Director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), who’s helming the soon-to-be-released “Cowboys and Aliens,” recently referred to 2011 as a box office “bloodbath,” packed full of blockbuster competition. He’s right to be worried. While summer 2010 was dominated by “Inception,” 2011 is a different animal. Though “Cowboys and Aliens” features Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale”) and Harrison Ford (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and is written by duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”), it faces stiff competition from a year full of high-profile releases.
January brings us “The Green Hornet,” a superhero film starring Seth Rogen (“Observe and Report”) and directed by Oscar winner Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”). In March, there’s “Battle: Los Angeles” — an intense alien invasion film starring Aaron Eckhart (“Rabbit Hole”) that’s been described as “Black Hawk Down” with aliens — and “Sucker Punch,” director Zack Snyder’s (“300”) first original film. Judging from the action-packed trailers, it earned every bit of the praise it received following Comic-Con 2010.
April release “Source Code” — director Duncan Jones’s follow-up to the trippy, critically acclaimed 2009 indie “Moon” — brings us to an average of one highly-anticipated wide release movie per month, during a period when Hollywood traditionally dumps its worst films. It’s exciting, not to mention unprecedented, to see this much mainstream potential so early in the year. It will be followed up between May and August by a mysterious J.J. Abrams movie, “Super 8,” and the exciting conclusion to the “Harry Potter” franchise. Whether you’re ready for more or all tapped out by the release of “Cowboys” in late July, there’s no doubt that 2011 will be an exceptional year.
2010 was undoubtedly a stellar year in terms of musical releases, which means 2011 is certainly not short on musical expectations. But fear not. With exciting releases, an ever-growing festival scene and national tours being announced, the coming year is sure to be as chock full of gems as the last.
Kanye protégé Lupe Fiasco is breaking out a new album in March, titled Lasers. Hopefully, fellow Chicago old-school rappers The Cool Kids are expecting to put out an album in 2011 (though it may not land until 2012), and the group may take the prize for best album title with When Fish Ride Bicycles. Also look out for new Fleet Foxes, finally coming on the heels of its 2008 hype-fest, and a prospective new album from vets Radiohead.
On the touring circuit, 2011 is looking reliable in the festival arena. Let the countdown begin for the summer barrage of excellent festivals. Ringing in the season is Coachella, occurring in the outrageously inconvenient weekend of Apr. 15 to 17, directly (and tragically) preceding finals week. No worries though, Midwesterners. The Pitchfork Music Festival is here to save the day, or more specifically, July 16 through 18. Known for its emphasis on “the music” rather than being a meeting ground for drunk twenty-somethings in cargo shorts, this Chicago festival offers a respite from the more crowded and overwhelming atmospheres of Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
And don’t worry, you aren’t the only one obsessively checking when Kanye West’s inevitable tour for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will happen, only to find yourself panicking at the lack of tour dates. The dates should be announced soon, and knowing Yeezy, this tour will rival his famed “Glow in the Dark Tour,” so stay tuned. 2011 is looking pretty good.
There are plenty of things to look forward to in TV and new media in 2011, but what I’m most eagerly anticipating isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of small-screen tea. It’s not the spring finales and sweeps that usually bring out the best in our favorite shows. It’s not the innumerable new shows that will premiere throughout the year — not even new dramas that could fill that island-shaped hole in my heart. And it’s not new video games, because I’m a menace to anything involving hand-eye coordination.
Nope, what I’m looking forward to most in the new year is the awards show season.
There, I said it. My name is Proma and I am an awards show addict.
I think it started when I was ten and my father moved the dining table into the living room so that we could see if “Lagaan” would become the first Indian movie ever to win an Oscar (it didn’t). By the time “Lost” won its first (and only) “Outstanding Drama Series” Emmy, I was hooked. Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, People’s Choice Awards, BAFTA, Oscar!
The reason I’m so devoted is because, in terms of pure entertainment, awards shows never disappoint. There’s always a dress so ugly that you feel superior to the star wearing it. There’s the ill-timed political commentary; there’s that someone at the Globes who’s too drunk to give a coherent speech; there’s anything Ricky Gervais says or does; there’s the mystery of who invited Miley. And if we’re lucky, there’s a musical number by Neil Patrick Harris.
And of course, if you’re into this sort of thing, there are the awards themselves. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter if I love the nominees or hate the winner or have not (to date) watched an HBO biopic: They’ve got me watching. They’ve already won.
There will be much in store for the fine arts lover this semester. The University Musical Society’s season continues in 2011 with American soprano Renée Fleming, whose highly anticipated Jan. 16 recital will include works by Puccini, Korngold, Schoenberg and Richard Strauss. On Feb. 1, UMS will present the celebrated Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. The program will include a performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a minor, performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Finally, mystery and uncertainty surround the Mar. 19 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. The massive work, subtitled “The Symphony of a Thousand,” is scheduled to include eight soloists, five choirs and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of conductor Leonard Slatkin.
The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has an exciting season this semester that includes a performance of “The Crucible,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘U’ alum Arthur Miller. The production will be performed over two weekends — Mar. 31 to Apr. 3 and Apr. 7 to Apr. 10. From Mar. 24 to 27, The University Opera Theatre will present composer and librettist Mark Adamo’s 1988 opera “Little Women,” which will offer an accessible introduction for those interested in modern music or opera in general.
Finally, next semester will bring productions of two well known musical comedies. From Mar. 25 to 27, MUSKET will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” — a hilarious work of contemporary musical theater that pokes fun at the world of competitive spelling. From Apr. 7 to 10, the University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society will present the dynamic duo’s 1885 operetta “The Mikado,” which is a spoof of Victorian England set in imperial Japan.