A Year in Film: Back to the Future (of Film)

It’s never easy to revisit our past… but, sometimes, it’s fun to revisit the stories we told.

Finally returning for its fourth season on Hollywood Suite, A Year in Film takes a look back at the films that helped define us at specific moments in time. This season, the series focuses its lens on the years 1973, 1985, 1999 and 2010. Backed by interview footage, old clips and interviews with industry professionals, Year in Film seeks to drop the viewer at the cross-section of cinema and reality in an effort to examine history from a pop culture perspective.

With its emphasis on insight and fun, A Year in Film is an absolute joy for film-lovers. By focusing on a specific group of films, the series allows itself the freedom to become the fans of its own content, beaming over the stories that inspired generations. However, this isn’t only a show about box office successes or awards darlings. Instead, Year in Film gives itself the freedom to look at films that have resonated, regardless of notoriety. While there’s absolutely discussion about iconic movies such as The Breakfast Club and Magnolia, they also explore the impact of ElectionWinter’s Bone and Taika Waititi’s Boy. In essence, this format allows our present to inform our reading of the past, reminding us of the stories that helped frame our cultural narrative, regardless of box office success.

Admittedly, if there’s a minor frustration with the series, it’s that each episode only has time to briefly examine the films that they’ve selected to represent its corresponding year. Due to the short runtime for each episode, films such as Pee Wee’s Big AdventureThe Peanut Butter Solution and The King’s Speech are only touched upon briefly, which could leave the viewer wanting more.

But, at the same time, that’s entirely the point.

A Year in Film is never meant to be a deep-dive into any specific project but instead becomes a love letter to the films that helped define the moment. Whether it’s Back to the FutureThe Social Network or The Matrix, every one of these films speak to the values and ideas inherent to the culture of the time. By holding them up against one another, Year in Film manages to pull some of the strings that tie these stories together and explore the world of the moment. For example, from Reagan-ism to closeted Trans-narratives and even fears of the oncoming Millennium, the series is most successful when it highlights the cultural psychology that influenced our pop narratives of the time.

Of course, at the same time, looking back also has its challenges. Wisely, Year in Film also gives itself the opportunity to re-examine stories that have changed in light of new information. For instance, while American Beauty was feted at the time for its broken window into the American Dream, new information regarding Kevin Spacey that has come to light in recent years has made viewing the film a little more difficult. In this way, the series attempts to navigate the murky waters of ‘cancellation’ and asks what it means to salvage stories that have been ruined by modern insight.

It’s because of these insights that A Year in Film becomes something so unique and fun. Despite the fact that these films can also exemplify our flaws, they can also open up conversations about how far we’ve come. Each episode of the series opens a unique window into the world that we created at the time through the lens of the stories that we told. Sometimes, this can make us shudder… but, in doing so, we can also recognize who we are today.

A Year in Film premieres on Hollywood Suite on Thursday, May 25th, 2023 and airs new episodes each night until the 28th.

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