2002: A year in the arts

The Independent's critics make their choice of the films, television programmes, plays, visual arts exhibitions, operas, bands, buildings and ballets they are most looking forward to in the coming year
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The best-looking movie of 2002 is a foregone conclusion. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts star in the remake of the Vegas heist movie, Ocean's Eleven, out in February. Will the combined dazzle of the stars be enough to blind audiences to the emptiness at its core? Quite possibly. Steven Soderbergh, coming out of Traffic, seems content to let the plot cruise without changing gears; he knows Ocean's Eleven is really about the spectacle of movie stars doing nothing much, stylishly.

Film
Anthony Quinn

The best-looking movie of 2002 is a foregone conclusion. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts star in the remake of the Vegas heist movie, Ocean's Eleven, out in February. Will the combined dazzle of the stars be enough to blind audiences to the emptiness at its core? Quite possibly. Steven Soderbergh, coming out of Traffic, seems content to let the plot cruise without changing gears; he knows Ocean's Eleven is really about the spectacle of movie stars doing nothing much, stylishly.

So much for your weekend date movie. More substantial fare is promised by Charlotte Gray, adapted from Sebastian Faulks's novel about a young Scots woman working undercover in Nazi-occupied France. Advance reports say that Cate Blanchett's performance in the title role is a stand-out and will probably earn her an Oscar nomination. Blanchett can be seen in another bestseller-based movie, an adaptation of Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, alongside Julianne Moore, Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey. Lasse Hallstrom directs, and one can only hope it's an improvement on his last, Chocolat. Spacey also stars in K-Pax, Iain Softley's somewhat earnest psychodrama about a mental patient who convinces his doctor (Jeff Bridges) he's from another planet.

Dysfunction is, of course, a reliable vehicle for Oscar-grabbing and next year we'll see Russell Crowe playing a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician suffering from schizophrenia in A Beautiful Mind, and Sean Penn as a mentally handicapped man struggling to keep custody of his young daughter in I Am Sam. Another beautiful mind under siege is the subject of Iris, Richard Eyre's screen biography of the novelist, Iris Murdoch, as seen through the eyes of her husband, John Bayley. Kate Winslet plays Iris in her youth and Judi Dench is Iris in her dotage as the writer succumbs to Alzheimer's disease.

On a lighter note, I've heard great things about Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, a comedy about a family of genius misfits and the errant father (Gene Hackman) who returns to the hearth after a 17-year absence. If it's anything like as good as Rushmore, we're in for a treat.

Monsters Inc, from the people who brought you Toy Story and Toy Story 2, is also said to be a hoot, with John Goodman and Billy Crystal the vocal back-up to visual pyrotechnics. Richard Linklater has reportedly made an astonishing one-off called Waking Life, a live-action movie that's been painted over and transformed into a cartoon. Wiley Wiggins (who starred in Linklater's Dazed and Confused) plays an everyman who goes on a dreamlike, Odyssean ramble through a series of close encounters – no, I don't get it either, but, by all accounts, it's not to be missed.

I'm also eager to see Laurent Cantet's L'Emploi du Temps (Time Out), the story of a man who loses his job and, unable to tell his family, maintains an elaborate illusion of employment. The dignity of labour is Cantet's great subject, as anyone who saw his superb Ressources Humaines can attest.

One movie I have seen, and can't get out of my head, is In The Bedroom, a bruising drama of bereavement and revenge played with infinite subtlety by Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek. It's writer-director Todd Field's debut, amazingly, and will be one of the must-see movies of 2002. Have fun in the dark.

TV
Robert Hanks

Without a doubt, the most keenly awaited series of 2002 is Auschwitz: in this new reality game-show-cum-historical reconstruction, hundreds of members of the public will be confined to filthy, freezing, louse-ridden barracks, fed on starvation rations, savagely beaten and forced to perform a series of mindless, physically exhausting tasks. Every week, viewers will get the chance to decide who will be the kapos – who get extra privileges, including the right to beat fellow inmates – and who will be the next to "leave".

