Care to add your own predictions as a comment? Will the 3D boom continue or tail off? Will home cinema 3D once again undermine cinema? Will streaming overtake DVD sales as a source of revenue? Will the window between exclusive theatrical exhibition and DVD/TV/streaming continue to shrink? Will the US audience continue to shrink as a % of Hollywood revenues for its own films - and if so, will this lead to greater multi-ethnicity in the casting of leads, or a shift away from depicting American power (surely a key tool of US political hegemony)? Will digitisation open up greater opportunities for Indie producers ... or will the tentpole strategy (closely tied to franchising sequels, prequels and remakes/reimaginings) continue to maintain big 6 global dominance? Will YOU go to see any film in the cinema in 2013 - or turn increasingly to viewing film on tablets, laptops etc?
Brits in Spandex and girl power: movie trends that will keep us talking in 2013
Jennifer LawrenceIn X-Men First-Class, Jennifer Lawrence wore the lightly stunned look of someone suffering from an acute case of Newcomer Bends. But then she narrowed her eyes, strung her bow and fired The Hunger Games towards $686m: Lawrence's imperturbability was revealed as the genuine article. The scene in Silver Linings Playbook where she walks into de Niro's lair and has him eating out of her hand in under five minutes may just win her an Oscar at the tender age of 22. If that weren't reason enough for New York magazine to put her at the top her their "Celebrity Brunch League" – the lost of famous people they'd most like to have pancakes with – the editors listed a few more:
She complains about her fussy premiere clothes; she crashes into cars while looking for Honey Boo Boo. There was that time that her entire family went to Sleep No More in search of orgies … Jennifer Lawrence cannot be contained by your Movie Star Rules of Decorum; Jennifer Lawrence has too much to share.We concur. She's like Liz Taylor without the alimony.
GirlsJennifer Lawrence wasn't the only ballsy princess of 2012. We also had the flame-haired, cinch-waisted Princess Merida in Pixar's Brave, the studio's first female protagonist; plus Kristin Stewart riding, fighting, and shooting her way through Snow White and the Huntsman, not to mention her swan song for beloved Bella, now a momma grizzly protecting her vampire cub in the last Twilight movie. They all added up to "an interesting new breed of warrior princesses," said the New York Times' AO Scott, "whose ascendance reflects the convergence of commercial calculations and cultural longings."
Much of the credit must go to Lionsgate, who released both Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hunger Games, thus proving conclusively that young female actresses can 'open' and power a movie move way past the $100 million mark. "Girls actually need superheroes much more than boys," said Gloria Steinem, approvingly. Boys aren't the only ones to play Han Solo.
ArcheryThe favored weapon of choice in 2012 was the bow and arrow, thanks to Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Merida (Brave) and Hawkeye (The Avengers). The experts could nitpick all they want – "Renner has a break at the wrist, which is putting pressure on his carpal tunnels …" sniffed one archery teacher. We approve of his low-tech cool.
Brits in SpandexVery little about Spiderman screams Guildford. Nothing about Batman suggests Wales, Male Voice Choirs, or sheep. And Superman is supposed to hail from the planet Krypton, not the Isle of Wight. And yet that's where the actors playing those superheroes – Andrew Garfield, Christian Bale, Henry Cavill – hail from. What's the matter with American manhood? "The ugly truth is that American leading men just aren't terribly manly anymore," worried New York's magazine's Vulture blog, attributing the rash of British superhero casting to the "feminization of the American male". Either that or British actors, fed up with playing stuttering kings and fumbling Romeos, are putting in more time at the gym.
Take it as a sign of …
Hollywood's growing internationalismWith the overseas market now accounting for a staggering 70% of the box office, it came as no surprise that James Cameron was planning to shoot Avatars 2 and 3 with Chinese money. Iron Man 3 is already shooting in China. Wes Anderson is off to Europe for his next movie, following in Woody Allen's footsteps. Mongrel hits Slumdog Millionaire and The Artist are joined this year by Life of Pi, the world's first Canadian-Indian-Taiwanese Oscar contender. As Michel Haznavicious said last year: "I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker." Hollywood is a state of mind. Discuss.
