Art Vs Commerce: Oscar Bait and Endgames (2010s)

[Clears throat, taps conductor’s podium]

One post more
Of my trek through Oscar history
Why I did this, still a mystery
We’re at the point of Oscar flicks
When studios all know the tricks
One post more

Bland films win to our dismay
Better nominees they’re ducking.
(One post more)
But then they’ll go the other way
Korean films, or monster fucking.

One more post of trying to find
(“Other Events” got really long)
Some logic to all of these Oscars
(Couldn’t stick to the deep cuts…)
Have I gone Beautiful Mind
(How I miss Yancey Cravat)
Or are the patterns truly there

One more post of duelling flicks
(And no more Joint Champions)
Only two more that I’m dreading
(Sometimes the hits got really bad)
Sadly lots of biopics
(And a little Michael Bay)
Come and finish this with meeeee

The past is done
Endgame is here

One post more

Decade’s full of superheroes,
A new Star War had begun,
But a bunch of rabid fanboys
Ruin both for everyone.

One post more

Disney runs amuck
Buys up all they can
Knows we’re all awestruck
For Marvel’s Iron Man
Princesses still sell
Pixar always scores
But why make a new thing when you can buy Star Wars

I once ranked all of these movies
(Even those that didn’t win)
So we’ll check in how they rate
(Hurt Locker was fiftieth)
Some of these are legit classics
(Can Casablanca be unthroned?)
Some are blatant Oscar bait
That’s right, King’s Speech
My fight’s with yoooooouuuuu

One post more

Four franchises hit their Endgame
We said goodbye to movie friends,
But nostalgia-based revivals
Prove that brand names never end.
(One post more)
Fans can be a gift,
Fanboys are a curse,
Now they won’t shut up
About the Snyderverse
(God curse all the toxic fanboys)
Next Oscars are not far away
Eight joyless films compete that day

So now we’ll all revisit
What 2010s films had in store

Ten more years
One more post

ONE POST MOOOOOORE

Next Page: The Baitiest Oscar Bait that ever Baited

Art Vs Commerce: End of History (1960s)

Okay. We made it through the 1950s, a decade in American history revered by middle-class white cishet male Christians, and rightfully seen by everyone who doesn’t fit that description as a patriarchal ethnostate dystopia, and wow but their choices in movies backed that up. But it’s the 60s now: the early days of the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights movement, war protests, hippies, rock music gets better, it’s a decade of change and upheaval.

So how, if at all, did the movies reflect that? Well, off the top of my head, when the decade started the Hays Code was officially still in place, and by the end an X-rated movie won Best Picture, so… bit of a shift there. In fact, in honour of that, this decade’s Recurring Bit will track how Hollywood’s self-censorship gradually collapsed with “What’s Good, Hays Code?” Parallel to that, this is the decade that the old-school studio system finally died out, and New Hollywood was born. It was, in a way, the end of history.

Sword-and-sandal epics didn’t go away in the 60s, in fact we’ll cover one soon enough, but the big ones did get dramatically less “Yay Jesus” and the Oscars seemed to be kind of over them. Sure some got best picture nominations, because we still have a couple decades of the Academy thinking “Look if that many people watched it, it must be worth a nomination,” but when it came to handing out the big prize it’s like they were saying “No, we gave Best Picture to Ben-Hur, now we’re done, that was the deal,” and went back to throwing the trophy as far away from a biblical epic as they could.

And one correction to my last entry: I was misinformed about when the Three Stooges retired. Apparently they had a resurgence in 1958, swapped Joe for Curly Joe, and that trio kept going all the way to 1970. Look that’s not a major part of film history, frankly the Curly Joe years aren’t even a major part of Stooges history, but I reported a false fact and felt the need for a correction.

Onwards.

Next Page: Sword and Sandal epics get gritty, but the Academy doesn’t care

Art Vs Commerce: How Green Was the Golden Age? (1940s)

And we are back for another decade of cinema history: the Best Pictures and box office rulers of the 1940s. Last installment was a dream for screenwriters, for it not only provided the looming presence of the Rise of Disney, but gave us a hero in Frontier Journalist and Vigilante Preacher Yancey Cravat, Attorney at Law, and a villain in C-grade Groucho Marx/Blackface Enthusiast Eddie Cantor. But as we leave the 30s behind us, it’s sadly time to say goodbye to impossibly noble Yancey, and thankfully also to Eddie.

You know, unless there’s a really good reason to bring them up.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the Golden Age of Hollywood was all about the producers. Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, that handsy son-of-a-bitch Louis B. Mayer, these were seen as the men behind the movie. Today, it’s the director who gets that acclaim, with the exception of Hollywood’s reigning king, Kevin Feige. Look at Argo. Did anyone make a fuss about the producers? No, and one of them was George goddamn Clooney. The possible first large exception to the producer being a bigger deal than the director came to Hollywood this decade, and we’ll talk about him very soon, but for now, it’s Goldwyn, Selznick, DeMille, and Mayer’s world.

What’s interesting to me about the 1940s is that black and white was still the default. Gone With the Wind was in full Technicolor, Wizard of Oz was mostly Technicolor, so obviously that was an option, but plenty of films we’re about to talk about, in this entry and the next one, were still black and white. I find this peculiar given how fast silent films dried up in the wake of The Jazz Singer. This blog series covers 166 films, and only three were silent: Wings in the late 20s, when sound was in its infancy; City Lights in the very early 30s, because Charlie Chaplin was loath to adapt with the times; and one in the 2010s of all damn places because someone thought it would be clever. But black and white stayed the standard for over a decade after Gone With the Wind.

(Yes I’m aware black and white film is still a thing but for good or ill it’s an aesthetic choice rather than a practical one, The Lighthouse wasn’t trying to save money.)

So while sound was an industry game-changer that every studio rushed to incorporate, the the 40s colour was more like 3D or IMAX now. Not every movie does them, fewer still use the right cameras the whole time, because that’s added expense, and you need to be sure you’re getting it back. The big tentpoles might shoot in 3D, or just get the post-production conversion, but your Get Outs and John Wicks, for example, do not.

So, if colour is only for the Big Shows, how would World War II and the post-war era treat cinematic tastes?

At least one very high high this decade, and a spectacular low, and they were the same year.

Next Page: The Master of Suspense and The King of Charm