It’s that time of year again. Overall, a painfully disappointing year from Hollywood. Wrought with sequels and still choking from the wake of the 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike, 2011 may be the worst year for movies in my lifetime (certainly in the last decade since I’ve considered myself a connoisseur of such things). Notwithstanding Netflix or anything else, I don’t think I would go out of my way to buy or see many of these movies again. Underwhelming publicity campaigns and Rotten Tomatoes scores only pulled me out to see 36 titles. Having seen so few, I am certainly missing a handful that may find their way onto this list posthumously. We’ll see. I’ll recommend them as they come.
All negativity and pessimism aside, the following ten films made an impression on me and I recommend them. Cinephiles, please go out of your way to see my #1. In reverse order:
In the good ol’ days, content was king. Producers and publishers thrived off of the complexity, scarcity, and cost of generating and distributing entertainment. Very few people could publish a book, record an album, or produce a theatrical feature film. Times have changed. Through the commodification of consumer production tools and publishing platforms, content generation and distribution are easier than ever. The result? Far too much noise. Public discourse is completely cluttered by personal voice. To whom should you listen?
Ears and eyeballs are in high demand. Seth Godin said, “We don’t have an information shortage; we have an attention shortage.” Content is no longer king. Attention is king. Those who command the respect of the masses command the value of entertainment product. Content Producers are less powerful than ever. Content Curators, like companies and critics who drive discoverability and promote entertainment traffic, are taking the cake. Warner Bros. demonstrated a progressive value in discovery platforms through the purchase of Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes. Systems like Netflix, Pandora and YouTube that navigate consumers through targeted entertainment are dominating the market. As the library of public content continues to grow, so too will the value proposition of these companies.
Platforms are the near future. Traditional theaters need to wake up and smell the opportunity. As it stands, film exhibitors are little more than the leashed pets of the movie business – completely at the whim of their masters. If theaters take liberties to curate, program, and leverage alternative product against the studios, their value to the average consumer will increase tenfold. The quality of entertainment will increase, revenues will increase, and cultural sophistication will increase. Theater owners know their communities well and should play an active role in curating entertainment. Curator Exhibitors (theaters) need to earn the respect of local audiences by consistently screening top-notch entertainment and communitizing outside Hollywood.