The American exoticIf Hollywood grew more international, then America seemed more like a foreign country in 2012. That, at least, was the case with Benh Zeitlin's incandescent debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild, in which a six-year-old's voyage through the "bathtub" of post-Katrina Louisiana took on the mythic aspect of Odysseus wandering the Mediterranean. It recalled another film using American disintegration as the backdrop for myth, 2009's Winter's Bone; together, they suggested a new sub-genre, the American Exotic, shaping flinty myth from forays into the American subcontinent. And to think that magic realism used to be the genre of the developing world. No more. Noted the New York Times' Michael Cieply:
Last year Hollywood's top 20 domestic box office performers included just two movies – The Help and Bridesmaids – with realistic stories about American life … In 1992, by contrast, 15 of the 20 best-selling American films were rooted in realistic, if sometimes twisted, American experiences … pressure to generate international sales, which now account for about 70% of Hollywood's worldwide ticket revenue, had pushed the simple portrayal of American lives almost completely off the big studio schedules in May, June and July."At the cinema at least, America is the foreign country now.
ImplosionsThe new explosions, as Slate's Forrest Whickman noticed while surveying the carnage of the Avengers and the Dark Knight Rises. "We appear to be entering a boom in Hollywood implosions," he wrote.
When the opening action set-piece of The Avengers ends with the destruction of a remote research facility, the structure goes out not with a bang but more of a cool sucking noise. Meanwhile, in the first trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is set not on exploding a football stadium full of thousands of people so much as imploding it.An allegory of Hollywood's imminent collapse-from-within? An echo of 9/11? Or just a cool new way to blow stuff up? Either way, someone should tell Khan Noonien Singh before he gets angry.
Playing the bitch"Picasso had his blue period, and this is my bitch period." So said Charlize Theron talking about her roles as the evil stepmom in Snow White and the Huntsman. Playing the bitch is the latest way for Actresses of a Certain Age to outwit (and satirise) Hollywood's cult of youth: whether it be Theron's Queen Ravenna bathing in milk or Julia Roberts's Evil Queen fussing over her complexion in Mirror Mirror. They will soon be joined by Angelina Jolie in the Sleeping-Beauty-remix Maleficent and Rachel Weisz's Wicked Witch Of The East in Oz The Great And Powerful. "Not since Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Olivia DeHavilland and other multi-Oscared legends collectively turned to horror films in order to regain box-office clout in the early 60s have we seen so many Oscar-winning actresses decide bad is good for a career," noted Deadline Hollywood.
The difference being that Davis and Crawford were in their 50s when they smudged the mascara. These days, you're playing wicked stepmom once you're past 30 – the new 40, sad to say. As Goldie Hawn famously put it in The First Wives Club: "there are only three ages for women: babe, district attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy."
Self-catching bad guysThe MTV movie blog offered the year's best advice:
When you catch your arch-nemesis during the first scene of the film or toward the middle of the second act, you should bet on it being part of his or her evil plan. Bane, Silva, and Loki all used their enemy's predictability to their advantage because no one stopped to think that maybe this was all too easy.
ResurrectionBond did it. Batman did it. Sherlock Holmes did it. In fact Holmes was the first, staging his own death at the Reichenbach Falls in 1893, before springing the ultimate comeback. Released back into the pop-cultural biosphere by Jason Bourne in 2002, it became the favored means of outwitting one's enemies in 2012. "What's your hobby?" Javier Bardem asks 007. "Resurrection," replies Bond. Talking of which….
said McConaughey. The movie has become the year's most profitable production, spawning a sequel, a stage musical and a hundred doctoral thesis on the Post-Lacanian Dynamics of the Female Gaze. McConaughey's bared torso suggested one more way in which stardom is like sainthood: requiring a mortification of the flesh. That or cheek-bearing chaps.
The film-critic-in-chiefAmerica's most cine-literate president since Reagan let Anne Hathaway know she was "the best thing" in the Dark Knight Rises, told Oprah "you have got to see" Beasts of the Southern Wild, found Daniel Day-Lewis "masterful" in the role of Lincoln, and introduced the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird on the USA Network channel, a perfect bit of branding-by-association. "He is the protagonist for middle American aspiration, pathfinder to the straight and narrow and able to suggest a false ease and gloss that go with probity," wrote critic David Thompson of Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch but he could as easily have been talking about America's 44th president. Turns out folks wanted a sequel, too.
Preston SturgesUnable to release any new movies since 1959, on account of being dead, Preston Sturges' "11 rules for box-office appeal" remain as potent as ever:
• A pretty girl is better than an ugly one.
• A leg is better than an arm.
• A bedroom is better than a living room.
• An arrival is better than a departure.
• A birth is better than a death.
• A chase is better than a chat.
• A dog is better than a landscape.
• A kitten is better than a dog.
• A baby is better than a kitten.
• A kiss is better than a baby.
• A pratfall is better than anything.