I am a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, particularly ones inspired by the Traditional Holiday Activity of watching my weight climb with every piece of peppermint bark. Work ones are good, too — for example, this year I pledge that when I’m working from home, I will put on pants by 2 p.m. It’s easy to fall into patterns in any job; this year I’m going to address ruts that have run so deep for me they’re now canyons.
Ignoring the Oscars
I will not write about any movie in terms of its Oscar chances unless I am writing about the actual Oscar nominations or the ceremony itself. I feel that awards for artistic endeavors are problematic on many levels, which my tens of readers know because I complain about this at least three times a year. It’s simply impossible to objectively measure one movie’s value against another’s, and taking home a trophy can come not necessarily from artistic achievement, but from the best studio-backed marketing campaign. Critics contribute to this by measuring movies by their potential Oscar count. Writing about movies through the lens of the Oscars makes me part of the problem, because it lends credence to the argument that the Academy is the arbiter of quality. Even when I disagree with the Academy (LET’S TALK ABOUT “MUDBOUND” AGAIN), I’m setting the Oscars up as a valuable way to measure a movie’s quality — and they’re not. Unfortunately, that means this is the last time I can complain about “Mudbound” getting the shaft.
“Fast & Furious” catch-up
I will see at least three movies from the “Fast & Furious” franchise. This one requires a story: Every year I go to Career Day at my son’s school and feel confident about the coolness of my job, right up until I have to follow the dad who’s a helicopter pilot. During the Q&A last year, a girl asked me which of the “Furious” movies was my favorite. When I said I hadn’t seen any of them — causing a lot of elementary schoolers to metaphorically clutch their pearls — she asked why. The only answer I had was that I thought they looked stupid. And they might be stupid, but I have never given them a chance to prove they’re not. So I promised her I’d see at least three so we can discuss them when I come back this year.
The streaming flicks
I will pay more attention to streaming services and their original films. Alfonso Cuaron’s Netflix film “Roma” had plenty of buzz after a limited theatrical run, but I was caught entirely off guard by some of the great movies that came only to a living room near me. Netflix’s “Dumplin’ ” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” were two of the most charming comedies I saw last year, and while “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” was uneven, it certainly matched the caliber of plenty of theatrical releases (and yes, I’ll get around to watching “Bird Box”). Netflix: No longer just for rewatching “Friends”!
In the end, these resolutions are all fundamentally about examining the biases and habits I have when I watch, think and write about movies. Eliminating ways I prejudge movies might be the best resolution I can make this year — way better than giving up the peppermint bark