As someone who loves going to the movie theater, I have to ask… is there a place for ‘not-distinguished’ movies?
The Oscar nomination list came out a couple weeks ago, and while there were movies nominated that I would like to see sometime such as "Jojo Rabbit" (a best picture nominee), "Knives Out" (best screenplay) and "Missing Link" (best animated feature), most of the movies nominated I had never seen and probably never will. That’s not to say I’m "anti-art film" or anything like that, from what I’ve heard most of these movies deserve their respective nominations and I’m not going to dismiss the hard work that’s put into these movies.
Still, I have to wonder… What about awards for films that aren’t masterpieces or works of art, for films that don’t “redefine cinema” or make a billion dollars? What about the films that just make you smile?
One of my favorite films from 2019 was "Detective Pikachu," a kid’s flick based off a spinoff game that I never played, based on a franchise I grew up with. The movie’s writing was pretty basic with a pretty ridiculous climax and some jokes being hit or miss. Yet I can’t deny just how much fun I had while watching it, making the effort to see it twice. Ryan Reynolds as a Pikachu just somehow works — kind of like "Deadpool." It’s almost like it was the role he was born to play — and newcomer Justice Smith also did an awesome job.
Yet despite taking on the monstrous (pun unintended) task of making Pokemon real, the film didn’t even get an effects nomination. To add salt into the wound, the company that did the effects — Moving Picture Company — closed its Vancouver studios. "Shazam" was another movie I enjoyed. Maybe not groundbreaking, but still a fun time. Same with "Poms" and, while I didn’t get a chance to see it unfortunately, "Jumanji: The Next Level" seemed like it was on par with the first movie.
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Not every movie is for everybody, and yes I agree that when a film does something extraordinary and amazing it should be praised with awards. But what about the movies that don’t quite hit that mark but are still good? For movies you can say “Yeah, that was a pretty good time, I’m really glad I saw that” and keep a spot on your DVD shelf for, even if you don’t watch it all the time?
I’m an animation fan first and foremost. I remember seeing films like "Monsters VS Aliens," "Hotel Transylvania," "Megamind," "the Lego Batman Movie" and other silly movies over and over again in theaters, enjoying myself each time. I remember seeing smaller films like "Aardman’s Pirates: Band of Misfits" and Jorge Gutierrez’s "The Book of Life" too — films that maybe aren’t as distinguished or as big as Disney but are still filled with lovable characters and distinct visions.
Unfortunately, each time I found one of these movies — ones that I thoroughly enjoyed and that made me smile and laugh and had themes or characters that I connected with — I would soon find myself asking months later when award season came around, “Why aren’t they recognizing these movies too? I thought they were good, and I know a lot of other people did too.”
The sad truth is, sometimes making people smile and have a nice time at the movies just isn’t enough to get you remembered by a wide majority of people. We have awards for masterpieces, for independent films, and even for garbage movies (gotta love the Razzies), but unfortunately it’s just not possible to give every movie that may deserve some recognition a “hey, you did a good job, nice work” award.
Still, there is a bright side. With social media being more inclusive and wide-spread than ever, many creators and artists can still see reactions beyond Rotten Tomatoes reviews and are able to interact with fans and know that their movie truly connected with some people, even if it didn’t get a boat load of cash and awards.
But really, if there’s a movie that you really liked and that feel got left behind or misjudged when it first came out, the best thing you can do to support it and its creators is just spread the word. Bring it up when someone mentions recommendations, buy a physical copy of the movie, make a YouTube video or a Tweet on it, reblog funny memes relating to it, whatever! If you feel a movie didn’t get the attention it deserved, then give it some! It may not seem like much after the fact, but if it helps keep a movie alive in a certain way, then why not?
I feel like we should all keep in mind, especially around awards season, that a movie shouldn’t have to be amazing and near-perfection in order to deserve recognition or remembrance. Sometimes, when you’re just looking for a bit of fun at the movies to help take your mind off things, just watching something that makes you smile or connects with you in a small but significant way is enough.