Saturday, January 24, 2009


This year's Oscar nominees were announced on Thursday, but some other thing (political, wouldn't you know?) took up most of the news this week. And so, a really interesting development in the bigtime showbiz show got little notice this week- independent film got some props.

But isn't that the history of the independent film movement? Unless it had major studio backing (which, let's face it- all independent films you hear about have, somewhere along the way, gotten major studio backing), you'd only here about it as an interesting development. A sidebar notice in The New York Times. A major actor talking about "getting back to his roots" by working on a smaller budgeted "personal project".

Films like "Frozen River" (above) would only be noticed because Melissa Leo is the star. And this would only be noted because she was once on TV.

And the same with "The Visitor" (above), Tom McCarthy's new film starring character actor extraordinaire Richard Jenkins. It would be that little segment on a late eighties/early nineties "Entertainment Tonight" episode, when they weren't talking about "Ishtar" or "Waterworld" going over budget. It would begin "You may recognize the face, but this actor has never been a lead- until now!"
The actors on one of my other blogs "You Know The Face..." are actors like these (and indeed all of the links in this article are linked to pieces I did on them there. Synergy).
Helping fill out the good films to make them greater.
Or being the great thing about a mediocre movie. Have a good memory of "Starship Troopers"? It was probably because of Clancy Brown. Or "Making Mr. Right"? Maybe you're really remembering how good Laurie Metcalf was. I don't know, I thought they were both pretty good, but then, I haven't seen them in awhile and memories are a funny thing.
This year's Oscars have made indies the major serious, adult, mature movie source. Besides "Frost/Nixon" and "Blah, blah, blah Benjamin Button" (the original title), the only other serious major studio contender was "The Dark Knight". And that's a topic for another post. The Academy has now acknowledged that the studios farm out most of their stuff for adults to the mini-majors or "independent" boutique studios they have deals with, or own.
Today "Chinatown" would be made by the Weinsteins, "Network" by Focus Films and "Norma Rae" would be developed at Sundance and released by Warner's through a special arrangement with Robert Redford.
We live in interesting times.
Also, I believe an African-American was elected President of the United States.

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