Was 2016 the beginning of the end for movies?By Cameron Johnson | 02/15/2017 12:01am
Last August, when asked to reflect on the quality of movies in 2016, a disgruntled Boston Globe film critic by the name of Ty Burr told Indiewire.com, “Someday we may look at 2016 as the year that movies died.” Burr specifically ranted about the “summer blockbusters” of the year, which he referred to as “Pure product from an industry that has lost its ability to speak in any meaningful way to an audience.”
Burr wasn’t entirely wrong. The Summer of 2016 made itself infamous by releasing some once in a lifetime stinkers like Warcraft, Suicide Squad, and Independence Day: Resurgence, a movie so terrible that it ruined the original Independence Day. Burr, understandably, looked at these movies and saw what he believed was the decline of movies. However, I believe that Burr was simply looking in the wrong place. I believe that rather than looking at the blockbuster films of Hollywood rather than the smaller, more independent films of today that he is doing himself a disservice and setting himself up for disappointment.
As recent as 2010, when you looked at what film critics considered the “best films of the year,” you would often see some of the top grossing movies of the year. Films like The Departed, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Slumdog Millionaire, all best picture winners, were some of the highest grossing films of the year that they came out. However, recent Oscar-winning films like Spotlight, Birdman, and Whiplash have all failed to make more than $50 Million domestically. This points to the fact that the “critically acclaimed” films of the year are no longer the best films of the year. In today’s film industry directors don’t need big budgets, A-list actors, and lustrous sets to make a great film, and while these films often don’t make as much money as the blockbuster films, they still are magnificent films.
Because of this trend, Burr is wrong for basing the quality of the film industry as a whole on what movies average movie-going audiences flock to over the summer. He should rather base his judgement of the film industry on the small, independent films that may not have the same box office as blockbusters. In 2016, if Burr wants to find a glimmer of hope in the industry, he can look at a film like Moonlight, a movie produced by one of the lesser known studios, A24, and directed by one of the lesser known directors, Barry Jenkins. Moonlight tells one of the most heart-warming, emotionally gripping stories of the year, and while it only had .03 percent of the budget that Independence Day: Resurgence had, it had 300 percent more quality. Films like Moonlight signal that the movie industry has not declined in quality, but rather the quality in the blockbusters of the year.
My response to Burr would be to not lose faith in the movie industry based solely on a small, well-funded section of the movie industry, and to put your faith in the quality independent films like Moonlight that bring life to what you may believe is a dying film industry.