LESSON #1: WHEN IMPORTANT DIVERSITY IS IN PLAY, EXTRA HYPE IS WARRANTED— Not understanding the important opportunities for diversity is equivalent to being tone deaf. Recently some people tried to bash the female empowerment frenzy over the very existence of Wonder Woman, no matter if the film itself was any good. After its trailer debut, pockets of ostriches with heads in the sand are doing the same with the new trailer for Black Panther and the fervid immediate and early hype from the black audiences. Let me put it like this when it comes to Wonder Woman and Black Panther: “If you don’t understand why these films are important on principle alone, then you are part of the problem.” The marketplace doesn’t just need these films, they deserve them. Their importance assigned by their demographics and fanbases grants them warranted extra hype.
LESSON #2: NEW SOURCES WILL INVADE AWARDS RACES THIS WINTER— Indiewire had a nice story recently talking about the Oscar chances of Get Out and Emmy chances of Netflix offerings. I, for one, am all for it, but early-year films like Jordan Peele’s hit are going to need help coming November and December thanks to good old “out of sight/out of mind” syndrome. More critics and voters need to keep these films in the conscientiousness of viewers and watchers.
LESSON #3: WHEN STEVEN SPIELBERG CALLS, YOU SAY YES— Speaking of the Oscars, just about everything the legendary Steven Spielberg touches becomes some kind of Oscar nominee or winner. For his upcoming and fast-tracked December film The Papers (and no, it’s not about supplies from your weed guy), he is multiplying that Midas Touch with having fellow Academy darlings Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep headlining. If that wasn’t colossal enough, take a gander at the supporting ensemble cast assembled by Spielberg behind Hanks and Streep. If that’s not an eclectic “Murderer’s Row” of character actors, I don’t know what is. The Spielberg clout is real. Get Out and Netflix be damned, but say an early hello to your new Oscar frontrunner.
LESSON #4: STEVEN SPIELBERG APPARENTLY NEEDS TO CALL MORE WOMEN— Well-liked actress and emerging filmmaker Elizabeth Banks attempted to put Steven Spielberg on blast for not ever having directed a film with a female lead. Her rant, which lead to a public apology, was quickly dispelled when she learned of The Color Purple. That’s the only film it takes from Spielberg to negate the “never” in Banks’ words, but I think the crux of her argument remains fair. Even when you add Sugarland Express and the little girl from The BFG, Steven is more than a shade low in his percentages of female leading roles. It wouldn’t kill him to rethink that. Watch him follow in the footsteps of Banks and direct a Pitch Perfect sequel to shut everyone up.
LESSON #5: ARTSY-FARTSY PEOPLE APPARENTLY HATE JARED LETO— Academy Award winner and Suicide Squad actor Jared Leto was recently named the Chief Creative Officer of the film streaming service Fandor, pissing off film snobs everywhere. Fandor fashions itself as a database for indie films, documentaries, international features and shorts. Apparently to the high-end cinephiles, Leto has sold out and is not qualified. People forget before he was Joker, the man won an Oscar and worked with off the beaten path with the likes of Fincher, Aronofsky, Malick, Toback, Mangold, Schumacher, Stone, Niccol, and Villeneuve. Beyond his work resume, Leto has championed his own broadcast and social platform business VyRt for five years. Dude, he’s quite qualified. He’s not going to ruin the place. In fact, watch it multiple with a driven guy at the helm.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.