deliberation (involving an occasional round of fisticuffs) and painstaking vote counting, it’s time to unveil the winners of our fourth annual Plugged In Movie Awards. Alas, due to budget cuts, we had to cancel our typical star-studded banquet in Hollywood. Perhaps next year.

The Nominees: Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, Moana, Pete’s Dragon, Sing!
Plugged In’s Pick: Pete’s Dragon
Yep, this category was pretty competitive, what with the strong, empowering messages in Moana to Dory’s poignant search for her parents. But Pete’s Dragon, with its fantastical, touching tale of an orphaned lad and his invisible dragon pulled enough heartstrings to come out with the win.
Reader’s Pick: Tie, The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon
“Why didn’t you nominate Zootopia?” came the cry. “Zootopia was great!” Yes, it was pretty great, and come Monday, it might well be an Oscar winner. But given the nominees on the docket, you just couldn’t decide from the sweet, powerful story of The Jungle Book and Disney’s live-action resonance of Pete’s Dragon. Oh, by the way, four of the five nominees were Disney films. Go figure.

The Nominees: Captain America: Civil War, A Monster Calls, Queen of Katwe , Race, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Plugged In’s Pick: Queen of Katwe
In a category filled with CGI bombast and monster blockbusters, Plugged In chose a quiet, beautiful film that few people saw but almost everyone should. Queen of Katwe, the well-crafted story of a girl raised in one of Uganda’s worst slums who becomes a teenage chess whiz, is filled with great messages involving faith, family and perseverance. Oh, and by the way, it’s an outstanding film aesthetically, too.
Reader’s Pick: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Y’all had a tough time choosing between two of the year’s biggest blockbusters, Rogue One and Captain America: Civil War. But in the end, this Star Wars spinoff, with its cadre of courageous, sacrificial heroes, won the day. Princess Leia would be proud.

The Nominees: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion
Plugged In’s Pick: Arrival
This was tough. Lion’s resonant narrative about a kid taken from his family and, as a man, tries to find it again, offers some great messages in a powerful, poignant package. But in the end we chose Arrival, a surprisingly poignant movie about one woman’s attempt to communicate with aliens … and makes some difficult but incredibly impactful choices along the way.
Reader’s Pick: Hacksaw Ridge
This Mel Gibson-directed war drama almost didn’t make it past the nomination stage, given its bloody trappings and R rating. But the message was just too strong to ignore, and the movie itself was strong enough to earn itself your nod for best adult picture. La La Land, Oscar’s likely Best Picture darling, came in a fairly close second.

The Nominees: Ben-Hur, I’m Not Ashamed, Miracles From Heaven, Risen, The Young Messiah
Plugged In’s Pick: Risen
As we’ve said before, Christian movies have never been better. This was an incredibly difficult choice, but Risen came with the whole package: A powerful message, a crowd-pleasing story, an A-list actor and top-shelf filmmaking. It’s the sort of craftsmanship we’d like to see more of.
Reader’s Pick: Risen
Despite a surge by fans of both Miracles From Heaven and I’m Not Ashamed (many of which, alas, came after our Feb. 20 deadline), Risen took home the reader’s choice award as well.