Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
The month of July was overshadowed by the sudden and shocking death of British singer Amy Winehouse. The Back to Black hitmaker was found dead at her home in London at the age of 27 and the news sent the world of showbusiness into mourning. Tributes poured in from both fans and famous friends following the tragedy, and Winehouse's music shot back into the charts.
The headlines were also dominated by celebrity divorces as Jennifer Lopez announced her split from husband of seven years, Marc Anthony, the father of her young twins, Max and Emme. Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage also came to an abrupt end as his wife Maria Shriver filed for divorce following revelations the actor/politician fathered a lovechild with the family's housekeeper.
Scarlett Johansson's divorce from Ryan Reynolds was finalised and Patricia Arquette's split from husband Thomas Jane was also made official.
In happier news, all eyes were on Monaco as the world geared up for the second royal wedding of the year, following the union of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in April. In the same month as the British royals flew to Canada to begin their first international tour as a married couple, Prince Albert of Monaco married his fiancee, South African beauty Charlene Wittstock. The couple exchanged vows in two ceremonies in Monte Carlo and the former swimmer became her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco. British supermodel Kate Moss also became a married woman as she wed rocker Jamie Hince in a lavish ceremony in the English countryside, while it was also an exciting month for the Beckham family as former Spice Girls star Victoria, already mother to three boys, gave birth to her first daughter, Harper Seven.
There was also baby joy for Hollywood actress Kate Hudson - she welcomed a son called Bingham with her rocker fiance Matt Bellamy. Singer Jewel, actress Selma Blair and former Fugees star Lauryn Hill also became parents. British artist/director Sam Taylor-Wood also hit headlines after she confirmed she was expecting a second baby with her 21-year-old fiance, actor Aaron Johnson, a year after the birth of their daughter. The couple met on the set of their 2009 film Nowhere Boy and became parents together in 2010.
July also saw troubled British rocker Pete Doherty granted his freedom after serving less than half of his six-month prison sentence for cocaine possession. Another beleaguered star to walk free from jail was rapper DMX, who served seven months behind bars for a probation violation. However, David Gilmour’s son Charlie found himself on the other side of the prison walls as he was ordered to serve 16 months in jail for his part in the 2010 student riots in London. The Pink Floyd star’s son was charged with violent disorder for causing chaos in the British capital and swinging from a flag on the city’s Cenotaph war memorial. (LR/ZN)
The usual serenity of the summer months was shattered this year when Kate Winslet cheated death in a devastating inferno at Richard Branson's luxury island home, and a string of British stars appealed for calm as widespread rioting broke out in the U.K.
Winslet was holidaying at Virgin boss Branson's Necker Island retreat when lightning struck the property, sparking a huge blaze which gutted the home. Her party of 20 miraculously escaped unscathed - and Winslet was later hailed a heroine after it emerged she carried Branson's 90-year-old mother from the property during the drama.
As unrest, looting, and arson broke out for several nights in the U.K., showbiz stars including Idris Elba, Natasha Bedingfield and Boy George called for calm, and there was also bad news for Sir Paul McCartney - who learned his phone had been hacked by the tabloid press - and veteran actress Margot Kidder, who was arrested during an environment protest at the White House.
Tragedy struck at the Indiana State Fair, when a horrific stage collapse left seven revellers dead and more than 40 injured, actor Rowan Atkinson was treated in hospital after wrecking his rare sports car by crashing it into a tree, and French actor Gerard Depardieu was left red-faced when he was thrown off a plane in Paris, France for urinating in the cabin after he was refused access to the toilet during take-off.
It was ladies night at the MTV Video Music Awards as Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga took home two honours each - and Beyonce announced her pregnancy news. And at the Teen Choice Awards, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez were crowned queens of the event when they scooped whopping 11 awards between them.
Kings of Leon finally succumbed to their relentless touring schedule and axed their remaining U.S. dates to allow frontman Caleb Followill to recover from "vocal issues and exhaustion", Aerosmith rocker Tom Hamilton and Deep Purple star Jon Lord both announced they were battling cancer, Bono was hospitalised with chest pains, and Norwegian pop band A-ha thrilled fans by announcing they were to reform.
In family news, Kiss star Paul Stanley became a father again, and there were also welcome additions for Ethan Hawke, funnywoman Tina Fey, illusionist David Copperfield, Jessica Alba, and Benicio del Toro, who fathered a child with Rod Stewart's daughter Kimberly.
