Upon seeing this week’s headlines indicating that the Los Angeles and Toronto Film Critics Associations and the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) had all lifted “The Social Network” as 2010′s best film, a question leaped to mind: what?! That?!
Yes. The masses typically highlight conventional, studio-produced films as “the best.” Those films also typically have brawny budgets lifting their wings.
A different question, one of money and exposure or hype pops to mind as much as the incredulousness. So which criteria did these groups use? How much of the choice came down to the intensity of the promotion? Was there some budget-based bias?
When a film critic hasn’t seen a film, and when he or she has scant if any interest, they’re a fool to write about it. Hoards are preoccupied by and have latched onto Facebook, fascinated with its lifestyle utility. People are hungry to see the backstory, particularly if that boasts dirt.
A vital question: why don’t the New York film critics, in that metropolis that hosts New York University’s film school (i.e., a storied training ground for indie film-makers: Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch, among other lesser icons), at least consider an independent movie, a phenomenal one? The NYFCC is the one organization that stands out from its East Coast and Canadian peers by declaring, on the history page of his website, in part, to “…have consistently recognized, championed and defended films that may otherwise have been slighted by audiences and the entertainment industry.” Neither the Toronto nor the Los Angeles groups’ websites distinguish themselves with that stance on behalf of film art.
But Metropolis’ film critics circle has stood up for a film that needs no one to stand for it.
Hmm. What should a viewer make of that when the circle lauds a movie that suffered from no want for publicity? That’s ironic. It’s incongruent. After you’ve lived long enough, you learn, accept or resign yourself to the fact that organizations don’t always walk their talk. But it would be nice.
Out of a few engrossing independent stories, at least one stands out: “Winter’s Bone.” This isn’t a story many people have yet seen: a young resilient, perseverant woman must engage an odyssey in order to keep her family together, even while some of that family clash with her.
This story made its Minnesota premier this summer, around early June. What an awesome treat. It’s a new, innovative story about a young woman whose strength is way beyond her years, beyond the call of family. Also, “Winter’s Bone” was made by a woman. As a feminist, the chronic, persistent want for strong, engrossing female characters is old and tired – just backwards.
People will say that independent movies are just less popular or less profitable than profit-oriented ones. Reportedly according to Motion Picture Association of America’s numbers from early 2005, “approximately 15% of US domestic box office money came from independent films.” 2010′s Academy Awards broadcast had an average of about 41.3 million viewers over its more than three-hour-long program.
With the U.S. population at 310 million that stacks up to about 13% of America that watched the Oscars. An equal percentage of film-lovers seem to attend commercial movies as attend independent ones. Even if twice as many movie lovers attend movie theaters as watch the Oscars, that still connotes that commercial movies aren’t bludgeoning independent movies by the numbers.