New Year’s Resolutions for the Movie Industry for 2020


Plenty of regular everyday people make New Year’s Resolutions, but I think bigger entities, namely movie makers and movie moguls, need to make them too. Annually, including this ningth edition, I have fun taking the movie industry to task for things they need to change, even if I get to do it every week in a different ranting way on my “What We Learned This Week” column contribution for the Feelin’ Film Podcast website. Loyal readers and followers of that podcast and column will get my cadence. I have no false internet courage to be a Twitter troll. As always, some resolutions come true while others get mentioned and reiterated every year. Enjoy this year’s hopes and dreams, as we enter a new decade!

Rant after rant, click after click, retweet after retweet, boy did ole Marty Scorsee start a fight when he looked down on Marvel films this past fall. It’s been a hand-wringing soapbox passing game since. I don’t mean to sound regressive like #AllLivesMatter versus the true need of something like #BlackLivesMatter, but someone needs to tell Mr. Scorsese that it’s all cinema, from every cheesy and trashy film to every astute and austere film. That’s from Cats to The Irishman and everything in between. They are made by creators aiming for storytelling, entertainment, and expression. They just do so to different degrees and for different audiences. So, respectfully, Marty, STFU.

Led by Barry Jenkins, Spike Lee, Marielle Heller, Lynne Ramsey, and others, 2018 was a banner year for diverse talent creating movies. 2019 felt like a slight exhaling lull from 2018’s volume. Still, 2019 was an extraordinary year for female directors, led by Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Olivia Wilde, Celine Sciamma, Jennifer Kent, Julia Hart, Catherine Hardwicke, Kasi Lemmons, Melina Matsoukas, Gurinder Chadha, Anna Boden, Elizabeth Banks, and Heller again. Hollywood, keep these doors opening. Don’t just do this for tokenism. The audiences are coming.

We get it, Disney. You dominate, but your movies are feeling less and less special when they are everywhere. And that includes Disney+. Like I said last year, I remember a time when there was only animated Disney film a year. It was huge, important, and it mattered. It’s hard to multiply care when there are a half-dozen or more between Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and their own house brand choices. I know that to their suits, they don’t care because Aladdin and The Lion King each made their billion dollar goals. Still, imagine the anticipation if there was scarcity. That billion turns to two billion. Make them better and make them matter.

This is a bit of a repeat from last year. Roma broke Netflix’s glass ceiling at the Oscars and the perceived bias and beef seems to be subsiding. The streaming service has four legitimate Oscar contenders this year in The Irishman, Marriage Story, The Two Popes, and Dolemite is My Name. Matching another resolution from last year, it appears Netflix, through coup-level business deals, is choosing quality AND quantity. That’s true clout and it’s earning them credibility. They continue to revitalize the mid-range budget market and give indies and documentaries wider and better chances to be seen that fighting for multiplex screens. I saw it all the time. Netflix is not killing the business. It’s just advancing it. Now they just need to work on a competitive price point to Disney+. They’re going to bleed casual subscribers if they keep costly double their newest and most formidable competitor.

For years, Adam Sandler was a regular appearance in these resolutions and then I gave up trying. Before Uncut Gems in 2019, I legitimately and truthfully had not watched an Adam Sandler movie in nine years. I didn’t need Jack and Jill to give up on him and the repetitive manchild garbage he was making. I had no regrets abstaining from his career. Hot damn, though, did he supernova with Uncut Gems. Please let this career resurgence be a true new trajectory and not a one time thing. Don’t let him dangle a role of two like Eddie Murphy and go back to the low-hanging fruit garden. He’s back and I want more.

#6: Adam Driver and Florence Pugh will be the stars of the 2020s.

Even with a big second half and huge 2019, I won’t call Adam Driver the star of this decade, but I have a good feeling he will be the star of the next one. I’ll give this past decade to Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale before Driver, but few actors have his crossover appeal and towering potential right now. Need proof? Pick anything from this year, but especially Marriage Story. Watch him win the Oscar to kick off his 2020. As they say, the sky (and for him, the galaxy), is the limit. His white-hot female equivalent is Florence Pugh who carried a tremendous 2019 with Fighting With My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women. She is a dual Oscar contender for those latter two roles and has Black Widow to start 2020. We see many ingenues come and go, but, like Driver, her range across genres is formidable and will keep her around and successful for a very long time. If you need one more name and talent to watching, keep an eye on Kelvin Harrison, Jr. from Luce and Waves.

This is another returning and welcome resolution from last year. Twitter continues to be the cesspool of bad opinions, internet courage, and the worst of fandom. Stars don’t need to kiss those rings or embrace that toxicity just to get over. Do it with your work, not your access. Establish your reverence there and not in the mudpit.

The 2010s brought a swell of nostalgia regurgitation like we’ve never seen with peaks and valleys across James Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, the MCU, the DCEU, Transformers, Pirates, Ghostbusters, Planet of the Apes, Rocky, Rambo, Despicable Me, Men in Black, The Terminator, Toy Story, Ocean’s 8, and every possible Disney re-imagining. Try as the greedy studios may, surely the noise of all that cannot continue another decade. Creative bankruptcy has a limit and it’s going to run out and crash hard. The 2020s have the challenge of creating new properties and experiences because the old stuff won’t last forever. With the close of a Star Wars saga and a massive MCU phase to finish 2019, we stand at the edge wondering what’s next and what can top what’s been done. It can’t all be new Avatar movies. Your decade, your move, Hollywood. Give us something good. In the meantime, we’ll be on the couching binging your streaming services.


Don Shanahan of “Every Movie Has a Lesson” is a middle school educator who writes film reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.