There were wedding bells for country singer Chely Wright and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, but romance took a plunge for George Michael and Geri Halliwell, who both split from their partners. Also joining the singles club was Arctic Monkeys rocker Alex Turner, who broke up with MTV presenter Alexa Chung after four years together.
The showbiz world bid farewell to songwriting legend Jerry Leiber, who died of cardiopulmonary failure at the age of 78, Police Academy star Charles 'Bubba' Smith, Bollywood veteran Shammi Kapoor, blues legend David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, Warrant rocker Jani Lane, and Motown hitmaker Nickolas Ashford. (ZN/LR)
September was a month rapper T.I. would like to both remember and forget - he completed an 11-month prison sentence for a probation violation only to run into legal trouble again soon after his initial release for conducting illegal business deals on his way to a halfway house. It wasn't a great month for Madonna either - her movie take on the romance between Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII was savaged by critics at the Venice Film Festival, while her ex-husband Guy Ritchie became a dad again.
Celine Dion was left shaken up after an intruder was found running a bath at her Montreal, Canada home; Neil Diamond revealed his engagement, and Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial got underway in Los Angeles as prosecutors attempted to prove the medic was responsible for Michael Jackson's death.
R.E.M. announced they were splitting after 31 years; My Chemical Romance fired drummer Michael Pedicone after accusing him of stealing from them; Boyzone singer Ronan Keating swam the Irish Sea for Cancer Research in the U.K., and Sir Paul McCartney became a grandfather again and was named the MusiCares Person of the Year - while he also celebrated as his first ballet score debuted in New York.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation was launched on what would have been the tragic singer's 28th birthday, and the star's Body & Soul duet with Tony Bennett became a hit, making the 85-year-old crooner the oldest living artist to have a single in America's Hot 100.
Eddie Murphy was confirmed as the host for the 2012 Oscars; model Lauren Bush became Lauren Lauren when she exchanged vows with Ralph Lauren's son David; British funnyman David Walliams braved the chills of the River Thames and a stomach bug to complete a charity 140-mile swim in eight days.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood lost a tooth during a boozy night out in Paris; Reese Witherspoon was hospitalised after she was hit by a car while out jogging in Santa Monica, California; soul legend Chaka Khan won temporary custody of her granddaughter after claiming the girl's mother was struggling with drug abuse issues, and British The Saturdays singer Una Healy announced she was pregnant.
INXS dropped frontman J.D. fortune for a second time and replaced him with Ciaran Gribbin; Austin Powers henchman Joseph Son was sentenced to life behind bars for a Christmas Eve rape in 1990, and George Clooney went public with his new girl, Stacey Kiebler, at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada.
Ashton Kutcher had a month of ups and downs - his debut on TV sitcom Two and a Half Men was a big hit as 28 million Americans tuned in, but then came the news that his marriage to Demi Moore was in trouble amid infidelity rumours. Comedienne Wanda Sykes opened up about her breast cancer battle and double mastectomy; Sharon Stone won a restraining order against an obsessed fan and promptly put the home he visited uninvited on the market, and reality TV star and filmmaker Jack Osbourne announced his engagement to actress Lisa Stelly and followed that up with the news he was to become a dad.
Third time was not the charm for Clueless star Stacy Dash, who announced her plans to divorce husband number three, Emmanuel Xuereb, and X-Men star James Marsden's wife also joined the divorce club as she filed papers against her husband. Elizabeth Hurley's love life was on the up - she accepted cricket star Shane Warne's wedding proposal just three months after divorcing Arun Nayar.
Meanwhile, Elton John launched his new Million Dollar Piano residency in Las Vegas; Smokey Robinson accepted the coveted Ella Award at the Society of Singers Gala, and the month wrapped up with Shania Twain's alleged stalker pleading guilty to harassing the singer in court in Ontario, Canada.
Among September's Hollywood weddings, Amy Smart married reality TV star Carter Oosterhouse; Cougar Town co-stars David Rogers and Sally Pressman became man and wife, and model-turned-actress Molly Sims wed in a Napa Valley vineyard in California. There were also nuptials for British filmmaker Michael Winner and DJ/producer Mark Ronson, while R&B singer Keyshia Cole and former Friends star David Schwimmer both renewed vows with their spouses in Hawaii and London, respectively.
There was baby news for model Jodie Kidd, who gave birth to a son; actress Mary McCormack, who became a mum for the third time, and January Jones, who welcomed Xander Dane to the world while staying mum about the tot's father. Actors Emily Deschanel, Ana Ortiz, Mike Myers, Danny McBride and Jenna Fischer also became new parents. In the music world, former Spice Girl Melanie Brown gave birth to her third daughter, and country star John Rich and former Pussycat Dolls member Carmit Bachar welcomed babies too.
