Saturday, November 15, 2014

Movie Hall of Fame

For the start of the ideas series, go here.

Remember back when AFI did their 100 years series?  They polled their membership, which included a broad sampling of movie people in Hollywood, and created a list of the 100 best movies in American cinema history.  The list generated a lot of interest and many people worked their way through it to see all of the movies.  It was a great idea, but it was only a first step.
Someone should make a Movie Hall of Fame.  It would work in a similar way to the various sports HOFs.  Each year, selectors would vote on worthy movies and put them in the hall.  A building would be made and each movie would get its own exhibit.  This could mean a small collection of memorabilia and a poster and plaque.  People would come from all over to see the Hall itself, but the true value would be in the annual selection.
Who picks the movies?  How many movies per year?  Would they be in different categories (drama, comedy, foreign, etc.)?  I'm not sure.  After years of watching various HOF debates, I don't think there is any one right answer, though I'm sure there are wrong ones.  I'd suggest reading about those debates and I'd highly recommend the Bill James book 'Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame'.  But I can throw out some suggestions:
  • The first years should involve ten entries and after some time that number should be reduced.  It starts out big because there is a century of backlog.  As that backlog is cleared, the number should go down.  I don't know when that reduction should happen but you'd want a fair number of movies in to start with.  In fact, maybe the inaugural class should be twenty or so.  
  • There should be a wait time until a movie is eligible.  I'd say ten years at a minimum but maybe longer.  We need time to tell if something is a classic or not.  Plus, having a set wait time gives some anticipation for a year to come around.  This year was the 20th anniversary of one of the best crops of movies ever.  Would 'Forrest Gump', 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Shawshank Redemption' have gotten into the HOF this year?  It would have been interesting to find out.
  • I probably would separate comedy and drama and vote them differently.  I very much don't think that they compare well against each other and its an unfair competition.  Maybe they would have different wings.  Or maybe Hall would be organized by year.  Either way, would be fine.
  • The same thing is true for foreign movies, or perhaps, to fit the Oscar category, the 'foreign language' movies.  Why not give some great movies from other countries some coverage here?  Again, they don't always compete well against American and English movies, for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the film.  So treat them differently.
  • Animated movies?  Musicals?  Documentaries?  No idea.  Again, there is probably no wrong answer though there is some eventual danger of watering the hall down with too many categories.
Whatever the criteria, the selected movies should be given a ceremony.  Maybe a month beforehand, the finalists (twice the size of the inductees) should be announced.  That would give people a chance to watch the movies and feel informed by the results.  Maybe this could be done in conjunction with Netflix and various movie outlets.  This is all marketing and I'm sure more experienced people could come up with better ideas.
I would absolutely honor the movies and not the actors/directors/set people.  It's not that the various individuals don't deserve honor, it's that the full movie experience is easier for people to understand.  Maybe a completely different HOF could be opened nearby to honor the people.  In fact, link them together and add some movie theaters that would be biased away from current movies and show the older stuff that's in the Hall.
Where would this be?  The obvious answer is somewhere in southern California or maybe Vegas.  I don't really know.  I'm tempted to say that if Cleveland can lay claim to Rock and Roll, the justification for a Movie Hall of fame is pretty wide open.  Heck, if someone wants to claim some farmland in South Dakota and build it there, well, it would be better than if it was never built at all.

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