Fortunately, we will have to keep waiting a while yet, since this series is completely imaginary. But it would be a logical extension of the current trend for lab-rat TV: the next couple of months will see The Trench (BBC 2), in which volunteers recreate life in a First World War trench (will there be snipers, shell-shock and rats feeding on dead comrades?); Prisoner – The Big Experiment (BBC2), in which volunteers spend two weeks under lock and key facing "tasks, hardship, hunger, solitude and anger" to test theories about group dynamics and power – the programme boasts the backing of leading academic psychologists. And masking the social divisions with some nice costumes, The Edwardian Country House (C4) – successor to The 1900 House and The 1940 House – has volunteers playing upstairs, downstairs in, well, an Edwardian country house.

Some themes loom large. Youth crime is the subject of a documentary series called Children of Crime on BBC 2 and an entire season on Channel 4. Mid-life crisis is tackled in two drama series: Forty (C4), by Brian Elsley (Nature Boy, The Young Person's Guide to Being a Rock Star), about people turning 40; and Manchild (BBC 2), by Nick Fisher, about people who turned 40 a few years back.

Literary dramas are out of fashion; but BBC 2's Crime and Punishment promises much, given that the part of Porfiry, the relentless detective, is taken by the great Ian McDiarmid. In the Autumn, Channel 4 gets up to date with a dramatisation of Zadie Smith's White Teeth. ITV is playing safer, with a new version – perhaps it's not fair to call it a remake – of The Forsyte Saga and that perennial favourite Lucky Jim, adapted by Jack Rosenthal. There are a couple of interesting docudramas in prospect: ITV recreates the events of Bloody Sunday; BBC 2 speculates on the future of bioterror in Smallpox 2002.

Not many laughs there; and I'm not sure there will be many elsewhere, either. BBC 1's major comedy offering is All About Me, a sitcom narrated by the disabled son of a mixed-race couple. The subject is brave, the casting foolhardy: Jasper Carrott and Meera Syal – together at last!

What else? Howard Brenton co-writes a spy series, Spooks (BBC 1); Peter Ackroyd takes Dickens (BBC 2) to the small screen; the Freud dynasty, from Sigmund to Matthew, gets analysed in The Century of the Self (BBC 2); Channel 4 docusoaps the last Oxbridge women-only college, St Hilda's; and Johnny Vaughan gets his own chat-show. It's surprising, it's predictable, it's ravenously populist, it's bizarrely obscure: it's business as usual in TVland.

Pop
Steve Jelbert

If there's one thing certain to happen in popular music next year, apart from someone you've never heard of having a number one hit, it's that come June, the nation will be united behind a tune featuring a few key words and phrases guaranteed to elicit a response from the patriotic hordes. Simple sound bites such as "Sven – we can win the World Cup" and "On me head, Becks" (from Michael Owen's feeble attempt at rapping) will haunt your dreams and the airwaves until England get eliminated unluckily, on goal difference in the group stage.

Clearly such a momentous release will overshadow any other attempts to leave a mark on 2002, though this may finally be the year that Guns n' Roses actually release a follow-up to 1991's twin chart toppers Use Your Illusion I and II. OK, so Axl Rose has lost the band, and probably his hair and his mind in the intervening decade. If he says it's a Gunners record leave him be. The world does not hold its breath.

Similarly, after a long gap the Prodigy's Liam Howlett has reconvened his band (ie got them thinking about what shapes they can throw in the video) and a new album is promised a mere five years since The Fat of the Land. Oasis, after making great play of recording an album in eight hours or something, now promise something new in 2002 after scrapping the original sessions. Reliable favourites such as the Chemical Brothers and Flaming Lips have new records due early next year, while Tom Waits promises a brace of albums in the spring. Doubtless the infernal Coldplay will come up with a successor to their somnambulant megaseller Parachutes.

So fast is the turnover of wet English indie bands, they'll probably be in the "where are they now?" file before making a second attempt. The hapless Starsailor look set to be overtaken by Birkenhead's The Coral, a promising, and probably too eclectic to succeed, gang of teenagers about to sign a Lottery-sized deal. Their failure will not be countenanced.

As the wave of clumsy old "sports-metal" recedes, rock bands likely to rise to prominence include Americans Rival Schools, already receiving rave reviews for their United By Fate album. British counterparts Lostprophets and Hundred Reasons will get bigger. Old-fashioned rock'n'roll, led by the likes of Sweden's fantastic Hives, will continue to revive the live circuit and cause beer sales to increase exponentially.

