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The poster for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus"
The poster for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus"
Credit: 20th Century Fox

A look at science fiction in 2012

‘Prometheus,’ ‘Looper,’ and ‘Gravity’ promise a strong year for the genre

The trailer for Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” was released last week and, as many have noted, it bears a striking resemblance to the original teaser for the film that acts as its foundation: Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic “Alien.” For science-fiction appreciators, the trailer served as a reminder that 2012 has the potential to be one of the strongest years for smart sci-fi in recent memory.

Certainly, there have been intelligent science-fiction films released in the past decade: “Moon,” “District 9,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Children of Men” and “Primer” among them. But 2012’s landscape is distinct in that each of the offerings under discussion are fairly high-concept and have notable directors at the helm.

“Prometheus” marks Scott’s first endeavor in the genre since the release of “Blade Runner” in 1982. He created what was to become one of sci-fi’s most well known and defining franchise and now returns to revisit the universe (if not the story and characters) he designed.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 109 - Worst of 2011

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 109 - Worst of 2011

Dan and Alan go through the year's TV lowlights

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!
 
In our final Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of 2011, Sepinwall and I celebrate the year's worst TV. While our "Best Of..." podcast had the structure of our respective Top 10s, this "Worst Of..." is just us going back and forth tearing into some of our least favorite shows of the year. 
 
We also reviewed HBO's "Angry Boys," which I liked a bit more than Alan did, but still didn't enjoy all that much.
 
As a warning, there are very few big spoilers in this podcast, *but* there was no way to talk about the "Dexter" finale and its awfulness without getting specific.
 
If you're a "Dexter" viewer, but haven't watched the end of this season, that discussion takes place between 48:00 and 52:50.
 
Here's the broad breakdown:
TV's Worst of 2011 (02:30 - 01:02:00)
"Angry Boys" (01:02:05 - 01:11:10)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 109: Worst TV of 2011, plus 'Angry Boys'

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 109: Worst TV of 2011, plus 'Angry Boys'

What shows made Dan and Alan mad this year? And why is Chris Lilley so 'Angry'?

The

We spent last week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast counting down our favorite shows of 2011. Now it's time for the reverse, as Dan and I discuss some of our least favorite shows of the year. Think Dan might have a few more words to say on the subject of Mario Lopez? At the end, we also review HBO's new Chris Lilley mockumentary series "Angry Boys," and even if you're not a Lilley fan, I would suggest listening to the end for some good end of the year wisdom from Dan.

[The only real spoilers are for "Dexter" between 48:00 and 52:50.]

The line-up: 

TV's Worst of 2011 (02:30 - 01:02:00)
"Angry Boys" (01:02:05 - 01:11:10)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>A scene from &quot;Empire of the Sun&quot;</p>

A scene from "Empire of the Sun"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Steven Spielberg films

With 'War Horse' and 'Tintin' in theaters, we rank the director's best

For the fifth time in his career, director Steven Spielberg has offered up a drama ("War Horse") and an entertainment ("The Adventures of Tintin") in the same year. But for the first time ever, he has two films in theaters at the same time.

On top of all of that, 2011 has very much been "The Year of The Beard." In addition to his own work, he has lended his check book and his talent as a producer to films like "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Super 8" and "Cowboys & Aliens," while having a presence on television via programs like "Falling Skies" and "Terra Nova."

So with the man so much a force in entertainment this year, it seems like now is as good a time as any to take stock of his portfolio and offer up a list ranking the best he's had to offer over the last four decades.

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<p>Adele and Katy Perry</p>

Adele and Katy Perry

Watch: Relive the year in music with Earworm's 2011 United State of Pop mashup

Hear Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Adele in one place

The year is officially over: the 2011 United State of Pop (World Go Boom) mash-up has arrived! Produced by Jordan Roseman, aka DJ Earworm, this year’s edition features snippets of Billboard's top 25 songs on the year including Maroon5’s  “Moves Like Jagger,” Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass,” and, of course, Adele’s  “Rolling In The Deep” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” This year's bed is built around (and takes its name from)  Perry's "Firework."

We can only imagine how many hours it takes to assemble this montage of seemingly disparate songs and images into a collage that doesn’t hurt to listen to. If you’re interested in more, DJ Earworm has written a book on “mash-up construction,” according to his website.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;The Hunger Games'&quot; Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence</p>

"The Hunger Games'" Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence

The Decemberists and Arcade Fire join Taylor Swift on 'Hunger Games' album

Who else does producer T Bone Burnett have up his sleeve?

Last week Taylor Swift surprised fans with her collaboration with the Civil Wars on “ Safe and Sound,” from the soundtrack to “The Hunger Games.”  It turns out she’ll be joined by Arcade Fire, the Decemberists on what’s being called a “companion album” to the movie, which opens March 23.

As you’ll recall from past usages of the term, a companion album usually means that many of the songs were “inspired by” the film, but don’t necessarily appear in it. In this case, Grammy winning producer T Bone Burnett is overseeing the companion album: he co-wrote “Safe and Sound” with Swift and the Civil Wars, which already hit No. 1 on iTunes. The Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne wrote “Horn of Plenty” with Burnett, while the Decemberists penned a track called “One Engine.”

No word on the actual release date of the album other than that it will come out on Universal Republic Records in March before the Lionsgate film, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, hits theaters.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Songs you missed on Christmas: Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Cat Power

Lady Gaga wrote and sang a song on a bus for you

Welcome to the last working week of 2011, where we realize at least a few stars were working for the holiday. Frank Ocean, Lady Gaga and Cat Power were all on the move.