On September's sick list were rocker Scott Weiland and pop stars Katy Perry and Adele, who both scrapped shows due to illness, while Megadeth headbanger Dave Mustaine underwent surgery for a serious neck injury.
The month's big winners included movie mogul Tyler Perry, who was named Forbes magazine's Highest Paid Man in Entertainment; actor Michael Fassbender and director Alexander Sokurov, who claimed Best Actor and Best Film honours, respectively, for Shame and Faust at the Venice Film Festival. Gritty TV drama Boardwalk Empire picked up eight Emmy Awards; Calle 13 landed a record 10 Latin Grammy Award nominations, and Happy Days star Henry Winkler picked up an honorary Order of the British Empire medal at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Also winning: P.J. Harvey, who scooped the Mercury Prize in Britain, Arcade Fire, who claimed Canada's Polaris Prize, and U2 and Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who were named GQ magazine's Men of the Year.
September's losers included Scarlett Johansson, who was left exposed in a series of leaked naked phone photos; Cameron Diaz, who split from baseball beau Alex Rodriguez, and John Travolta, whose beloved Mercedes-Benz was stolen outside a Jaguar dealership in Santa Monica, while his Swordfish co-star Halle Berry broke her foot while on location in Spain.
Meanwhile, we said a sad goodbye to a slew of famous faces, including actors Andy Whitfield and Cliff Robertson; beloved TV stars Mary Fickett and Vesta Williams; actor Jack Garner; French DJ Mehdi Faveris-Essadi; blues great Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith; R&B hitmaker Vesta Williams; gospel icon Jessy Dixon; celebrated British writer/producer David Croft; Happy Gilmore star Frances Bay, and moviemakers David Pressman, Charles Dubin, George Kachar and Paul Hunt. (KL/MT)
October was a big month for celebrity weddings - funnyman Seth Rogen tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Lauren Miller, Twilight star Nikki Reed married singer/songwriter Paul McDonald, and former Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Shannen Doherty walked down the aisle for the third time when she exchanged vows with celebrity photographer Kurt Iswarienko. Also hoping to make it third-time lucky was Robin Williams, who wed graphic designer Susan Schneider.
Also taking the plunge was Kiss rocker Gene Simmons, who married his girlfriend of 28 years, Shannon Tweed, and Sir Paul McCartney, who exchanged vows with American heiress Nancy Shevell on what would have been his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon’s 71st birthday.
And Sex & the City star Mario Cantone made good use of New York's new gay rights bill by solidifying his love for longtime partner Jerry Dixon.
A number of other stars announced their intention to wed in October - NCIS: Los Angeles star Eric Christian Olsen proposed to girlfriend Sarah Wright and Trace Cyrus popped the question to Disney actress Brenda Song. And actress Kaley Cuoco was sporting a new sparkler after boyfriend Josh 'Lazie' Resnik got down on bended knee. Also officially off the market were former child star Frankie Muniz, The Devil Wears Prada actor Stanley Tucci, rapper The Game and Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's grown-up little girl Francis Bean Cobain.
A number of other celebrities were prepping their homes for babies - movie star Bruce Willis, American footballer Tony Romo, former Dawson's Creek hunk James Van Der Beek, and actress Kaitlin Olson all announced they are expecting little ones, and Jessica Simpson ended months of speculation by announcing she was pregnant.
And October's new parents included Ne-Yo, who welcomed a baby boy, model Ali Landry, who gave birth to her second child, actress Spencer Grammer, who became a first time mum, and France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who became a mum for the second time when baby Giulia was born. Reality TV star Tori Spelling took home baby number three, as did Jackass funnyman Johnny Knoxville. And Sex & the City beauty Kristin Davis, The Help actress Viola Davis and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation veteran Mariska Hargitay all adopted babies.
But it wasn't such a happy month for rapper Rick Ross, who suffered two seizures on his way to a concert, or socialite Kim Kardashian who filed for divorce from husband Kris Humphries after just 72 days of marriage.
In other news, Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto announced he was gay and troubled actress Lindsay Lohan had her probation revoked after failing to complete her required community service hours. She also faced a limousine lawsuit for allegedly neglecting to pay a bill, her dad was arrested - twice, and she was served a lawsuit for reportedly attacking a Betty Ford Clinic employee during her stay there last year (10).
