Last spring, I wrote a nasty letter to the Academy, blast- ing them for failing to recognize just how fertile film had been during 1999. Well it looks like you've saved me the trouble of another letter by creating an absolutely abhorrent follow-up year.
What happened? I may be dubbed a film "critic," but I love nothing more than being able to celebrate a job well done. But even your greater triumphs of the year pale in comparison to what we've seen before - this is not a good way to start out the millennium.
My biggest complaint is that there is not one single film that stands out in any way as being representative of the year. True, there were several visionary works of genius, but they both came from outside the Hollywood Hills. Both Lars von Triers' "Dancer in the Dark" and Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" were pieces of master craftsmanship, but these movies feel like medicine for moviegoers. They might be good, but are they enjoyable? Not really. More than anything, they are endurance tests. Where did the freshness and the fun of film go?
It's hard to say. Sure, there have been some escapist hits this year. But I can't understand why you promoted "Meet the Parents" a flimsy fluffball whose main ingredients are blame, ostracism and paranoia, when you could have instead pushed for "Almost Famous," a clever comedy that celebrated love of community, nostalgia and pure joy.
And one of your biggest comedies this year, "Scary Movie," was an insult to all fans of satire. A spoof can mock a film all it wants to, but when it is at best a carbon copy of its inspiration, it becomes the cinematic equivalent of a rerun.
Right now your mantra seems to be bigger is better. I know that right now, independent films have as much novelty as the notion of a recount, but I don't think a film has to be big to make it big. "Billy Elliot" and "You Can Count On Me" are titles that I doubt many readers of this memo will recognize, but maybe with some of your support, they would. Such lightning struck for "The Full Monty," and I'm sure it could strike again.
Hollywood, even your blockbusters this year turned out to be lackluster. The computer imagery that recreated the world of "Gladiator" looked too good to be authentic. And while "The Perfect Storm" boasted marvelous effects, it lacked heart. One only had to watch the broadcasts of "Jurassic Park" and "Titanic" on NBC this weekend to be reminded how a film can combine epic scope and state-of-the-art effects to create lasting images and still make an important statement.
I know that you backload your calendar, releasing your best movies for the year's end in hopes of garnering Oscar attention, but this year you're cutting it dangerously close to mediocrity, when just last year you were on the cutting edge. But I'll reserve final judgment until January. Think of this memo as an interim report.
Until then, you have one month to redeem yourself. But don't do it for me. Do it for your own sake.