1. 1. Break the Bromance Habit
The bromance genre has evolved from a celebration of male quirks and foibles to a cry of rage by upper-middle-class suburban men straining against the shackles of their own affluence. As re-invented in its post-Hangover incarnation, the male buddy film has become the most poisonous genre on the streets today, giving the well-heeled and angry room to take out their unhappiness on all beneath them. And in 2012, only one — Ted — broke through to massive audiences.
Fortunately, there’s another breed of comedy waiting in the wings. Female-driven comedies in the post-Bridesmaids era, have never been stronger. Our favorite of this year, the hilariously unhinged Pitch Perfect, could be a harbinger of things to come.
2. 2. Lose the “G” Word
2012 was the year of the Girl. Girls, Two Broke Girls, The New Girl. Everywhere you looked there were young women celebrating their deferred adulthood. On the one hand, the burst of female-oriented shows is a good for the world. On the other hand, until there are half as many shows on the airwaves with the word “woman” in the title as “girl” (there are currently none), it’s hard to be sure what ceiling has been broken.
3. 3. Hire Some Female Directors
Two years back, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director in Oscar history to win the Best Picture trophy and it was declared that, at last, Hollywood was ready to allow women to head up films. Well, not so fast. Two years later, in 2012, if one looks at the 50 highest grossing films of this year, not a single one was directed by a lone female. (The Pixar film Brave was co-directed by a mixed-gender team.)
In any other business, there would be Congressional hearings looking into what the heck is going on there. Now that it has been proven conclusively that people will, amazingly, see female-driven films (Twilight, Hunger Games, Bridesmaids ), excluding half the nation from the director’s seat is not exactly a formula for drawing more of these “new audiences” in.
4. 4. No Reboots Without Just Cause
Since Christopher Nolan reimagined the moribund Batman series in a darker, more realistic and intimate light, everyone and his brother has been dragging half-dead franchises out of the attic and reimagining them in a darker, more realistic and intimate light. But outside of the Nolan Batmen and the Daniel Craig Bonds, the reboots have proven more cosmetic than genuine rethinking of the characters. The bottom of the barrel came this year with the new incarnation of Spiderman, which retread very familiar ground while adding nothing more than new costumes and new faces.
6. 6. Stop Sending Aliens to Destroy the Planet
Think what a shock it would be if one day audiences sat down in the theater and saw aliens arrive who weren’t here to destroy every last vestige of life on Earth. Maybe they came here to study us. Maybe they left a scrunchie behind when they last stopped by. Maybe they’re just out for a three-hour cruise. There are so many possibilities if you get past coming here to kill us all. And it would be nice to see a movie about something else once in a while.
7. 7. Study the Second Season of “Twin Peaks” Until Your Eyes Fall Out
In 1989 there was a TV mystery show, and it captured the zeitgeist and imagination of the times. Each week through its first season, all of America tuned in to find out, who killed Laura Palmer?
Until the second season came around and it very quickly became clear that the authors had no idea who had killed her and were just running us in circles. The audience fled as if from a burning building.
Since then every showrunner of every new suspense show swears on a stack of Bibles that they are aware of the lessons of Twin Peaks. And then every season, many of them demonstrate what liars they are when they send audiences on wild goose chases again. The past year saw the initially captivating The Killing, Revenge and Homeland fall apart after the shows ventured into clearly unmapped territory. If you don’t know where you’re headed, shoot one season then stop. Take as long as you need and come back when you’ve figured it out.
8. 8. Make More Movies From Original Scripts Instead of Pre-Existing Franchises
What does this list have in common: Brave, Ted, Wreck It Ralph, Hotel Transylvania, Lincoln, Safe House, The Vow, Magic Mike, Argo ?
These are the only original non-branded properties in the top 25 films of this year. And three of these are children’s cartoons. Hollywood is choking on franchises and tentpoles and familiar properties. In the short run, the pre-branded marketing may fill some theaters. In the long run, if Hollywood can’t come up with some original stories, it’s in big trouble.
9. 9. Make Some Stars
Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum are currently as big as stars get in Hollywood. Impressive young actors, yes, but not the giant presences that once ruled the screens. Somewhere along the way the last five years the previous generation of screen titans passed the torch to — no one. The magic of Hollywood, above all, is its ability to create stars. CGI effects get cheaper every day and the time when other nations can make movies full of robots throwing cars at buildings that look just as good as ours is not far off. Other nations can marshall packs of experts. But star power in the nexus of glamour has always been Hollywood’s selling point. Once Hollywood can no longer do that, who needs Hollywood?
10. 10. Only One Movie Per Book
No splitting up a book into Parts 1 and 2 (or 3!) to fleece die hard fans.