With Hollywood finally dropping the tiresome “darker is better” mantra to provide two of the very best comic-book adaptations to date – Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, in case it needed pointing out – and DreamWorks raising the bar with a series of above studio-par animated releases, it has been a year of many memorable moments. Inception was mind-bending, Four Lions was ground-breaking and The Crazies showed that not all horror remakes had to be rubbish. Shrek got good again, Joe Dante finally returned to comedy-horror with The Hole 3D and Ron Weasley got to step up to the plate and destroy a Horcrux. From Monsters to My Name is Khan, Piranha to Paranormal Activity 2 and Buried to Burlesque, this year has been full of stand-out cinema, whatever your tastes.
From home I have reviewed Eat Pray Love (OK), Streetdance 3D (better) and A Town Called Panic (best), I have been equal parts shocked and delighted by movie news, I have revisited Alien vs. Predator for a commemorative Video Vault and have each week found something new to recommend or ridicule as I work to develop my understanding and opinions of the film industry in general.
Not all high points took place onscreen, however, with a sojourn to London this November affording me the opportunity to get behind the scenes and out from behind the counter. Eager to sample the capital’s infectious film culture after months of relative isolation across Aberdeen and Edinburgh, I attended press screenings, visited sets and shared oxygen with actors. I met Noomi Rapace following a screening of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo when she took to the stage for an audience Q&A, I held a scorpion in the foyer of Empire Leicester Square prior to a screening of Disney’s Tangled and had the chance to visit Warner Brothers’ London headquarters to view one of their upcoming releases.
Outside of the auditorium, and London itself for that matter, I had the chance to visit the set of Best Laid Plans, an upcoming feature from David Blair that is attracting somewhat of a buzz in anticipation of its 2011 release. Arriving on set in Nottingham, I interviewed the film’s writer and star in addition to director Blair. Stephen Graham, fresh from shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, spoke at length about his back catalogue, his hopes for the future and the recent student protests – proving almost as otherworldly as he did completely grounded.
However inspiring the above proved, the sentimentalist inside me cannot help but note another occurrence as the true stand-out of the year. Even better than the news that Ridley Scott is planning a return to his Alien franchise, outshining the chance to write news, reviews and features for the web, surpassing the return of Road Runner and Coyote to the big screen and trumping even the final act of How To Train Your Dragon was the opportunity to meet the rest of the HeyUGuys team. For months I had followed them on twitter, read and admired their articles and it was a pleasure to finally meet a collection of the nicest and most enthusiastic like-minded movie-lovers in a small pub in London. Forgive the sentiment, but it really was the highlight of my year.
It really has been a great year for cinema, 2010 teasing the awesome potential for the new decade it has inevitably started. With Scream 4 on the way, the end of the Twilight saga in sight and Marmaduke mercifully behind us, the scene is set for a truly amazing new year.