While big blockbusters fill the cineplex screens during the summer months, the Fall is when most studios release their Oscar bait movies so they’ll be fresh in Oscar voters’ minds.
In the past few weeks, some or all of the family and I have seen several movies that are all based on true stories/real people. Included on this list are Bohemian Rhapsody, Boy Erased, Green Book, Beautiful Boy and The Front Runner. That list should probably include First Man and Can You Ever Forgive Me? which also came out recently (we cheated and saw early screenings over Labor Day weekend). Quite a group of films. And to cap off the year, we’re looking forward to adding On The Basis Of Sex and Vice to this collection.
I saw an article a while back that said that in the 50 years between 1966 and 2016, there were only two years in which all of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees played fictional characters. Looking at it another way, in the same 50 year time period, about one third of all Best Actor and Best Actress winners were people who played roles based on real people. Since 2003, over half of the Best Actress winners and more than two-thirds of the Best Actor winners have portrayed characters based on real people.
Some have speculated that the movement toward more films based on real characters has been motivated by an interest in reducing the financial risk of film-making. It is said that a great way to increase the likelihood a movie will succeed is to put a famous actor or actress in it. But if you have that famous actor or actress also play a famous real person, you’ve now increased your odds of success by significant measure. It is easy to market a film based on a familiar news item or historical event. You often have a built-in audience for the material.
Films based on true stories often provide commentary and new perspective on historical and current events. They make us revisit topics and issues and consider new and potentially different views from our own. They help us dive deeper into a specific set of circumstances and gain a better understanding of our culture and society.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fiction as much as the next person. Nestled amidst all of those films we saw based on true stories was Ralph Wrecks The Internet (which I highly recommend). On top of that, I can’t wait to see Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and Welcome To Marwen, among others. What are you looking forward to this holiday season?