Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Fifth Annual Holiday Wishlist

Dear Hollywood,

I know this is cutting it close, but this year for Christmas, I want:

For a speedy end to Sony's troubles. Enough is enough already, and the studio needs to get back to business. There are movies and shows in production that I want to see, and talented creatives that should get back to work. The longer the hackers keep toying with them and dragging this whole mess out, the longer it'll take the company to rebuild, regroup, and rehabilitate. I have no particular interest in seeing "The Interview," so let's just write it off, shift gears, and worry about the next James Bond film, huh?

For the Warner Bros. DC films and Dreamworks animation's new features to find some success. As much as I enjoy Disney's Marvel films and PIXAR films, I worry that they're becoming too dominant lately. There's no doubt in my mind that 2015 is going to be great for the Mouse House, but a healthy industry is a competitive one, and I'd be happier if their rivals were real challengers rather than the afterthoughts they are now. Dreamworks in particular has gotten themselves into a bad spot, after a run of lackluster originals and sequels that fewer and fewer kids want to see. And honestly, they don't deserve half the bad press they've gotten.

For "Mad Men" to stick its landing. Of all the television that's coming up in 2015, the end of "Mad Men" is the biggest event that I'm anticipating. Though its popularity has cooled over the past few seasons, I think it's stayed remarkably consistent. Sure, AMC splitting the final season was a dumb and desperate thing to do, but it didn't hurt the quality of the episodes that were produced. Robert Morse's goodbye musical number was one of my favorite moments from last year. In the television realm, I'm also looking forward to HBO's "Westworld," BBC's "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," and more "Game of Thrones."

For the continued improvement of the indie, foreign, and documentary selections on VOD and streaming services. The iTunes and Amazon selections have gotten so much better over these last few years, but there could still be some considerable improvements. Now that I'm relying on these services more and more, I've realized how much better they could be. It's such a big opportunity to meet the needs of niche audiences. Sure, there's not much demand out there for Frederick Wiseman's highly acclaimed four-hour documentary on the University of California, Berkeley, but you'd think it would be available to stream somewhere by now, right?

For a better year for science-fiction at the movies. While 2014 did offer some nice surprises like "Under the Skin," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and "Edge of Tomorrow," most of the sci-fi titles I had been looking forward to either got shuffled over to 2015, like "Ex Machina" and "Tomorrowland," or turned out to be disappointments like Wally Pfister's "Transcendence" and Terry Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem." Now I haven't seen "Interstellar" yet, but it won't be enough to make up for the rest of the year, and it won't be enough to kickstart more original sci-fi projects the way I had been hoping these movies would. Oh well. There's always next year.

For the continued rise of women directors in film. With the end of the year awards conversations going on, it's been nice seeing Angelina Jolie, Ava Duvernay, Jennifer Kent, Laura Poitras, and Gina Prince-Bythewood coming up again and again in connection with "Unbroken," "Selma," "The Babdook," "Citizenfour," and "Beyond the Lights." And it's such an eclectic bunch too. And with Michelle MacLaren recently attached to direct "Wonder Woman," they're finally moving into the realm of big budget superhero movies too. Slowly but surely those walls are coming down.

For all the shows that disappointed me this year to do better, and for the good ones to keep up the good work. And for the passel of sequels in the movie theaters to offer some surprises. "Jurassic World" can't be as bad as it looks, right?

For a fun "Doctor Who" Christmas special. And a good, creepy "Black Mirror" one too.

And J.J. Abrams, please, please, please don't screw up. I can't take another "Phantom Menace."

Happy holidays!

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