Are the films of today's generation destined to be forgotten in the annals of cinematic history, or will they stand the test of time and continue to be celebrated decades down the line? As movie lovers, it's a question we've all asked ourselves at some point. Culture wars are routinely being fought over which films are relevant and which aren't. But what makes a movie culturally relevant and will any of the films releasing on streaming services today be relevant 50 years from now?
Recently, James Cameron's Avatar The Way of Water broke box office records, earning a cool billion dollars against an estimated budget of 250 million dollars in just 14 days after its release.
Meanwhile, Damien Chazelle's Babylon bombed at the box office earning a meager 3.5 million against a budget of 80 million dollars.
Predicting whether recent movies will be relevant 50 years from now is a difficult task, as it's impossible to know how cultural tastes and technological advancements will change over time. However, there are a few factors that can help determine a movie's lasting relevance.
One factor to consider is the movie's cultural significance. Films that tackle universal themes or capture the zeitgeist of their time are more likely to continue to resonate with audiences in the future.
For example, films like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" are still considered classic films today, in part because they capture the essence of their respective eras and address themes that continue to be relevant.
On the other hand, movies that are heavily reliant on pop culture references or technology may not age as well. These films may be entertaining at the moment, but they may not have the same lasting appeal as movies that focus on more timeless themes. For example, movies that rely on special effects or other technological advancements that may become outdated over time may not hold up as well as films with strong storytelling and character development.
Another factor to consider is the movie's production value. Films with strong acting, writing, and directing are more likely to withstand the test of time than those with less well-crafted elements. This is because these elements are more enduring than those that rely on external factors, such as special effects or technological advancements.
The genre of the movie can also play a role in its lasting relevance. Some genres, such as science fiction and fantasy, have a tendency to age better than others. This is because these genres often explore universal themes and offer imaginative worlds that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
For example, classics like "Blade Runner", "Star Wars" and "The Matrix" continue to be popular decades after their release, in part because they explore themes that are still relevant today.
In addition to these factors, the way a movie is distributed and marketed can also impact its lasting relevance. For example, films that receive a wide release and strong marketing campaigns are more likely to be seen by a large audience, which can help ensure their lasting relevance. On the other hand, films that are released in a limited number of theaters or with minimal marketing may struggle to find an audience, which can make it more difficult for them to maintain their relevance over time. Streaming services like Netflix can play a vital role in films like these provided their algorithms promote the discoverability of such films.
One way that movies can maintain their relevance over time is through re-releases and remakes. For example, classic films like "Gone with the Wind" and "Casablanca" have been re-released numerous times, helping to introduce them to new audiences and keep them in the public consciousness. Similarly, remakes of classic films, such as "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast," can help to introduce these stories to new audiences and keep them relevant for modern audiences.
However, not all re-releases and remakes are successful. It's important for these films to stay true to the spirit of the original while also updating the story for modern audiences. If a remake or re-release fails to capture the magic of the original, it may struggle to find an audience and maintain its relevance.
Another way that movies can maintain their relevance over time is through their impact on popular culture. For example, films that spawn successful franchises, such as "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter," tend to have a lasting impact on popular culture and continue to be relevant to audiences even decades after their initial release. Similarly, films that inspire spin-off media, such as books, TV shows, and video games, can also maintain their relevance over time.
The inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds in the field of film criticism and filmmaking can lead to obscure films getting widespread recognition for a number of reasons.
A diverse group of film critics and filmmakers brings a range of perspectives and experiences to the table. This can help to highlight films that may have been overlooked by a more homogenous group, as different perspectives may shed light on the themes and messages of these films in a way that resonates with a wider audience.
A diverse group can also help to bring attention to films that may have been marginalized or overlooked due to the backgrounds of their creators or subjects. For example, films that focus on underrepresented communities or stories may not have received as much attention from a more homogenous group but may be championed by critics and filmmakers who come from similar backgrounds or have a personal connection to the themes of the film.
We saw this recently with the release of BFI's Sight and Sound Magazine's 2022 Greatest Films of All Time critics' poll, which elected to broaden its voting body for its eighth iteration, inviting 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists, and academics to have their say with a top ten ballot, up from 846 respondents in 2012.
The obscure french film, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles was ranked first, replacing Vertigo from 2012, and Citizen Kane, which held the top spot in the critics' polls before that. There were a handful of shock omissions — Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather II and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull fell off the list having ranked 53rd in the 2012 poll, as did the likes of Chinatown, Nashville, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Wild Bunch.
There was, however, newfound room for Scorsese's Goodfellas which made its way onto the list at joint 63rd, along with Billy Wilder's 1960 rom-com classic The Apartment, and Jane Campion's groundbreaking 1993 period drama The Piano, the first Best Director nominee at the Oscars by a female filmmaker.
Who decides which films are relevant is also up for debate. While critics and audiences have historically disagreed with each other regarding the merit of films, this divide has never been as stark as the current moment.
IMDb (Internet Movie Database), Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic are three websites that provide information about movies and TV shows, including cast and crew lists, plot summaries, ratings, and reviews. These platforms play a significant role in keeping films relevant by providing a platform for people to discover new movies and TV shows, as well as to learn more about ones they are already familiar with.
In addition, the ratings and reviews system on these websites can help to keep films relevant by providing a sense of their popularity and critical reception. This can be especially useful for filmmakers and studios, as it can help them gauge the success of their films and make informed decisions about future projects.
Ultimately, it's difficult to say for certain which recent movies will still be relevant 50 years from now. Some movies may continue to be popular and relevant decades after their release, while others may fade into obscurity. It's difficult to say for certain which recent movies will still be relevant 50 years from now, but the films that are able to capture the essence of their era and address timeless themes are more likely to maintain their relevance over time. Ultimately, it will be up to future audiences to decide which movies will continue to be celebrated as classic works of cinema.