2010-2019 in review
This time last decade, and doesn’t that make me feel old, we did our top 10’s of the decade. However, as we career towards 2020 none of us felt especially inspired, or even able, to create another top 10. This led to some discussion as to why we feel like this, what’s changed in the last 10 years other than us being older, albeit not necessarily wiser?
Buckle up this is a long one
There are basically three hypothesis to test here as to the source of our (well, my) ennui. Firstly, is cinema worse now than it was in 2010. Secondly, is cinema about the same, but we’ve (dare I say it) matured? Finally, has the world changed? I, obviously, have no interest in writing a PhD thesis on this, so I’m only going to skim over some key facts- if I have missed things, then I apologise.
Regarding the quality of film, a brief potted history of the last decade may be useful. Cinema has always moved in trends (Horror is the great guide for this- think Postmodernism, followed by J-Horror, followed by Torture Porn) but I honestly think I’m just not that interested in the big “trends” of the 21st Century. The rise of Marvel started way back in 2008 with Iron Man, and the latter half of this decade has seen a plethora of identikit “OK” Marvel movies dominate the box office. Don’t get me wrong, there’s basically nothing wrong with these films, they’re all fine, but very few of them could honestly be classed as better than that. Furthermore, they are all formula movies, sharing the exact same story beats, and the exact same pros and cons- the typically weak Marvel Villain is a trope in its own right nowadays as I struggle to recall a legitimately memorable bad guy- hell, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 managed to waste Kurt Russell. I’m simply just not that interested in cookie cutter cinema. Scorsese was right.
This comes down to franchise fatigue. There are so many franchises out there now and practically every blockbuster type film seems insanely desperate to spawn its own series. Not to mention that we have older series coming back in totally depressing forms- looking at you Alien, and don’t think I can’t see you over there Star Wars. It all feels so uncreative and uninspiring.
Then there’s the wokeification of cinema. A shrill breed of millennial film “critic” (blogger) seems to dominate social media bitching about “representation” or some such drivel in film. I am fully aware of the irony of me throwing stones while living in a greenhouse here, by the way. The nadir of this “movement” managed to come twice- firstly with the furore over the shitty reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call– which was a bad movie in its own right but not worth the wailing and gnashing of teeth, let alone Paul Feig debasing himself defending it, and secondly with yet more online noise when Brie Larsen said something stupid this year when promoting her totally forgettable Captain Marvel. However Hollywood tries to play it seems to fail- whatever they attempt brings approbation from some corner of the twitterverse. I am by no means a right wing Freeze Peach advocate, but nor am I a rabid SJW. Nevertheless, I’ve reached the point with the final Star Wars efforts where I just want the internet know it alls to SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LET PEOPLE MAKE THE FILM THEY WANT TO MAKE. Until this shrill “right on” censorship fucks off, cinema is going to tend towards the bland and uninspiring.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t rays of light- Paddington and Paddington 2 stand out as nearly perfect adaptations of fondly beloved childhood favourites, while there are many strong dramas, nevertheless, overall, I don’t feel passionate enough about basically any film from the last 10 years to nail it on as best film of the decade the way I did with City of God.
So, to conclude, is cinema worse? I’m not sure. It’s not better, that’s for certain. Rather, I think it’s safer, more formulaic and less inspiring.
Secondly, have I changed? Am I, to paraphrase Trainspotting, getting old, unable to hack it any more and waiting to shuffle off my mortal coil?
Well, I can’t rule it out. I’m now a parent, homeowner living in the countryside and in my forties. I’m certainly over the half way point of the traditional human life span. However, I don’t think my interests have shifted that much- I really enjoyed watching Gremlins with my little lad over Christmas, for instance (and Gremlins 2 is underrated- I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL). But there’s no doubt that I haven’t been to the cinema with anywhere near the frequency as I used to go. In part, this is because there’s rarely anything worth the bother of traipsing to the nearest cinema, not to mention how expensive it is. It just seems like such a fucking hassle to organise babysitting, drive miles, pay through the nose to then sit through something as unremarkable as Avengers 9: We’re down to the D-List now.
