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Film: Movie Ads

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES online November 2014

movie ads drawing by Henry P. Raleigh

On Sunday January 4, 2014 the NYTimes ran a special Oscars issue this being that time of year. Sixteen pages of almost entirely advertising for those films thought to be up for a Best Picture Oscar. Full page, half page, of the ten ads in the issue two were plugs for actors, eight for Best Picture. These last may be divided evenly between screaming accolades for “Best Movie (Picture, Film) of the Year” and “One of the Best Movies (Picture, Film) of the Year”. This immediately suggests a problem. Isn’t “Best Movie (Picture, Film) superior to merely “One of the Best Movies (Picture, Film)? After all a movie might film itself awash in a sea of “Best Movies” during the year and simply get lost in the crowd. You see how this can be troublesome. The situation is more worrisome if the movie is touted as “One of the Best Pictures” for now it’s known there are nine others that may be a lot better — it’s mano y mano at this point.

Some ads attempt to cover all bases. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (full page) repeats “Best Picture” six times and once, to be sure, “One of 10 Best Pictures.” “American Hustle” somewhat more restrained, cites but two “Best Picture”s and a single “One of the Top Ten”. “As perfect a film As it Gets” is thrown in just in case. However, for admirable modesty, “Philomena” quietly offers “For your consideration as Best Film of the Year.” No arrogant, boastful shouting here. You, the audience, is in on the decision. A helpful reminder in this consideration is that the movie is a nominee for a Golden Globe for Best Picture.

In marked contrast to the crowded, pushy, over-loaded ad for “Inside Llewyen Davis” is the Disney ad for “Saving Mr. Banks.” Full page but generously allowing a great deal of empty white space while mentioning “One of the top Ten Best Pictures” a polite three times. The ad seems to speak of good, clean entertainment as we expect of the Disney and don’t be taken in by the other trash.

Now to do this ad business right, I think, how about, “Absolutely, Unquestionably the Greatest Film Ever Made This or Any Other Year Forever and Ever.” That’s probably all you’d need.

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