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Category: Bridesmaids

Oscars 2012: Woody Allen wins for original screenplay

February 26, 2012 |  7:30 pm

Woody Allen

"Midnight in Paris" writer-director Woody Allen won the Oscar for original screenplay at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

The Paris-set film stars Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood screenwriter who roams the streets of the French city encountering literary and artistic megaliths of the past in his present. Allen directed the love letter to Paris, which also stars Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston and Kathy Bates.

Allen's original screenplay won the Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America award and earned a nod at the BAFTA Film Awards. At the Oscars, Allen was nominated for director and the film was nominated  for best picture and art direction.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

The director previously won Oscars for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Annie Hall."

"Midnight in Paris" bested "The Artist" writer-director Michel Hazanavicius, "Bridesmaids" writers Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, "Margin Call" writer-director J.C. Chandor and "A Separation" writer-director Asghar Farhadi.

The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.


Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

— Nardine Saad

Photo: Woody Allen in November 2011. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times

Could Chris Rock and Melissa McCarthy end up together?

February 2, 2012 |  7:31 pm

Chris Rock at Sundance.
Chris Rock has had some notable on-screen romantic partners over the years. He engaged in an affair with a slinky Kerry Washington ("I Think I Love My Wife") and was dumped by Robin Givens ("Head of State"). Last week at Sundance, he tried to co-parent with Julie Delpy amid a chaotic visit by her family in "Two Days in New York," the actress-director's sequel to her 2007 indie hit "Two Days in Paris."

But none of those colorful characters compare to the woman Rock next hopes to make his on-screen wife: Melissa McCarthy.

"I'm trying to romance her," Rock said, taking a break last week at a Park City, Utah. The comedian is writing a new untitled script, he said, in which he envisions the "Bridesmaids" breakout playing his wife as the pair indulge in some boisterous dysfunction -- a "Jerry Springer couple," as Rock put it. He said he hopes to persuade the comedic actress to come aboard, and has made some inroads.

It's one of several projects Rock said he is working on as a writer, including new material for a stand-up tour as well as a screenplay in which he'd play, well, a stand-up comedian.

Rock has a small part in this May's "What to Expect when You're Expecting" and will be heard but not seen a few weeks later in "Madagascar 3," the talking-animal toon in which the gang runs amok in Europe. He's also get his moment as a lead in  "Two Days," which Magnolia bought at Sundance and probably will release this year.

The film has Rock trying to make things work with his partner, stepping into the Delpy boyfriend role that Adam Goldberg played in "Two Days in Paris." Rock stars as Mingus, an intellectual radio host who often plays the straight man to the loopiness around him (which includes plenty of misunderstanding with Delpy's on screen father, played by real life dad Albert).

"I probably stole a little Nelson George meets Elvis Mitchell," Rock said of his character. "But they're not married and I am, so I combined it with elements of my life, all the relatives coming over, and dealing with the kids."

Perhaps Rock's most high-profile turn at Sundance may have come in a movie he had nothing to do with,  Spike Lee's provocative "Red Hook Summer." Rock was sitting in the audience during its premiere and asked the question that prompted the infamous rant from Lee that the studios "know nothing about black people."

Rock said he saw Lee afterward but came away as puzzled as everyone else about why the director went in that direction.  "Maybe the altitude got to him," he said, shrugging perplexedly.


Spike Lee: Studios "know nothing about black people"

Spike Lee's co-writer joins the race conversation

Sundance 2012: Julie Delpy's latest sequel

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Chris Rock at the Sundance Film Festival last week. Credit: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

'The Artist' stars and other Oscar nominees set for Santa Barbara film fest Saturday

February 2, 2012 | 11:56 am

The Artist

Among the many events for Oscar nominees to attend as awards season heats up is the 27th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which this weekend will feature panels with filmmakers including “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius and “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig.

The festival, which kicked off Jan. 26, wraps Sunday after a weekend of multiple panels and final screenings. Among the films still screening are the Adrien Brody-starrer Detachment and the documentary Nothing Like Chocolate,” which received a standing ovation at its premiere last weekend.

Sharing the stage with Hazanavicius and Feig at the directors panel at 11 a.m. Saturday are five other directors who also helmed Oscar-nominated films, including “Rango” director Gore Verbinski and "Hotel Rwanda" director Terry George, nominated this year for his short film, "The Shore."

Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein will moderate the Movers & Shakers panel at 2 p.m. Saturday for a Q&A with six filmmakers behind some of this year’s Oscar best picture nominees, including “The Descendants” producer Jim Burke and “Hugo” producer Graham King.

SBIFF also presented awards to Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Martin Scorsese. On Saturday, "The Artist" stars Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award.

Festival tickets and schedule are available at Sbiff.org.


Santa Barbara Film Festival to honor 'The Artist' stars

'Rango,' 'Margaret' head back into movie theaters Friday

Oscars 2012: 'Descendants' producer closer to 'career goal' with nom

— Emily Rome

Photo: "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius (left) will participate on SBIFF's directors panel Saturday. The film's stars, Bérénice Bejo (center) and Jean Dujardin (right), will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award that evening. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

SAG Awards 2012: Six (odd) things we learned

January 30, 2012 |  6:30 am


The 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards were not without their odd revelations. Here's a look at some of the comments and moments that stood out:

1. Sofia Vergara of "Modern Family" fame told E!'s Giuliana Rancic that despite the scuttlebutt, she always wears underwear, no matter where she goes.

2. George Clooney of "The Descendants" is past the "drop trou" point of his career. "I'm 50," Clooney responded when asked if he'd bare all for a movie role. "So it's just trying to get my trou up!"

3. Alec Baldwin is "still scared to speak up [on politics]."

Baldwin, who isn't exactly known for keeping his opinions under wrap, nonetheless said Sunday: "I want Season 7 [of '30 Rock'] really badly. When you do speak out, it does cost you. The people that are the greatest film stars today and have the most potent careers are ones you know nothing about. They're very sanitized. And maybe I should have been more like that."

4. An open bar is still a draw, no matter who is in the crowd.

"This all free," said Kristen Wiig, holding up what looked to be a pint of beer. Joined by her "Bridesmaids" peers Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy, the costars explained that they have devised a drinking game for all their awards-show appearances of late. "You take a drink every time you hear the word 'Scorsese,'" said Rudolph.

5. Octavia Spencer of "The Help" loves "taking men home." The Actor winner -- who, to be fair, was referencing her newly acquired hardware -- didn't shy away from talking about her hopes for a win next month at the Academy Awards.

"I would be lying if I didn't say to you I would love to win an Oscar," Spencer said. "But we have a group of brilliantly talented actresses, and it's not a foregone conclusion that because I've won these [awards] then I'll win [the Oscar]. I would never be that presumptuous. I mean, Melissa McCarthy, Jessica Chastain, Janet McTeer are in that category. Pretty brilliant."

6. Someone else's shop talk is yawn-inducing, even if their jobs are more glamorous. SAG President Ken Howard's mid-show speech announcing the impending merger of the two major acting unions, SAG and AFTRA, probably left most of America shrugging their shoulders.


PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals

PHOTOS: And the Actor goes to...

'The Help,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Modern Family' win big

-- Patrick Day and Todd Martens

Photos: Clockwise from top left; Octavia Spencer, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy;  Sofia Vergara and Alec Baldwin. Credits: Matt Sayles / Associated Press; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times; Joe Klamar / AFP/Getty Images and Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Oscars 2012: For Melissa McCarthy, emotion is the heart of comedy

January 24, 2012 |  2:22 pm

Melissa McCarthy and her husband and Bridesmaids costar Ben Falcone
How did “Bridesmaids” costar Melissa McCarthy celebrate the early morning news of her supporting actress Oscar nomination? “I had a diaper to change. So the glamour? That went away pretty quickly.”

Actually, considering McCarthy’s memorable moments in “Bridesmaids,” perhaps little Georgie McCarthy came up with the perfect way to mark the moment. In the ribald film, McCarthy’s character Megan is forced by necessity to use a sink as a toilet, which likely gives her a singular claim in the long and illustrious history of Academy Award nominees.

 “Bridesmaids” writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were also nominated, in the original screenplay category, and McCarthy said that was a source of great pride for everyone involved in the project. The script was hammered and sculpted for five years — the writers strike was one factor — and in the end that made for a movie that was carefully considered from every angle. McCarthy said more and more comedies go too far with their shocking moments or relentless gags and lose “the emotional story at the center” that keeps audiences invested in the movie.

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

“It’s all so real and so absurd at the same time,” McCarthy said of the final film.

 With “Midnight in Paris” and “The Artist” earning key nominations, it was a strong year for comedy and lighter-touch films in the Oscar races that usually favor heavy dramas. McCarthy was happy to see that, but she said in most years the absence of comedies is not inappropriate — too many comedies feel like they “need one more pass” to be polished, tightened and refocused on the human heart beating between the laughs.