I’ve always been lazy, I won’t deny it, but the responsibilities of adulthood (full time work, raising a kid) simply mean that spending hours sitting in the cinema isn’t something that I can do with any regularity. As such, I’ve missed loads and loads of films that I’m sure would benefit from the big screen (if I’ve even seen them at home).
Finally, has the world changed? Are things fundamentally different now from a decade ago?
There’s one big change that I’ve already partially alluded to above- the rise of Social Media has given every single cretin in the universe a voice. This has lead to a decline in attention spans and the over-analysis of every single minutiae. But this isn’t the only change.
Back in 2010 streaming was nascent. Amazon Prime wasn’t a thing, and Netflix didn’t have any worldwide penetration. That isn’t the case now, and with Disney entering the fray too, there are even more services clamouring for attention in the comfort of your own home. Going to the cinema is such a shitty experience for the most part, that it’s very very tempting to just park off on your own couch with a beer and binge watch some shitty series (I did this with The Witcher recently).
Furthermore, video games have grown more sophisticated by the year, more addictive, and more successful (GTA V is now the most profitable piece of media ever). In many cases (Nier Automata, say) the story line and scripting in video games simply outclasses whatever shite is in your local multiplex- and you can shoot things too. As games get nearer to photorealism, they are absolutely going to overtake Hollywood, if they haven’t done so already.
So, to summarise- it’s not one thing, it’s a combination of all of them. Cinema feels more uninteresting, I’m definitely getting old, and there’s much more competition for attention out there. As such, is it any wonder that we struggled to put together a top ten?
So, as to what is the best film of the decade in my opinion? Paddington 2. Don’t @ me.
Happy New Year, and, indeed, Happy New Decade,
my thoughts on your post are these:
I agree, Movies have become so bland and unappealing why even go anymore? I’ve seen 3 new movies this year and one of them was at home and one The rise of Mary Sue, was terrible. Its the reason i get my entertainment now almost exclusively from TV. Its just much better and I can watch whenever I want.
I’m tired of “cinematic universes” rebooting 80’s franchise, Don’t think you were going to escape notice Terminator. And I am oh so very tired of funny book movies. For every good one Logan, Deadpool 1 there are like 10 shitty Marvel or DC movies. At least DC tried to differentiate itself from Marvel but failed then caved to the Fanboys whining.
Now of course changes in life are gong to affect your outlook. i don’t have kids but this past decade I was sort of busy doing other things and that has changed how i consumed movies. i use to love hitting the theater on Friday when a new release came out. maybe alone or with some friends or whoever i was seeing at the time. Then grabbing some dinner and thinking or talking about what I/we saw. It was great. but then people move, break up or are on extended deployments. friends get married, have kids and I’m stuck more on my own, so why go any more?
Oh the internet, more and more, I am going with the grumpy old guy thought things better before the internet. Now i use twitter a lot, Jarv can attest to that, mostly to make fun of bad movies and TV but i don’t take myself or my opinions seriously, unlike some of these ass clowns. If you ever read any of my GoT arguments with people you would see that. Now was I guilty of trolling? Sure was that was the point, but the arguments always boiled down to a defensive “you just don’t like popular things to be cool” well no I don’t like bad things because they are you know bad. Eventually i was vindicated and gloated like sum bitch.
So to end this mess just because you can say something on the internet take a moment think should I say it would go a long way in cleaning that cesspool up.
You just had to go and mentioned The Witcher didn’t you Jarv? I guess you missed me kicking it repeatedly last week. Christ was that thing structured so horrendously bad it made it near unwatchable.
Hehe. I saw it.
Now you’re getting me on a Witcher roll. it ever so marginally got better when they stopped trying to be GoT and said fuck it lets go nuts. Plus that stupid Witcher song was an ear worm and a half and i found my self whistling it at odd moments.
I’ll elaborate when I’m not 6 drinks in (and climbing). But you pretty much nailed it.
Happy new year to you Droid.
I’ve been going over some lists of the “best” movies of the 2010s to see if it sparked anything for me to make a choice and man are there some laughable picks like SW, Mad Max Fury Road, Marvel. Then there ones I’ve never saw or heard of which were over half of every list so after pondering on it some he’s my choice for best movie of the decade:
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and not just because i re-watched it last night. Its a movie that stuck with me since i saw it last summer and its one i think about often. Plus its just a great movie.
