I am a firm believer that you can learn a lot about someone by asking them what their guilty pleasure movies are. The reason why is because a person’s “guilty pleasure” reveals a little bit about their intellect as well as a little bit about their emotions. The very definition of a guilty pleasure is a struggle between these two sides that exist in every person. I love learning what makes someone happy as well as what a person believes should make them happy.
However, one thing I don’t think we talk about enough is the other side of the coin. That is, the movies that we think should make us happy that just don’t. I call them guilty apathy movies. These are those films where I recognize on an intellectual level that the movie is well-executed. It’s a solid idea that’s written well, acted well, shot well, and edited well. These are the cases where it’s incredibly difficult to point at something and say “welp, there’s the flaw that killed the whole thing” (not that I won’t try anyway).
Yet at the same time, guilty apathy movies just don’t punch me in the gut and make me feel something. They’re not fun the way something like Adventures in Babysitting or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is fun. They don’t give me a precious “d’awww” moment like When Harry Met Sally or Crazy, Stupid, Love. They don’t rip my heart out like Steel Magnolias or Pay it Forward. They don’t make me laugh the way I laugh at Mean Girls or My Cousin Vinny. They don’t inspire me like Sing Streetor Whiplash. They don’t take me on the adventure of Kingsman: The Secret Service or Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
So the Internet is talking about the Oscars. Specifically, they’re talking about a controversial decision to present an award for “Achievement in Popular Film” in addition to the regular Best Picture Oscar.
It’s still up in the air as to what constitutes a “popular” movie and The Hollywood Reporter has a great piece articulating all the potential logistic issues with that. It seems to me though that the general intention of the Academy is to shrink the disconnect between its members and the general movie-going public. The logic seems to be “if our telecast features all these Star Wars and superhero movies that everyone likes, people will be more likely to care about our awards and tune into the ceremony.”
I will say I think the Academy’s heart is in the right place. It’s always been a little irksome to me how many awesome movies are never recognized by the Academy simply because they’re not the Academy’s type. Personally, I think a better solution would be to introduce genre categories. For example, there are Grammys for Best Country Album, Best Rock Album, Best Rap Album, etc. in addition to an overall Album of the Year award. Likewise there could be Oscars for Best Comedy, Best Horror, Best Action, Best Sci-Fi, etc. in addition to a Best Picture Award.
I have some issues with this whole “popular” thing though. There’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg issue because most years, there are a fair number of films that become more popular precisely because they are nominated for an Oscar. One of the more positive things about the awards is that they encourage audiences to go out and see smaller indie films that never would have had such a large audience without their nominations. Now, those small indie films may have to compete for screens with the popular movie nominees.
So like many people, I watched a certain show called Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child. And like a far smaller number, I also went to see the new documentary about this show entitled Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And I also imagine that like most of the people who went to see the documentary, I probably hadn’t watched a real episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in over a decade.
Children’s programming is fascinating to me for a lot of different reasons. One of them is that children don’t overanalyze. Children don’t care about historical context. Children just know if they like something or it they don’t like it. Part of what makes Won’t You Be My Neighbor? so special is that it takes a show most of us are familiar with and provides that context we couldn’t understand as children.
Had I seen it before: No! We have officially reached uncharted waters with the PotC franchise. I always got the impression that On Stranger Tides was where they officially crossed the line from storytelling into money grubbing and thus I lost interest.
What IMDb says: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a movie starring Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, and Ian McShane. Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.