On the Monday following the 2023 Academy Awards ceremony, Ben Shapiro tweeted a thoughtful point about films featured at the Academy Awards. He posited that no one actually loves the Oscar winners anymore and not since 2007 with the brilliant No Country for Old Men has anyone bothered to watch a Best Picture winner five years after its release (a decent measure of “staying power” or love). His point is basically that the Academy no longer knows how to spot and award a “classic” like they used to with films like When Harry Met Sally, Bravehart and Silence of the Lambs.
Looking at the winners between 2008 and 2018 (five years ago) Shapiro is absolutely correct with perhaps the exception of Shape of Water which is so infamously weird that I think future generations may see it on film curriculum and it may stand the test of time in a cultish way. When you compare the films of the 2008 – 2018 era to those from the ten years prior it’s really a shocking dichotomy. There are a slew of films between 1997 and 2007 that are considered “must watch” by the filmy community and average viewers alike including 2006’s The Departed, 2003’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, 2002’s Chicago, 2000’s Gladiator, and 1997’s Titanic. All certified classics.
It begs the question: will any of the films post 2018 (which we can’t quite measure with the 5 year rule) be considered classics? Can we restore the glory of films? Or are those days gone?
2019’s winner is Parasite – not a likely classic
People who have seen Parasite say that it’s great. However, the film is performed in English and for the purposes of looking at American held classics, it’s not likely to ever broach the mainstream let alone be considered a “must watch.”
2020’s winner was Nomadland – eh, probably not despite being great
Nomadland is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. It absolutely deserved Best Picture because it was a captivating and moving piece of art. I have seen it many times. That being said, I do not think it has the extra something (the collective awe) that makes a film a classic. I do not think this film will be often visited by new viewers or old after once it’s over 5 years old.
2021’s winner was CODA – I think this one will be at least a cult classic
CODA is the most special film I’ve seen in a few years and the best review The Conservative Critic has ever given a film. It is extremely relatable, approachable and deeply heartfelt. This is a sleeper where I think viewers are going to be discovering it over the next several years and it is going to become more of a cult classic than a classic with a very loyal following of those who have discovered it.
Everything, Everywhere, All at Once – maybe cause it’s so weird
Sometimes the sheer weirdness of a film can really carry it into iconoclasm. Especially when the weirdness is isolated into specificity. In this film’s case: hot dog fingers. A Clockwork Orange comes to mind. Think Ludovico technique (the open eye brainwashing). Really Kubrick generally comes to mind.If the creators of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once continue to make similarly chaotic and innovative (albeit not my favorite) pieces of film, it’s actually possible this one could become a classic in the same context in which Kubrick’s work is considered classic.