One my favorite movies of the year and decade. Stunned I liked a QT movie as much as I did that one.
As someone else said, OUATIH is the type of movies QT should have been making after JACKIE BROWN.
I absolutely agree this is the kind of movie OT should’ve been making. Unfortunately he chose a different path…
Great piece Jarv. For me cinema has undeniably gotten worse, and there is stats to support this. Ticket sales & box office has gone down, while share of that box office is going more and more to a smaller group (the Big 5 Stufios) who are making fewer films. Really what we are seeing is the consolidation of film audiences like we’ve seen under Amazon or Walmart for retail or airlines but this time around film brands.
People will say this is the market deciding, but I’ll disagree. For one, the reason these movies are made is to appeal to foreign audiences, so really we have the Chinese audiences getting things greenlit instead off our own domestic audiences. How is the market deciding when the US market is basically ignored?
Secondly, the studios making these blockbusters, especially Disney, isn’t going by what audiences want as much as what is most profitable for their shareholders. As Jodie Foster said, this is like fracking, going for short term gains while ruining the environment in the long term and turning off fans. Yes many people want to see these movies, but you’re burning bridges with those who don’t or getting sick of them, and leaving them no alternative.
Finally, often these films get more screen space is because studios like Disney wield massive power in the marketplace, pushing out alternative films. Disney is making demands like promises of playing films (even the less appealing) on a certain number of screens for a certain length, and if you don’t comply you want get one of their big blockbusters. This kind of extortion limits the chances of profitability of riskier movies.
In short, the changes in technology and business structure have all but guaranteed cinema will get worse.
All that and they are just making shitty movies.TV is where its at right now but even that is starting to trend down with everything trying to be “prestige”
I think TV has also jumped the shark tank. Theyve made these shows to disposable & forgettable for a lot of this supposedly “prestige” stuff. Really it’s just peak TV, with quantity being more important than quality imo.
I thought about commenting on the business side of things too, with the reliance on tentpoles and franchises and whatnot, but I wasn’t certain. It seems very much to me that Hollywood is making the mistakes the music industry made in the early part of the 21st century. Boring, identikit, short-term sales driven product dominating, leading to massive initial sales and then precipitous drop off.
Yeah they’ve made a release formula where a film needs to be a huge hit right away, which requires massive marketing and name recognition, which leads to less risky films being made because too much money is going into them to take chances.
Yeah I have a hard time Remembering what year what Marvel Movie came out, and I’m a bigger fan of the Franchise thingy than you guys are I am guessing, but sure–I’d prefer more movies like say 1917 appears to be. More original stuff. I can’t give you a decent 10 best of the decade because fuck it, it’s just the same things we yak about all the time here.
As for 80s nostalgia I’m all for it, just do it the right way. If you can’t, don’t bother FFS. I can’t say I’m huge into 90’s stuff but it’s going to be the go to thingy sooner or later.
Nice one, Jarv.
I’ve got nothing monumental to add. I’ve certainly not seen nearly enough films to pick out the best of the decade. Gonna have to sort out my internet and move to streaming; I miss the physical media rentals. The Marvel movies entertain (the ones I’ve seen, that is) but once the credits roll they’re done; it’s the fast-food analogy, fine when you’re eating but still hungry when it’s gone. I don’t necessarily agree with Scorsese but I understand his comments. I watched ‘Annihilation’, it’s arguable whether or not it’s good (I thought so) but the difference is it wasn’t gone out of my head straight after, hour later and I’m still turning the movie over in there. Those kinds of film seem few and far between these days.
I seem to have developed new movie-apathy, feel like I’ve seen it all before, particularly action films. I’m keen to have a look at ‘Parasite’, ‘Color Out Of Space’, hopeful for Nolan’s ‘Tenet’, looking forward to ‘Dune’, but otherwise… Another ‘Batman’, more comic book characters, crossovers, a remake of ‘The Thing’… Really, ‘The Thing’, is that necessary? I dunno, maybe it is just me getting old…