 “I’m hard on comedies because I love them so much,” said the actress, who also stars on the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly.” “It’s nice to see comedies are back.”


And the nominees are...

PHOTOS: 84th Academy Awards nominees

Pals Clooney, Pitt are rivals; ‘Artist,’ ‘Hugo’ dominate

— Geoff Boucher

Photo: Melissa McCarthy with her husband and "Bridesmaids" costar Ben Falcone at the Critics Choice Movie Awards earlier this month. Credit:  Matt Sayles/Associated Press.

Sundance 2012: 'Bachelorette,' (sort of) like 'Bridesmaids'

January 24, 2012 |  1:29 am


Sundance Film Festival title "Bachelorette," which has been compared to "Bridesmaids," stars Isla Fisher and Kirsten Dunst

The principals behind the new female comedy "Bachelorette" have gone to some lengths to differentiate themselves from "Bridesmaids"; writer-director Leslye Headland even recently released a statement explaining the movies' fundamental differences.

When her film premiered Monday night at the Sundance fIlm Festival, it was easy to see why such a statement might have been necessary. The glossy comedy, produced by Will Ferrell, shares plenty of similarities with the Kristen Wiig hit: The Headland movie is also a raunch-filled romp, built around comedic set pieces, in which a group of close female friends come to love, hate and ultimately understand each other in the run-up to a wedding.

The queen bee (and yes, there are some "Mean Girls" parallels) is Regan (Kirsten Dunst) who, with best friends Katie (Isla Fisher, in the ditz role) and wild child Gena (Lizzy Caplan) are thrown for a loop when their generally mocked, overweight high-school classmate Becky (Rebel Wilson, in case you weren't already thinking of "Bridesmaids") becomes engaged to a man they all covet, leading them to question their own flawed lives.

PHOTOS: The scene at Sundance

Barbed insults, drug-fueled partying and, yes, even wedding-dress mishaps ensue when the three come together the night before the ceremony. (A pack of groomsmen is led by James Marsden and Adam Scott, who has his own bit of history with one of the women.) The setting and the emotional dynamics have plenty in common with "Bridesmaids," and there's even another call-back here to a forgotten '90s anthem -- The Proclaimers' "500 Miles" stands in for Wilson Phillips' "Hold On."

There are some key differences. The girls are nearly all at least a decade younger and more free-spirited, none of them are married and the goal in at least one case is to get back with a high-school sweetheart, not land a mature thirtysomething. The partying and social situations -- for much of the film, it's not easy to find a scene without drug use, a strip club or a sex scene -- are generally played more aggressively than "Bridesmaids." "I think it's more hard core," Caplan said on the red carpet before the screening. (The movie also goes to a surprisingly dramatic place in its last half-hour as the broad-ish comedy from the opening sections is all but forgotten.)

Headland, a playwright making her feature debut, would also be right to point out she started writing the script nearly four years ago and based it on an off-Broadway play she created, long before "Bridesmaids" was ever shot.

The director told 24 Frames before the festival she didn't mind the comparison as much as you might think: "I look at it a little like 'Bonnie & Clyde' in 1967," she said. "You have a movie that gets everyone's attention and all these comparisons are drawn, and they're not always right. But then it's like, 'Thank God, let's make more movies like that.'"

Still, whoever buys this film for U.S. distribution will need to worry about the comparison. No matter how much pundits like to talk about a "Bridesmaids" wave, it will be difficult to market a movie like this without risking the "didn't Kristen Wiig just do something like that?" reaction; on paper, there are plenty of similarities. Those marketers may best be served by going the misanthropic route. As Caplan said on stage after the screening. "I saw [Headland's] play and was blown away by how dark and awful she was willing to make people."


Sundance 2012: Bingham Ray remembered by Kenneth Turan

Sundance 2012: Bawdy chicks with flicks (but don't say "Bridesmaids")

Sundance 2012: Spike Lee says studios "know nothing about black people"

-- Steven Zeitchik and Amy Kaufman in Park City, Utah

Photo: A scene from "Bachelorette." Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2012: Bawdy flicks with chicks, but don't say 'Bridesmaids'

January 20, 2012 |  6:23 pm

Dramas at the Sundance Film Festival for a long time came in two shades — dark and darker. At this year’s gathering, though, filmgoers are being treated to a cluster of very different movies: risque, female-driven comedies that would make the women of “Bridesmaids” proud — or blush.

