Okay, crucify me: I have no interest in seeing Lady Bird anytime soon.
Same goes for The Post and del Toro’s latest where the lady hooks up with a fish.
Awards season has officially arrived, its legion of critically-acclaimed films bombarding theaters. As a lover of film, this time of year of has always been exciting for me because the art form is increasingly celebrated in media and, as it has always seemed, the best of the best is released November–January.
The experience is familiar; Meryl Streep delivers another knock-out performance, a big-name director sweeps another Oscar and another movie I’ve never heard of is the must-see flick of the year.
Blame it on another semester of liberal arts screen studies– or perhaps it is the crumbling Hollywood façade exposed in 2017– but this year I can decidedly say that I’m over it. More and more I realize the persons responsible for pushing certain films to the spotlight are a small, elitist group of individuals. Acclaim is consistently determined by the same ring of people whose vision of merit is narrow. That narrow vision is not necessarily reflective of the average moviegoer, or even a movie-lover outside of the industry.
Take again, for example, Lady Bird. Critics across the board are creaming their jeans over Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age piece, earning it a nearly perfect Meteoritic score and a ripe Tomato on the infamous Tomatometer.
Now, my misgivings about Lady Bird may lack validity– after all, I haven’t seen the film. My feelings could inevitably change in the future. Even without viewing Lady Bird, I am happy that a film with prominent female narrative is taking the reins of Oscar season.
However, I believe modern audiences should not be won on favorable politics; Lady Bird does not automatically take home the Globe for being a relatable dramedy about women. Because, frankly, there are other films that fit the bill of poignant, bittersweet tale of adolescence– films that are as good as Lady Bird without all the hype.
A complicated mother-daughter relationship? Try Drew Barrymore’s roller derby drama Whip It (2008) or Mermaids (1990) starring the legendary Cher. An endearing female-centric coming of age tale? Watch Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl or a little movie called Pretty in Pink (1986). Hell, watch Crossroads (2002) if you’re in the mood for a little music.
My point being, the laurels and star-ratings attached to some films come tacked on more often than they are earned. Lady Bird, crafted as Greta Gerwig’s humble, semi-autobiographical passion project, has the production credit of Scott Rudin– a producer of an Academy Award nominated film every year since 2006. This sort of head-start is no secret; the who of the film industry is blatantly more influential than the work itself.
Take The Disaster Artist as another example. A Seth Rogen produced, Franco brothers vision of the worst movie ever made… I repeat: the same acting troop responsible for This Is the End (2013) reimagined the making of the film community’s favorite joke, The Room (2003). Nuts.
Because the National Board of Review deemed The Disaster Artist as a top film of the year, suddenly the dudes from Pineapple Express (2008) are 2017’s Hollywood heroes. The Disaster Artist may be a meta, ironic delight– but take it for just that. Being blindly led to a film by the hand of industry big-names seriously distorts the moviegoing experience. A solid, truly good body of work gassed up as a monumentally great body of work stacks the deck against other films of its caliber.
I follow my mother’s proverb closely; just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, it doesn’t mean I should jump too. Critical acclaim operates like a rip current in that respect– dragging us all along with sparkling New York Times reviews and approval from the faceless big guys.
While nominated films may be on trend, the true impact is made in theater seats. Our culture’s most important movies of 2017 are significantly different than media gatekeeper’s picks. When waves upon waves of audiences leave theaters inspired by films like Get Out and Wonder Woman without the payoff of industry accolades, it’s discouraging. I personally feel like this cycle cheapens films released outside of awards season, shoving excellent films into boxes they don’t belong in.
I’ve had it with Hollywood elitism because it disenfranchises the opinion of the every day movie consumer and, honestly, is getting too boring to for me to continue pretending I’m interested.