Since the early 80s, when New Hollywood collapsed on itself, film has been on decline. Studios demanded more and greater control over their films and many legendary directors of the 70s like Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman struggled in the preceding decade. In the preceding decades, movies have become more and more prolific, with mostly standard action pictures and comedies dominating theaters. For those like myself, it’s largely unsatisfying.
What annoys me is that a majority of films we see today are essentially the same. This year alone we have a few superhero movies (Iron Man 3, Man of Steel), animated features (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Turbo), and high name profile comedies (This Is The End, Grown Ups 2), as with last year and the year before that and so on. If you looked at all the movies I mentioned, all are essentially sequels, reboots, or based on existing material (with the exceptions of This Is The End and Turbo) and most of them received either mixed or negative reviews (Grown Ups 2 has a 19 on Metacritic). That’s not necessarily a criticism to say (This Is The End is currently in my top 5 for 2013 thus far), but originality appears to be scarce these days.
Still, calling cinema as a whole today bad today would be wrong. There are plenty of great filmmakers working today, like Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coens, and Michael Haneke, plus Martin Scorsese is probably the lone director consistently making strong films since the 70s. But the strongest movies these days seem to come from independent or foreign markets, where directors have more creative control. It essentially is a continuation of New Hollywood, except on a lower budget. Moviemakers like Richard Linklater and Kathryn Bigelow can exert more effort in their work, creating films as great as the recent Before Midnight and Zero Dark Thirty. And I think some recent movies, like The Tree of Life and Holy Motors, have strong potential to be future classics.
But while many indie movies did well, they’re often dwarfed but the massive productions Hollywood makes. Take this for example: Beasts of the Southern Wild grossed less than a fiftieth of what The Avengers made in 2012. Every major movie these days seems to have a budget ranging in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which has resulted in some massive flops, like The Lone Ranger or White House Down. Recently, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the two biggest names in Hollywood, predicted that the movie industry would be only dominated only by enormous commercial movies (Spielberg even said his critical and box-office hit Lincoln was close to being on HBO). I’m unsure whether Spielberg’s prediction that big scale movies will only be played in theaters (though it is kind of true right now), but it’s a possibility.
But what do you think of the state of contemporary cinema?