Like the mismatched couple at the center of a 1940s romantic-comedy, television and film have been battling. For years, they’ve fought for superiority, with movies taking the high ground for decades over the coarser pleasures of the “boob tube,” but television beginning to move ahead during this current Golden Age.
So maybe 2016 was the year that movies and TV reconciled, found common ground and began to make sweet, sweet love.
Is a film festival acquisition that premieres on Netflix a movie or a TV show?
Is a documentary produced with TV money but introduced to the world in theaters a TV show or a movie?
And that thing that the wealthy entertainer produced on the sly basically as a filmed play and then dropped on his personal website with no warning — is that TV? I mean, it’s not a movie, so it MUST be TV, right? It’s not a restaurant. It’s not a book.
Our vernacular, a relic from a bygone age (2006, probably), is now completely unfit to deal with a world of fluidity between mediums.
That fluidity is why my colleague Todd McCarthy had a certain ESPN-produced documentary as his top film of 2016. For its upcoming end-of-year critics’ package in print, THR decided to count that doc as a movie rather than a TV program to avoid overlap between film and TV critics. But for online purposes, it counts as whatever I want it to, which happens to be TV. (That’s why my online Top 10 list for 2016 includes 11 entries: Number 11 here appeared as number 10 in the magazine since aforementioned doc was not in contention.)
As it stands, my Top 11 list includes streaming shows, shows from England, animated shows, comedy-news shows and, yes, a movie that premiered at Sundance and is going to be nominated for an Oscar, but is still part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 franchise.