Great Flicks

Dean Keith Simonton

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199752034
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894857 | DOI:
Great Flicks

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The main purpose of the book is to understand what it takes to make a great film. As noted in the Chapter 1 prologue, however, this review of cinematic creativity and aesthetics will be confined to scientific studies, studies carried out by a multidisciplinary group of researchers. Chapter 2 then concentrates on movie awards, including the Oscars and Golden Globes, and how those awards relate to critical acclaim. Do great films receive both shiny trophies and five stars? Chapter 3 studies more closely how these awards cluster together and which of these clusters best predict cinematic success. How do the dramatic awards compare with the visual, technical, and music awards? Chapter 4 adds a new consideration, namely the film’s financial performance: How does box office compare with critical evaluations and movie awards? The following four chapters focus on specific contributions to a film’s impact: Chapter 5 covers the script (including writers), Chapter 6 the director (or “auteur”), Chapter 7 the actors (especially gender differences), and Chapter 8 the music (both score and song). Chapter 9 addresses the question of whether the same cinematic factors that make some films great also make other films bad: Are bombs the exact opposite of masterpieces? The book closes with an epilogue on future directions in scientific studies of cinematic creativity and aesthetics. What do researchers need to do if we want a complete understanding of what it takes to create a powerful cinematic experience?

Keywords: cinema; creativity; aesthetics; critical evaluations; movie awards; box office

Book.  256 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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