A is for 'Aron, if you'd told someone where you were going you'd still be able to juggle'
2011 will be the year of…well, who knows what? We never knew that Lady Gaga and Slumdog Millionaire would conquer all before them in 2009 or that Leonardo DiCaprio would make sense of dreams, Scott Pilgrim would take on the world or Kanye West would receive the best reviews of his career in the past 12 months.
So to make as accurate a guess as the calendar allows, here’s an A to Z of some potential cultural highlights from 2011.
The great adventurer Aron Ralston and his life story, 127 Hours, as filtered through the vision of Danny Boyle and the performance of James Franco . It’s a full-on year for the Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director, who’s also picking up a Bafta fellowship and directing a play for the first time since his days with the Royal Court and the RSC in the 1980s. Frankenstein stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. That could have been S in this cultural alphabet – Sherlock Holmes and Sick Boy in the same production.
Black Swan opens on 21st January. What you need to know: It’s about a principal ballerina who lands the lead role in Swan Lake, stars Natalie Portman, is from The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky and is jaw-droppingly good.
Christian Bale goes method again. In The Fighter, he plays the crack-addled brother of Irish fighter Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) in a real actor’s performance, and he’s destined to have awards lightly thrown at him through the first part of the year. Best way to describe his character is a coach for whom the wheels have well and truly fallen off. C is also for Celtic Connections, a January jamboree of acoustic pleasures in Glasgow with everyone from Richard Thompson to the equally venerated Mavis Staples.
Don’t Fight It, Feel It: the nostalgic album played-in-full tour, that is. For those who didn’t see Primal Scream’s trip down memory lane at London’s Olympia, but have tickets for the SECC in March, expect a greatest hits set in the first half and Screamadelica in full after a short intermission.
Elbow are back. You can see one of the tracks from Build A Rocket, Boys! here. The version on the album has the Halle Orchestra playing on it, but the internet can only deliver so much.
F is for Fringe, Festival and because “E” is for Elbow rather than Edinburgh and Aron Ralston had taken the “A” which could have been for August.
Everything’s gone Green at London’s National Theatre as four of its most promising writers, including Moira Buffini and Matt Charman wrestle with the eco issue. Both Charman and Buffini’s last plays (Welcome to Thebes, The Observer respectively) were both knocked into shape by former NT director Sir Richard Eyre, which suggests neither is a playwright to be taken lightly.
H is for Here Come The Girls, not a reference to an irritating Boots ad but because some of the world’s biggest female-selling artists are back, back and indeed back. An Amy Winehouse album is expected. So is one from Britney Spears. And Debbie Harry is back with Blondie. Laura Marling hopes to have her third album ready for February. If you’re really attentive, Lady Gaga is revealing the title for hers on her own site on Hogmanay – or may have done it by the time you read this.
Everything in Appleword starts with an “i” – Gorillaz released an album, The Fall, on Christmas Day made almost entirely on the iPad (well, other non-robots like The Clash’s Mick Jones and Bobby Womack helped out) while Damon Albarn was on tour in the States, and once Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive conjure up the iPad 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and once iTunes sorts out the distribution, there could be interesting big name acts trying the same experiment this year.
In March, Sir Derek Jacobi will give Glasgow his Lear which like Jude Law’s Hamlet and Ewan McGregor’s Iago was first staged at London’s Donmar Warehouse, the theatre which also debuted Frost/Nixon, Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof and Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room.
Kelly MacDonald following up No Country For Old Men with a telly show? Yes, but it’s not just any telly show. It’s Boardwalk Empire with Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham (so good in BBC1’s Occupation) and Michael Pitt, created by Sopranos writer Terence Winter and on network-of-note, HBO. That not enough for you? Martin Scorsese directed the first episode. MacDonald makes another appearance in film rom-com The Decoy Bride with David Tennant and Alice Eve but even though that’s set in Scotland, Scorsese didn’t direct that one.
After his all-male Swan Lake and The Picture of Dorian Gray, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures in Dance company always create thought-provoking dance shows. The latest is Lord of the Flies, heading for Glasgow’s Theatre Royal in March.
