Making movies is hard. Making good movies is near on impossible. Making great movies happens almost by accident. But having taken a look at 2012 in review, I thought I would suggest some New Year Resolutions for Hollywood, as I’m sure the folks there could use the advice of little old me… followed by some good movies of 2012!
1) No more board game adaptations.
A pretty obvious one, especially after a certain movie sank without a trace this year.
2) No more stunt casting.
While we’re on the subject, pop princess Rhianna as a grizzled marine vet? No, I don’t think so either.
3) No more bloated SFX.
I had to ask myself if there was really a difference between the endings of two action blockbusters this year, the visual designs of the bad guy boss monster were so similar. I’m thinking of a certain flying mechanized dragon. Maybe the IT people were using cut and paste too much that day.
4) No more non-scary horror films.
Tired of eerily effective, thrill-laden iconic horror movies? Simply fill them with 30 minutes of bland cookie-cutter teens before inserting as many decapitations, screaming and computer-generated stuff as possible. And if it’s a remake that’s a plus, which leads to my next point…
5) Leave my classic movies alone!
Less uncalled-for remakes, please! The best way to destroy my precious childhood memories is to declare a remake, remove all the charm of the original film, insert as much ridiculous CGI as possible, and remove any iconic music whatsoever. And please don’t remake “The Birds”… unless you’re Alfred Hitchcock.
6) No more “reboots”!
The sneakier way to rip off an existing idea and remake a film that’s barely out of its diapers. This usually happens when actors in lucrative franchises get too old or run afoul of politics, but the results are rarely impressive. Let’s hope “Man of Steel” fares better than its predecessor. Super-babies anyone?
7) Fewer sequels and prequels!
Let’s face it, Hollywood loves sequels, and sometimes they can good. Superman II and Star Trek II being rare examples of sequels being better than the originals. But note that these are “rare” examples. Still sequels churn out of the celluloid mincing machine. There are 75 remakes, reboots and sequels in the works according to Den of Geek.com (http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/450292/75_movie_remakes_and_reboots_currently_in_the_works.html). Surely not every good story has been told!
8) More character actors!
This year we saw the sad demise of actor Charles Durning. One of the best character actors in the business, he graced small and big screens alike with his ability to make even the most unlikeable bad guys sympathetic. But who will take his place? Seems like every TV cop these days looks like they just stepped out of the salon. Where are all the fat, old people? Too many movies come from a parallel world where nobody is over 35 and everyone looks like they just came off the Atkins diet? Give me real-looking people.
9) Less misery!
On the other hand, you can have too much of a good thing. Too many “dark” movies this year made Dostoyevsky look positively frivolous by comparison. Why do thrillers have to be depressing? Lighten up, already!
10) And finally… A New Hope?
Feel free to ignore all of the above, if it makes a better movie. “The Hobbit” shows us that prequels can be great too. “The Avengers” proves that enormous levels of CGI can work if the action is fast-paced enough to keep us from thinking too deeply. “Amour” is the exception to the rule that reveals how films can deal with dark subjects without becoming depressing. Character actors turn up in “The Master”, starring two of the finest ones in modern American cinema: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. While my top scary movie of 2012 is undoubtedly the fresh and unsettling “The Innkeepers”, directed by rising star Ti West.
So maybe Hollywood is doing some things right. Maybe there are fine movies out there. For every mind-numbing CGI-fest there are heartfelt, personal or just plain exciting movies out there too. But remember it is you and I, the movie-going public, which ultimately decide what Hollywood produces. They are in the business of entertaining us, so vote with your feet. As for 2013, well, we’ll have to wait and see…