Meanwhile, the stars came out to show their support for the Occupy Wall Street protests, which were originally launched in New York City in a bid to end corporate greed, and the world mourned the loss of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, British TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile, The Charlie Daniels Band keyboard player Joel 'Taz' Digregorio, former Weezer star Mikey Welsh, veteran British actress Betty Driver, The Miracles guitarist Marv Tarplin, pianist Roger Williams and IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, who died in a horrific car smash at the Indy300.
British bachelor Hugh Grant stunned the world when he announced he had a new love in his life - a baby girl he had fathered during a brief relationship with Chinese model/actress Tinglan Hong. He wasn't the only star to join the celebrity parents' club in November - singer Lily Allen had a reason to Smile again after giving birth to a daughter, her first child with new husband Sam Cooper, while newsman Piers Morgan and his wife Celia Walden also became parents to a little girl. Maggie Gyllenhaal and her husband Peter Sarsgaard announced they were expecting their second child, as did reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian and her partner Scott Disick.
Selena Gomez revealed she is set to become a big sister, while Justin Bieber had some unwanted baby news of his own - he found himself at the centre of a paternity scandal following allegations he had impregnated 20-year-old Mariah Yeater following a backstage tryst in Los Angeles last year (10). The Baby hitmaker denied the claim and Yeater subsequently dropped the lawsuit.
Lindsay Lohan's troubles hit the headlines again after she was sentenced to serve 30 days behind bars for a probation violation, although she was released after less than five hours due to jail overcrowding. Dr. Conrad Murray was not so lucky - he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter relating to the death of Michael Jackson and sentenced to the maximum of four years behind bars.
In other legal matters, country singer Mindy McCready sparked a manhunt after she took her five-year-old son Zander from his father's Florida home without permission; Tim McGraw won a court battle with his record company bosses releasing him from his contract; and TLC star T-Boz declared bankruptcy.
Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling became driving forces in the push to improve British press standards following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal earlier this year (11) - the three stars were called to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and told how they had had their voicemails, emails and other private messages intercepted by private investigators working on behalf of tabloid reporters.
The sporting world mourned the death of boxing great Joe Frazier at the age of 67, just days after it was revealed he was battling liver cancer, while the hip-hop industry was rocked by the passing of rap icon Heavy D, who collapsed outside his Los Angeles home and was later declared dead at 44. British moviemaker Ken Russell also passed away, aged 84, and longtime Oscars producer Gil Cates died at 77. Meanwhile, Beatles fans remembered George Harrison on 29 November as fans marked the 10th anniversary of his death.
Veteran pop star George Michael was forced to scrap the remainder of his European tour after he was struck down by a serious bout of pneumonia; Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb also spent time in hospital after suffering abdominal pains, and Adele and Keith Urban had a quiet month as they both recovered from vocal cord surgery, while heavy rock fans rejoiced as the original members of Black Sabbath announced they would be reuniting for a new album and tour in 2012.
It was ladies' night at the American Music Awards as Taylor Swift and Adele walked away with three honours each, while Lady Gaga reigned over the MTV Europe Music Awards and newlyweds Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton ruled the Country Music Association Awards by taking home the two top vocalist prizes. November also saw Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher end weeks of speculation about their marriage by calling it quits, while Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles tied the knot and Anne Hathaway began making plans to wed boyfriend Adam Schulman, and former The Hills star Kristin Cavallari and American footballer Jay Cutler became engaged again, months after they broke off their initial plans to marry.
And it was a busy month for the film industry - the latest Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn - Part 1, landed the biggest global debut in the film franchise's history, thanks to a massive $284 million (£177.5 million) opening weekend haul; Golden Globes bosses decided to bring back controversial comedian Ricky Gervais to host his third prizegiving in 2012; Billy Crystal stepped in for Eddie Murphy as the host of the 2012 Academy Awards a day after the comic and producer pal Brett Ratner resigned, and the race for the Oscars kicked off with the Gotham Independent Film Awards, where Terrence Malick's Tree of Life and Mike Mills' acclaimed Beginners made history when they became the first films to tie for the Best Feature prize in the ceremony's 21-year history.
The holiday bells were peeling for newlyweds A.J. McLean, actress Judy Greer, reality TV star Jeff Probst and Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocker Karen O, while Sinead O'Connor married an addiction counsellor in Las Vegas only to call off the union 16 days later. There were also splits for actress Debra Messing and Chaz Bono.
