The films that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture over the past decade have been, for the most part, forgettable. With the exception of No Country for Old Men and Slumdog Millionaire, the winners have not been the pictures that will pave the way for a new creative vision for the 21st Century. The winner for this year is no exception.
12 Years a Slave is an important footnote in history. But Gravity and Her were the two films impacting our lives with a vision of the future of film. In Gravity and in Her, the theme of isolation is pursued. For the milennials who are coming of age in this decade, that issue will be front and center.
Although it can be argued that slavery still exists in the world, the idea that we will continue to see this film as one that may impact our lives far into the future is remote. In Her, the idea that someone may fall in love with a voice encapsulated within a computer operating system is one that presents questions and challenges us to contemplate the nature of our relationships in the near future.
These are the films that will endure. The ones that stay with us and make us think are the films of the future. 12 Years a Slave does make us think of our past and who we were as a nation and a people. We have collectively moved on from a shameful period in our history. The U.S, along with many other nations, (Germany and Japan come to mind) will continue to deal with their inglorious past sins visited upon the human race.
Some of the films nominated for Best Picture were hard to watch. The Wolf of Wall Street also dealt with an issue currently in our culture, that of greed and amoral behavior. There will always be a place in Hollywood for tackling tough issues and shining a light on society’s moral failings. But when we look ahead into the next twenty or thirty years, we will see a different audience and a new way of looking at the world.
The trends are taking us far away from linear action, the traditional screenplay dialogue, and into a different focus, and new ways of advancing the story line. Hollywood and mainstream cinema seems to trend at least a decade behind the independent or experimental films. But in at least two films of the past year, Gravity and Her, we see the marked beginnings of a different type of film experience taking us along and pulling us into the 21st Century.