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Can you tell a difference between a 2008 film/score and a 2020 one?


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I can’t. I can tell the difference between a 2004 movie and a 2008 movie, only 4 years apart. But not 2008 to 2020. 
 

It all looks the same, it all sounds the same.

 

Even TV is picking up the aesthetic. The only reason I can tell the difference between a 2008 TV show and a 2020 TV show is because 2020 TV is picking up the look and sound of 2008 film. 


Genuinely curious if anyone can confirm if there has there ever been such a long period of stylistic (and technological) stagnation in Hollywood?

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God bless if you can talk yourself into believing a 2008 Hans Zimmer score is different from a 2020 Hans Zimmer score. 

In the broadest senses I think you're right, but I also think there are some trends that won't swing on a pendulum. People like to cite the 60s and 70s as a time where orchestras in films were unpopul

Some of the most interesting visual evolution has happened with animated features. I'm thinking of things like Into the Spider-Verse or Klaus - films that really stretch to try something new, and succ

Some of the most interesting visual evolution has happened with animated features. I'm thinking of things like Into the Spider-Verse or Klaus - films that really stretch to try something new, and succeed in a big way.

 

As far as live action goes, though, I think I agree overall. I haven't noticed any significant shifts in the look of live action for the last ten years or so.

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Just look to Zimmer's scores from 2008 vs 2020 (ex. The Dark Knight vs Dunkirk) to sum up the broader changes in the film music landscape. The late 00s still featured melodies and somewhat dynamic action material (by today's standards). Mainstream film music has become a lot more muted (with a priority on staying out of the way), melodic themes are much more frowned upon and it's all become mostly textural.

 

Independent film music trends are also changing. More crossover musicians are entering the industry, woodwinds are making a comeback (just not in a Williams-esque way) and more interesting voices are creating work versus the anonymous piano/guitar scores for dramas of the late 00s.

 

I think there are similar arguments you could make about changing trends in cinema itself. These trends will naturally become more obvious the more we move away from 2020. But the defining change in the 2010s will be the broader homogenization of cinema and TV thanks to the rise of Disney/MCU/cinematic universes and streaming. And since hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into these massive cookie-cutter properties that reap billion dollar profits (or at least used to), the more interesting filmmakers are just going to get smaller audiences. Maybe it's that homogenization that you're referring to?

 

Hopefully with Covid and the streaming crisis, we might eventually see big studios break apart, maybe the downfall of MCU, Disney and Netflix to usher in the 60s again!

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Early streaming shows such as House of Cards (2013) established a look that most other modern productions have followed, following the digital look Fincher helped establish through Social Network (2010) and Dragon Tattoo (2011)

 

Basically a lot of modern DPs are using the same digital cameras as each other, and using them in similar ways

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8 minutes ago, Datameister said:

Some of the most interesting visual evolution has happened with animated features. I'm thinking of things like Into the Spider-Verse or Klaus - films that really stretch to try something new, and succeed in a big way.

 

As far as live action goes, though, I think I agree overall. I haven't noticed any significant shifts in the look of live action for the last ten years or so.


You’re right, animation has developed quite a bit.

5 minutes ago, KK said:

Just look to Zimmer's scores from 2008 vs 2020 (ex. The Dark Knight vs Dunkirk) to sum up the broader changes in the film music landscape. The late 00s still featured melodies and somewhat dynamic action material (by today's standards). Mainstream film music has become a lot more muted (with a priority on staying out of the way), melodic themes are much more frowned upon and it's all become mostly textural.

 

Independent film music trends are also changing. More crossover musicians are entering the industry, woodwinds are making a comeback (just not in a Williams-esque way) and more interesting voices are creating work versus the anonymous piano/guitar scores for dramas of the late 00s.

 

I think there are similar arguments you could make about changing trends in cinema itself. These trends will naturally become more obvious the more we move away from 2020. But the defining change in the 2010s will be the broader homogenization of cinema and TV thanks to the rise of Disney/MCU/cinematic universes and streaming. And since hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into these massive cookie-cutter properties that reap billion dollar profits (or at least used to), the more interesting filmmakers are just going to get smaller audiences. Maybe it's that homogenization that you're referring to?

 

Hopefully with Covid and the streaming crisis, we might eventually see big studios break apart, maybe the downfall of MCU, Disney and Netflix to usher in the 60s again!


I suppose I would ask: are we just so good at this now that there isn’t much more we can do to dramatically improve the cinema experience?
 

Another 200 billion dollars is going to just get you diminishing returns on the blockbuster front. The Lucas dream of an Indy movie Renaissance just hasn’t panned out either.

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1 hour ago, BLUMENKOHL said:

The Lucas dream of an Indy movie Renaissance just hasn’t panned out either.

 

I might be ignorant, so please correct me if this is false, but I feel like I've seen a greater prominence of the "big" indie/ arthouse films, as characterized most prominently by A24.  

