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{A&E} Favorite LDS Film Contest Winners

Not like the winners are any big secret -- you could easily take a jaunt over to our most recent poll and see the results. But we think it's fun to announce the winners officially. (Of interest: three of the four movies that earned the title of winner or runner up are about missionaries.)

Best Comedy:
The Singles Ward (2002)
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With 45% of the votes, the top comedy goes to one of the most quoted LDS movies. No surprises here, really, considering this was the genesis of Mormon comedy films. It was the first of the corny, satirical flicks, and as such, earns its stripes among the most memorable of LDS films.

Facts about The Singles Ward:
  • Autobiographical about stand up comedian John Moyer and his experiences as a single Mormon
  • Grossed $1.2 million -- impressive for such a culture-specific film
  • Steve Young's official character name in the movie is "Bro. Niner"

Runner up, Best Comedy:
The R.M. (2003)

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This movie got 26% of the votes for comedies. I was a bit surprised that this got second place -- I'm not going to lie. Kirby is a fun guy and entertaining actor, but the only time I saw the movie, I had a hard time watching. There are so many painfully uncomfortable situations! But it's classic in its continued, endearing satire of LDS culture.

Facts about The R.M.:
  • According to IMDb, the set for the room main character Jared shares with Humu was built in a prison. (I wonder what the full story behind that is.)
  • Look closely at the door of the Phelps home -- it changes from pink to green.

With these two comedy winners, it shows that we enjoy laughing at ourselves -- a good trait, I think.

Best Drama:
The Other Side of Heaven (2001)
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The popularity for drama movies was not nearly as clear-cut as the comedies were, and this movie won with only 29% of votes (beating out the runner up by only 3%). Since this was made by Disney, it is perhaps the best produced of the films in the competition. The source material for the movie was Elder Groberg's popular autobiographical In the Eye of the Storm, detailing incredible, sometimes humorous, and sometimes inspirational stories of being a Mormon missionary in Tonga. The film is unique for its focus on the universal themes of the Mormon missionary experience, so it appeals to a broader audience than some of the other Mormon films. (On a side note: it's startling to think that the sweet character of the would-be Sister Groberg is played by a woman who will be Catwoman in the next of the Batman movies.)

Facts:
  • The director, producer, and many of the film crew were LDS; this is one reason Deseret Book was comfortable selling rights of Elder Groberg's book
  • The soles of Elder Groberg's feet really were eaten by rats as he slept, as depicted in the movie; the treatment for the injuries -- searing the soles of his feet with the sun -- later caused skin cancer on the bottom of his feet, a condition that initially perplexed his doctor

Runner up, Best Drama:

The Best Two Years (2004)
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Our drama runner up also describes the Mormon missionary experience, although this one does it with a little more of the spiritual than The Other Side of Heaven. I originally thought of this as a comedy, and apparently camps are split on whether it's comedy or drama -- it has elements of both. The movie is noted for its favorable critical reception, and it has the highest critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes (73%) of all the movies mentioned here. One critic from Filmcritic.com even said, "If you see one Mormon movie in your life . . . this is the one to see."

Facts about The Best Two Years:
  • Is based on a stage play, The Best Two Years of My Life, by Scott Anderson (who considers it a comedy)
  • Many of Elder Van Pelt's Dutch grammatical corrections are, in fact, incorrect
  • The movie's soundtrack was put together by beloved LDS musician Michael McLean
  • Gordon Jump, known as Chief of Police Tinkler in Soap and the Maytag Repairman, was originally cast as the mission president, but withdrew at the last moment due to health problems. He died only a few months later.

There you have it. What do you think?
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