Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History

The Year 2020

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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."
As evidence of how far in-roads were being made in Hollywood toward enforced diversity, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) announced its new requirements for Best Picture eligibility. Before the year 2024, Best Picture candidates were to be required to submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards Form to be considered eligible, in order to be prepared for stricter and required standards in the year 2024 (the 96th Oscar year). By then, films competing for Best Picture could only qualify by meeting various inclusion standards (both on-camera and behind the scenes). A film had to meet two of four standards:

Standard A: On-Screen Representation Component: (a film was required to meet one of three alternatives)
(1) Lead or Significant Supporting Actors: at least one of the Lead Actors or a Significant Supporting Actor had to be from an under-represented racial or ethnic group
(2) The General Ensemble Cast: 30% percent of all actors in secondary or more minor roles had to be from two of the following categories: women, LGBTQ, an under-represented racial or ethnic group, or those with cognitive or physical disabilities
(3) The Main Storyline or Subject Matter: the main story line was centered on an under-represented group

Standard B: Off-Screen Creative Leadership and Project Team Component: (a film was required to meet one of three alternatives)
(1) Creative Leadership and Department Heads: at least two Creative Leadership positions and Department Heads had to be held by members of under-represented groups
(2) Other Key Roles: at least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) had to be held by members of an under-represented racial or ethnic group
(3) Overall Crew Composition: at least 30% of the film’s crew had to be held by members of under-represented groups

Standard C: Industry Access and Opportunities: (a film was required to meet both of the two alternatives)
(1) Paid Apprenticeship and Internship Opportunities: these had to be available for members of under-represented groups
(2) Training and Skills Development (Crew) Opportunities: these had to be available for members of under-represented groups

Standard D: Audience Development: (a film was required to meet the one alternative)
(1) Representation in Marketing, Publicity, and Distribution: a studio's in-house senior executives in the Marketing, Publicity and Distribution departments had to be held by people from under-represented groups

There were many criticisms of the controversial new standards when announced, mainly that they created quotas and were exclusive (and discriminatory in the opposite direction), not inclusive. The new criteria were not based on skill, talent, job qualifications, creativity, or other artistic standards, but solely on race, ethnicity or gender. And the standards were another disguised form of censorship. Some questioned why the standards were only applied to one category - Best Picture (some called for renaming the Oscar category "Most Diverse Picture"). Others objected to AMPAS dictating or imposing this kind of creative mandate - the manner in which film-making was to be conducted, or defining the actual story-content. It was argued that the film industry itself should institute more genuine changes and initiatives to give more opportunities and encourage diversity. Some felt that foreign language films or historical period pieces might suffer from such standards.
The release of Disney's Mulan (2020), a live-action version of their 1998 animated film about a heroic Chinese girl, sparked sharp criticism of the studio from human rights activists, lawmakers (specifically Sen. Josh Hawley of MO), and even shareholders. The film (streaming on Disney's + service and in theatres in China) was partially filmed in a region of China known as Xinjiang that continues to allow the abuse of the Uighurs and other Muslims - Turkic-speaking ethnic minorities in the predominantly Han country. The film's credits thanked the Chinese Communist Party and specifically the Turpan Public Security Bureau (the agency allegedly responsible for sanctioning the abuse and atrocities committed against ethnic minorities in the Turpan district of China via internment camps). In a time of declining film revenues due to the COVID-virus, and constant attacks on America's alleged 'systematic racism', Hollywood studios set their sights on China's tremendous box office potential and growing middle class, while hypocritically ignoring China's aggressive efforts to assimilate minorities and favor the dominant Han ethnic majority. For many years, US studios have also regularly kowtowed to Communist censors' demands to tweak films to their liking. Many still remember China's backlash in 1997 when Disney was shut out of China's film market for a time after supporting Martin Scorsese's Kundun (1997). The release of Disney's original animated film Mulan (1998) was delayed in China for a year - a move universally viewed as Beijing's vengeful punishment.
Although Netflix defended and promoted its streaming of the highly-controversial comedy-drama Cuties (2020, Fr.) (aka Mignonnes), there were many lawmakers and others who criticized the coming-of-age movie for its abusive hyper-sexualization and exploitation of children, and also called for its removal. The film's French-Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré premiered her debut film at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in early 2020, and received the festival's Best Director award in the World Cinema section. In the film's plot, Amy - a 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant girl living in Paris, joined a dance group known as 'Cuties' in order to rebel against her conservative Muslim parents and her upbringing. The film's trailers (and revised poster) portrayed pre-adolescent, scantily-clad female dancers suggestively twerking on stage with semi-pornographic gestures. Some argued that the film would only normalize pedophilia, and endanger child welfare. Netflix defended the "social commentary" film as a way to highlight and call attention to an important issue.
Scottish actor Sean Connery passed away at the age of 90. He was most well-known for his six portrayals of British 007 agent James Bond in official films beginning with Dr. No (1962) through to Diamonds are Forever (1971), and then an appearance in a seventh unofficial Never Say Never Again (1983). His acting career spanned seven decades and he also won an Oscar his role in The Untouchables (1987). His other films included Marnie (1964), The Hill (1965), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Highlander (1986), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996), and The Rock (1996).

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