In the spooky nether world of "pop", the Irish version of Popstars, to be managed by Louis "Westlife" Walsh, the Pope of Bland, will doubtless turn up some well-groomed hopefuls. Here Pop Idol has yet to reach its conclusion, though the nation would surely prefer to hear something from Nasty Simon Cowell himself. Sales would rocket. People would buy them just to burn them. Unlike the chosen pop idol, presenters Ant and Dec will still have a career this time next year. And the persistent Darius Danesh will finally get a record deal. That, or be taken behind the barn to be shot by the Pop Farmer.

More worrying is the trend of releasing records by pre-sold celebrities. I fear that Kate Winslet's bizarre tribute to Celine Dion will be only the first. Reportedly Sarah Lancashire, Britain's favourite telly actress, has signed a recording deal. David Jason can't be far behind.

Those Spice Girls may reform. The nation may notice. Perhaps the Destiny's Child method is easier. Currently on hiatus, Beyoncé Knowles and her dad will probably put together a new line-up (again) for the next record. We'll be none the wiser.

Bucolic sorts, who crave the insecurity of big festivals, have to wait to see if Glastonbury gets its licence. Those who prefer their pleasure under cover will be more tempted by All Tomorrow's Parties, held in the spring at an off-season holiday camp at Camber Sands, and next year promising the return of The Breeders.

On the bright side, record companies are becoming more marginalised, as efficient ways to distribute music are popularised without their assistance. At least one major has already been caught out trying to sell CDs which won't play on PCs, without warning the buyer, then found themselves inundated with "faulty" returned copies. This issue is set to run and run. On the gloomy side, hard times make it more difficult for new acts to break through into the public's consciousness. Expect "best ofs"and compilations to dominate sales.

One of the winter's most successful tours was the somewhat ironic Here and Now 2001 event, featuring Paul Young and Kim Wilde, among other Eighties stars. For next spring's follow-up the promoters have unearthed Adam Ant (yay!), dragged Howard Jones from his vegetarian restaurant (or was that his chained dancer?) and tempted Toyah Willcox from the fleshpots of children's telly. Now if we could only do the same with Gazza and Gary Lineker. Wake me up in June, will you.

Theatre
Paul Taylor

On the theatrical front, 2002 looks set to be a series of fascinating transformation acts. Transformation is the season of new work (May to September) which will see the National's Lyttelton Theatre evolve into two new performing spaces: a 100-seat loft and a 650-seat arena.

The most tempting piece so far programmed is The Power Book, in which Deborah Warner will direct Fiona Shaw in an adaptation of Jeanette Wintersons's cyberspace prose fiction. (Other promised treats at the National include a Stoppard trilogy set in 19th century Russia.)

At the RSC, instead of one company performing a predetermined repertoire in Stratford, there will be three ensembles. From March to July, the first of these will perform in promenade stagings of three Shakespeare plays in London's Roundhouse. The best upcoming piece is the RSC's co-production with the Lyric Hammersmith of Neil Bartlett's adaptation of The Prince of Homburg, a profound and mysterious early 19th century masterpiece by German dramatist Heinrich von Kleist.

At the Sheffield Crucible (winner of this year's TMA/Barclays Award) Michael Grandage has wooed Kenneth Branagh back for an already sold-out and extended Richard III. And in May and June it will mount the Peter Gill Season to celebrate this undersung dramatist, including his new adaptation of Original Sin.

Crucible associate director Michael Grandage is tipped to succeed Sam Mendes at the Donmar. Mendes will sign off in autumn with a double-bill of Twelfth Night/Uncle Vanya and the prospect of Simon Russell Beale as Malvolio/Uncle Vanya and Nicole Kidman as Olivia/Yelena.

The new year promises pieces by Sebastian Barry, Nicholas Wright, Jez Butterworth, Martin Crimp, Nick Grosso, and Naomi Wallace. It will be interesting to see how they respond to post-September 11. A play completed several months before that disaster shows the way. Just premiered in New York, Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul is a four-hour epic in which an Englishwoman disappears in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Declan Donnellan's recast, reconceived production will be shown in May at the Young Vic.

Dance
John Percival

The first big London première of 2002 belongs to English National Ballet with Christopher Hampson's brilliant Double Concerto (Coliseum, 14 January). Two more new works are promised on tour in the spring, and a new Nutcracker later. Meanwhile, among a surfeit of Romeo and Juliet, ENB has the most attractive contender, a revival of Nureyev's thrilling version (Liverpool Empire, 5 March).

