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Family friendly Oscars: Looking back at the history of films with G, PG and PG-13 ratings at the Aca
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." - photo by Jeff Peterson
Since the 1968 end of the Hays Production Code, which had regulated the content of movies for more than three decades, the Academy Awards have almost always tended to favor more adult films. Case in point: The Best Picture winner for the awards held in 1969 was the G-rated Oliver! The following year, it was the X-rated Midnight Cowboy" (the film has since been re-rated to R).

In the nearly 50-year history of the voluntary MPAA ratings system, less than 40 percent of the Best Picture winners have been rated G, PG or PG-13, and after the introduction of the PG-13 rating in the mid-80s, all but two of those have been PG-13.

Movies content and subject matter isnt getting any more family friendly as the years go by, but there have been plenty of memorable Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning movies that stand out against the slew of R-rated epics and issue films that often crowd the awards show.

Here is a chronological look by awards year at just a few of the notable moments for family friendly movies at the Academy Awards.

1929-1968: Take your pick

Pre-MPAA, the Academy Awards were practically a wonderland of fantastic, family friendly movies ranging from serious dramas to comedies to animated fare. According to Time, to this day, the record for the most Oscars ever won by a single person (22) belongs to none other than Walt Disney, the patron saint of family audiences all over the world.

Its old hat to say it, but they dont make em like they used to.

That doesnt mean some parental guidance isn't needed when navigating films from this period, including to steer away from things such as bloody battlefield dismemberments in the 1961 Oscars four-time winner Spartacus or the overt sexuality of 1968s Best Picture nominee The Graduate. But to put it mildly, there were a lot more options back in the day.

1969: 'Oliver!'

According to MSN, this 1968 film is the first and only Best Picture winner to be rated G, and it is still the definitive adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story unless you really like your animated, talking cats and dogs. British actor Ron Moody, who passed away last year, is particularly great as Fagin.

1970: 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'

This Best Picture nominee is one of the greatest Westerns ever made. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" was initially rated M but has been re-rated to PG. The M rating was removed in the 1970s due to confusion over its meaning, according to "Sex and Violence: The Hollywood Censorship Wars" by Tom Pollard.

Newman, Redford and director George Roy Hill teamed up again for 1974s Best Picture Winner The Sting, another must-see, family friendly movie.

1977/1982: 'Rocky'/'Chariots of Fire'

Who doesnt love a good sports movie? In fact, Sylvester Stallone recently snagged his second-ever acting nomination, once again for the role of Rocky Balboa, in 2015s Creed.

Rocky was the highest-grossing movie of 1976 and managed to beat heavy hitters such as Taxi Driver and All the Presidents Men to walk away with the 1977 award for Best Picture.

The Best Picture winner of 1982, Chariots of Fire, is for runners what Rocky is for boxers, right down to the super catchy theme song.

1978/1982: 'Star Wars'/'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

One of the frequent criticisms of the Oscars is that they ignore whole genres: musicals, comedies, action/adventure, sci-fi and, basically, crowd pleasers in general. Because of that, people sometimes forget that both Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark were nominated for Best Picture (in 1978 and 1982, respectively). Neither film won, but a nomination is nothing to sneeze at.

1992: 'Beauty and the Beast'

Though the 1991 film was released in the same year as The Silence of the Lambs and a trio of other R-rated movies, Beauty and the Beast's nomination for Best Picture stood out like an oasis in a wasteland of cannibals, mobsters, political assassinations and other potentially unsavory elements. More than that, it also marked the first time in history that an animated movie had been nominated for Best Picture, according to, and it helped pave the way for a Best Animated Feature category a decade later.

1996: Almost the entire category

In a strange year for the Oscars, of the five Best Picture nominees, three of them Apollo 13, Il Postino and Sense and Sensibility were rated PG and one Babe (yes, the one about the pig) was rated G . In other words, for the first time in more than 25 years, families could actually cast their own votes at home with a reasonable amount of accuracy.

Naturally, though, it was the R-rated historical epic Braveheart that took home the statuette, forever cementing in peoples minds the image of Scotlands national hero, William Wallace, as a blue-faced, mud-caked, kilt-wearing champion of the lower class as opposed to the bearded, armor-clad, landed gentry he actually was.

2000: 'The Straight Story'

Proving it doesnt take an R rating to tell grown-up stories, David Lynchs 1999 movie about an old man traveling cross-country on a lawnmower received just one nomination, a very well-deserved Best Actor nomination for Golden-Age Hollywood stuntman-turned-actor Richard Farnsworth.

2002: The new category

Nothing has given family friendly movies a foothold at the Oscars like the creation in 2002 of the Best Animated Feature category. While its definitely simplistic to equate animated features with family friendly movies, this category has frequently been the only thing keeping large chunks of the awards shows potential at-home audience interested.

2004: 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'

The epic conclusion to Peter Jacksons original Middle-earth trilogy was the first movie ever nominated in more than 10 categories that went on to win every single one of the awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, ultimately tying with Ben-Hur and Titanic with 11 total wins.

2010: 'Avatar'

Sure, its basically Dances with Wolves on an alien planet, and hardcore sci-fi fans have every right to be angry over James Camerons habitual borrowing from sci-fi authors such as Poul Anderson, but 2009s Avatar is a kind of spectacle movie that doesnt come along often. In the 2010 awards, Cameron was pitted against his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, who won both Best Picture and Best Director that year for The Hurt Locker, while the Oscar statuette proved to be Camerons real unobtanium."

2010/2011: 'Up'/'Toy Story 3'

Pixar pulled off the near impossible: getting a Best Picture win for an animated movie not once, but twice in a row with Up in 2010 and Toy Story 3 in 2011. Now that Disney has stepped up its game, the race is on to see which studio will be the first to win awards for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture.

2012: 'The Artist'

A black-and-white silent comedy? Maybe they do make em like they used to just not often, and rarely this well. The attitude toward this Best Picture winner has soured somewhat in recent years (as frequently happens), and OK, maybe it wasnt the absolute best movie to debut in 2011, but anyone who hasnt seen it definitely should. Dont let the PG-13 rating scare you, either. Its pretty mild.

2013: 'Life of Pi'

Ang Lee took home Best Director but lost out to R-rated Argo for Best Picture. The real standout of this movie, though, is the gorgeous computer animation work done by Rhythm & Hues Studios, a visual effects company that was forced to file bankruptcy shortly before winning an Oscar for its work on Pi.

2016: 'The Martian'

The well-received adaptation of Andy Weirs love letter to science doesnt stand much of a chance of winning Best Picture this year, and Ridley Scott wasnt even nominated for Best Director (snub!), but The Martian is still a standout not only because of its rating but also thanks to the remarkably optimistic outlook it espouses a far cry from the dystopian sci-fi were used to these days. Not since Apollo 13 has a movie managed to make STEM subjects so cool.

PG-13-rated "Bridge of Spies" and "Brooklyn" have also received nominations for this year's Best Picture award.
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