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Are 99% of Mainstream Movies Today Garbage?


Are 99% of Mainstream Movies Today Garbage?  

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  1. 1. Are 99% of Mainstream Movies Today Garbage?



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I voted no, but largely on the basis that maybe 10-20% of mainstream films are enjoyable to me.

 

If I were a studio exec, I frankly don’t know what I would do—other than insist that no film gets more than a $70 million budget so it doesn’t require making a shit ton of money at the box office to recoup the investment. The biggest box office hits now (as well as the misfires) are almost ridiculous in their contrivances to make sure not to offend some regional market or some group or demographic. Which on paper doesn’t necessarily mean the film will be “bad,” just that it will have really obvious pandering.
 

Having said that, I appreciate that mainstream movies today generally have better “design” in terms of camerawork, editing, and sfx than movies predating Jurassic Park. (Exceptions abound, yes, and the music tends to be woefully worse, alas.) I also don’t mind so much how movies in the last three decades have become rather obsessed with backstory. There always seems to be a scene that explains why someone or something is the way it is, to bring closure to the plot. It’s never ok to just let something be just because. It’s like getting a little extra plot for your $12. 
 

I’ve become pretty selective about which mainstream fare is worth my time, with the result being that I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve seen in theaters or streaming—which is pretty damn little. Jungle cruise was good. So was Cruella. Looking forward to Free Guy. I doubt I’ll ever watch another superhero movie or tv show again, so sick and tired have I become after twenty fucking years of that shit. Avatar 2+ is going to be stellar, though. Anything Spielberg is worth a watch. Indy 5… NTTD… yeah, Hollywood can still grab my attention when it tries. 

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Using 2020 as an example, just because it's the most recent year we've left behind, there were plenty of excellent mainstream/Hollywood movies that made it to my top 30 list. I've never been able to understand the one-sided dismissal of either Hollywood movies or "arthouse" movies. There are values to be found in both, as long as you evaluate them on their own terms. However, I also don't understand people who only choose to watch ONE type of movie for their entire life. I just love film as an artform in all shapes and forms -- small, big, indie, blockbuster, arthouse, new, old, you name it.

 

My top 30 of last year (Norwegian premiere dates), with the "mainstream" movies bolded, however one defines that:

 

1. A Hidden Life

2. Parasite

3. Color Out of Space / Soul

4. 1917

5. Om det uendelige [About Endlessness]

6. The Hunt

7. Relic

8. Undine

9. Et glass til [Another Round]

10. Breaking Surface

X. For Sama / Last and First Men

11. On the Rocks

12. Sala samobójców. Hejter

13. The Gentlemen

14. Love and Monsters

15. Kunstneren og tyven [The Painter and the Thief]

16. Host

17. Selvportrett [Self Portrait]

18. Light of My Life

19. First Cow

20. Only the Devil Lives Without Hope

21. Monos

22. Uncut Gems

23. Young Ahmed

24. Underwater

25. Alone

26. She Dies Tomorrow

27. An Officer and a Spy

28. Tenet

29. Greenland

30. Let Them All Talk

 

I don't think that's too bad, considering 2020 was particularly low on big blockbusters/Hollywood films, given the pandemic situation. My 2019 list has even more "mainstream movies" in the top 30.

 

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3 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Also the direction in most Hollywood movies is absolutely terrible.

 

Hmm, I've just seen a British disaster movie on Netflix about virus that needs to be contained in a series of apartment buildings. Watch it, it might change your mind about the quality of Hollywood direction. 

 

MV5BMTQzNDEwOTk4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjA5

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This becomes very self-involved now, but since I touched on 2019 earlier, I wanted to do a similar list of that year as the one I did for 2020 above. Mostly because 2019 is a more representative year than 2020. Again, the great mainstream/Hollywood movies in bold, and Norwegian premiere dates.

 

1. The House That Jack Built

2. Alita: Battle Angel

3. Once Upon a Time....in Hollywood

4. Ad Astra 

5. Tara Para Morir Joven [Too Late to Die Young]

6. Maradona

7. Hotel Mumbai

8. They Shall Not Grow Old

9. Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters]

10. Aniara

X. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

11. The Mule

12. Nanfang chezhan de juhui [The Wild Goose Lake]

13. Beats

14. Holiday

15. Sorry We Missed You

16. The Irishman

17. Joker

18. Disco

19. Lazzaro felice [Happy as Lazarro]

20. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

21. Vox Lux

22. La cordillère des songes [The Cordillera of Dreams]

23. 6 Underground

24. In the Tall Grass

25. Glass

26. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

27. Rambo: Last Blood

28. Beoning [Burning]

29. Arctic

30. The Favourite

 

Again, a pretty good percentage.

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5 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

Anyone have an idea what would be the raw number of mainstream films released in a typical (recent) year?

Worldwide, or in individual territories? What do you regard as "mainstream"?

