Monday, February 10, 2014

Best of 2013: Hollywood Vs. Indiewood

In the past, I’ve made it clear that this is “The Best Hollywood Movies of the Year”, and so I’ve left off movies such as The Artist and Beasts of the Southern Wild, even thought I loved them, but this year, I think it’s time for that distinction to finally break down. Some of the upcoming movies would be eliminated by the same standard, but it seems more and more like an arbitrary distinction.

I made the distinction for a few reasons:
  • To hide the fact that (because of New York prices and the time demands of having a kid) I wasn’t making it out to a bunch of independent or foreign films anymore, and only seeing the sort of “fun movies” that one sees with non-cineaste friends.
  • Because most of the advice on this blog is vaguely aimed at selling screenplays, and Hollywood would be the buyer for those, not indiewood, so it seemed more productive to talk about those movies.
But there’s a few problems with this terminology these days: First of all, it’s getting harder to distinguish what’s a Hollywood movie. Actual “pure” Hollywood movies are so few in number and so uniformly bad that they’ve become a bizarre subculture at the fringes of the art form, despite sucking up 90% of the screens and 99% of the ticket sales.

They’re also increasingly cut off from serious consideration: Thankfully, we’ve passed that period where critics found it fashionable to complain that Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan movies weren’t getting enough Oscar attention. As opposed to predecessors in their series, you’re not going to hear any Oscar talk this year about The Hobbit 2 or Man of Steel, and I think we can all be thankful for that.

Last year, it looked like both Hollywood and Indiewood were dying of bloat, pretension and misanthropy, and it was pretty depressing. This year, the independent and semi-independent cinema has pulled out of the tailspin, but we’ll have to seen whether 2012 or 2013 is the anomaly.

So this year, for the first time, I won’t be limiting myself to “real” Hollywood movies, because that would seem perverse. The good news is that this means I can include five great runners-up before we even get to the top five, instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel as in previous years.

One last bit of throat clearing before we begin, making it clear what I haven’t seen: I already mentioned Frozen and both apocalypse comedies yesterday, but today let’s add Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Before Midnight, and Prisoners. I’ll try to get to them later!

Tomorrow: we begin the runners-up!

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