Against this, the Royal Ballet so far announces only one creation at Covent Garden, but it is by the gifted Christopher Wheeldon (18 May).

Also coming up are works brought in from abroad: Beyond Bach by the Australian choreographer Stephen Baynes, with Antony Tudor's Leaves are Fading (26 January), Nacho Duato's Por Vos Muero (4 March), and Mats Ek's powerful Carmen with Sylvie Guillem (9 April).

Because Birmingham Royal Ballet lost so much during the Hippodrome's closure, it has no premières until Robbins's Fancy Free and Balanchine's Western Symphony (2 October), but meanwhile it revives David Bintley's Tombeaux (13 March), Carmina Burana and Hobson's Choice (both in May).

David Nixon, the new director of the Northern Ballet Theatre, has two of his own works lined up for British premières: Madame Butterfly (Leeds, 15 February) and I Got Rhythm (Sheffield, 29 May).

With Scottish Ballet, the promised production of Ashton's Two Pigeons (Glasgow, 29 March) sounds like a bigger draw than the summer's alleged revamping under an unknown new leader.

After the excellent Stanislavsky Ballet's Festival Hall season, which runs until 12 January, other big Russian companies are rumoured but not confirmed for London. However, Sadler's Wells has an impressive line-up from Pina Bausch (31 January) to Pacific Northwest Ballet (2 July), including Ballet Preljocaj with The Rite of Spring (30 April), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (8 May), Nederlands Dans Theater (18 June) and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (24 June). Meanwhile, Sadler's Wells' sister theatre, the Peacock Theatre, has Julio Bocca's Ballet Argentino (12 February).

Architecture
Jay Merrick

After a year of high-profile Lottery-funded embarrassments – the bouncing Millennium Bridge, the Dome as white as a Polo mint with a cash-eating hole in the middle – Britain can look forward to a lower risk roll-out of high-quality architecture in the new year.

London may not be the hot-spot, either. Manchester is positively steroidal with major projects. And the North and Midlands in general will demonstrate significantly increased architectural pulling power with big openings for the C/Plex art gallery in Birmingham, the huge Baltic Centre complex in Gateshead and the wonderfully surreal £17.5m Community Arts Centre at West Bromwich.

The cutting edge in design does not need hip southerners to endorse it. In a project that ironists in Clerkenwell or Shoreditch might kill for Thomas Heatherwick's £1m creation of a new public square in the centre of Newcastle paints the town blue. He has paved over a section of the old A1 with glazed indigo tiles and rucked them up around trees and walls "as if a dodgy carpet fitter had been at it with a Stanley knife". Benches are "cut" and lifted from the herringbone tile pattern; under them, through glazed and illuminated panels, can be seen rubble from Roman times.

Other projects won't be showstoppers, but will highlight significant aspects of British culture. The Whitby Abbey Headland Project, fuelled by a Heritage Lottery grant, will remind visitors to the site of Dracula's fictional landfall that the town was where, AD664, the synod committed England to Roman religious rights.

The biggest public project in the North, whose first building opens on 7 February, is the National Museums & Art Galleries on Merseyside, underwritten by £26m from the Heritage Lottery fund. That spend is matched by the £25m that has been sunk into the total restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal, which flows from the Thames at Reading to the Avon at Bristol. Not exactly architecture – but leading to it. In nearby Bath, punters can, as from September, marvel at Nicholas "Eden Project" Grimshaw's dramatic reinvention of the Spa.

But Manchester is where awayday architecture lovers should go in the spring. A 15-minute taxi ride will take them to the Imperial War Museum North. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the building turns normality on its head – or tips it slightly, anyway. It's an arrangement of huge shards signifying earth, air and water. Their curving forms, and the floors of the internal spaces, are based on sections of a shattered globe's surface.

In central Manchester, Ian Simpson's Urbis, a "museum of the modern city" is a huge, glassy swoop like a six-storey ski-jump; Michael Hopkins has extended Manchester City Galleries with a glazed flourish; and Tadao Ando, the pre-eminent Japanese architect, has delivered a soothingly curved concrete wall for the Piccadilly Gardens Pavilion.

