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Debating What It Means to Make Movies Today

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(Disney/Lucasfilm)
Stormtroopers from the much anticipated movie ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (Disney/Lucasfilm)

 

You can debate whether the best programs are on FX or HBO or available for streaming on Netflix or Amazon, but this much is clear: Right now, the quality of television programming is at an all-time high. (If you can’t find a show you genuinely love, you just aren’t looking hard enough.) As for movies? You’d be hard pressed to find any cinema buff arguing that today can match, for instance, the 1970s. That was a time when The Godfather and Taxi Driver and Chinatown and countless other classics made it seem like anything was possible for the medium. (And proved surprisingly profitable while doing so.)

Indeed, some might even argue today that while TV has reached a golden age, movies are all but dead. The Ringer‘s editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey set out to explore this notion in a lengthy piece that brings in a variety of people from the industry to offer their perspectives.

Film critic Manohla Dargis supplies some hope:

“The American movie industry has absolutely changed, and it’s very different, and we can regret some of those changes and we can also say, ‘It is what it is and let’s move on,’ [but] let’s actually look at the work versus anguishing that it’s not 1957. I personally don’t want to go back to 1957….The Godfather is one of my favorite movies, absolutely, but There Will Be Blood is also a masterpiece and one of the greatest movies of the last 50 years, and that was made by an independent company and released by a studio — so masterpieces still get made. It’s just different.”

Film historian Mark Harris, however, sees little but darkness:

“When you say, ‘Movies aren’t dead because Moonlight,’ you’re not really answering the question. Because the statement is not, ‘Nobody knows how to make a good movie anymore.’ It’s, ‘Good movies are now made almost exclusively either outside of or in spite of the system,’ and that is a really meaningful change. It’s been a change for long enough now so that there are a generation of young moviegoers who did not really grow up knowing anything else.”

Whether you think film has a bright future or we should just resign ourselves to small screens, clearly, we’re at a crucial transitional moment. To read the full article on The Ringer, click here. And remember, great movies are still being made. (Indeed, these are 10 from 2016 you may have missed.)