You must have asked yourself or friends this same exact question, especially if you’re not a big fan of Hollywood. So I decided to write this well researched article in the veins of Hollywood (like I’m Hollywood itself) in order to clearly answer that question “What makes Hollywood so exceptional”.
It’s been 25 years since Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape made a huge Cannes splash and helped change Hollywood for good, steering in an independent filmmaking movement that would redefine the industry. And it’s been 15 years since The Sopranos came along and changed television forever. In the time since those two seismic events, we’ve seen highs and lows, times both fertile and fallow.
But right now, no matter how many drumbeats of doom and despair and endless Transformers spinoffs, I’d say we’re in an upsurge. We can groan about sequelitis and bad reality shows, about the repetitive churn of the superhero mega-market and copy-cat comedies, and about the validity of various corners of celebrity culture. But there’s so much about Hollywood that’s worthy of celebration.
Better movies are being created by studios, great independent films are easier and easier to find, and television is enjoying a golden age to end all golden ages. It’s been quite a long time since Hollywood looked this exceptional. So what makes it so special and exceptional?
HOLLYWOOD MEANS SOMETHING NEW
First off, we should probably establish our terms. While the word “Hollywood” may still conjure up visions of cigar-chomping studio executives and soulless business lunches at the Ivy (and those things do still exist), what we actually consume as filmed entertainment is coming through all kinds of different, nontraditional channels these days.
And that’s a good thing! While the studios aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, which is also a good thing (more on that later), new avenues have opened up, ones that can take whatever is inside a director or writer or performer’s head all the way to us with incredible ease.
New spreading models like same-day On Demand and Netflix mean that previously little-seen films that would only briefly flicker on a single screen in Manhattan can be seen by a much wider audience. (Just look at the success of last year’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC productions.) And while this might enrage certain critics, we the people benefit from it. Yes, it means more to sift through any casual scan of what’s available for instant watch on Netflix reveals that there are a lot of bad movies made every year, but having options is ultimately a good thing. The same can be said for TV shows, which are finding whole flourishing second lives on streaming services.
You know what, take a look at the building success of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad and Scandal. Netflix helped them build an audience over time, eventually turning them into phenomenons. And it’s not just how things get to us, it’s how they’re made, too.
While some of us, ahem, may have grumbled about the Veronica Mars and Zach Braff Kickstarter campaigns, their success with that kind of fundraising could mean that other filmmakers, lesser-known non-millionaire ones even, could find the money they need for their worthwhile projects.
Not to mention the free bit of press that comes with any notable crowdfunding success. The more that far-flung filmmakers are allowed into the party, the more everyone has to step up their game to get our attention. Sure big-budget projects are still dominating, and likely always will of course, but down in the lower-budget realms, variety is in bloom. And we’re the direct beneficiaries of that. While old notions of Hollywood may still persist, the industry is evolving, for the better, faster than ever before.
THE BLOCKBUSTERS ARE BETTER
Putting aside all the indie crowdfundy stuff, Hollywood is currently living in an age of the elevated blockbuster. Sure we’re still subjected to a bunch of clunkers every year (cough, After Earth, cough), but lately we’ve also been treated to dark, tailored opuses by the likes of Christopher Nolan and Rian Johnson, sparkling comic odysseys from the seemingly bulletproof Marvel team, and, with The Hunger Games, the rare YA franchise that feels grim and serious instead of trivial and distraught.
As the mega-hit Frozen is still proving, not only is the animated musical ripe for a renaissance, but it is possible for a non-Pixar studio to make wildly successful children’s fare that isn’t pandering or cynical in its commercial aims.
HOLLYWOOD HAVE A NEW CLASS OF MOVIE STARS
As much as some of us are loathe to admit it, there is something undeniably captivating about the big mega Movie Star. Trouble is, until recently they’ve been in short supply.
As one generation got older, for a while there we were having trouble replacing them. But then, suddenly, enter Chris Hemsworth (Thor; son of Odin the Asgardian), Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and the biggest movie star of the moment, Jennifer Lawrence (Arguably the most beautiful Hollywood actress of the 21st century). Here are gorgeous gods and goddesses who are also smart, who have good taste, and who can do drama, comedy, and popcorn with equal aplomb. And they’re endearing, fascinating without being overexposed.
Which isn’t to say that the old guard is entirely gone. Tom Cruise has been making a noble run at recapturing the spotlight, Matthew McConaughey is undergoing an exciting career overhaul, and Ben Affleck has successfully styled himself as a younger, cuddlier George Clooney.
Would have to continue but I’ve got lots of other annoying questions from non-Hollywood lovers to answer with a befitting article like this one.
But with this I guess I was able to answer your question “What makes Hollywood so exceptional”. So next time don’t ask that question again especially not with a smirk on your face.