Maybe that's how America should look on screen right now, I thought as I left the cinema. Maybe that’s the American genre now: magic realism. It used to be realism, at the movies as much as on the page, but the role of national chronicler has largely fallen to television these days. In another era, "Deadwood", "The Sopranos", "Mad Men", "Boardwalk Empire" and "Band of Brothers" would all have been movies, but the industry that would have made them is now largely dead. In a recent edition of the New York Times, Michael Cieply noted that of the20 biggest hits of last year, only two—"Bridesmaids" and "The Help"—were set in anything recognisable as North America. In 1992, it was 15 out of 20. It’s one reason the Academy has gone fishing overseas for its big winners in recent years—"The Artist", "The King's Speech", "Slumdog Millionaire"—always reserving a spot among the nominations for something flinty and homespun from the indie world: two years ago it was "Winter's Bone", which plunged audiences into the meth labs of the Ozarks. This year, it should be "Beasts of the Southern Wild".
Read the full story at the Economist's More Intelligent Life.