A film about three young women indulging in drugs and all manner of debauchery before the wedding of a disliked high school classmate? Check. A sometimes off-color look at two sisters with differing attitudes toward monogamy? Certainly. Two financially desperate twentysomethings who start a phone sex line from their apartment? Start dialing.

“Sundance has always been pretty good about promoting female directors, but what we’re seeing this year is women as protagonists, driving the plot,” said festival director John Cooper. “The comedies go to all levels, from glossy to raunchy.” Cooper said that programmers didn’t actively seek out women behaving badly; they were simply well-represented among the thousands of submissions the festival received this year.

The new movies follow in the path of established young female writers such as Diablo Cody and Liz Meriwether. But at least a portion of the credit goes to “Bridesmaids,” the Kristen Wiig movie that became a cultural phenomenon last year and has sent strong ripples through not only Hollywood but also, more improbably, independent filmmaking.

Though many of the directors with female-driven pictures in Sundance this year were working on their movies long before Universal Pictures released “Bridesmaids” last May, nearly all were aware of the Paul Feig-directed film, which spent years in development before reaching the big screen. In the case of the pre-wedding debauchery comedy “Bachelorette,” the filmmakers even used the success of “Bridesmaids” to secure financing for their movie last summer.

“Bachelorette” writer-director Leslye Headland, who penned the script in 2008 based on an off-Broadway play she created, bristles at the comparison to “Bridesmaids,” even going so far as to issue a director’s statement that lays out the differences. (Others here don’t like having their indie films being compared to the Hollywood hit either; it is Sundance, after all.)

Still, Headland acknowledged that her movie, which is being produced by Will Ferrell, was greenlighted this summer and has gained a higher profile due to the success of “Bridesmaids.”

“I look at it a little like ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ in 1967,” said Headland, who’s in her early 30s. “You have a movie that gets everyone’s attention and all these comparisons are drawn and they’re not always right. But then it’s like, ‘Thank God, let’s make more movies like that.’”

Lauren Miller, who co-wrote the phone-sex film “For a Good Time, Call . . .” — which is based on the experience of her co-writer, a friend and college roommate named Katie Anne Naylon — said that the pair encountered a lot of resistance when they tried to set up the film at a studio (pre-”Bridesmaids”). They eventually decided to finance it independently with the help of Miller’s brother, who works on Wall Street.

Paradoxically, the result is a film that would have slotted in nicely on any studio’s post-”Bridesmaids” wish list. “We wanted it to be a girl’s story that followed the traditional romantic comedy format, but with females,” she said. “It’s about us falling in love as friends, not falling in love with our boyfriends.” (Miller has until now been known to the public as the wife of Seth Rogen; the actor has a cameo in “For a Good Time, Call . . .”)

Just as Wiig and Feig did in “Bridesmaids,” filmmakers and actors say that they believed all of the Sundance movies (all of which are seeking theatrical distribution at the festival) are willing to explore female characters in a way a previous generation wasn’t: by showing them to be as flawed, base and, yes, funny as men. Female characters can also screw up things just as royally.

On top of that, they say, women can just make for better entertainment. “I actually think women’s particular insanity is more interesting to watch,” said actress Lizzy Caplan, who stars in “Bachelorette” and another femme-centric film at Sundance, “Save the Date,” about two sisters who fight over how to navigate their romantic relationships. “Our neuroses make us better characters.”

Michael Mohan, 32, who directed “Save the Date,” said that the indie “Bridesmaids” boom is the result of filmmakers who want to tell a story in a way that studio films usually don’t — it’s a reaction, essentially, to the happily-ever-after endings of big-budget romantic comedies.

We’re basically “the first generation to have their parents’ marriage end in divorce,” he said. “That puts a gray cloud of skepticism over our relationships as we enter them, and I think you’re starting to see that in the work.”

Though the raunch factor can vary, other movies premiering here also put women front-and-center: There’s a high school dramedy called “The First Time” (directed by Jon Kasdan, son of writer-director Lawrence Kasdan); a breakup story titled “Celeste and Jesse Forever” starring and co-written by Rashida Jones; and the sometimes-risque “Hello I Must Be Going,” about a thirtysomething woman who strikes up a relationship with a 19-year-old.

Of course, it is Sundance. There are still plenty of difficult films — in the coming days, documentaries about hunger, rape in the military and AIDS unspool. And even the raunchy female comedies are more subtle than broad.

