That's from Mark Harris' great article in the Feb. 2011 issue of GQ, The Day The Movies Died, and it rings pretty true. He's right when he talks about the difficulty of original concepts getting a greenlight when studios are looking for pre-packaged concepts, though I don't think the outlook is as bleak as he suggests. Trends eventually fade out and there will always be an audience for something that isn't based on a comic book or toy. Though with movies coming based on Battleship, the Ouija board, and Monopoly, that trend may not be dying out fast enough for some of our tastes. And like Harris says, sometimes you do get a gem out of these properties (I can't argue with his choices of Iron Man and The Dark Knight) but sometimes we just keep convincing ourselves that these movies are better than they are. Let's face it - the Harry Potter films are pretty weak and will ultimately be negligible in film history. (The best of the bunch, The Prisoner of Azkaban, is very good but by no means great, and the others float between mediocre and horrendous.)
And even though I have my problems with awards season and the politics behind it all (the move to 10 Best Picture nominees being the most recent focal point of my anger), I still love to play along with the Academy Awards and do the annual guessing game. After all, I did make it a point to go about seeing every Best Picture winner in history, and that reveals a certain concession on my part to legitimize the power of the Oscar. (I've seen 9 of this year's nominees too, and will likely catch The Fighter - the one missing film - before the ceremony on Sunday.) So below you'll find my picks for each category. Also remember that there are a few contests out there that have some solid prizes for picking the winners, like up to $100,000 for trying to best Roger Ebert, or a stay at the Four Seasons in LA, so you may want to think about playing along too.