2011 has come and gone and left quite the assortment of movie news in its wake. There’s been poster after poster, trailer after trailer and more casting updates than we can count. With so much news out there, how can anything possible be memorable enough to stick even after the year comes to a close?
Well, turns out, there is a way and actually, more than one of them. Controversy, notoriety and sheer good filmmaking, the very first Movie New Cheat Sheet of 2012 takes a look back at some unforgettable Cheat Sheet items of 2011.
1. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen: We get a ton of big casting news on a regular basis, but the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen was absolutely all consuming. Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Chloe Moretz – every time a new potential Katniss entered the race, it warranted even more attention. By the time director Gary Ross had finally chosen his leading lady for The Hunger Games, the Internet was overrun with Katniss casting stories and, even after Lawrence signed on the dotted line, then the discussion pieces began to emerge – Is Lawrence really Katniss? Ten actresses better suited to play Katniss than Lawrence? Who should star opposite Lawrence? Sure, it was a lot, but it seems to be worth the hype as The Hunger Games is shaping up to be one of the biggest releases in 2012.
2. First Five Minutes of Sucker Punch: While I’m still very much trying to forget the girl power and CGI disaster that was Sucker Punch, this is one news story that I’ll likely revisit for years to come. Sure, Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch was an absolutely dismal attempt at telling the story of girls stuck in an insane asylum who dream of being exotic dancers who dream of being soldiers in war, but the first five minutes of the film are downright fantastic and, back in April, those first five minutes were released on the web. Clearly then it was merely a marketing move, but at least now the film can live on in something other than infamy.
3. The Hangover Part II Trailer’s Monkey Issue: Every year needs an amusing story to go into the record books and The Hangover Part II’s monkey business is definitely my pick. You know what happens when you ban something? It becomes even more popular. Not only is the little monkey pretending to do the nasty with a water bottle one of the feature film’s few funny moments, but after Warner Bros. requested that the trailer showing the gag off be destroyed, it became a hot commodity. Apparently the studio never ran the final cut of the trailer by the MPAA and even though it should have only played before R-rated movies, it was accidently shown before the PG-13-rated Source Code. Warner Bros. swapped out that trailer for a more appropriate piece, but, of course, the original still exists in all its water bottle-loving glory on the web.
4. The Banning of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence): Sadly the tendency for banning to result in even more interest is true for The Human Centipede II, too. Back when word first got out that the British Board of Film Classification deemed Tom Six’s latest “sexually violent and potentially obscene,” I suspected perhaps they were just a bit sensitive. Yes, the first film’s core concept was a bit disturbing, but it wasn’t that bad. However, now that I have suffered through Full Sequence, I wish the MPAA had banned the film here in the states. But what’s even worse about this story is Six’s response. In fact, that might be more troubling than the actual film. “Apparently I made an horrific horror-film, but shouldn’t a good horror film be horrific? My dear people it is a f****cking MOVIE. It is all fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief. It is art. Give people their own choice to watch it or not.” Sure, he’s got a point, but there’s certainly a more graceful and professional way to get it across. Plus, the movie is horrific – but in all the wrong ways.
5. Lars von Trier Banned from Cannes: Let’s continue with the theme of unprofessionalism, but now with a movie that’s actually pretty good, if not one of the best of the year, Melancholia. Director Lars von Trier is known for being a bit on the provocative side, but saying “I found out that I was really a Nazi” and “I understand Hitler” was a bit of a stretch for the Cannes Film Festival. Von Trier did apologize for his remarks, but festival organizers still opted to ban the director from the event, calling him a “persona non grata, with effect immediately.” Oh well. Melancholia’s still a fantastic film and snagged a nomination for the Palme d’Or and won Kirsten Dunst the festival’s Best Actress honor.
6. Sean Hood’s Reaction to the Flopping of Conan the Barbarian: I most certainly wouldn’t call this big news, but it’s notable in that this is a side of the industry we rarely see. Having made a handful of short films over the past two years, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to put all that work into making a full feature only to be told your work isn’t any good. Well, that’s what happened to screenwriter Sean Hood after his movie, Conan the Barbarian, didn’t just bomb at the box office, but with critics, too. In a personal statement, Hood ran through the entire process from first joining the production to having his hopes and dreams fade away courtesy of poor “tracking numbers.” Then Hood shifts to addressing the feeling that came after, “You make light of it, of course. You joke and shrug. But the blow to your ego and reputation can’t be brushed off.” Yes, I’m one of many who didn’t like Conan much, but based on this letter alone, Hood’s clearly got a good head on his shoulders and that in itself makes him someone I’d like to work with.
7. The Dark Knight Rises Spoiler Bonanza: I was pretty bitter about all the unofficial material that was pouring out of The Dark Knight Rises set, but now that the film’s full trailer has finally arrived, I’m glad to say all of those amateur photos and videos haven’t really spoiled much at all. But still, The Dark Knight Rises was certainly subject to the most camera bombing I’ve ever seen. Since filming began back in May, we basically had week after week packed with photos and videos of the action. Passersby snag shots of movie sets all the time, but the amount of material coming from that set was a bit troublesome. The Tumbler, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Batman battling Bane, nothing was off limits and we were seeing it all whether we liked it or not. Back when I spoke to Hathaway while she was promoting One Day, she did say, “I find it frustrating and I know [Christopher Nolan] finds it frustrating, but I also think that he’s having fun with it, kind of like spooning out secrets. He has a lot more control than you think.” Apparently he does because that trailer absolutely blew me away.
8. No Academy Award for Brett Ratner: Who gets picked to produce The Academy Awards and then just throws the opportunity away? Apparently Brett Ratner does. After being chosen to produce the 84th annual Academy Awards alongside Don Mischer, Ratner opted to do some interviews for his new release Tower Heist and slip in offensive statements, the most problematic of which was his choice to reveal that he thinks “rehearsals is for fags.” Soon thereafter GLAAD called for Ratner’s Oscar departure and Ratner complied, dropping out himself, but also taking host Eddie Murphy with him. Perhaps if this whole thing arose from one simple slip of the tongue I might be swayed to show Ratner a little sympathy, but between his history and the fact that the guy didn’t even pull the breaks after that first no no, he absolutely doesn’t deserve to produce the industry’s most prestigious award show.
9. Bridesmaids is a Record Breaker: Getting back on the bright side, there’s really nothing better than seeing a good movie make a ton of money. And, even better, there’s nothing better than seeing a good movie topple an undeserving one on the box office charts. My fifth favorite film of 2011, Bridesmaids, opened with a solid $26.2 million and then went on to earn a whopping $169.1 million domestically, surpassing Sex and the City as the highest earning R-rated female comedy of all time. And that’s not all. Bridesmaids continues to trounce the competition, now not only at the box office and with critics, but during awards season, too. So far it has three People’s Choice nominations, two Screen Actor Guild nods and Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Music for Kristen Wiig’s work.
10. RIP Steve Jobs: We’re rounding out 2011 on a somber note with the passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs. However, while his untimely passing due to pancreatic cancer is profoundly upsetting, now that the time of mourning has come and gone, there’s really nothing left to do, but look back on Jobs fondly and remain incredibly thankful for his achievements. As cheesy as this may sound, thanks to my beloved iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, I really never go a day of my life without a little Steve Jobs in it. I truly love these products and am incredibly grateful for them so, Mr. Jobs, thank you for making my life that much better.