“I’m happy that ‘Bridesmaids’ will get [butts] in seats,” Caplan said. “But what I’m also excited about is that people will come in to see a movie because they hear it’s about female friends at a wedding. And then they’re going to be very surprised to see it’s something totally different.”


Sundance 2012: 'Beasts' sparks a flood of strong reaction

Sundance 2012: Magnolia gets 'Queen of Versailles' in 2nd fest deal

Sundance 2012: Sony unit buys 'Searching for Sugar Man'

-- Steve Zeitchik in Park City, Utah

Photo: A scene from "Bachelorette." Credit: Jacob Hutchings

Heat Meter: Does 'Bridesmaids' have any shot at Oscar gold?

January 19, 2012 |  5:33 pm



Few award season contenders have been as intriguing as "Bridesmaids," the Kristen Wiig-driven phenomenon that  grossed nearly $170 million domestically and made the world (OK, the U.S.) safe for a raunchy female comedy.

Like "The Hangover" a couple years back, "Bridesmaids" is a candidate of choice for a certain kind of award-season observer. The movie, they argue, deserves recognition for its writing and acting, not to mention its overall brand of honest comedy.

It's a compelling argument. There's only one problem: Awards voters don't feel the same way.

Though the perception is that the movie has some traction in the run-up to the Oscar nominations next week, the numbers paint a somewhat different picture.  According to The Times' Heat Meter system, which our data desk has devised to compile and analyze the season’s contenders (for a fuller explanation please click here), the movie is a long-shot in pretty much all of the categories in which it might hope to compete.

The film's writers pick up just enough points for eighth place in the screenplay category -- but in a tie with three other films. That's perhaps -- perhaps -- good enough for a nomination in the relatively weak Oscar original screenplay category.

Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy, whose display of frank Everywoman comedy has done wonders for her career, would seem like an ironclad contender. But she ranks just sixth on the supporting actress chart, with just a few points behind the fifth-place contender, Shailene Woodley. ("The Help" star Jessica Chastain is currently in first with 60 points.)

Maybe most important,  "Bridesmaids" overall point total, which is rung up when anyone affiliated with a movie gets a win or a nomination, clocks in at a meager 43. That's good enough for only 15th place, just  ahead of the documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."

Supporters of "Bridesmaids" will say that the movie's tepid showing is simply proof that voters disadvantage comedies. Maybe so, though it’s also axiomatic that voters like a big commercial hit, especially when it has cultural significance (see under the recognition for movies like “Avatar” and “The Blind Side” in recent years.)  That’s probably still true. It’s just increasingly clear they're not hungry for this big commercial hit.


Heat Meter: Is 'Descendants' hotter than 'The Artist?'

"Bridesmaids:" Judd Apatow wants a comedy Oscar category

Bridesmaids in AFI's top 10 of 2011

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene in "Bridesmaids." Credit: Universal Pictures

The week in film: Tom Cruise, Woody and 'Bridesmaids'

January 6, 2012 |  4:48 pm


We're not even a week into 2012, but already some interesting story lines are developing. Tom Cruise has re-emerged as a major movie star with the ongoing success of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"--but will the momentum carry over to his next roles?

Meanwhile, both Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" and the Kristen Wiig-anchored comedy "Bridesmaids" show some awards chops. We break down the stories from the past week in Hollywood.


Are Tom Cruise and Woody Allen starting to switch places?

Woody Allen nominated for a WGA award for Midnight in Paris

Bridesmaids: Judd Apatow wants an Oscar comedy category

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The cast of "Bridesmaids." Credit: Universal Pictures




2011: Seven film stories we never saw coming

December 31, 2011 |  1:00 pm


This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

The film world had its share of predictable turns this last year. "Harry Potter" went out with a bang. "Twilight" and "Transformers" earned a gazillion dollars (more). And 3-D continued to have us seeing double, the novelty now officially worn off.

But the last 12 months were also full of unexpected twists -- from a movie that had women saying things we hadn’t heard on-screen before, to a filmmaker who again was saying things he shouldn’t have been saying (but sort of had before). Here are seven of the year’s most notable surprises. (Click on the related links below for a full spin down memory lane.)

