Has Cinema Really Abandoned Films Like ‘The Power of the Dog’ in Favor of Marvel?

If you accept that television and film are functionally one art form, then it’s not hard to find the cinema of character and revelation that Scorsese is so keen on. 

Consider two Fall 2021 Netflix films with limited theatrical releases: Rebecca Hall’s debut Passing and Jane Campion’s triumphant return, The Power of the Dog

Neither of these movies are CGI extravaganzas. But they both are shot with careful 1920s period detail, and both have big-name screen stars who have done time in superhero franchise extravaganzas.

Netflix is reluctant to release revenue figures, but both movies got enthusiastic critical coverage (90% on Rotten Tomatoes for Passing, 95% for Power of the Dog).

Power of the Dog is a quiet Western about the relationship between an aggressive, bullying cowboy named Phil (Cumberbatch) and the skinny, nerdy son of his brother’s new wife, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). 

These films are not only focused on human revelations in a way that would make Scorsese and Hitchcock proud. They’re more focused on human revelations than the most famous work of those two directors.