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They just want to be left alone... unless you're buying furniture. And yet, their quiet culture has permeated Hollywood since as far back as 1955 when Ernest Borgnine played Stadt, the Amish farmer, in Violent Saturday. Whether they are central to the story, a simple plot device or used for comic effect, it's time someone took note of the Amish and gave credit where credit is due. (They're not going to do it: They don't even watch movies.)
So, I'm introducing the Ishmael Awards, a prize created solely to celebrate the Amish on the silver screen. The envelopes, please.
The Ishmael for Best Amish Spring Break Movie goes to...
Sex Drive. In a surprise upset, the documentary Devil's Playground doesn't get the statuette. There's a new Rumspringa in town. Sex Drive, set for release this October, is a teen comedy that stars Seth Green as Ezekiel, an Amish mechanic that likes to rock. Green told MTV, "I'm like Daniel Day Lewis when I prep, so I was out in Lancaster for a few months just tilling soil, working hard to raise a few barns. I took a few wives." Expect bad beard jokes and Amish girls gone wild.
The Ishmael for Best Achievement in Science Fiction goes to...
Deadly Reactor (1989). It's a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by the Amish and they're not so nice anymore. Can you blame them? It was probably our technology that caused things to go bad.
Honorable mention: Holy Matrimony (1994). It's a comedy, but it's directed by Leonard Nimoy.
The Ishmael for Best Sports Movie goes to...
Kingpin (1996). Now we know why Barak Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania -- he was courting the highly sought after Amish swing vote.
The Ishmael for Lifetime Achievement goes to...
Ernest Borgnine. He played Amish more than once; in Violent Saturday and also in Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing (1981). The latter is not at all good, but Borgnine's back as Isaiah Schmidt, the leader of a religious cult that is considered to be ultra-conservative Amish.
The Ishmael for Best Picture goes to...
Witness (1985). This is the mother of all Amish films. It really put the Amish on the map -- much to their chagrin. There's the great barn-raising scene and the climatic moment when they save the day by not fighting back. Regardless of how the Amish really are, this idealized portrayal is how we, the "English," like to see them.
Watch the movie that gave the Amish their big break. For a complete schedule of Witness on AMC, click here.