And London? Norman Foster's potentially scintillating GLA headquarters, ready soon on the South Bank, is looking unexpectedly clunky. What had been conceived as a smooth, gleaming egg looks like it's been hard-boiled, diced and put back together in a hurry. No matter: Herzog and de Meuron's Laban Centre in Deptford is going to be great fun.

Opera
Mark Pappenheim

If it's big names you want, you can't get much bigger than Luciano Pavarotti. Now pushing 67, just remarried and freshly cleared of tax fraud, the great pasta-guzzler's four performances in Tosca at Covent Garden this month will be his first UK opera appearances in seven years and, given his age, almost certainly his last. Fellow Three Tenor Placido Domingo is also back at the ROH in June, singing Hermann in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades , a brave move into Russian rep but a bit of a gamble at 61.

Younger contenders José Cura and Roberto Alagna (plus the missus) pop up too in Il Trovatore (April) and Puccini's La Rondine (May) respectively, while other star turns include Bryn Terfel in Don Giovanni (Jan), Elena Kelessidi in La Sonnambula (March) and Anthony Michaels-Moore in Macbeth (June) in the staging that was originally scheduled for 1997 but cancelled amid the chaos of the ROH closure. The outgoing "St Bernard" Haitink presided over a shambolic reopening gala. Let's hope he puts a bit more gusto into his farewell concerts. His successor Antonio Pappano arrives in the autumn – a real man of the theatre in charge at last.

Over at ENO, expectations run low for the new Ballo in maschera (February) to be directed by Calixto Bieito, the cloth-eared Catalan who trashed Don Giovanni earlier this year, but Matthew Warchus might just succeed in rescuing the company's Mozartian reputation with his new Così in May. The really exciting prospects, though, are Spontini's La Vestale (April), with Jane Eaglen as the celibately-challenged vestal virgin, and Richard Jones's new staging of Berg's complete three-act Lulu (May).

Among the festivals, while Garsington ventures into rare Janacek with a double-bill of the early Sarka and off-beat Osud (June), Glyndebourne resurrects Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide (May) and Weber's high-romantic Euryanthe (June), while also plays to the gallery with a new Carmen (July), starring Anne Sofie von Otter.

Finally, though finances in the regions look grim, Scottish Opera is not only extending its acclaimed Ring Cycle with a new Siegfried (August) but also premiering Sally Beamish's new Frankenstein opera Monster (February).

Visual art
Tom Lubbock

If you were ever thinking of taking an entire year off the visual arts – to clean out the system or whatever – then 2002 might well be the year to do it. That's how it looks from here. I don't deny there are some perfectly fine shows over the next 12 months. Total abstention would certainly have its regrets. But I don't see anything mortifyingly unmissable in prospect.

Down the years the Royal Academy has done a series of national modern art overviews – German art in the 20th century, Italian, British, US ditto, but so far not French. In January, Paris: Capital of the Arts 1900-68, opens. Note the cut-off date, though, with its clear hint that about 30 years ago French art came to an end.

Tate Britain presents a Lucian Freud retrospective (June) and a Gainsborough show (October). Tate Modern has Warhol (February) and – all one word – MatissePicasso (May), a comparative survey of those two top moderns. Actually the most curious thing at the London Tates is neither British nor modern. American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States 1820-80 majors in the very deliberately stupendous views of the Hudson River School (Thomas Cole, Frederic Church), and opens at Tate Britain in February.

The Dutch painter of cows and countryside Albert Cuyp is this year's old master at the National Gallery. George Romney, rather dull portraitist but wacko draughtsman, appears at the Walker in Liverpool. The limpid British watercolourist John Sell Cotman is at the British Museum. These all open in February.

A significant show of Ian Hamilton Finlay (our best living artist) is quite a rarity in this country. In March there's one in Tate St Ives, focusing on his maritime works. Early One Morning at the Whitechapel Gallery (July) looks at recent developments in sculpture. The amusing drawings and objects of David Shrigley can be seen at the Camden Arts Centre (February). And as for young British art, as was, there's as much as you could want, with solo shows by Marc Quinn (Tate Liverpool), Sam Taylor-Wood and Douglas Gordon (Hayward Gallery), Gavin Turk (New Art Gallery, Walsall) and Sarah Lucas (Milton Keynes Gallery). And there'll be some surprises, too. Well, I hope so.

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