Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History

The Year 2020

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s

The Year 2020
Event and Significance
Legendary actor, director and producer Kirk Douglas passed away at the age of 103. His film debut was in the film noirish The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) opposite Barbara Stanwyck. He went on to become a famous movie star after his breakthrough film as boxer Midge Kelly in Champion (1949) (with his first Academy Award Best Actor nomination), followed up by Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) (with his second Best Actor nomination) portraying a corrupt movie executive, Lust for Life (1956) (his third and final nomination) as troubled artist Van Gogh, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), and two of his biggest hits, Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960).
The corona-virus pandemic caused havoc for the film industry: (1) movie theatre closures went into effect throughout the world, and in the US, by the AMC, Cinemark and Regal chains, (2) Hollywood studios were forced to postpone the releases of blockbuster movies and to drastically alter production schedules around the world; for example, the new 25th Bond film, No Time to Die (2020), was postponed from an April release until November 2020, and many other of 2020's biggest releases were moved out of summer's most lucrative months and into the fall, including Disney's release of Mulan and Black Widow, (3) film shoots and productions were particularly susceptible to restrictions, including advisories against gatherings of groups, and a number of them were halted, altered, or shut down; a Mission-Impossible 7 film shoot in Venice, Italy by Paramount was ended, and Disney announced that production on its live-action movies (The Little Mermaid, a Home-Alone reboot, and Peter Pan) would suspend production, (4) after a number of media companies, including Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, pulled out of this year's SXSW film and TV festival, the city of Austin, Texas cancelled the festival altogether for the first time in its 32-year history, and (5) some Hollywood studios moved a number of their mid-budget movies out of theaters and onto their burgeoning streaming services; NBCUniversal announced that it would make some movies available digitally the same day they were released in movie theaters that remained open, including The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma.
By the end of May 2020, it was predicted that the coronavirus accounted for a global box-office loss of approximately $17 billion in the film industry.
In the wake of mass protests over police behavior and accusations of racism, the HBO Max streaming service temporarily removed the classic Civil War historical drama-romance Gone with the Wind (1939) from its library of offerings. An unnamed spokesman was quoted: "Gone with the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society. These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible." Fortunately, it was stated that once returned to the lineup, the movie would remain untouched or edited "because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed....If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history." Re-screenings were promised to include information about the film's historical context.

Notwithstanding the current claims about the film, it stands historically as the highest-grossing film of all-time (adjusted for inflation). It has been an important and valuable part of American history for eight decades, and one of the defining films of Hollywood's Golden Age. It was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning epic 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell. The Best Picture-winning film excelled in many categories (production design, directing cinematography, and acting - including Hattie McDaniel's Best Supporting Actress win for her many-layered portrayal of 'Mammy' - she became the first African-American performer to be nominated and win).

[Note: There will always be 'outdated' or less than ideal cultural depictions (with misogynistic, sexist, anti-gay, and racially-insensitive or other outdated content) in films or other art forms going back decades. To particularly apply 21st century cultural standards of the current time to these creations from earlier times is unrealistic, ill-suited and counter-productive, and would mean banishing or restricting hundreds and hundreds of films (AND books, music and art as well) that have a lot to teach us about where we came from. Disclaimers, statements of context, and various guidelines or ratings may be implemented and have some limited impact, but for most savvy film-goers, they are able to self-educate about what to learn from a film, and whether to watch (or not watch) and discuss with others - they can make up their own minds. Temporary bans and selective censorship or pronouncements are not necessary.]
In mid-June of 2020, Variety Magazine (byline Tim Gray, Senior VP) went further in calls for disclaimers for movie viewing in an article entitled: "10 Problematic Films That Could Use Warning Labels." Two of the ten films listed were Best Picture Oscar winners. It cited Dirty Harry (1971) for its depiction of vigilantism and disrespect for the law, Forrest Gump (1994) for its condescension to those who protest or are activists, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) for its stereotyped depiction of the evil Indian cult members, Me Before You (2016) for its endorsement of suicide over disability, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) for its regressive message, The Children's Hour (1961) for the pairing of suicide with lesbian feelings, John Ford's classic western The Searchers (1956) for its racist and bigoted character (portrayed by John Wayne after a Comanche Indian massacre of his brother's family), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) for the "trans" characteristics of the Buffalo Bill character, the Christmas classic Holiday Inn (1942) for its often-deleted scene of Bing Crosby singing "Abraham" (honoring Lincoln's birthday) in blackface, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film True Lies (1994) for its Arabic terrorists/villains.

The author also briefly cited five other problematic, 'racist' films in his introduction: D.W. Griffith's Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), Disney's Song of the South (1946) - out of circulation, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) for Mickey Rooney's role as a bucktoothed, Japanese photographer-neighbor Mr. Yunioshi, West Side Story (1961) for its Puerto Rican gang members, and the slave drama Mandingo (1975) for its salacious, exploitational content.

Virtually all of the responses in the comments section of the article slammed the author for his "lunacy" and "woke garbage," and were very blunt in their criticisms: ("Stop shoving your nonsense down our throats!," "The height of stupidity," "Utterly moronic nonsense," "I’m flabbergasted by the pretend naivety of it," and "It is amazing people can be this dumb and this sensitive.") The comments were almost universally critical of the article's author who was seen as narrow-minded, idiotic, insulting to a movie-viewing audience, and small-minded - akin to a book-burner or even to Nazi censorship ("The NAZIs tried to erase everything that they thought went against their thinking"). One comment put it very succinctly: "This piece is more offensive than the films it tries to 'put in perspective'!...Are we all children who are incapable of making our own judgments?...Time to grow up, I would say, and break free from the 'thought' control, as well-intentioned (or not) as it might seem." Another proposed putting a stop to this kind of self-destructive thinking: "We don’t need a Big Brother. We need history in all its forms. History is not there for you to like or dislike. It is there for you to learn from. And if it offends you even better. Because then you are less likely to repeat it. It’s not yours to erase. It belongs to all of us."

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