Friday, July 10, 2009

Gamechangers

I check the Rotten Tomatoes website once a week. It lets me know without having to read a single review whether a movie is worth watching and in less than thirty seconds of my time.
And occasionally they will interview a director, or an actor. This week they asked Kathryn Bigelow her top 5 favourite movies.
Kathryn Bigelow directed the Hurt Locker, which right now seems to be one of the best reviewed movies of the summer, second only to UP and one of the movies that created some serious buzz at the Toronto film festival. Plus, she directed Near Dark, a spectacular, vampire flick.
Her list is terrific, but the film that jumped out at me is The Terminator. She calls it a gamechanger.
And for the time it was. Go back to 1984 when the movie was released and for the time, the tension, the special effects, the storytelling, it was a movie that raised the bar for all sci fi and thrillers.
I was thinking about what my gamechangers are in romance. I know for sure, and this is going back a bit, the Anita Blake series was a gamechanger for the paranormal genre. I know they're technically urban fantasy, but they had tense plots and some amazing sexual tension and I do think they started the urban fanstasy craze, and then the series fell off the rails, but before it did, man, those books were great reads.
The JR Ward series felt like a gamechanger, in terms of connected books, secondary plot lines, and some intricate world building. For me, those books have changed the way I approach plotting.
And then in historicals, you had Sherry Thomas and Joanna Bourne writing these incredible historicals with intelligent, non-perfect heroines and scenarios that couldn't be set further from a regency ballroom, making the historical a hot commodity again.
To me a game changer raises the bar, creates new standards of what works, and smart writers pay attention. Not that we'll always agree about which books were gamechangers, but I like being challenged by better books, more imaginative storylines, better characterization. I like to see how far we can push this genre and those books usually spark some serious creative thinking and some great drunk writer discussions.
I know I've left a lot of books out of this discussion, but would love to hear if anyone has any other books that they feel are gamechangers.

9 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

What an awesome post, Sinead.

I was lucky enough to see Kathryn Bigelow (and Hurt Locker) at the TIFF last year. Actually, blogged about it on DWT :-)

She is impressive. I need to read that interview with her, now.

The Terminator was definitely a game changer in films. A sci-fi action movie, but with a fabulous story and emotional core that women as well as men could connect to. Yes, the effects were groundbreaking, too... but for me it was about the story.

The JR Ward books were sure groundbreakers for me... because they opened up my eyes in terms of what a romance could be.

Brigit Jones' Diary? That certainly changed course of commercial fiction for at least a decade.

The Sopranos?

Great question.

Simone said...

As much as I love Thomas and Bourne, I don't think they're gamechangers. What they're doing had already been done by Kinsale and Ivory. Those two set the bar. Thomas and Bourne (and Duran) may have matched it but they have not surpassed it or invented anything new.

The biggest gamechanger in recent memory is Outlander IMO.

Molly O'Keefe said...

ohhh fun blog!

I think Simone is right and there's a difference between game changers and bar raisers. I don't think Kinsale changed the game, she just raised the bar. I think SEP changed the game - dragging us away from the heros and heroines of old - she brought a serious modern sensiblity to the romance. - JR Ward probably didn't change the game but she raised the bar

Tarentino changed the game. I think NYPD Blue changed the game. This is fun - I could think about this for days... and will!

Anonymous said...

OK I'll play again, lol. Though I detest her writing, I think Anne Rice was a gamechanger. There had never been anything quite like Interview with a Vampire (bad as it is) and we're still seeing the effects.

Oh, Tarantino definitely, good one Molly. Terminator, too. And then Terminator 2 was a bar-raiser. Then movies 3 and 4 lowered the bar back down. :(

For gamechangers in romance, it would be the ones who took us out of the bad old '80's and put romance into the modern age. I haven't been reading romance long enough to know the answers, but SEP sounds right to me.

Sinead M said...

Oooh SEP sounds right as well, let me think, Simone, you're right, there is a difference between raising the bar and changing the game.
I think Twin Peaks was a gamechanger in terms of a season of connected episodes, leading to one conclusion.

Books is a tough one.. I have a harder time determining the difference between gamechangers and bar raisers..

Stephanie Doyle said...

Okay - I'm going to say (and probably because I've just re-read a few books in anticipation of the movie)... Harry Potter.

I think that was a gamechanger not just for YA but for world building/story telling. I never read Lord of the Rings so for me HP is the first book where I was so profoundly brought into a different world and made to believe it all. That combined with the setting and planting of details throughout 7 books... it's flippin amazing.

TV and Movies... I'll have to think about.

For me in romance I'm going to say Linda Howard in HQ books - game changer. I think her IMs back in the day took category books to the next level.

Steph

Sinead M said...

Oh, I love Linda Howard. Her Mr. Perfect was, well, pretty much a perfect contemporary romance, hot and fun, with a sexy, sexy hero.

I love the idea of her as a gamechanger.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Good ones!!! I think Harry Potter changed the game - I think ofr the industry -- the writer as superstar.

Anne Rice sounds about right too!

I agree with Twin Peaks but sadly, I think it changed the game but everyone else got confused by the new rules...

I don't love Linda Howard enough to know, but I do think she was part of that group of authors that brought the romance into reality. Romance reality I suppose.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Molly - I agree on the JK front of her being a superstar. We really know the "face" behind the story and her own story is as much a part of the phenomena as the books themselves.

Problem for her - where does she go from here? What's next? A romance? A mystery? Something contempory or historical?

And part of me hopes she doesn't, and she caves, and I get 15 more books of Harry and friends as twentysomethings living in a wizard apartment they can't afford in New York. Hooking up and breaking up and fighting off... insert bad guy here.

Seriously. I'll read whatever she writes.

Steph

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