2011 – in the words of the BBC, “The Year When A Lot Happened“. Few would have predicted the domino-effect in the Arab world, the deaths of Bin Laden and Gaddafi were not without surprise, and Amy Winehouse’s tragic demise, whilst long prophesied was still a shock to her legion of fans. A summer of rioting against the backdrop of a looming ‘double-dip’ recession were not the dizzying heights many of us hoped our country would reach this past year. So to lighten the mood here are a string of cultural treats to look forward to in 2012…
The Year of the Bard
To coincide with this year’s Olympics, the World Shakespeare Festival launches on April 23rd (the anniversary of the great man’s birth AND death), continuing into September and including a series of new adaptions of some of his classics (check out hot-to-trot Douglas Booth and Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick in Romeo and Juliet). You can also look forward to each of his 38 plays performed in a different language, so if you fancy hearing companies from around the world reciting The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu or Titus Andronicus in Cantonese then head to The Globe theatre for a celebration of everything Shakespeare.
The event the world will be talking about – the culmination of seven years of planning and London’s opportunity to strut its stuff on the global stage. Despite a dodgy start – a debatable logo (is that really meant to say 2012?) and a 376 foot sculpture that no one really understands – this is our chance to prove the athletic prowess that repeatedly eludes us, as well as show the world how London stages a major sporting event. Any event that brings together 205 nations, 300 events, 10,500 athletes, 27,500 broadcasters, photographers and journalists, £8billion in public funding, 8,000 torchbearers, 2,000km of electrical cables and 8.8 million tickets is certainly worth a mention!
It isn’t often that the anniversary of 1,517 deaths is given such cultural recognition but the sinking of the Titanic has continued to capture the public’s imagination since that fateful day in 1912. On 6th April, the iconic Kate/Leo sob-fest will be re-released in 3D in cinemas across the country alongside a new 4 part ITV series penned by Downton-Don Julian Fellowes. And if you feel like going all-out then do as the Americans do and join the Titanic Memorial Cruise, mapping a reversed route from New York to Southampton and offering a historical overload of lectures, period costume, themed entertainment, tailored menus and a rather dubious cemetary visit thrown in.
Diamond’s Are Forever
This year our sovereign marks 60 years on the throne. Diamonds may not last forever but at a respectable 85 years of age she’s certainly putting in a good innings. To celebrate, the country will enjoy another FOUR day bank holiday, no doubt accompanied by numerous street parties, strings of bunting and commemorative crockery. A royal concert has also been added to the bill and the royal family are partaking in high profile tours of the Commonwealth, touring territories from Mozambique to Montserrat to Malaysia. If you thought 2011 was the year for British royalty then think again!
From British royalty to pop royalty, any offspring of Beyoncé and Jay Z instantly inherits some serious clout. At this year’s VMA’s ‘the bump’s’ first sighting broke Twitter records, prompting a frenzy of 8,868 tweets per second and setting up the most hotly anticipated birth of 2012.
It’s been ‘5,6,7,8’…9, TEN years since H and Clare put a stop to the hugely successful Steps juggernaut. To include their reunion tour in a list of 2012’s cultural events may be an act of personal indulgence but in my opinion no amount of reality TV has filled the hole that their unique brand of nasal pop left in the industry. A twelve date tour has already been extended by an extra six nights due to popular demand as their legions of (slightly older) fans wait with baited breath for the next round of glitzy costumes, catchy melodies and iconic dance routines.
Time To Get ‘Gazebo-ed’ Again!
Britain’s favourite jolly face, Michael McIntyre, is back on the road this year for an autumn arena tour throughout the UK and Ireland. His biggest tour to date will reward his loyal fans with some long-awaited new material just in time for a Christmas DVD stocking filler – it’s set to be a lucrative year for Mr McIntyre! So for any fans of the infamous ‘man drawer’, he of ‘five spice’ fame is providing our 2012 mood-lightener amidst all this economic doom and gloom.
The End Of The World?
According to the Mayans, the world is due to end on December 21st 2012. Their ancient Long Count Calendar works in ‘great cycles’, a period of 1,872,000 consecutive days or 5,125 years, that comes to an end on this year’s winter solstice. Some historians have led us to believe that this occasion equates to an impending apocalypse, with the (often far-fetched) theories to support our predicted demise ranging from meteor collision to magnetic pole reversal to a passing encounter with a black hole – I like to think that if our Earth was thus doomed, the men with telescopes might be able to give us a bit more forewarning!
Ones To Watch
Does that face look familiar? That’s because it belongs to Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the all-star Olsen twins of TV/movie/fashion fame. Since a brief encounter with acting aged 4, Elizabeth has taken her time in following in her sisters’ famous footsteps but 2012 is set to be her year. Her movie debut in Martha Marcy May Marlene has earned her a slew of nominations and with thriller Red Lights alongside Robert de Niro and comedy Liberal Arts with Zac Efron both slated for release later this year, Elizabeth’s star is steadily on the rise.
