Today is the Fifth birthday of Fandango Groovers Movie Blog. When I started it back in 2009 I had no idea if I would still be writing it by the end of the month, let alone five years later. It seems like a good time to look back at what has been happening in the movie world in the past five years:
In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. The film won another five Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year. James Bond celebrated his 50th and 60th birthdays (2012 was the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film Dr. No and 2013 was the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale). Disney have taken over Marvel and Lucas Film and as well as continuing with the Avengers and it related properties have announced a series of Star Wars sequels.
Matthew McConaughey is currently favourite to win the Best Actor Oscar next month. Stortly after I started the blog he starred in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009). I must admit I haven’t actually seen it but the poster tells me as much as I want to know about it:After a self imposed hiatus he has returned with an impressive run: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) – Bernie (2011) – Killer Joe (2011) – The Paperboy (2012) – Mud (2012) – Magic Mike (2012) – Dallas Byers Club (2013) – The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). He is currently starring in the acclaimed TV show True Detective. Next up, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
Television became strangely cinematic. Programs such as Game of Thrones (2011), Justified (2010), Boardwalk Empire (2010) and The Walking Dead (2010) are made by filmmakers and feature movie stars. They have photography and production quality that wouldn’t be out of places in cinemas but the real change is with storylines that run throughout a season and are not just limited to a single episode. This isn’t new but it is certainly becoming more common. Cinema is still my preferred medium but I can not deny the that television is in a very strong place.
We lost many people from the industry, some legends others young stars who left us too soon, they include: Brittany Murphy, Paul Walker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Gandolfini, Patrick Swayze, Peter O’Toole, John Barry, Roger Ebert, Elizabeth Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, Dino De Laurentiis, Olivia de Havilland, Sidney Lumet, Tony Scott
It seems that we are in the age of the franchise. The top grossing film from each year I have been blogging are: 2009: Avatar – $2,713,395,000 – 2010: Toy Story 3 – $1,063,171,911 – 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – $1,341,511,219 – 2012: The Avengers – $1,511,757,910 – 2013: Iron Man 3 – $1,215,439,994. They are all sequels except Avatar that has three planned sequels. In fact all of the 17 films to gross over a billion dollars are part of a series or franchise. 11 of them have been released within the five years of this blogs existence.
For five years Oscar and BAFTA chosen the same film for their best picture: 2009: Slumdog Millionaire – 2010: The Hurt Locker – 2011: The King’s Speech – 2012: The Artist -2013: Argo. We will find out on 2nd March if 12 Years a Slave follows its BAFTA with an Oscar.
Harry Potter (2001 – 2011) and The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012) all came to an end, leaving a young adult size hole in the cinema schedule. Tomorrow when the War Began (2010), I am Number Four (2011), Beautiful Creatures (2013) and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) all failed to perform or produce a sequel. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) did okay and produced a lacklustre sequel: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013). But one series has filled the space; largely thanks to the perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games (2012) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2 are due to follow this year and next year. This is also a new phenomenon. Both Harry Potter and Twilight split their final book into two parts. An idea that has been taken to an extreme by Peter Jackson who has turned little more than 300 pages of The Hobbit into a three film series that will run for about ten hours when complete.
The biggest change to cinema in the time I have been blogging is the way films are shot, cut and projected. It is a process that started a long time ago. With directors like George Lucas shooting digitally for over a decade before I started blogging. Avatar (2009) seemed to have been a tipping point as more and more films were shot and projected digitally. There are exceptions, Ken Loach still makes films the old fashioned way on film. The film is then edited by physically cutting film on a Steenbeck flatbed film editing suite. His latest film Jimmy’s Hall (due out later this year) could be last feature film made this way. Using some of the last available Fuji film stock they hit problem when they ran out of the edge-numbering tape used synch the picture and sound together. Help came from the most modern of places the digital pioneers Pixar FedExed their last 19 rolls 5000 miles from California. While Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) was shot on 35mm Kodak film, it was edited by Thelma Schoonmaker on an Avid system as she has been using since Casino (1995). However films are shot and cut, many cinemas including my local now uses digital projection nearly exclusively. Anyone interested in the subject should check out the documentaries: The Last Projectionist (2011) directed by Thomas Lawes (owner of The Electric Cinema in Birmingham) and Side by Side (2012) directed by Christopher Kenneally and hosted by Keanu Reeves.
As much as I have talked about missing the warmth of film over the colder more clinical digital process it is becoming less important as the technology progresses. However there is a by-product of digital 3D. Sure 3D (or Stereoscopy to be more precise) is as old as cinema but since Avatar more and more films are released in 3D. More often than not this is totally pointless and the best thing I have to say after watching a film is that I forgot I was watching a 3D film. But then there are exceptions Gravity (2013) is the only film I have seen in 3D that benefited by the being shown in 3D, or was it the giant IMAX screen that made the difference? Either way, it may be that I was wrong and 3D does have a place. If it does, it is a small place and releasing every other movie in 3D in stupid and cynical.
The most notable change I have seen since I started this blog, is this blog. To be more precise, this blog and thousands like it. More and more people are finding out about films from people like me and not from the mainstream media. While my blog has remained a hobby to update when I have the time (less this month than normal) and inclination, many writers have gone beyond “Graffiti with Punctuation” and produced something far more professional than anyone could have dreamed of five years ago. What will the next five years bring, and will Fandango Groovers Movie Blog still be around to document it? Only time will tell.