M is for Men Should Weep, Ena Lamont’s widely-praised play which elicited raves at the National Theatre in London, and which the National Theatre of Scotland bring to Glasgow’s Citizen’s in 2011. Furthermore, Patrick Stewart is in talks with his Macbeth director Rupert Goold to do a turn as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the newly re-opened RSC at Stratford. If Jean-Luc Picard receives half as much acclaim as he did for playing the Scot, this will be worth catching.
Neds: Peter Mullan follows up 2002’s The Magdalene Sisters with a riff on Glasgow in the 1970s. Hard not to imagine this film as a hot talking point.
Oasis: Where were you when they were getting high: Team Liam or Team Noel? You’ll get your chance to decide this year as Liam’s band Beady Eye are expected to give the world their debut album, as is big brother with his solo album. If you were Team Bonehead, probably can’t help you.
Period dramas: You may have missed Upstairs Downstairs on TV over the Christmas holidays. The first series of Downton Abbey, the brainchild of Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes, may have passed you by. But the second series, after it landed 10m viewers, is unlikely to escape your notice or the notice of drama commissioners who will be ordering fresh class-obsessed period dramas buoyed by the success of Downton Abbey and, possibly, our new-ish government.
Quadrophenia is on tour. Mods and rockers may have to familiarise themselves with the ways of Ticketmaster by spring 2011.
The return of Roxy. Everyone bar Brian Eno is present and correct.
The Specials: Too much, too old? On 18 October at the SECC, you can decide for yourself, although Jerry Dammers will not be there. The rest of the original line-up should be, barring any musical differences or bust-ups at the summer festival appearances.
Appropriately enough, this is the year Geoff Ellis and co are said to be turning it up to 11 at T in the Park, as the Foo Fighters and Blink 182 are confirmed with Biffy Clyro and the Arctic Monkeys strongly rumoured. Those – like previous headliner Pete Townshend – with tinnitus issues, are advised to stand well back from those Marshall Amps.
U is for The Ukulelele Orchestra because they’re playing Glasgow in 2011 and U2, The Undertones and Ultravox aren’t
Cheating a little on V, it stands for VI… King George VI which isn’t the long awaited follow-up to that other blockbusting “sequel”, The Madness of George III, but The King’s Speech. The Damned United and Longford director Tom Hooper’s latest film where King George VI (Colin Firth) conquers his stammer with help from Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). If The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love can scoop up wee gold statues, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see this do the same. V could also be for Vixen , as in Janacek’s Cunning Little, infectious one on its way to Glasgow in the spring.
What Winslet did next: Like Kelly Macdonald, Kate Winslet has followed up an Oscar-winning film with a telly show, but this ain’t Hollyoaks. Mildred Pierce is on The Sopranos network, HBO, directed by Todd Haynes who gave us Far from Heaven with Julianne Moore, I’m Not There with about six “Bob Dylans” and, before The Carpenters’ legal estate intervened, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story with a bunch of dolls.
X Factor: Love it, loathe it, this year will be a game changer for anyone with an opinion on Simon Cowell’s karaoke colossus.
another run from August to December, of auditions, boot camps, live shows and Cheryl Cole takes America by storm when she sits next to Simon over there. (Expect will.i.am drafted in to talk her up.)
The X Factor US flops, the press ignore the X Factor UK as they can’t find a mentally ill asylum seeker they want to vilify, Matt Cardle ends up as a cautionary tale on The Jeremy Kyle Show and everyone watches Strictly, Merlin and Casualty on BBC1 instead.
X could have stood for The xx, but 2011 might be a stretch for their next album as they were still partying from their 2009 success in the past year. 2012 more likely.
You know they’re out to get you: The Adjustment Bureau means more paranoid conspiracy thrillers at the cinema which means we might be getting back to the film-making days of the 1970s (The Parallax View, The Conversation and Three Days of the Condor) which is A Very Good Thing Indeed. Y stands too for You Know It’s Inevitable. Brad Pitt is in talks on the rights for the Chilean miners’ movie.
Finally, Zoolander’s comeback, the Anchorman sequel, the Arrested Development movie and other films which were promised to commence production in 2010 but never did. If you like sequels, the third Transformers movie, the second Hangover film, the follow-up to Kung Fu Panda and fourth Pirates of the Caribbean offering and fifth Fast and the Furious flick (try saying that with your teeth in) are round the corner. So Z could also be for Zzzz….