Steven Soderbergh says movies ‘don’t matter in the same way they did’

Steven Soderbergh
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Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has been discussing the state of cinema and as always, there are interesting ideas to ponder over.  

Steven Soderbergh is one of those filmmakers who will (hopefully) never stop challenging the Hollywood paradigm. Whether it’s electrifying the independent scene with Sex, Lies & Videotape, shooting an entire movie on an iPhone or refusing to play by the establishment’s financing rules, Soderbergh has spent his career redefining what his films can be.

However, in a post-pandemic world where audiences are beset by an almost infinite number of distractions, even he finds it difficult to argue that movies have the same resonance that they used to. Speaking to Rolling StoneSoderbergh gave a gloomy prognosis for the interest in this year’s Oscars, predicting that interest would continue to tumble, even in a year when some real mainstream crowd pleasers such as Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way Of Water are in contention for the Best Picture award.

In the past, low interest in the Oscars has often been explained away by a lack of mainstream cinema being in contention for major awards, but Soderbergh says that this year, that can’t be used as an excuse. “This year is going to be very telling. You cannot this year say ‘well, they didn’t nominate any popular movies!’  … so, we’ll find out if that’s really the issue or if it’s a deeper philosophical problem, which is the fact that movies don’t occupy the same cultural real estate that they used to. They just don’t.”

The filmmaker was quizzed as to whether the ‘Golden Age of TV’ has contributed to what he sees as cinema’s declining cultural impact, and he had concedes that plays a part. But still, he maintains that films “don’t matter in the same way that they did 20 years ago. As a result, especially for younger viewers, it’s not as compelling as it once was. They’re going to learn a lot this year. We all will”.

It’s a stark outline from a creator who always seems to have an idea or two up his sleeve about where the future of cinema could lie. Soderbergh also talked a little about the dominance of superhero movie and offered a nuanced take, arguing cinemas are struggling and demanding what they can charge the most for.

It’s a more balanced and hopeful take than we’ve heard from some other creators and maybe Soderbergh is right and filmmakers will eventually figure out a way to rebalance Hollywood’s output. As ever too, Soderbergh also recently revealed everything he watched and read in the last year and should you be so inclined, you can find that here.

Image: BigStock

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