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6 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

Anyone have an idea what would be the raw number of mainstream films released in a typical (recent) year?

 

No idea, but it would be an interesting statistic to behold. And as Fartie says, one would need to define 'mainstream' first.

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1 minute ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

Worldwide, or in individual territories?

 

Released anywhere, I suppose, but only counting their first release so that we're not recounting individual films over multiple years.

 

4 minutes ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

What do you regard as "mainstream"?

 

Not for me to say! Whatever the original post demands...

 

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6 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

@TSMefford must be the easiest to satisfy - if he gets a good aspect ratio he's happy. :)

 

Ha! Not necessarily. I have gone through phases on which movies are legitimately good/bad etc whatever to me. As far as this question: I think it's been awhile since I wrote a novel on here, so here ya go. It's in the spoiler if you want to read the long, rambly, version:

 

Spoiler

I used to be pretty casual about movies a long, long time ago. I loved them and wanted to make them myself, but still relatively casual in hindsight just watching popular stuff in theaters. Then I got into Independent Films and Art Films and what not back like 10 or so years ago and so many of those were so mind blowing and so impactful to me and really felt like they actually meant something. For a good long while, I truly thought that this is what all cinema should aspire to be. I did still watch blockbusters, but it was more so for the "going out with friends" thing than it was about the movies themselves sometimes. 

 

Honestly though, in part because of the pandemic and all the struggle and crazy crap I went through, I simply was not in the mood for anything dark or sad or impactful and all that sort of stuff. I started a darker series at one point because I'd heard so much about it, but just couldn't watch anymore at the time. I did make an exception here or there and I'm glad I did in those cases, but mostly I was craving light fun and entertainment more than anything. The escape that a lot of people sometimes refer to films and television as. So I watched a bunch of rom-coms, action movies, blockbusters, etc. when I had the time and some of them were, I'll admit, probably shit. I enjoyed the hell out of them though (in many cases in spite of, and not because they might be shit) and if you enjoy something can it really be that garbage?

 

So, I guess where I'm at now is somewhere in between casual films (mainstream) and the art films. I think the last year has honestly given me a new appreciation for films that are purely mindless fun that I don't need to think about, but I'm also adding back in those more meaningful films as I go. It just depends on how I feel any given day right now. Sometimes I've worked my ass off and I'm absolutely drained and don't want to think about anything. So I watch something that fits that bill and I enjoy it. Other days, I have a project that isn't fulfilling or bores me slightly and I come back looking for impact and meaning and I'll watch that.

 

Now, do I have a problem with how corporate things are sometimes and studios crushing creativity? Of course, but there's not a damn thing I can do about that. I'm human and humans don't any damn sense, so I can also enjoy the final product for what it is, because it's done and I can't change it. So why not? I can also have criticisms of those things while also overall enjoying said things. Look, I've seen some pretty damn good mainstream films. I've seen some god awful independent films. It doesn't matter who's doing it. Either industry can and does make something bad. And yes, I do still legitimately hate some things or have problems with certain things to the point that it ruins them, but I'm specifically not naming anything because good and bad or so different for everyone.

 

Basically, I appreciate both mainstream blockbuster type films and arthouse / independent films for what they each are and what different things they bring to the table. Would the best films even be as good if we didn't have the brainless stuff or the bad stuff to compare it to? I dunno, but I just sit back enjoy both, for the most part, these days. So, I voted no, because I still enjoy most of the mainstream films in a certain way. I can do that and also enjoy art films, independent films, etc. Just depends on the day, but there's a place for both. And I can also still criticize both kinds of media and how they're produced, because neither the mainstream world or the independent world are without problems.

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4 minutes ago, TSMefford said:

Basically, I appreciate both mainstream blockbuster type films and arthouse / independent films for what they each are and what different things they bring to the table.

 

You're referring to aspect ratios, right? :sarcasm:

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 No, there have been plenty of garbage movies made since cinema began. It may feel that way because films are made differently these days, multiplexes allow for more films to be seen and social media/cable/ streaming also gives a viewer more chances than say 30 years ago. 
 

But I’ve questioned why I’ve wasted 2 hrs watching films from the 30’s thru the 80’s just much as I have with cinema the last 20 years.

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13 hours ago, TSMefford said:

Basically, I appreciate both mainstream blockbuster type films and arthouse / independent films for what they each are and what different things they bring to the table.

This statement sound to a little bit like in Blues Brothers: "We play both kinds of music, country and western."

First of all, Independent film ist not necessarily arthouse. I would consider most independent films trash, but on purpose.

I would even question, if you could call for example Fox Searchlight productions independent or arthouse movies.

If one seriously starts thinking about all these categorizations it really becomes difficult.

Is Bladerunner 2049 mainstream? Sure.

Was the first Bladerunner mainstream when it came out? I couldn't tell. Probably yes.