When you’re handpicked out of nowhere by Steven Spielberg to play the protagonist in a major Hollywood blockbuster you know your star is set to skyrocket. Jeremy Irvine may have got his big break in 2011, but with Spielberg’s screen adaption of War Horse set to hit UK cinemas on January 13th, his profile will now be firmly on our radar. Add to his CV the role of Pip in Great Expectations (with a stellar cast of Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Robbie Coltrane, not to mention a screenplay by 2011’s runaway success David Nicholls) as well as a rumoured role alongside Colin Firth in a re-make of The Railway Children and you have yourself a bonafide filmstar. Watch this space…
From one Great Expectation to another, Douglas Booth marked his place in the nation’s conscious with his take on Pip in the BBC’s Christmas adaption of Dickens’ classic tale. Booth got his initial taste of fame starring alongside Emma Watson and Lily Donaldson in several Burberry campaigns before landing his first big role portraying Boy George in Worried About The Boy. Film moguls have capitalised on the boyish good looks that have sent a generation of teenage girls into a swoon, casting him opposite Hailee Steinfeld in the upcoming Romeo and Juliet not to mention his first foray into Hollywood with the June release of LOL, starring Miley Cyrus, Ashley Greene and Demi Moore.
Relatively unknown when she first appeared alongside Ed Westwick in Chalet Girl, Felicity Jones has been billed for critical acclaim in 2012 with new film Like Crazy. Depicting a transatlantic love story with an entirely improvised dialogue, the film won Jones the prestigious Special Jury Prize at 2011’s Sundance Film Festival. Add to that a starring role in Burberry’s A/W campaign and a string of upcoming movie releases, the 28 year old Oxford graduate’s career is set to go from strength to strength this coming year.
What is a list of 2012’s budding stars without a sporting hero? Arguably Britain’s best hope for a medal at this year’s Olympics, Jessica Ennis is likely to be one of the country’s most talked about figures over the coming months. Alongside her intensive preparations to compete for gold in the heptathlon, Ennis has transformed into the poster girl for the games, gracing the cover of February’s Marie Claire as well as countless other media campaigns. Her credentials certainly match the hype – she has held the World Heptathlon Title, World Indoor Pentathlon title and has been World and European champion in her discipline – so fingers crossed Ennis will strike gold in 2012.
Films To See
2012 is the year of the superhero with four (yes, four!) Hollywood blockbusters hitting our screens in the coming year. A lifetime of comic book Christmases come at once as the megastars appear in their masses in The Amazing Spider-man, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Ghostrider. So whether Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s sizzling chemistry in the Spider-man prequel tickles your fancy, or Christian Bale’s third turn as Batman alongside Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman in Dark Knight captures your eye, this year is set to be super.
The film itself may have garnered lukewarm reviews but Meryl Streep’s Oscar-tipped turn in The Iron Lady is certainly one of the performances of 2012. The British biopic narrates Margaret Thatcher’s leadership using a series of flashbacks and prompted a blaze of publicity in late 2011. Having already won Streep a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and a nomination at 2012’s Golden Globes, its 6th January release date couldn’t come soon enough!
When Harvey Weinstein told his brother and business partner he’d just spent “a lot of millions” on black and white (mostly) silent movie The Artist, he was told he was crazy, but fastforward to 2012 and Weinstein is laughing all the way to the bank. The film tells the story of silent star George Valentin who, like many young actors at the end of the 1920s, fails to make the transition into talkies unlike the flourishing career of his love interest Peppy Miller. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius and set for the most part to background music, the (once) underdog is riding a wave of hype and is surely destined to pack some punches come awards season.
Glenn Close plays Albert Nobbs, the titular role of a woman who spends thirty years donning men’s clothes in order to work and survive in nineteenth century Ireland. The film she’s spent fifteen years trying to make finally went into production in December 2010 with Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson co-starring. Although reviews have been mixed, Close’s performance has wowed the critics, earning her a nomination in the prestigious Best Actress category at 2012’s Golden Globes.
And the award for most-hyped film of 2012 surely goes to The Great Gatsby? Baz Lurhman’s adaption of Fitzgerald’s 1920s novel is slated for release on Christmas Day, sending scores of filmgoers into a flurry. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, this blockbuster certainly has the momentum to be the film of 2012.
Michigan’s Lake Superior State University has produced its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. Based on tens of thousands of nominations, the 37th annual list of ‘banned’ words for 2012 includes ‘baby bump’, ‘occupy’, ‘amazing’ and ‘ginormous’. Admittedly past rulings have failed to act universally ( ‘fail’ and ‘viral’ appeared on last year’s list…) so only time will tell if ‘mancave’ and ‘shared sacrifice’ can withstand the university’s stringency.
Happy New Year!