Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Winners, Yawn

This list of Oscar winners is the best evidence one could provide for why contemporary films are irrelevant, morally and artistically.

Compare to this list of Oscar winners from 1939. Or any other year prior to 1965 pulled out of a hat.


Anonymous said...

I think you are being too harsh. Some of the 2008 movies are not bad.

* Slumdog Millionaire was an uplifting movie with some good egoistic themes. Not perfect but good.

*Benjamin Button was a good love story. It had a few post modern elements to it but they were minimal. It was mostly a story revolving around pursuing values and romantic love.

*The documentary "Man on a Wire" was an awesome movie. It was all about goal accomplishment and it glorified a truly great sense of life.

*The Dark Knight was terrible philosophically but at least it was philosophical which is something rare these days.

*Milk while definitely a leftist favorite because it dealt with homosexuality. Yet it was a good critique of the religious right. The film defended the rights of homosexuals and showed Christian bigotry for the religiously motivated primitivism that it is. The only people who would hate this movie are the religious right.

Its true that The Reader and Wall-E were leftist trash. But all in all, the 2008 choices were not that bad and Slumdog has been consistently praised by O'ists. In fact, I would have expected the Academy choices to have been more nihilistic then they were.

Kevin Clark

Jeff Perren said...


Thank you for your comment, and welcome to Shaving Leviathan.

May I ask you, and I'm not playing gotcha here or trying to be hostile, are you under 40, and how many pre-1965 films have you seen?

I ask because it's my experience that younger filmgoers, or those who have seen mostly films of the past 40 years or newer judge films differently than I would, and I add that my criteria are not "whatever is most inline with the Objectivist philosophy."

For example, I recently re-watched Mildred Pierce, a film with severe philosophical flaws from an Objectivist perspective. But it's an excellent film; near perfect in fact as a work of cinematic art.

The only one you name I'm not familiar with is Man on a Wire, which as a documentary is in rather a different category.

For the rest, I think my comparison to the Oscar winners of the past is appropriate.

I agree that the films you single out are not the worst examples of modern filmmaking by far. But how do they stack up against, say:

Lawrence of Arabia
North by Northwest
The Big Clock
The Big Country
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Philadelphia Story
The Captive Heart

just to pick 9 very different films out of my head (in no particular order)?

Anonymous said...

My point is not to say that only a film in line with Objectivism is a good film. My point was that many of this years nominees were in fact good movies aesthetically with good themes to boot; some of those themes being explicitly egoistic as in Slumdog millionaire. So, as I said, this year's Academy crop was not as nihilistic or overtly leftist as were some prior years. In fact, it wasn't a bad collection of films.

I am 31, so while not a teenager that is too young to have seen the pre-1965 movies you admire. I have no doubt that most movies pre-70s were on average better than modern films. Nihilism took over the country with the rise of the New Left. As a result, Hollywood came to be dominated by Leftists and Hollywood's films are mostly expressions of Leftist Ideology (pathology). I don't dispute that.

But still, I think it would be a mistake to think that *all* films today are trash because *on average* they don't measure up to pre-70s movies. Some, admittedly a small few, do.

As for the films you list, I have only seen Lawrence of Arabia, North By Northwest, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Lawrence of Arabia while visually stunning bored me to sleep. Most of the pre-70s epics were slow and unexceptional IMO. Even Spartacus was difficult to sit through and the old approach to cinematography seems so primitive and dated now that, to me, its a distraction.

I would say Lord Of The Rings was a far superior movie than any epic made during Hollywood's better decades and yet LOTR was made during the reign of Leftist nihilism. My point: good films get made even in bad cultural climates. Hell, 'We The Living' was made in 1938 in Fascist Italy! I still don't understand how that ever happened.

Oh, To Kill a Mocking bird and North By Northwest were good films, but still nothing that couldn't be made today by a non-Leftist director which, admittedly, there are very few of.

Kevin Clark

Jeff Perren said...


I had a nice long reply and blogger ate it.

Short version:

I agree, not all contemporary films are trash.

On cinematography: we'll have to agree to disagree. Always moving cameras, too-tight focus, angles askew make be irritable and sometimes physically nauseous.

The difference of viewpoint on older films is probably an unbridgeable cultural gap between us. If you didn't think Gregory Peck's performance in Mockingbird was the apotheois of acting and portrayal of integrity, then no amount of rational discussion is likely to close the gap. There's no one working today who could come close to filling those shoes.

Thanks for commenting; please continue to do so.