There are years in film history that have pressed their indelible handprints into our cultural sidewalk, forever changing the way we collectively share and experience cinema. 2010 was not one of those years. 2010 was as unappealing as Facebook status updates from a depressed former high-school acquaintance — “Y won’t anyone luv me?” 2010 was as repetitious as my next sentence. 2010 was as uninspired as an Adam Sandler comedy, was as expected as an Adam Sandler comedy and was as simplistic as an Adam Sandler comedy.
Sure, there were a few bright spots, but even a crippling migraine comes with a few bright spots. Let’s take a walk down memory lane before you flush this year twice for safety.
We’re (Not) in the Money
As is our tradition, let’s do the numbers to kick things off.
Despite the largest annual hike in ticket prices in over a decade (6 percent) and an onslaught of high-price add-ons (like IMAX, 3D … and smell-o-vision) that allowed for the first-ever single ticket of more than $20 (cue the “boing” sound effect), 2010 squatted and dropped a fat, smelly egg at the box office.
The final annual gross will be well below last year’s (down as much as 4 percent), and the total tickets sold (the true gauge of attendance) will be the lowest since 1995 (cue the “wa-wa” sound effect from “The Price is Right”). According to boxofficemojo.com, this year saw only 22 films cross the “blockbuster Mendoza line” of $100 million domestic gross, the lowest since 2005. Although it’s hard to hate that Toy Story 3 was the top dog this year with more than $415 million, it’s easy to hate that 7 of the top 10 films were remakes or sequels, with Inception as the only original film in the top 5 (cue “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other”).
In short, 2010 raised prices, sold less tickets and had less successful movies … and the ones that were successful were uninspired. Happy Holidays from 2010, here’s a fruitcake made of crap.
It’s a Beautiful Year for a Scandal
2010 also offered two interesting lessens in continued hypocrisy and self-entitlement, two great tastes that taste like hate together.
First up was the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continuing to demonstrate their overall uselessness and sporadic vileness when it comes to rating films. The Tillman Story , a documentary on the friendly fire death and cover up of former NFL star-turned-Army Ranger, was slapped with an “R” for “language.” This continued the MPAA’s insistence that F-bombs and boobies on screen do more to warp our youth than decapitation and disembowelment.
For an encore, the MPAA initially slapped Blue Valentine , an awards hopeful starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple in turmoil, with an NC-17 rating for some emotionally tumultuous sex. Although the rating was later reduced to an “R,” let 2010 be remembered as the year the MPAA reminded the world it is still a useless coalition of moral apologists and morons.
But the best hateful moment of 2010 in film came from Opie and Vince Vaughan. In a year when suicides by tormented gay youths gained national attention, Ron Howard’s upcoming abomination, The Dilemma , released a trailer wherein Vaughan told a “that’s gay” joke. Blasted by various gay rights organizations, the studio pulled the trailer. Yay for equality and compassion! Wait, what’s that paragraph doing below this one?
Tolerance apparently has a fruit fly lifespan, as Howard quickly announced the gay joke would stay in the final cut of the movie. In a wrong-headed, self-promoting, B.S.-spewing letter to the Los Angeles Times, Howard defended his decision by citing character development and freedom of ideas. In other words, the contents of that letter are sure to be funnier than his bomb-in-waiting.
Thanks for the censorship and discrimination, 2010!
The Date Wars Are Coming
Unless you owned stock in Blockbuster — and if you did … what the hell were you thinking? — the death knell of that company likely saddens you very little. Still, the rise of Netflix and Redbox has meant the eradication of the physical video store, a place where you could once browse the racks with your sweetie and make heartfelt compromises based on back-cover blurbs — “Wow, the guy from Wireless Magazine gave it 4 stars … it MUST be good!” Yes, the convenience and price of these non-brick-and-mortar alternatives is nifty, but pour some of your .40-oz out for the dead corner video store homies. 2010 pounded the nail in their coffin with fists full of dollars.
Oh, and it’s resulting in war: a release date war. Studios are negotiating with On Demand cable services, Blockbuster and other outlets to delay streaming availability to Netflix and rental options for Redbox. These “exclusive windows” are expanding from a few days to weeks or months, forcing the public to choose between subscription services that offer wider selections or faster releases. Do you want it now or do you want more? Any year that forces us to choose between instant gratification and excess is un-American.
At Least We Live in Omaha
Here’s the good news: Omaha is still killin’ it, yo.
Native son Nik Fackler scored a Spirit Award nomination for Lovely, Still. The new, beautiful Aksarben Theater just opened, and the Marcus Midtown Theater just completed its first full year of operation; this gives Omaha the widest selection of theaters in its history, which is never a bad thing. Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater continues to unspool brilliant art house fare, pump out wicked-cool events and deliver important community involvement … so much so that they were given a fatty-fat grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Heck, they even announced this year that Steven Soderbergh is coming soon (in February).
Thus, safely tucked inside the womb of Omaha, 2010 was definitely livable. Check it out, we ended on a positive.
Look, 2010 could have been worse. No, wait, there was a fourth Shrek sequel this year. Let’s just quickly flip the calendar and pretend this never happened.