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Hollywood is running on the age old 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' motto. As long as there are mindless, uncritical audiences to fill seats (or buy subscriptions to streaming services), this will perpetuate for years to come. 

 

There's also the advancement and acceptance of CGI around that period that forced every film production to devote budget and resources to it, and whilst the practice made films cheaper to produce, it meant every film adopted the same visual style and setpieces to try and stay relevant.

 

It was sad to see the one film genre where the freedom of creativity and innovation should be on display - the Marvel superhero films - fall into a dismal rut of bland, lifeless, visually dead films for a while and still realise that despite how hollow those films were they still made a billion dollars each, spawning more of the same crap.

 

 

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2 hours ago, BLUMENKOHL said:

I suppose I would ask: are we just so good at this now that there isn’t much more we can do to dramatically improve the cinema experience?
 

Another 200 billion dollars is going to just get you diminishing returns on the blockbuster front. The Lucas dream of an Indy movie Renaissance just hasn’t panned out either.

 

Well, history shows us that art, of most disciplines, tends to swing in one direction until it burns itself out, and then it bounces the other way. I'd bet that cycle isn't going to change. 

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42 minutes ago, KK said:

 

Well, history shows us that art, of most disciplines, tends to swing in one direction until it burns itself out, and then it bounces the other way. I'd bet that cycle isn't going to change. 

 

In the broadest senses I think you're right, but I also think there are some trends that won't swing on a pendulum. People like to cite the 60s and 70s as a time where orchestras in films were unpopular, then revived by Star Wars, as an example, to indicate that we're in a temporary "drought" that will be reversed at some point in the future. But I don't think that's necessarily a good predictor; orchestras will always have a place in film scores, of course, but the musical sensibilities have changed so much (including the types of musicians that would feel inclined to pursue film scoring in the first place), and the sensibilities about how film and music interwine have also developed so much--both aesthetically and the very art of how music is produced and set to film itself-- that I don't see mainstream film ever truly returning to the musical aesthetics of yore.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Nick Parker said:

that I don't see mainstream film ever truly returning to the musical aesthetics of yore.

 

No, you're right. I don't see that happening at all. It's never going to go back to the "good ol' days" (whatever that means). But, the musical direction will inevitably change, for better or for worse. You're already hearing the seeds of it in up and coming composers like Emile Mosseri or Nicholas Britell, who are loosely using more traditional, acoustic "orchestral" colours and more "classical" structures in interesting contemporary ways, generating a sound that just sounds fresh or "different".

 

Things never really get "reversed". But I think artistic dialogues do happen between the present and the past, creating a cross-germination of sorts that determines the sound of the future. I mean just look at minimalism. When serialism had basically exhausted itself, the minimalists just swung the other way. And all that stuff is really just an extrapolation of early Baroque patterning (see Vivaldi) and harmony, just refashioned anew. Eventually minimalism burnt itself out, and you had late minimalists applying similar conceptual ideas through a more Romantic lens (ex. John Adams and Harmonielhre). And then the post-minimalists, taking the cells and filtering it through more modernist tools, etc etc.

 

When trends end, we tend to mine from the past to find solutions to communicate and express in the future. I can't tell you what film music will sound like in 10 or 20 years. It probably won't sound like Star Wars, but it will sound different from what we're hearing now.

 

I believe the same idea applies to film in general.

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3 hours ago, Spider-Fal said:

Kinda like Gi- *gets shot in the head by Arpy*

All jokes aside, Giacchino's involvement during that disgusting phase of the MCU was the only silver lining. 

 

Also, just wanted to continue my rant by mentioning how quick Marvel were, and how confident they were in rushing to establish a brand over establishing fully-fledged creative visions. The 'MCU' brand is deemed more important than the individual parts that make them which is why they didn't give a flying fig about the creative aspect or the small missteps they may have made.

 

If it weren't for the strong entry film of Iron Man and the charisma surrounding the film and RDJ, the MCU would've been as hollow as the failed DCEU now is. What's worse? A giant corporation milking a creative product for all it's worth, or another giant corporation trying to cash in on the success of the other's business model?

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20 hours ago, Jay said:

Oh man just noticed your avatar - who is that and what is the story behind what is happening there?

It's Max Steiner's cameo as a conductor in a 1932 film "Half-Naked Truth". The idea was that the lead actress on a theater stage went rogue and started improvising, and so did the orchestra. It's the only filmed footage of Steiner that I know of.

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14 hours ago, KK said:

When trends end, we tend to mine from the past to find solutions to communicate and express in the future. I can't tell you what film music will sound like in 10 or 20 years. It probably won't sound like Star Wars, but it will sound different from what we're hearing now.


If you had said this in 2008 I think you’d be wrong on the 10 year horizon at least. 

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Possibly good (2008) vs. most likely mediocre or bad (2020).

 

4 hours ago, The Big Man said:

Probably won't be any music at all. It won't be considered realistic or relatable enough since we don't hear scores happening in real life.

 

You don't? I do it all the time, especially when watching old movies.

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