AFI cites Tarnation among 2004's movie "moments"
Putting its own stamp on 2004, the American Film Institute has selected nine "Moments of Significance" as an adjunct to its annual AFI Awards, which will be presented to the creators behind 10 previously announced films and TV shows at a luncheon January 14. The moments include such disparate happenings as the cultural debates inspired by the movies The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 and the death of Marlon Brando. The events, announced Monday, were those judged to have had the biggest impact on the world of the moving image during the past year as judged by two 13-person juries that also selected the film and TV awards.
In citing the respective films by Mel Gibson and Michael Moore, the AFI said: "Both filmmakers tossed Hollywood convention out the window, attracting masses to the movies that would normally not purchase a ticket to an ultraviolent subtitled film or a documentary. Ultimately, both films shone a bright light on the political and religious polarization in the United States in 2004." In singling out Brando, who died July 1, the AFI said: "The art of screen acting has two chapters--'Before Brando' and 'After Brando.' Though Stanislavski created 'Method acting,' it was Brando who showed the world its power. His raw, hypnotic energy created screen characters that will live forever in the annals of film history."
The other developments and "moments" the AFI selected are:
* "Tarnation and Film's Affordable Tools": Referring to out filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's critically acclaimed autobiographical documentary Tarnation, assembled on an Apple iMac, the AFI said the availability of low-cost methods of producing movies "is not only for independent filmmakers, as the filmmakers who created Paramount's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow used desktop Macintosh computers to create the film's 2,000 effects shots."
* "The Changing Landscape of Television News": Observing that Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, and Bill Moyers all stepped down from their TV berths in 2004, that 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt retired, and that Dan Rather is soon to leave his anchor seat, the AFI said: "The loss of this generation of journalists raises questions about the long-term viability of evening news broadcasts, which have been suffering from declining ratings for years due to 24-hour news channels and immediate access to news via the Internet. It also illustrates a more significant and worrisome trend--the drastic change in how news is packaged and presented via television."
* "Final Domino Falls in Vertical Integration of Film and TV": In the AFI's view, that occurred May 12 when NBC and Universal merged, "signaling the final stage of vertical reintegration in the entertainment industry." Fifty-five years after the Paramount Decree, which prohibited movie studios from owning theater chains, "studios, networks, theater chains, music labels, and home video departments are integrated to serve and support each other."
* The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Said the AFI, "The show's impact on younger Americans is particularly significant. As it deconstructs the news cycle each night in its humor, The Daily Show provides a master class in critical analysis, forcing us to question how the news is presented on other channels."
* "Comedy Redefined...for the Moment": With the passing of Frasier, Friends, and Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond in its last season, the AFI said, "The Simpsons will be the only situation comedy institution left on television," adding, "Comedy has not left the airwaves, though; it thrives in late-night television with Jay Leno and David Letterman, on cable in the form of Chappelle's Show, and on the networks it has found a new home in less traditional places, like the dark halls of Desperate Housewives and the courtroom drama Boston Legal."
* "TV Thinks Outside the Box": "A second wave of convergence has begun to impact the world of television as content is packaged for distribution across multiple platforms," the AFI said. As examples, it cited the premiere of the pilot of the WB Network's Jack & Bobby on the Internet, the success of TV programing on DVD, and the growth of video games.
* "FCC as Cultural Force": "The government's voice in what is suitable for the airwaves is not a new concept, but the staggering rate at which the threat of it grew during the year has had a profound effect on television," the AFI said. "Unsure of how the FCC will rule on an issue, the creative community has begun to self-censor their shows, a disturbing trend in a country founded on free expression."