LESSON #1: YOUNGER IS BETTER AND LONGER LASTING— Before you say “that’s what she said,” let me explain that I’m are talking about Batman. Word hit hard that Ben Affleck is retiring (i.e. passed over and forced out) from the role of the Caped Crusader, one he already entered while in his 40s (granted, they sought a veteran intentionally). Warner Bros. moves forward with the Matt Reeves-helmed The Batman for 2021 and I’m begging they go younger. Don’t do another guy over 40 and don’t even do another actor in their mid-to-late 30s. Lock in a steady Batman in his prime and past his overly-told origin story in the starting age range of 25-29. Let that guy own the role for a decade instead of being interchangeable like bad underwear.
LESSON #2: THE INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS ARE LOOKING BETTER THAN THE OSCARS RIGHT NOW— Between the many harebrained decisions and non-decisions being made by the Academy and their show producers (awards during commercial breaks, go/no-go on song nominees) and their semi-questionable nominees, the Oscars are looking like a, pardon my French, a s–tshow right now. I look the day before the Oscars at the slate and schedule for the Independent Spirit Awards and I’m duly impressed. Those are true nominees of the best of film. That’s a red carpet and party I’d rather be at.
LESSON #3: NETFLIX KNOWS WHAT’S GOOD FOR THEM— Speaking of the Oscars, there has been an anti-Netflix sentiment for the last few years. This simmering industry stench of haters surrounds how Netflix’s streaming service does not commonly include theatrical distribution. One of the Academy’s rules for awards qualification is to have at least a soft theatrical release somewhere. Netflix has bent to that in small ways (Mudbound) and big ways (Roma). Well, their biggest bend of all dropped soon after Netflix snagged 15 total nominations when they agreed to join the MPAA. It’s an olive branch of commitment to make nice and do good by the industry that they are steadily part of reforming every year.
LESSON #4: NETFLIX KEEPS REMINDING US HOW AMBITIOUS THEY ARE— At the same time the streaming giant shows industry savvy, Netflix continues to stoke its hubris fires with the burning of subscription dollars (thanks, price increases!). Back at the end of December, Netflix announced its intentions of pacing to churn out 90 films a year with budgets as high as $200 million. That’s beyond huge. That’s bigger than Disney’s output. With every high profile acquisition, every word-of-mouth hit, and, more importantly, every influx of subscribers, Netflix becomes a bigger player. A critic like me or Aaron and Patch on Feelin’ Film could cover only Netflix films and fill a year’s worth of review quota.
YOU CAN’T BEAT FREE— Marvel is partnering with AMC Theatres to re-release Black Panther for FREE at several locations during Black History Month. Folks, you won’t find a better price to see an Oscar nominee short of some library screening or summer kids club event at a daycare center. You get Ryan Coogler’s gem with all the bells and whistles of a real big screen. Go catch it again or for the first time.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication. As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.