A big question for the cinema this year, presumably ignited here by Andrew O'Hehir, was whether or not it was dead. I say it is not. At this point in our lives, it is likely that our discussion of contemporary film has slowed, yes. This is all part of the simplification of the form: movies are, as capitalism demands, increasingly industrialized and thus visibly homogenized, but that didn't stop studios from releasing some surprisingly satisfying fare. It's just that most of it is juvenile and we aren't juvenile anymore. Between a spate of typically strong indie efforts, as well as numerous underrepresented and mostly unseen genre flicks, this was actually a decent year. Certainly nothing that merits the apocalyptic cries of Internet culture journalists.
Something that does not help this argument is the Oscars. In the last decade they have fallen somewhat out of vogue, their ratings considerable but still falling from previous peaks. They are routinely mocked by just about everyone watching, be they notable pundits and Twitter laymen. Once the most visible accumulation of notable events in the preceding year's film output, the glitziness of the Oscars has never felt less like a way to celebrate movies, but rather the increasingly burgeoning mantle of celebrity culture. Oscar has never been about the films, of course, nor the performances therein. The problem is that even in a year where the categories are relatively strong, the illusion doesn't hold up anymore - the ceremony is often too frothy and hokey and out-of-touch to accurately represent the championing of some Very Serious Drama. At a point in our lives where most of us are probably too grown up to derive much enjoyment from the Academy's three hour barrage of in-jokes and lame skits, it is increasingly up to us to develop our own film culture, which some simply don't have the time to do without the Oscars' guiding hand. No shame in that. I will probably always watch these goddamn things, because I love the formulas and analysis that go into championing a Best Screenplay, Actress, Picture. I just don't place much faith in them, regardless of the quality of their selections.
GOOD WORK IS ITS OWN REWARD.