2017 has been a rather monumental year for the world that most people are very much hoping to quickly forget and move on from.
The film industry certainly has a lot of issues, events and practices that they might want to leave in the past and not carry into 2018. So here’s a few New Year’s resolutions Hollywood might want to keep so it can become the best it has to offer.
1. Give female directors more to do
2017 was a monumental year for female directors with the likes of Patty Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, Dee Rees, Angela Robinson, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow, Amma Asanta and So Yong Kim earning critical acclaim for their movies.
But there is still a disparity between the amount of men and women directing movies, with only four female directors ever making a movie with $100 million budget. Jenkins proved she could handle it this year with Wonder Woman and it’s time studios started giving as many chances to critically-acclaimed female directors as they do white male.
2. Stop white-washing roles
Over the years, cinema has been littered with white actors playing ethnic roles but in 2017 the practice faced its biggest backlash. From Scarlett Johansson playing iconic Japanese manga character Major Motoko Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell remake to Ed Skrein being cast as an Asian-American character Ben Daimio in the Hellboy reboot, diverse audiences are saying no and their collective voice is making an impact.
Ghost in the Shell suffered both critically and commercially but Skrein set a new precedent by dropping out of the role to allow Korean-American Daniel Dae Kim to play the part. Let’s hope the film industry has taken note and left white-washing in the past.
3. Invest in more mid-budget movies
Over the last few years we’ve seen studios invest less and less in the $20-$50 million budget movies as they funnel most of their money into reboots, remakes and comic book movies that they are more certain will offer a better return on their investment.
However, we’ve see mid-budget movies like IT: Chapter One ($35m), Wonder ($20m) and Atomic Blonde ($20m) take home decent box offices. IT: Chapter One did exceptionally well, becoming the highest-grossing horror movie ever (not adjusted for inflation) when it earned $698.1 million. Let’s give mid-budgets a chance again, please.
4. Finance more original scripts
Of the top 20 highest grossing movies of 2017, worldwide, Dunkirk was the only live-action film to not be a remake, reboot, sequel or part of a franchise. It was totally original and Hollywood needs to be making more of these films.
We need to be offering filmmakers more of a variety and showing original movies in more mainstream cinemas and for longer. Studios, distributors and cinemas need to be working together to ensure there is a wealth of films on offer to viewers. Given the decline of visitors to movie theatres it certainly couldn’t hurt.
5. Give Octavia Spencer a leading role
Ever since Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Help she has been stuck in supporting role purgatory. In 2017 she appeared in five films – Hidden Figures, The Shack, Small Town Crime, Gifted and The Shape of Water – and not one of them saw her taking the lead.
It’s an insult to her talent and ability as an actress and it’s time someone cast her in a leading part or write one for her.
6. Stop Matt Damon from talking
Matt Damon is not a bad person but he has a bad approach to the discussion of the sexual harassment crisis in Hollywood. Damon just can’t stop talking about it and keeps digging himself a hole because he keeps trying to dictate the terms by which we deal with abusers and the conversation.
In 2018, Hollywood should reclaim its time from Matt Damon and others who are hindering the discussion.
7. Bring back the rom-com
There has been a massive decline in the amount of romantic comedies being made compared to the first ten years of this century, which has probably something to do with our changing attitudes to the way relationships are being portrayed. The female demographic no longer want to settle for the sexist and misogynist tropes of the chick flick and it feels like studios don’t want to risk getting it wrong.
However, 2017 saw the likes of The Big Sick, Home, Again and Landline offer a more contemporary perspective on the genre which means there’s hope for the rom-com yet, if the industry actually makes more of an effort towards finding good stories from diverse writers.
8. Enough with the superficial protests
Ever since the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story broke, Hollywood has come undone with stories of other abuses finally being made public. The positive of this is the amount of women and men speaking up and having a voice, and throwing their weight behind campaigns to improve the working conditions in the industry.
But superficial protests like going silent for a day on social media or wearing black to the Golden Globes are eye-rolling. It is the bare-minimum form of support a person can give and being silent is exactly what victims are fighting against. Let’s see more campaigns like Time’s Up lead the way in 2018.
9. Allow diverse filmmakers to direct more than minority-related films
Why is it still the case that white men can direct any type of movie genre, about any ethnic group or gender, but women and people of colour are largely limited to films concerning their own sex or race? Yes, Patty Jenkins was the best choice to direct Wonder Woman and Ryan Coogler to direct Black Panther, because they have an intrinsic understanding of the titular characters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t direct white-male led movies as well.
And let’s not forget that we’ve had forty years of white men directing Star Wars movies, so in 2018 let’s start giving women and people of colour a turn in that director’s chair too.
10. Stop giving deplorable actors and filmmakers an easy ride
Instead of giving the same problematic stars and directors countless chances and opportunities to make movies let’s give performers and filmmakers, who are just as talented, a seat at the table. Instead of glorifying the work of controversial artists let’s start championing the art of people who haven’t abused their position to harm others.
Johnny Depp and Mel Gibson aren’t that great a contributors to Hollywood that they deserve to be continually invited to star and make mainstream movies in spite of their questionable past.