Digital Polyphony

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It's Always the Worst Year for Movies

Posted on October 23, 2013 at 8:35 AM

It's Always the Worst Year for Movies, Isn't It?

Every year I hear an interesting line. Well, I suppose it's not so much "interesting" as it is a bit "ignorant." It's usually along the lines of:

"This year's movies have been horrible."


"This has been a horrible year for movies."

You've probably heard it yourself, or perhaps even said it yourself at some point. I used to. Then I came to a realization as I began to hear it repeated year after year, 2013 being no exception:

It's not that the movies have been horrible, it's that you're watching the wrong movies.'s gotta, suck. My life is incomplete if it doesn't suck! It makes me feel better to complain and tweet about it!

People, for some reason, seem to compact all of a year's worth of movies in to what was released over the summer months: as though the summer crop of blockbusters is the measuring-stick to which the entirety of the year's quality films. Why? Because the "big movies" are the ones most people see, they are the ones that are most in the social conscious and therefore are the films most are vocal.

I hear it every year, and every year I have to ask people if they'd seen this film or that film. And, usually, every year they say "no" because it's some movie that wasn't based on a comic book or doesn't have a toy line involved somehow.  For this year, I can easily see how people might find the big summer blockbusters a bit average. I would be inclined to agree, though you certainly can't lump them all together as "bad" now can you? Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3 and Monsters University are probably the exceptions that prove the rule, but they have to be put in there right alongside World War Z, Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Lone Ranger all of which ranged from mediocre, disapointing or just bad.

But you know what I do? I see something else. I try to not limit myself because, believe it or not, there's a hell of a lot more released during the summer than movies that cost 100 Million to make. More importantly is that I don't judge an entire year's worth of movies based on that alone. Nobody should, and nobody should ever say "it's a horrible year for movies" when they've only seen ten of them.

I know I'm in a position to see a lot of movies, but wouldn't seeing even fewer movies make saying "it's been a poor year for movies" a bit of a non-sequitur?

2013 has proven to be no different as, by this time every year, people are already doing a post-mortem. Well, off the top of my head, here's a list of great films that I've already seen this year yet nobody really talks about because they either came and went, or weren't a "big" marketed movie:

-Mud (Either this or Dallas Buyer's Club is going to give McConoughay an Oscar nom easily)

-The Place Beyond the Pines

-Maniac (2013 has been amazing for horror)



-Spring Breakers

-Prisoners (one of the best thrillers in recent memory, was even big at the Box Office).

-The Way Way Back (Easily in my Top 10 of the year)

-The History of Future Folk

-Short Term 12 (Larson should get at least some Indie award noms)

-The Spectacular Now

-The Conjuring

-The Worlds End and This is the End (two very different yet incredibly well-done apocalyptical comedies)

-The Hunt (so far the best foreign film I've seen this year)

-The East (like heady political thrillers? Why not?)

-You're Next

-Sound City (best documentary I've seen in a long, long while, in fact 2013 had two of them - this and A Band Called Death)

-Frances Ha

-Before Midnight (This and Frances Ha are all on most people's Top lists, well people who go out and see good movies and don't put all their eggs in the RIPD or Star Trek basket).

And I still need to see Fruitvale Station, Stories We Tell, In a World, and Blue Jasmine off the top of my head (and a ton coming in awards season I haven't even gotten to yet).

Oh, that's right, everyone has to be a critic and they can't tell the difference between giving an opinion and offering a constructive informed critique.

But that's the nature of the internet, isn't it? Something is either great or horrible, and when it doesn't meet the criteria of greatness in some quantifiable way, it therefore has to be horrible. The internet loves to express the awful over the divine, but in reality nothing is really all that awful or all that divine, it's all in that little creamy center of "yeah, it's fine." More importantly, though, is that most of the awfuls and divines are just presumptions and subjective observation to begin with.

In other words, a lot of people talking, a lot of people looking for some reason to dislike something yet most have no idea what they're talking about. They just know they have to shout their voice in a cynical manner and what better way than the internet? That's why Twitter was made, right? Seriously, go on Twitter, most Tweets are far form positive in nature. That's why they limited it to 140 characters, I think: knee-jerk cynical expression at its finest.

So, do me a favor. If you ever find yourself saying that the year, any year, has been bad for film, go out and see something you wouldn't normally see. I understand that maybe you aren't interested in seeing something that isn't heavily marketed or "off the grid," but the thing is: most of them aren't. Most of them are by big directors with big stars, not necessarily some French film with subtitles. The best summer movie of 2013 starred Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell and you probably didn't even see it.

If you ever say "the year has been awful," and aren't willing to go out and find good films, or simply can't because you live in a small town with on theater like I used to, or especially if all you want to see are the big-budget popular ones, then it might be best to just stay quiet altogether.  Don't sit there and tell me the year is awful, the moment you do is the moment you expose the fact you've not seen nearly enough movies to say anything.


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