Britney Spears led the month's bride and grooms-to-be when she accepted former agent Jason Trawick's proposal on his 40th birthday, while Steven Tyler, John Legend, Matthew McConaughey, basketball legend Michael Jordan and Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood all popped the question to their girlfriends - and there was baby news for new dads Robert De Niro, Halle Berry's ex Eric Benet, actor Charlie Day, Westlife star Kian Egan, actress/singer Fantasia Barrino, Essence Atkins and pop star Dev, while actress Alyson Hannigan, Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, Kings of Leon star Caleb Followill's supermodel wife Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio and Irish singer Andrea Corr announced they were pregnant.
There was drama for rapper Tyler, The Creator, who was arrested for alleged acts of vandalism during a show in Hollywood; singer Christina Perri, who was attacked in a car-jacking incident; Barry Manilow, who underwent hip surgery, and Morrissey, whose concert in Puebla, Mexico was evacuated following an earthquake, while Britain's Prince Philip and R&B star Etta James spent Christmas in hospital.
Lindsay Lohan bared all for Playboy magazine; Adam Lambert was arrested in Finland following a pre-Christmas bust-up with his boyfriend; rapper The Game halted a gig in Norway to confront a bottle-throwing fan; boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was sentenced to 90 days in jail for a 2010 fight with his ex; a man who leaked an unfinished new Madonna song online was arrested in Spain, and Michael Douglas' incarcerated son Cameron was handed an extra four-and-a-half years behind bars for another drug conviction.
And there was yet more drama for Terrence Howard, who requested a restraining order against his wife; model Lauren Scruggs, who lost her hand and an eye in a freak plane propeller accident; Hollywood couple Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart, who had to vacate their home after high winds brought a tree crashing into their living room, and pop star Selena Gomez suffered a family tragedy when her mother miscarried.
Meanwhile, Jodie Foster's estranged father was jailed for five years after he was found guilty of a property scam; Angelina Jolie was sued by a Croatian journalist who alleged his chronicle of the Bosnian War inspired her directorial debut; Kirsten Dunst won a restraining order against an obsessed French fan; an extra died of a heart attack while shooting The Dark Knight Rises in New York; Goodfellas actor Tony Darrow was sentenced to six months behind bars for arranging a real-life mob beating, and Charlie Sheen had to change his phone number when he accidentally tweeted it to his followers.
The month's big winners included singer Melanie Amaro, who became the first U.S. X Factor winner; Julio Iglesias, who was named Spain's best-selling recording artist of all time; Russell Simmons, who was crowned PETA's Person of the Year; Chaka Khan, who won permanent custody of her granddaughter; Lady Gaga, who was hailed the year's highest earning female musician, and Taylor Swift who picked up Billboard magazine's coveted Woman of The Year honour.
Also winning in December: Guns N' Roses, the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were all announced as the members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2012, and Twilight star Kristen Stewart, who was named Forbes magazine's Most Lucrative Star. Adele dominated the year's end album and singles polls; Jason Newsted reunited with Metallica for their 30th anniversary bash in San Francisco, and Martin Scorsese's first 3D movie Hugo was the surprise Best Film winner at the National Board of Review Awards in America.
In other movie news, Transformers: Dark of The Moon was named the year's most mistake-ridden film; Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Oscar sold at auction for $861,000; Drive dominated the Satellite Awards while The Help, The Artist and The Descendants picked up the lion's share of nominations for the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood and Honey, also picked up Golden Globes nods and she was named the 2012 recipient of the Stanley Kramer Award at the Producer's Guild of America Awards.
In music news, Amy Winehouse's posthumous album debuted at number one in Britain; 30 Seconds To Mars broke a concert record at a show in New York - their 309th in a single album cycle, and Gucci Mane was released from prison.
Wrapping up the month, Oscar winner Colin Firth was immortalised in wax at Madame Tussauds in London; Men's Health magazine bosses crowned Jennifer Aniston the Hottest Woman of All Time; Liz Taylor's diamonds and gems set a new auction record by becoming the most valuable private jewellery collection; LMFAO were forced to abandon a gig in Honduras after a fire broke out at the venue; Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins announced her split from fiance Gethin Jones, and Coldplay rang in 2012 with a $1.6 million gig in Abu Dhabi.
And the last month of the year saw the notable deaths of actor Bill McKinney, soul stars Dobie Gray and Howard Tate, M*A*S*H regular Harry Morgan, Clark Gable and Loretta Young's love child Judy Lewis, actress Doe Avedon Siegel, former child star Susan Gordon, country singer Billie Jo Spears, Aussie actor Graham Bown, world leaders Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il, songwriter Ralph MacDonald, Kojak star Dan Frazer, directors Don Sharp and Yoshimitsu Morita, writer Christopher Hitchens and Tarzan's chimp sidekick Cheetah, who died of liver failure, aged 80.