AFI’s moments of significance in 2009

Posted by · 1:14 pm · December 28th, 2009

James Cameron on the set of AvatarThey should add an “L” between the “F” and the “I.”  American Film List Institute.  Anyway, this just arrived via press release.  The criteria is apparently “accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.”

It leads off with the obvious choice.  More after the jump:

AVATAR – JAMES CAMERON’S MILEPOST IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE ART FORM

James Cameron’s pioneering effort to unleash the human imagination was fully realized in 2009 with the release of AVATAR, a film that firmly established itself as a landmark in the way stories are told.

With an army of technological wizards at his side, writer/director/producer/co-editor Cameron called upon the forces of art and technology to create new tools for storytelling that are groundbreaking in both scope and scale.

The magic of the motion picture – and the transfer of its power to television and now video games – has always found its truest power in its immersive qualities, and with Cameron’s advances in CGI (computer-generated images) and 3-D, AVATAR enters AFI’s almanac as an achievement that will have profound effects on the future of the art form.

TWITTER: THE NEW WATERCOOLER

Twitter, the Internet platform for messages of up to 140 characters, has become a powerful force in the worlds of film and television. It has long been proven that the most effective way to attract an audience is through “word of mouth,” and Twitter allows for these influential conversations to be immediate and international.

Twitter has also created new and direct channels of communication for artists to speak directly to their fan base. Most notably, in 2009, Ashton Kutcher enlisted over one million followers to his “tweets.”

In marketing terms, Twitter and other forms of social networking have allowed motion pictures and television programs the opportunity to both expand and unite their audiences. For example, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY became a cultural sensation in 2009 for mastering “word of mouth” marketing via social networks, in addition to telling a terrifying tale very well. In television, Twitter helped to ensure “appointment television” by creating venues for viewers to comment on shows as they aired. For example, GLEE employed Twitter to broaden its fan base of “Gleeks.”

THE LENO EXPERIMENT AND THE LOSS OF DRAMA

On September 14, 2009, NBC premiered THE JAY LENO SHOW, a reformatted version of THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO, to run Monday through Friday at 10:00 p.m.

As a result, five hours traditionally reserved for episodic drama were dropped from the broadcast television landscape. The move had a harsh effect in job losses for the creative ensembles whose stories were told at that time, and also among national affiliate stations whose ratings for 11:00 p.m. local news programs dropped significantly.

This experiment can be viewed as another chapter in the evolution of television to less expensive programming, which began in force with the emergence of reality television. However, audiences have found quality dramas moving in force to cable and pay cable television, and the world awaits the first breakout drama scripted for the Internet.

REALITY TV AND THE LOSS OF BOUNDARIES

Reality television crossed a line in 2009 as the cultural craving for celebrity moved in a dangerous new direction. Most significantly, the “characters” now referred to as “Balloon Boy” and “Octomom,” in addition to a couple who allegedly infiltrated the White House to attend a state dinner, have marked the year as one in which the health and welfare of our citizens should be considered before the standards and practices of television.

THE END OF ANALOG AND OTHER SIGNS OF SEA CHANGE

On June 12, 2009, analog television switched off, and the digital revolution saw a new day. This moment is mostly symbolic, but signaled further change across many former television traditions:

• Several long-running soap operas were cancelled (sic) in 2009. GUIDING LIGHT, the longest-running drama in television and radio history, aired its final episode on September 18, 2009. The program began in 1937, during the second Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was also announced that AS THE WORLD TURNS, a daytime staple since 1956, would air its last episode on September 10, 2010. The demise of the soap opera can be linked to the omnipresent melodrama presented in news, reality and other programs that are now available instantaneously, around the clock and on many platforms.

• Long-form television became more scarce in 2009. While excellent programs like GREY GARDENS, INTO THE STORM and PRAYERS FOR BOBBY proved there was still quality work being done in the field, the fragmentation of the television audience strained the economics of the old business model for TV movies and mini-series.

Other notable moments in the sea of change include Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC Universal to ensure content for distribution to its more than 23 million subscribers, as well as the continued rise in the reliance of DVRs (digital video recorders) so that audiences have shows when and where they wish to view them.

2009 – A YEAR OF EXTRAORDINARY ANIMATION

Though animation has been a genre of great impact since the dawn of the moving image, 2009 marked a year that saw a dazzling explosion of noteworthy work from many of the nation’s finest artists, and in forms vast and varied – from classic hand-drawn stories like THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG; to stop-motion splendors like CORALINE and FANTASTIC MR. FOX; to computer-generated creations like 9, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS and MONSTERS VS. ALIENS.

THIS IS IT – DEATH OF MICHAEL JACKSON

Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. One of the most influential entertainers in modern day, Jackson’s death was met with a worldwide expression of grief.

In the months that followed his death, Jackson’s talents were celebrated on-line, with a renewed interest in the musical and video gifts he had given the world over five decades; on television, as millions tuned in for his memorial and funeral services; and, most notably, in theatres, with the film THIS IS IT, a documentary crafted from the rehearsal footage for an upcoming concert tour. The film proved an unprecedented global eulogy for fans and friends of the “King of Pop.”

RECESSION – THE MOVIES AGAIN PROVE A TONIC FOR ECONOMIC AILS

Just as Americans flocked to musicals and screwball comedies during the Great Depression of the 1930s, audiences in 2009 escaped their worries by going to the movies. Though total admissions do not compare, it is worthy to note that in the world’s darkest economic time since the Depression, American films grossed more money than any time in the history of the art form. Aliens, vampires and wizards may have replaced Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the silver screen, but the movies still provide joy and refuge in a story well told.




→ 6 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

6 responses so far

  • 1 12-28-2009 at 1:28 pm

    EllDeb said...

    How is Up not considered one of the standout animated efforts of 2009? I expected them to ignore Mary and Max, but overlooking Up is kind of an embarrassment when talking about the great animation of the year.

  • 2 12-28-2009 at 1:51 pm

    Josh said...

    All the more embarrassing when you realize that AFI listed Up as one of its films of 2009. Pointless list to begin with, though.

  • 3 12-28-2009 at 2:07 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    Mary and Max became my favorite animated film of 2009 when i finally saw it and expected to hate it and find it pretentious, theyre examples of animated films are a little off

  • 4 12-28-2009 at 2:13 pm

    Ivan said...

    Cameron and great storytelling don’t belong in the same sentence.

    I respect everyone who liked/loved Avatar and i can handle all the hyperbole about the technical aspects but the story was such a cliche with 1 dimensional all-hero,all-villain characters we’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of times before,it’s ridiculous to state things like ”a landmark in the way stories are told.”

    A landmark in the way movies look,yes.

    God forbid if screenwriters in the future are influenced by Avatar.

  • 5 12-28-2009 at 2:22 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Um, Cameron IS a master storyteller. Having brilliant writing and a never-before-told-story is one thing. How the story is actually conveyed and told through the medium is a different thing. And Cameron is amazing at telling stories.

  • 6 12-29-2009 at 7:12 am

    Brian said...

    I guess they left Up off the animation list because it was already on their 10 films list. Also, neither Ponyo nor Mary and Max are American films, so they do not fall under AFI’s mission.