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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The moviegoing experience: Comedy makes a comeback

Sophomore+Liv+Resnick+reacts+to+the+Best+Picture+selections+on+Oscars+nominations+morning%2C+Jan.+23.+Results+will+be+announced+on+Mar.+10.
Photo by Ahmed Ibrahim
Sophomore Liv Resnick reacts to the Best Picture selections on Oscars nominations morning, Jan. 23. Results will be announced on Mar. 10.

On Jan. 23, four comedy movies were nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards for the first time in 90 years; American Fiction, Barbie, The Holdovers and Poor Things, shedding light on different types of film and opening up doors for filmmakers.

About five years ago, comedic films were presumed “dead,” with only one movie in the top 20 worldwide box office being a comedy. Comedies were rarely successful, all of them were eventually just in the backlogs of Netflix, not being pushed to viewers. “It seemed to be comedy’s downfall, which upset me. A lot of genres pre-COVID would incorporate comedy into their scripts, but once COVID finished, it was like it was all wiped away,” junior Greg Kwan said.

Movies weren’t being promoted explicitly as comedies, the same way musicals aren’t being promoted as musicals today. They sort of go hand-in-hand: The decline in popularity of musicals in the late ‘90s stopped them from being produced at studios. When they are produced, they’re never being promoted that way, leaving audiences with a sour taste. Most comedies came with musical elements, and almost all the comedies nominated for Best Picture in the 20th century were musicals.

Comedic writers were found to use insensitive jokes within their narratives and as time went on, audiences got tired of that. When watching ‘Gilmore Girls’ or the newest romcom, it was nearly impossible not to hear an offensive joke. With people being far more politically aware today, it is harder for comedians to make those kinds of jokes without backlash. “Directors are making up for insensitive jokes that were made in the past, while also making new more relatable jokes. Barbie and [American Fiction] show certain diversity, while something like Crazy Rich Asians showed diversity and made jokes that the watcher can laugh at,” freshman Olivia Duong-Shin said.

Comedy often does not translate. As the international box office has become more important, fewer comedies are made. “Movies are hard to make and everyone wants an Oscar. Bradley Cooper was a comedy star, now he’s hungry for that Oscar. It’s everyone’s dream, like a Pulitzer. It’s become more apparent now how much good that trophy can do. People are focusing on making those movies rather than having fun times at the theater,” sophomore Trixie Verrija said.

Comedies are more difficult to make today than in the past. Even though comedy is subjective, it’s hard to get moments onto pen and paper that a large group of people will find funny, and it’s even harder to find actors who can play these comedic roles well. Without a good actor and writer behind a comedy, it’s impossible to make one. They’re also hard to pitch to distributors with action movies, Oscar-bait movies, and animated blockbusters adding to the decline of theatrical releases. Everything goes in cycles. Movie releases over the past few years have consisted of a multitude of funny films that have gone unnoticed, and now that studios are finally giving new directors chances, audiences are seeing a new spate of them.

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