I think, the term Mainstream has more to do with the reception of a movie than with how the movie is made. A successful arthouse film can become mainstream. An independent film can become mainstream. 

You can produce movies for the mainstream. These are probably the movies in scope of the title statement.

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(Original question) No, and it would be nice if we focused on the positive things.

 

Same goes for those endlessly complaining about 99% of scores being rubbish, and lamenting about how so much crap is released (I'm referencing a prior discussion here). Just ignore the stuff you don't like!

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3 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

(Original question) No, and it would be nice if we focused on the positive things.

 

Same goes for those endlessly complaining about 99% of scores being rubbish, and lamenting about how so much crap is released (I'm referencing a prior discussion here). Just ignore the stuff you don't like!

Very good point. Let's focus on the good one percent and ignore the rest.

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When I look at one single year from the Seventies, I see theatrical releases from Scorsese, Altman, Pollack, Spielberg, Coppola, De Palma, Allen, Kubrick, Fellini, Bergman, and the list goes on. What do you mean things haven't changed?!

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6 hours ago, AC1 said:

...one single year from the Seventies, I see theatrical releases from Scorsese, Altman, Pollack, Spielberg, Coppola, De Palma, Allen, Kubrick, Fellini, Bergman...

 

Which year was this?

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23 hours ago, AC1 said:

...one single year from the Seventies, I see theatrical releases from Scorsese, Altman, Pollack, Spielberg, Coppola, De Palma, Allen, Kubrick, Fellini, Bergman, and the list goes on...

 

Okay, I'll rephrase: was there genuinely a single year with such releases somewhere in the world, or does this represent a look back at the 70s through slightly rose-tinted glasses?

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21 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

or does this represent a look back at the 70s through slightly rose-tinted glasses?

 

There's also the issue of whether those were actually the movies that made money.

 

We tend to forget it nowadays, but the early-to-mid 70s did have their own version of a big blockbuster: the disaster movie.

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1 hour ago, Glóin the Dark said:

 

Okay, I'll rephrase: was there genuinely a single year with such releases somewhere in the world, or does this represent a look back at the 70s through slightly rose-tinted glasses?

 

I would say that every year in the '70s kinda looked like that. Sure, not literally released in the same year, some movies were released sometimes a couple of months in the previous year, or in the next. And if Pollack wasn't present a given year, we got one by Ulu Grosbard instead! ;)

 

31 minutes ago, Nick1Ø66 said:

Tarantino considers the 70's to be the absolute apex of cinema.

 

Many do, you know, the New American Wave et all. 

 

50 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

We tend to forget it nowadays, but the early-to-mid 70s did have their own version of a big blockbuster: the disaster movie.

 

I didn't forget those at all.

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28 minutes ago, AC1 said:

I would say that every year in the '70s kinda looked like that...

 

Your list does paint a somewhat exaggerated picture of the decade, because those directors simply didn't make enough films to have a release roughly once a year. It would be more like one every two years, on average, and of course that counts all of their films, including many which are not all that special.

 

Certainly there were dozens of other directors releasing great films throught the 70s besides those you mentioned, but the same is true for recent years too. The 2010s saw releases by Tarantino, Anderson, McQueen, Sciamma, Haneke, Ramsay, Reichardt, Pawlikowski, Ceylan, Lee, Lee, Leigh, Kiarostami, Zvyagintsev, the Coens, Dardennes and Safdies, Tarr, Schrader, Loach, Malick, Martel, Hou, Decker, Cuaron...the list goes on!

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I appreciate that's not really the point of the question, but surely judgement is better done with hindsight? Lots of films, scores, TV shows, paintings, sculptures and artistic endeavours of every sort are basically mediocre or worse, but time lets the best ones stick around. Not to mention all the artists and composers who were hugely famous in their day but are largely forgotten now. For a more recent example, seen Avatar. I think it's still one of the top two or three highest grossing films of all time (although I concede that can be a meaningless statistic for any number of reasons, not least of all inflation, number of cinema seats, ticket costs... etc.) but who actually is clamouring for more Avatar films? It did stunningly well but I don't know if anyone really talks about it any more. It never became the cultural icon of, say, Star Wars or Indy or Star Trek or whatever. So, yeah, some large percentage of most artistic output is crap and the same is true of movies, but there's so much of it that it's hard to meaningful discern what is and isn't, but almost by definition it'll be the case (although 99% seems a bit mean!).

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4 minutes ago, Tom Guernsey said:

who actually is clamouring for more Avatar films? It did stunningly well but I don't know if anyone really talks about it any more.

 

@Thor?

 

4 minutes ago, Tom Guernsey said:

although 99% seems a bit mean!

 

Blame the YouTuber.

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1 minute ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

@Thor?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Avatar and am quite interested to see the sequel... but I find it hard to believe that most members of the public are desperate for another 5 (or however many it is!).

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