In today’s N.Y. Times, A.O. Scott has lamented with good reason “the peculiar and growing irrelevance of world cinema in American movie culture, which the Academy Awards help to perpetuate.” Diminishing education standards have surely fed into this. American backwater types have long regarded foreign-language films as too challenging or not comforting enough, but I’ve been sensing gradually lessening interest levels even among urbans over the last 20 or 25 years.
“There are certainly examples from the last decade of subtitled films, Oscar-nominated or not, that have achieved some measure of popularity,” Scott writes. “But these successes seem more and more like outliers. A modest American box office gross of around $1 million is out of the reach of even prizewinners from Cannes and masterworks by internationally acclaimed auteurs, most of whose names remain unknown even to movie buffs.
“This is less a sea change than the continuation of a 30-year trend. As fashion, gaming, pop music, social media and just about everything else have combined to shrink the world and bridge gaps of culture and taste, American movie audiences seem to cling to a cautious, isolationist approach to entertainment.”