LESSON #1: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GOING TO NETFLIX— I don’t know where the stigma came that Netflix is where losers go to get work. It’s probably because of the current career chapter of Adam Sandler being housed there. Many auteur feathers were ruffled by the news that Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited reunion film “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and the long-lost Joe Pesci, was heading to Netflix instead of a wide theatrical release via Paramount Pictures. This is a business decision, plain and simple, and Netflix has come to play. They want to get into the prestige film business and have the resources to do it and exclusivity to offer. I can completely see Paramount’s end of it too. As deeply loved and respected (to death) as “Silence” was, the opus was a flop for Paramount’s bottom line, earning back a scant $7 million and change against a $40 million budget. Also, let’s look at marketability. What was the last marque hit headlined by De Niro or Pacino as legit leads? Face it, they are legends mired in decline. I don’t care how many people love the old days of “Goodfellas.” If the modern stars of “The Wolf of Wall Street” can only mildly top the $100 million plateau after an Oscar push on a $100 million budget, “The Irishman,” bearing the same $100 budget and likely R-rated genre, doesn’t stand much of a better chance with old has-beens above the title. Any junior marketing intern can show Paramount that math.
LESSON #2: DIRECTOR GORE VERBINSKI IS BROKEN AND NEEDS FIXING— Discerning movie audiences were stoked at the proposition of director Gore Verbinski going back to his “The Ring”-esque horror/thriller roots with “A Cure for Wellness” after five Johnny Depp films (three “Pirates” movies, “Rango,” and “The Lone Ranger”). Gaudy results or not, the man has talent. Audiences didn’t bite and the film debuted in a distant 11th place. “A Cure for Wellness” should have been just what the doctor ordered. He needs some career rehab now. He needs something different and has to resist the temptation to go back to the Depp well for a weak commercial hit to stay on the radar.
LESSON #3: AWARD WINNERS ARE ALLOWED TO GET AS POLITICAL AS THEY WANT IN ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES— I’m going to put this out there in advance. It’s called freedom of speech. They earned their 45 seconds of mic time before the orchestra plays them off and it’s their choice to use it however they want. If you don’t like it, turn the channel. Go to the kitchen for a snack. Take a bathroom break. Problem solved. It’s that easy. I’ll forward the internet meme rant here: You lost the right to bitch about this when you elected an unqualified reality TV show host as the President of the United States of America. Enjoy your TV dinner of hypocrisy and butthurt feelings.
LESSON #4: FOR EVERY OSCAR-WINNING FILM THIS WEEKEND, THERE ARE 10 OTHER NON-NOMINATED FILMS OF BURIED TREASURE WAITING FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT— Let’s say this too in advance before Sunday’s 89th Academy Awards. The Oscars are a pinnacle for a politically-voted process of taste and preference. Their taste can inform, but will never replace and should not solely dictate your taste or your barometer of preferences. You get to like and shower the films you love with praise. Fly your own flag and love the movies you love. The amount of excellent films that will never win an Oscar is larger than those that will. Dig deeper and find your own buried treasure. If you need some picks from last year, here’s a list of 16 hidden gems from 2016, all making under $1 million at the box office. Only one of them, the documentary “Life, Animated” was nominated for Sunday.
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 President 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.