It’s hard to know what to think these days. Social media inundates us with opinions of both pros and laymen, while Rotten Tomatoes distills an art form to a numbers game. It’s a lot of information for a simple question — what movie should you pay to see?
This is the sad state of the film business. Before Twitter and Facebook, the general public trusted trailers for the “#1 Movie in America” before shelling out their cash. They relied on televised personalities who reduced a year’s worth of work to a “thumbs up” gesture, fueled by junkets that filmmakers loathe and the repetitive — often cringe-worthy — sound bites that film journalists cling to.
It’s a destructive practice that’s driven the industry for decades, and it’s one that doesn’t always get things right. Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey were pandered by critics and thus dismissed by audiences, only to earn the praise they deserved decades after the fact.
Not to mention that, for almost 90 years, The Academy has told us that some films are better than others.
Now, this may be true. Some films are better than others, but this is a subjective conclusion. Films, like any art, are at the mercy of the masses. They’re subject to billions of opinions. And while you may disagree with one or more of them, neither yours nor theirs are the absolute verdict.
So why does the Academy hold such power?
Sure, they’re run by professionals within the industry, but if recent years have proven anything, it’s that their membership is stilted, both in the eyes of women and visible minorities. Also, with the sheer amount of screeners they receive and the lack of time on their hands, who’s to say the members of the Academy have seen all the films under the categories that they’ve voted in? It’s a flawed model that shouldn’t exist in the first place, but its existence does make sense.
Seeking praise and opinions is in our nature. Now that we’ve evolved beyond hunting to survive, the phantom instinct has made us desperate to be the best anything and everything. We’ve created a world of participation trophies and office plaques, hunting down whatever praise we can in the hopes of conquering our peers.
It’s a nasty habit that serves as the basis for our black-and-white culture that says that you’re either better or worse than the person standing next to you. And sadly it seems to be a habit that artists — much like their peers in business — have adopted.
If you don’t believe that a jury should peruse the Louvre and select the best works within its halls, then perhaps you should question the Academy and the critical and political foundations that support it.
But this is just one opinion, after all. One in 6 billion.
So, see the movies you want to see.
Love what you want to love.
Dislike what you want to dislike.
But trust yourself to make these decisions. Trust in your taste and opinions, and support that of those around you.
There’s no “best of” anything, there is simply your humble opinion.