2017 is here and awards season is in full swing. Two Penn Cinema and Media Studies professors offered up their thoughts about the year in film in anticipation of the impending Oscars noms and the public outrage that will (probably) ensue. Here's what they had to say:
Professor Karen Redrobe
Karen Redrobe, a professor of Cinema and Modern Media and chair of the History of Art department, is an ardent fan of Moonlight, particularly its acting, writing and "beautiful cinematography and lighting."
"Right at the end of the year I saw Moonlight, and I thought that was a really beautiful film," she explained. "I hope it gets Academy Awards."
Redrobe was less than enthusiastic about La La Land, which just this past week swept several major award categories at the Golden Globes, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Motion Picture in the Comedy or Musical designation. Although she appreciated the film's renewed interest in the musical genre, she found the movie itself disappointing—especially considering the hype around the casting choices.
"They're both actors that I like, Emma Stone and [Ryan] Gosling, but I felt that the kind of films they were paying tribute to in Hollywood's past had so superior dancers in them, and that there was a real sense of lack and a kind of flatness," she said. "I think there are some sort of interesting questions about different kinds of talent, and how talent and stardom get weighed against each other."
Redrobe, who is also interested in documentary film, had some concerns about The Eagle Huntress, another popular film going into awards season. The film centers around a girl who becomes the first woman allowed to train as an eagle hunter in a nomadic tribe in Kazakhstan.
"I thought it was a pretty complicated, problematic film in terms of its...pseudo-propogandive [sic] use of gender," Redrobe said. "This girl is a kind of American prototype of a liberated woman."
She even suspected the performances in the film to be scripted and directed, rather than natural or unplanned.
"There seemed to be such an agenda, a kind of Western liberal agenda to prove that by adopting...what is basically a white liberal feminist view, these traditional societies could be improved upon," Redrobe explained. "I really did not like the film."
But overall, she always circles back to Moonlight.
"The film that I really hope wins a lot of awards is Moonlight," she said. "I can't say I feel super enthusiastic about a lot of other films."
Professor Timothy Corrigan
Timothy Corrigan, a professor of English, Cinema Studies and History of Art was excited about a few films this past year, but he didn't attempt to predict which ones would win awards.
"I'm always wrong!" he said. "I know what should win, I know which movies really stand out to me that I've seen so far."
He listed Moonlight, American Honey, Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water among these standouts.
Corrigan saw 2016 as a fairly typical year for film culture, but he did note the buzz created by platforms such as Amazon and Netflix.
"The movement of movies from brick–and–mortar theaters onto computers and smaller screens, that's only going to gain more momentum," he said. "It's not going to make the traditional distributors and studios happy, because it jacks up the price on all those things."
Overall, Corrigan sees contemporary film culture as a mixed bag.
"There's good stuff, and there's a lot of junk," he said. "Most of the money goes into a lot of junk."
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