It’s always an easy go-to for film fans to declare THIS year or THAT year is the greatest ever for a genre or for film in general. Or even better, to declare that THIS IS THE WORST ERA EVER for movies or a genre.
It’s low hanging fruit.
Sure, you can rattle off reasons for one way or the other and can point to trends that pop up in the industry along with the movies that come out and say AH, SEE, THAT’S WHAT I WAS SAYING!
There are definitely ‘better’ times and ‘worse’ times but so much of it falls under opinion that there need to be parameters to really work within.
OK, sure, it’s the best/worst time.
It’s harder to make movies?
Movies are more corporate?
Sequels are taking over?
There are more unique voices in movie making?
There are more stories being told from more varied sources?
Films are not just by White folks and for White folks?
Take both groups, bad and good, and they both describe THIS moment in the time of film.
See what I mean, you have to put fences around your statements and the more fencing you put, the more you can prove out your statement but the fewer cattle you’ll have on your ranch.
You can get absurd and say – this is the best year ever for SCREAM sequels.
Well, there WAS a SCREAM sequel, and it was pretty good (in my mind it was, but hey, that’s an opinion!) so one CAN make that statement but it’s sort of still an opinion.
You can say it though.
We hear all the time how the 1970’s were the best time for films because it was an era of the wunderkinds, the young male filmmakers that set the plate for the decades to come. They introduced the blockbusters and the spectacle and they were films of raw power.
The ‘70’s were a good era for films.
With the social strife, the political weirdness, and the changing of the guard in Hollywood.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, HALLOWEEN, JAWS, EXORCIST, those were all from the ‘70’s.
And there were more.
It was a powerful time and a powerful time for movies.
But it was also a time of White men in power.
It was a time when a handful of men were the peacocks strutting their stuff and while they produced some BRILLIANT films they were also the ones dictating the decade’s film dialogue to a great degree.
It’s amazing that they got the power to make the films they did but still and all, there was a studio system that dictated the rules to a great degree.
Now you can look at today and say, LORD, IT’S ALL SUPERHEROES AND SEQUELS and that’s true. I am not feeling superhero fatigue but then I also don’t JUST consume superhero movies. I don’t think it’s healthy that the studios get so myopic though and focus SOLELY on that subgenre. It isn’t new though. With genre was saw it with found footage where suddenly everything was found footage that came out. Or everything was a vampire film. Or everything was a possession film. We see this all the time. Studios go to where the money is. They go where the trend is. When LORD OF THE RINGS hit everyone wanted to make fantasy films.
This is definitely a time for COMFORT films.
That means sequels and franchises.
We just went through a rare, historic time of health risks, social upheaval, and political strife.
We want that warm, comfort food and those safe comfort movies.
It doesn’t mean those movies are bad (or good) but just that they are familiar.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
I will say that it’s not a great time for studio films because the studios are in their own sort of upheaval.
Wrangling with streaming.
Dealing with the results of market miscalculations and backing the wrong projects.
And the same thing that happens in every era – sure thing films tanking.
With big studio gobbling up other big studio it has made it harder to get original films made.
Not impossible but harder.
Even the streamers, who had had open wallets for a time, have started to look at bigger, easier films that are ‘sure things’.
Looks dark, right?
Until you also realize that this is an era where anyone with a camera or camera phone can make a movie.
There are film festivals for EVERY sort of movie out there which means opportunities to get your work seen.
There ARE many streamers now that are still looking for original content.
There ARE outlets for you to post your film online.
You can take your movie to conventions to get in front of fans looking for underground or indie films.
The industry isn’t as White anymore and we’re starting to see films and stories from people who never had the same opportunities not that long ago.
The remaining indie studios will still take a chance on films and ideas that are compelling.
Sure, it’s not easy to make a living in film but you can.
Like self publishing or putting your own music out, it’s hard, but it can be done.
I know of a filmmaker who works as far outside of the studio system as you can and they make their own movies, their own way, and they fund them with crowdfunding and personal funds.
They keep budgets down and make throwback movies that still appeal to some.
Are they getting rich?
Heck no, but they are doing what they love and making some sort of living at it.
And they couldn’t have done that in any other era this easily.
And all of this is part of the equation of THIS IS THE WORST ERA EVAH!
This is the era that gave us BLACK PHONE, and EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, ALL AT ONCE, and NOPE. Three films from this year. Three studio films that are GREAT. Want original? How about UNCUT GEMS. Or PARASITE. Or PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN.
Those are just a few recent films.
So I say, yeah, there are more sequels, there are more franchises, and there are more superheroes, but so what?
There was an era for cowboys, and musicals too.
It’s how the industry works.
There are still genuinely good and interesting works being made.
Love or hate it, TERRIFIER 2 has proven that there is an appetite for out of the box films that are presented in a unique way.
We still want the new and the different.
The movies we cinephiles may shrug off and cluck our tongues at may be the very things that inspire the next generation.
Having done several film festivals I can assure you that there are still hungry filmmakers around the world who are still telling unique stories.
They just aren’t getting the same funding as some of the bigs.
And here’s the thing, if you are an established filmmaker that has money, put your money where your mouth is and fund some indie films.
If you believe this era is so bad…help change it.
To me, it’s all the same.
There is good and bad in every era of film.
The ‘80s were fun but full of a glut of wanna-be slashers. BUT there was also THE HOWLING, and AMERICAN WEREWOLF, and FRIGHT NIGHT and NEAR DARK to name a few that are now classics. There are SO many movies being released, here and abroad, that to paint an era with a wide brush doesn’t serve anyone. You have to put up fencing to zero in on something like – Hollywood films are awful now – but again, I guarantee I can find a few gems in there that still got made, no matter how ‘bad’ of an era it is.
No era is without it’s junk.
Without it’s clutter.
Even the heralded ‘70s.
Like the glut of disaster movies.
Or the weird musicals that came out in that era.
Or the goofball comedies (looking at you on some of this, Disney).
If we want to cherry pick from the dumpster we can all do that.
But you have to play fair, and have to call out the bad AND the good, good AND bad.
For me, I just love movies.
Some are great, some are not so great.
I love them though.
And while I can look at something like CITIZEN KANE and see it’s a classic, and why it’s a classic, and still feel I am watching greatness, I would rather watch THE CAR, in all its corny glory, any day, because it’s a much more fun film and just speaks to a part of me that CK doesn’t.
And that’s fine.
It’s all fine.
And it’s great to debate and have these discussions because it serves as a reminder of what amazing stuff is out there that we still haven’t seen.
I write books too. Check the bookstore for something that might speak to you.