First, as the Odd Future singer explained: "I don't cry at all... but when the sun sets just right, I might shed a tear." Ocean, who is readying his Def Jam album for 2012, posted a little track to his tumblr called "4 Tears." In it, he eplains how he spends his quota, doing a little algebra (a la Beyonce).

"[I] just listened to this a few times for myself. [F]igured maybe some else needed to hear it," he posted. 

It's not lyrical calculus, but quick and pretty.

Meanwhile, Chan Marshall is a little more confrontational on "King Rides By," her charity single. The song -- originally much shorter on her 1996 album "What Would the Community Think" -- is fully fleshed out courtesy Manny Pacquiao, past the 7-minute mark.

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<p>Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston in &quot;Midnight in Paris.&quot;</p>

Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston in "Midnight in Paris."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Round-up: Time-traveling to the origins of 'Midnight in Paris'

Also: Streep's Thatcher turnaround and Ebert's top docs

The ever-investigative Steve Pond has unearthed an interesting nugget here: a four-page short story written by Woody Allen in 1971 that bears more than a passing resemblance to "Midnight in Paris." In "A Twenties Memory," contained in the collection "Getting Even," the narrator hangs out with F. Scott and Zela Fitzgerald, Gertude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and other Jazz Age luminaries that resurface in the film Allen made 40 years later, making similarly droll, casual observations about their work. Narratively, the film obviously represents a significant elaboration on the premise, so it'd be a stretch to call the screenplay an adaptation -- though the Academy has made similarly sketchy rulings in the past. [Reuters]

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<p>Patrick Kennedy, Tom Hiddleston and Toby Kebbell discuss their work on Steven Spielberg's &quot;War Horse.&quot;</p>

Patrick Kennedy, Tom Hiddleston and Toby Kebbell discuss their work on Steven Spielberg's "War Horse."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson and Jeremy Irvine reveal 'War Horse' secrets

Who are the 'ghost whisperers' of European film sets?

If you happened to head to the local multiplex on Sunday there's a good chance the movie you ended up seeing was "War Horse."  Before the holiday, Steven Spielberg's 2 hour and 26 minute epic was projected to have a good, but not great debut.  Instead, "War Horse" burst onto the scene with $7.5 million in just 2,600 theaters, almost double what pre-release polling indicated.  And, its per-screen average was barely behind that of "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" which played in over 1,000 more theaters and had the added benefit of higher IMAX ticket prices.  DreamWorks and Disney kept Monday's estimate much more conservative than its competitors, but a $15 million plus cume over two days is a stellar launch for the Oscar player.

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<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Drive,&quot; one of my top 20 films of 2011.</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Drive," one of my top 20 films of 2011.

Credit: Film District

Finders keepers: Guy's top 20 films of 2011

Counting down the year's best, from 'Drive' to 'Melancholia'

To insert a slightly clunky line into a Frank Sinatra classic: when I was 28, it was a very good year. At least, I think so. So often, when I tell a friend or colleague that this has felt like the richest 12 months for cinema-gathering of my admittedly brief career as a film journalist, I'm met with hard Paddington stares or outright opposition. It's been a weak year, I'm told, and I'm handed the slate of current Oscar frontrunners (peppered with unremarkable titles as "The Help" and "War Horse," with only one cracking the list below) as evidence.

Which, well, yes. If a year in a film is measured by its head-prefect awards contenders and multiplex behemoths alone, then 2011 hasn't been the strongest of vintages (even if it doesn't strike me as markedly worse, by those standards, than 2009 or 2010). But like most artforms splintered by the array of options and platforms in the 21st century, cinema now requires a little bit of legwork to find the goods, and dedicated cineastes didn't even have to wade too far into the fringes to find the good stuff: a banner year for British film, a strong showing for American indies and a healthy crop of challenging, festival-grown foreign hits. Seek and ye shall find (and keep). 

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<p>Will &quot;War Horse&quot;&nbsp;catch a box office stride similar to &quot;True Grit&quot;&nbsp;last year?</p>

Will "War Horse" catch a box office stride similar to "True Grit" last year?

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Off the Carpet: Waiting on the guilds as 'War Horse' hits the box office running

As we wrap up 2011, the conversation prepares to shift

The sleigh bells have been silenced, the decorations are ready to be stored another year and the online Christmas spirit is giving way once again to the power of snark.

As we enter the lull between holidays, I glance at the box office and see good news for Disney. Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," after weeks of heartland screenings, an aggressive TV campaign (I keep talking to friends all over the country who feel like they're inundated with commercials) and plenty of awards buzz, the film is estimated to bring in $15 million in two days. Had it not opened on a Sunday (Christmas Day), it would obviously have had a stellar weekend.

"True Grit" opened on December 22 last year (a Wednesday) and still made $24 million on the weekend (dropping a scant 1% the next week, which ignited it as a box office story). It's left to be seen what kind of legs Spielberg's film will have, but with little demographic competition standing in its way, I'm thinking next weekend will be solid and the legs could be significant.

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<p>Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos in &quot;The Killing.&quot;</p>

Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos in "The Killing."

Credit: AMC

Lumps of coal: The worst TV I watched in 2011

Flimsy mysteries, bad comedies and terrible endings
I've written a lot of words praising the best TV had to offer in 2011. Now comes the dark side: the worst things I watched.
 
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