Movies, like all good art forms, are a reflection of their times. From big budget studio pictures to small indy films, the kinds of movies that get made and get watched can tell you everything about a culture.
So, taking a cue from the New York Times, I thought about what this year’s five Oscar nominees for the best picture category say about the head space Americans are in this year. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Juno: Hilary, Barack, Rudy; in the end, Americans don’t care if their president is black, female or Republican. What really matters is their stance on abortion. The pro-choice vs. pro-life debate has become the metaphorical Berlin wall for Americans, dividing families and ending marriages because of differing values.
2. Atonement: Americans always want to believe they’re fighting the good war. So rather than turning on the news to hear yet again what a big mistake Iraq was, they flocked to the movie theatres to relive World War Two. The fact that the movie is about good looking British people is a mute point.
3. There Will be Blood: Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers said this movie was about “the dark underside of the American success story.” No doubt aging boomers and members of the Me Generation are worried that their youthful pursuits of success left the world in bad shape. Will the younger generations come after them for revenge when they’re lying infirm in their nursing home beds or will this movie have a happy ending?
4. No Country for Old Men: The title of this film suggests more worries for aging boomers but no, it’s about drugs and good old fashioned bloodlust, two things Americans never get tired of hearing about.
5. Michael Clayton: In the wake of what could be a huge economic recession, how long can big business continue to have free rein over the American economy? Who cares! This one stars George Clooney!