Always a Bridesmaid. Sure,  there was a sense before the year started that, when it came to potty-mouthed humor, it just might be the girls' turn. But few could have predicted that  an R-rated film featuring a lack of A-listers and a heavy marital theme would become a cultural phenomenon. Yet with “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig, an actress known mainly for character parts, and Paul Feig, an actor and director known mainly for television, teamed up and, with an assist from Judd Apatow, created a monster smash. The film was the highest grossing original comedy of the year ($169 million) and launched the career of the previously little-known Melissa McCarthy. Maybe more important, It touched off a Hollywood gold rush and stirred a feminist debate. It even...put Wilson Phillips back on the map.

Ratner revival. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences made some unusual choices in 2011 -- a lifetime achievement award for Oprah, a rule-change allowing a variable number of best-picture nominees. But even the most adventurous pundit couldn’t have predicted this summer surprise: Brett Ratner, known for popcorn movies like "Rush Hour," would be producing this year's Oscars telecast. And he'd be bringing along Eddie Murphy, who rarely made public appearances -- let alone at one of the most watched television broadcasts of the year -- to host.

Ratner retreats. Oops. After all the hype about the kind of sensibility Ratner would bring to the Oscars, it turns out we wouldn't have to worry about it much. This fall, Ratner made lewd and offensive comments on Howard Stern’s radio show, causing embarrassment for the Academy and a quick resignation from the foot-in-mouth producer. Murphy, who had been persuaded by Ratner to take the gig,  quickly followed suit. But the host’s replacement was even more of a stunner: Billy Crystal, who had hosted his first Oscars more than two decades before, would be returning, making the 63-year-old the oldest solo host since the mid-'70's.

Daybreak for Woody. For a number of years past, Woody Allen was like baseball, or Ron Paul. Every season, through thick and thin, he was there, doing his thing, with few believing he could be much of a factor. Yet that all changed this spring when Allen released his (depending on how you count) 46th directorial feature, a whimsical piece called "Midnight in Paris.” First the movie found an art-house audience. Then it became a crossover hit. Then it became a phenomenon. The story of a curmudgeonly writer transported to period Paris became the prolific director's most successful film ever. It even got people to see Owen Wilson as a star again.

Craig cratering. When he was cast in the summer of 2010 as the hero of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," Daniel Craig could do no wrong. He had come off several films in which he enchanted audiences as James Bond and had even thrown in a well-reviewed Broadway turn. And 2011 was looking even brighter: Craig had a role not only in "Dragon" but would be bringing out the eagerly awaited Jon Favreau-directed action-adventure "Cowboys and Aliens." But Mr. 007 soon found that the villains were getting the better of him. First, James Bond was caught in movie limbo. It eventually got out, but the disappointments were only starting. "Cowboys and Aliens" was a summer wet blanket. ”Dragon Tattoo" has struggled in its first weeks of release. And Craig launched a bomb with the horror title "Dream House," which was such a mess that  its director tried to have his name taken off it. It was all enough to make an actor feel like someone had thrown a martini in his face.

Kings crowned. Studios have pulled out old movies and dressed them up in new clothes before. But few could have predicted what would happen with a new 3-D edition of “The Lion King." When Disney decided to re-release the animated classic, it seemed like a nice but quaint idea. After the movie came out atop the box office one September weekend, though, it seemed like the company might have something more on its hands. Soon it won another weekend, beating new movies from Brad Pitt and Taylor Lautner. As the weeks piled up, the audiences kept coming.  The film wound up grossing nearly $100 million -- not bad for any movie, let alone one that was 17 years old.

That melancholy feeling. Lars von Trier had made plenty of ill-advised comments before. But no one in or outside a Cannes news conference room could have foreseen what would happen on the morning of May 18. After answering some innocuous questions about his new movie, "Melancholia," Von Trier took out a shovel and began digging. "I understand Hitler. I sympathize with him a bit. ... I'm a Nazi," he said as his star Kirsten Dunst looked on in horror. Things were  compounded when Von Trier showed only occasional remorse after the fact. A round of interviews with Dunst co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg were canceled as she hurried out of town, and the festival took the unusual step of declaring Von Trier persona non grata. In perhaps an even bigger surprise, the famously gabby Von Trier announced several months later that he was swearing off news conferences.

[For the record, 1:15 p.m., Jan. 3: An earlier version of this post identified the star of "Melancholia" as Reese Witherspoon. Kirsten Dunst stars in the film.]


24 Frames: Full Brett Ratner coverage

24 Frames: Full Daniel Craig coverage

24 Frames: Full 'Bridesmaids' coverage

24 Frames: Full Lars von Trier coverage

24 Frames: Full 'Midnight in Paris' coverage

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Lars von Trier at the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Getty Images


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