Our technology has advanced so rapidly but sometimes that seems to lead to regression.
Computers are amazing things, but we cram movies with CGI that is awful. Then you compare Midway (2019) with Twelve Angry Men or Petrified Forest or Casablanca or Stalag 17 and conclude, "Man, the old movies were so much better!" There have been many wonderful movies in the past one score years (contrary to Timotheus's assertion) but for too many action/noise/graphics are poor replacements for excellent acting and relatively simple sets.
Perhaps we're doing the same thing with women. They can augment and reduce and enhance. They get tattoes and piercings. They wear less and show more. And they (mostly) can't hold a candle to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Donna Reed etc.
Ah, ol' fart.
Well as another of the ol' fart generation (and one for whom nostalgic thoughts appear to be taking up more of my time) I have more than a little sympathy with what you are saying, but I do think there is a degree of 'rose-tinted spectacles' here.
Firstly I think CGI generally is a wonderful thing and done properly (not just action sequences but landscape and objects), can, and do, add so much to film. Imagine Dam Busters with properly done CGI (a great film but special effects were ahem 'of its day')..... But as has been pointed out, aircraft action CGI seems so routinely to be done appallingly it has to be a conscious decision to make 'Star Wars' in WWII. Shame.
As for the film comparisons I think it a little unfair to compare such as Midway with say Twelve Angry Men. I think for a more useful comparison, films should be compared with those of the same genre.
Were actors and actresses of the past necessarily better at the acting art? No doubt some were and some weren't. The best today are, I would suggest, every bit as good as those in the past. Acting styles change to suit the age, but the need to be able to act and to make it look so natural doesn't change. I like looking at old films from time to time but the acting can often seem stilted and artificial - no criticism of the actors and actresses as they were doing what was then the norm in a different time, with a different moral compass (for better or worse). I think it fair to say a wider range of acting skills is probably needed today.
As for wearing less and showing more, piercings and wotnot, well these are just the changing times. The carryings on of the rich and famous was more hushed up and controlled by the studios back in the day - I'm sure the rumours about certain 'ladies' of stage and screen back then are true (dirrrty girls!).
As for the new Midway, well I probably won't be rushing out to the cinema but I'll certainly be watching when it comes on TV and hoping it does a decent job. As some said earlier, it's at least nice to see Yorktown look like Yorktown.
I think there are two area where CGI can really be a distraction these days.
1. CGI has gotten a lot cheaper (and quicker) to do. With the increased opportunity, it is inevitable that companies with varying degrees of quality emerge. A-list companies get the most money and work on big budget properties (Marvel, Star Wars, LOTR, etc.) and the smaller/cheaper shops work on the smaller stuff. And let's face it, WW2 movies (and TV) are generally a niche market that goes to the small shops. As with most things, you get what you pay for and the quality shows.
2. Uncanny valley effects are also something comes into play when CGI is used to replicate real world events. Noone can conclusively say whether the X-wings in Star Wars are "realistic" because of course, they don't exist. Same with cave trolls and balrogs in LOTR. But lots of people (or at least us) know what a Wildcat or a Dauntless looks like when it flies. We have combat footage from WW2 to view or airshows to visit. So it becomes much easier to pick up on the inaccuracies. And of course, cheap CGI and/or questionable "Hollywood" decisions (hey, those PBYs are moving so slowly, can we speed that up to get through this shot faster?) can exacerbate the uncanny valley quite a bit.
Take for example the various Marvel movies. When I watch them, there are definitely moments that just don't look right even though overall the CGI is as top-notch as you can get. I think that is because even though flying armored suits don't exist, I can extrapolate from real-life far enough to know that the Iron Man flying scenes sometimes just look wonky.
When you shoot at a destroyer and miss, it's like hit'in a wildcat in the ass with a banjo.
Nathan Dogan, USS Gurnard