This year’s batch of Best Picture Oscar noms suggest that we want to be anywhere but now.

Every year when February rolls around, Oscar buzz dominates in the realm of the press- try looking for a major news site that doesn’t have predictions and ruminations on the most prestigious of all Hollywood awards shows. 

In this vein, the Chicago Tribune has a curious piece on what exactly this year’s batch of Best Picture nominees tells us about the present culture: we’re all pining for simpler times. Consider the line-up: Hugo, Martin Scoreses’ tale recalling the magic of visionary filmmaker George Melies in 1930s Paris; The Artist, a charming silent film that looks back on the introduction of sound in film in the late 20s, and Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s ode to past generations in Paris. Not to mention The Help of the 1960s American South and Tree of Life of, well, all of history. Borrelli terms this as “The New Nostalgia.”

It’s not about mere homage to fading sensibilities or needless remakes or period epics. It’s not about a cultural malaise and filmmakers with nothing new to say. The New Nostalgia, despite every dyspeptic bone in my body, is not necessarily a bad thing – particularly in thoughtful hands, like those of Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg. The New Nostalgia is about dipping into movie history to rediscover the joy of moviegoing itself.

It’s difficult to draw a parallel to gaming, as the experience of “moviegoing” takes place in a highly specific setting and the history of film is more extensive for obvious reasons.  The self-referential nature of these films cannot ultimately be mirrored in videogames.

However, as evidenced in our own list of 2011’s best games, sequels and franchises dominate (read: The Elder Scrolls: Skryim, Super Mario 3D LandPortal 2), which may be the gaming equivalent of self-reference. That we continue to sit down in front of our consoles to play Mario games, old and new, reflects our desire to go back to familiar favorites. The New Nostalgia of the gaming world might be just this: that we want now more than ever to revisit tradition. 

– Lyndsey Edelman

[via Chicago Tribune]