Russell Baillie 's Opinion

Russell Baillie is the Herald’s entertainment editor

Forward Thinking: 2011 not a prize year

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Tainui Tukiwaho as Billy in TVNZ's telefeature 'Billy'. Photo / Supplied
Tainui Tukiwaho as Billy in TVNZ's telefeature 'Billy'. Photo / Supplied

With today's TimeOut spotlighting many possibilities for hearing good tunes in good company over the coming weeks, there's quite a bit of looking forward.

Any day now we start the strangely arduous but traditional task of looking back at the year that was, especially in terms of what's been the best music and best movies.

One thing we won't be doing, as we did last year, was name a TimeOut entertainer of the year. Because, try as we might, we couldn't think of one who had left a genuine lasting mark on 2011.

True, maybe the bar was set too high in 2010 by Taika Waititi and the runaway success of his film Boy.

True, Brooke Fraser was named one of the Herald's New Zealanders of the year - and her career is certainly picking up momentum in parts Up Over. Though she's not the only one of our musicians who is blooming while away on their OE.

Another possibility for a grand declaration of end-of-year acclaim was Kimbra. She's already won some gongs on both sides of the Tasman care of a firecracker debut album and her role as the jilted woman in that unstoppable Gotye hit Someone I Used to Know.

But busy international major label singing gal that she is, she's barely played in New Zealand and it's been kind of hard to declare her this year's phenomenon when she was being phenomenal elsewhere.

Yes, the year was also marked by fine albums from other established voices like Gin Wigmore and Bic Runga. Elsewhere in local music it was something of a hangover year - the 2010 albums by Naked and Famous, David Dallas and Avalanche City (both the last two were officially released in 2011) propelled them all sorts of places.

Local movie-wise, as has previously been noted in this column, there hasn't been too much to write home about. And our best new television series' - The Almighty Johnsons and Nothing Trivial - were powered by finely balanced ensembles rather than star-marking turns by individual actors.

Both shows are coming back in the new year where they will have a second chance at replacing Outrageous Fortune in our affections.

But there was one major local screen star of 2011. He just wasn't exactly new.

Actually, he wasn't even with us any more. The late great Billy T James inspired one cinema doco and one telefeature in August, marking the 20th anniversary of his death.

The doco didn't fare as well at the box office as had been hoped, which was blamed on the TVNZ telefeature stealing its thunder. And the telefeature came in for flak for its inaccuracies.

That Billy T was able to leave such a mark on NZ showbiz in 2011 showed two things: our lasting affection for the man, yes, but also what a very odd, somewhat sad year in entertainment it's been.


- NZ Herald

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Russell Baillie

Russell Baillie is the Herald’s entertainment editor

Russell Baillie has been writing about entertainment since shortly after entertainment was invented. His first music review was of five whalers singing around a piano which got him run out of the town of his upbringing, Whangarei. Along the way he discovered writing about moving pictures with sound was just as rewarding as his coverage of gramophone products and musical ensembles. Eventually he found a home at the Herald, as the founding editor of the TImeOut section, where has won prizes for editing, reviewing and feature writing.

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