Will Movies and Shows of Today Be Classics Tomorrow?

Spoilers

Everywhere on social media, you read comments from readers lamenting our modern culture.

They long for the good old days when comedy was offensive, antiheroes said whatever they were thinking, and actors were judged by their undeniable talent rather than the biggest mistakes of their careers.

Plotlines were more important than representation. Complicated characters were more important than “Wokeness.”

Back then, they say, it didn’t matter if a character was black or gay. All that mattered was the story.

We watched because a filmmaker had something important to say, not because every race and sexual orientation appeared and was treated with respect.

We listened because regardless of what anyone said about a comedian, at least he was funny!

Unsurprisingly, many of the same social critics would also say no movies from the 2010-2030 era will be remembered as classics 20 or 30 years from now.

They didn’t have the edge and the sharp bite of movies from the good old days. Who knows if those good old days were the 1990s, the 1980s, or even the 1970s?

Personally, I believe every generation is patriotic about “their movies.”

We all grow up in a highly idealized decade where everything makes sense, life is not too stressful, and we feel intimately connected to characters in our favorite TV shows and movies.

The farther away we get from that decade of comfort, the less stuff makes sense.

The more confusing and tragic life is, the fewer messages we understand.

Imagine that you’re someone growing up in the 2010s to 2020s, and life is pretty good. Sure, there was COVID, and political struggles are worrisome, but at least your life is going okay.

What are your classics? What movies did you fall in love with over the last 15 years?

Can you explain why they’re classics and will be remembered until the end of cinema?

Now, hold on. The classic 21st movies you might be thinking of, like There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Synecdoche, New York, Juno, and Million Dollar Baby, belong to an old era.

Movies before 2010 feel more like 1990s movies that took longer to mature.

Let’s discuss movies after 2010 (movies within the last 15 years) and ask the question: How many classics are there?

Considering the Best Picture Winners from 2010-2024, we have films like Oppenheimer, Parasite, The Shape of Water, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave, Argo and The Artist.

Without getting too deep into my personal reviews, I can say with a clean conscience that only five movies of the 15 titles are worth the classic label.

All right, well, it’s common knowledge that Best Picture winners don’t always reflect the most creative movies of the year.

What were the standouts in terms of box office take and critic reviews?

It’s hard to deny the 2010 era will be remembered as the decade that Disney/Marvel built, releasing multiple superhero movies and Star Wars sequels that clobbered the box office.

The onslaught of CGI received a lot of bad publicity.

The storylines, while not necessarily guilty of bad writing (I mean, do we actually remember superhero flicks of the 1990s like Batman and Robin?), were geared towards teenagers.

Epic movies became part epic comedies.

We bombed and exploded things to the point of surfeit and had no choice but to make superheroes funny and ultra-powerful.

Some fans complained that Disney/Marvel trained moviegoers to have no patience.

Even filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and others began lambasting the audience’s love of popcorn flicks, all at the expense of intellectual films and the talents who made them.

But was this really a change and a 2000-era devolution?

Definitely not. There were just as many crap movies in the 1980s and 1990s as there were in the 2010s.

You could make a case that the 2010-2020 era was the year studios finally fought back against critics.

Studios insisted that widely disliked movies like Captain Marvel and Ghostbusters (2016) were victimized by internet incels, who influenced mainstream audiences to avoid the films.

Disney/Marvel had just finished making the Avengers trilogy, a movie that combined emotional pathos, CGI explosions, and spit-tea-level comedy in one gloriously convoluted plot approved by Stan Lee himself.

If you liked that, how could you not like this?

Critics laughed at the notion, even while studio executives stared us right in the face, wondering what was so funny.

Meanwhile, the arthouse movie scene thrived, and many indie films, romcoms, and celebrity-sponsored experimental flicks found their audience.

This was partly due to the midlife crises of veteran filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, P. T. Anderson, Martin Scorsese, M. Night Shyamalan, David Fincher, and many others.

We also discovered new powerful voices like Jordan Peele, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Greta Gerwig.

Much of this auteur renaissance was thanks to Netflix, the most powerful mover and shaker of New Hollywood.

Netflix delivered theater-level entertainment to people’s living rooms and also decided what small projects were really worth watching.

By the time Amazon, Hulu, and other networks joined the fray, theaters felt the choke of audiences who were tired of waiting and growing ever impatient with theaters for not delivering the epic movie experience that made movie tickets worthwhile.

While studios battled with moviegoers, a culture war of different sorts was breaking out.

Outspoken social media influencers harangued studios, actors, and filmmakers with hard truths, social injustice wish lists, cancel threats, and shaming comments that hit home.

Since leaving the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram was not an option, Hollywood had no choice but to cave to the internet’s demands and let people know that they had won.

Sort of. True, certain accused celebrity rapists were still getting out of jail.

On the other hand, they listened to all those impassioned speeches from the last 20 years about the ghettoization of black actors at the hands of White Hollywood.

They listened to speeches about the suppression of LGBTQ voices that were so loud in the late 1990s — a decade when “gay” was a prohibited word on network television.

Hollywood compromised in ways I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

From forced diversity rules by the Academy Awards and Netflix productions to the retiring of the NC-17 rating in favor of the catch-all TV-MA rating, (Am I the only one who remembers the MPAA wars between directors and Jack Valenti?) Hollywood has given us almost everything we’ve asked for.

I recall many film critics in the 1990s griping about the shallowness of scripts and the one-dimensional characters they insisted on highlighting.

Now, in the 2020s, is it not a prerequisite that all villains have a complicated back story and that every hero has a flaw?

Where is all the one-dimensional lazy plotting that we use to complain about?

Some say Hollywood went too far by trying to appease our cries for wokeness.

Instead of the UPN network showing us a whole primetime block of black sitcoms, we now have popular series and movies cast with black actors.

Now, every show seems to have a character who’s Asian, Latino, Gay, Trans, and so on, instead of just the same old white gang of quirky New Yorkers.

Instead of just watching the usual cozy American shows, we’re now watching international, sub-titled intrigue like Squid Game and Parasite!

Instead of letting monsters like Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby get away with their crimes, we’re holding celebrities to absurdly high standards – even policing every tweet they share, looking for micro-aggressions.

The movies gave us everything we wanted, and wouldn’t you know, we’re still not satisfied.

If anything, New Hollywood risks overwriting its dramas and collecting so much demographic data and social media feedback that the showrunner’s original vision is being watered down by public opinion.

No, it’s not time to panic yet. Although it’s harder to tell a story now that’s not “socially aware” and PC, it’s not impossible.

Thought leaders in cinema are still cranking them out, like Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer), Mike Flanagan (Midnight Mass), Ari Aster (Midsommar), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) and Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).

It’s also a fantastic time to be a first-timer showrunner and tell a story we’ve never heard, such as Baby Reindeer by Richard Gadd or Pearl/X by Ti West.

True, it seems that the 2020 decade will be remembered as the generation of mishmashes and alternative universe pandering with the likes of Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit, and Fallout.

However, I believe it will join the overall 2010-2030 era scope as the generation that saw positive social change and tried so hard to document history being made for future audiences.

Of course, the punchline is that by 2050 or so, no one will understand what we’re talking about now.

It will be a “you had to be there” sort of thing, and the kids will scoff at how much we defend our now-forgotten 2020 heroes.

What do you think, TV fanatics? Will history be kind to the popular shows and movies of today? Hit the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Michael Arangua is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow him on X.

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