Monday, February 27, 2012


There was a time they were called movies. As the audience appeal started going down, they began calling them films. When things really tank they call it “cinema.”

I didn't watch the Oscars show last night. I've never watched an entire show, and haven't even tuned in to part of one for a decade or more. Rich, narcissistic, arrogant jerks giving each other prizes for doing their job just doesn't interest me. I didn't care for the waste-of-time yearly awards at offices I worked at on occasion.

But I did have to laugh at this particular bit from Bill Katz, courtesy Powerline:
And how quickly we forget how Hollywood has declined.

Consider this year’s nine nominees for best picture, expanded from five several years ago by the bean counters in the business: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse. They’re allowed up to ten, but apparently couldn’t find a tenth.

Now consider the best picture nominees for 1939: Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, Dark Victory, Love Affair, Ninotchka, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Of Mice and Men, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz.

I rest my case.
I haven't seen any of the movies nominated this year, and only Moneyball interests me for viewing. I've seen almost all of the movies listed for 1939 and they range from dazzling entertainment to incredibly good movies. That really was a banner year - which one would you choose? Sure, Wizard of Oz isn't great filmmaking but it was groundbreaking and amazing. Mr Smith is a bit sappy and manipulative, but its a classic for a reason. I doubt even one movie put out this year will have the staying power all ten of those films from 1939 have to this day.

If Hollywood wants to know why they are losing status and viewers, look no further than this comparison and the price of a ticket these days.


Eric said...

War Horse was a great movie with a classic feel, but it was the only one on that list I've seen.

Another problem is that even when great movies are made, we don't really have the cultural homogeny to make them classics anymore. A movie like 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' would get some critical acclaim today, and maybe win an Oscar, but few people would see it.

Good stories, well told, just don't capture the public's attention like they used to. It has to be flashy and extreme, and we are even getting desensitized to that.

Philip said...

Mr. Katz pretty much also nailed it when he said that though the movie moguls weren't exactly paragons of virtue, they knew how to put on a show and keep the audience asking for more. That back then the objective was the movie, not the 'deal' to package the movie.