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December 31 2009

What to see in 2010

Can Martin Scorsese pull off a horror movie? Is Glasgow the new Venice? And what's Ricky Gervais up to in Reading? Our critics pick next year's hottest tickets


Cemetery Junction

Having conquered Hollywood, Ricky Gervais is coming home. With his long-time collaborator Stephen Merchant, he has set out to create a British film in the tradition of Billy Liar and the Likely Lads – and of course his own masterpiece The Office – about three blokes working for the Prudential insurance company in Gervais's hometown of Reading. Released on 7 April.

A Single Man

The smart money says Colin Firth will be bringing home a certain gold, bald-headed statuette for his performance as a bereaved gay man in Los Angeles. Based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, the movie – fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut – follows one day in the life of Firth's literature academic as he confronts his own mortality. Released on 12 February.

A Prophet

Tahar Rahim is Talik, a scared young Arab guy in jail who is made an offer he can't refuse by Corsican mobster César, played by Niels Arestrup: he must murder a supergrass, or be killed himself. A gripping prison movie from French director Jacques Audiard. Released on 22 January.

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese's much-anticipated new movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio was originally slated to come for autumn; the delay was reportedly due to its promotional budget getting credit-crunched. Anyway, better late than never. It's a mystery thriller with a generous spoonful of horror – a new generic twist for this master director. Released on 12 March.

The Headless Woman

A wealthy woman accidentally hits something in her car. Was it a dog? A person? She slips into woozy confusion, and the movie mimics the woman's disorientation and denial as she attempts to carry on with her life. An arthouse cult classic from Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel. Released on 19 February.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Edgar Wright is the British director who struck gold with Shaun of the Dead. Now he tackles his first proper Hollywood project – a wacky comedy based on the Bryan Lee O'Malley comic-book series. Michael Cera plays bass guitarist Scott Pilgrim, who, having fallen in love with a woman, must now do battle with her seven former boyfriends. Released on 27 August.

Father of My Children

A discreetly directed and superbly acted drama based on the tragic life of the French film producer Humbert Balsan. Grégoire is a much-loved mover-and-shaker in world cinema whose finances are crumbling. The ensuing crisis is brilliantly portrayed. Released on 5 March.

Visual art

Glasgow international festival of contemporary art

A huge, budget-melting installation by Swiss artist Christoph Büchel in the vast Tramway; a major new film by Gerard Byrne; works by Fiona Tan, Douglas Gordon, Linder and many more spread around Scotland's liveliest city, in the UK's best annual visual arts festival. Forget Edinburgh, forget Liverpool: this is the one. Venues across Glasgow (0141-287 8994,, 16 April-3 May.

The Real Van Gogh: the Artist and His Letters

Van Gogh was erudite, intelligent, a great artist and an inveterate writer of letters. But he also did that thing to his ear, drank too much absinthe and killed himself. This show looks at his art in the light of his letters, recently published in English in full. Royal Academy of Arts, London W1 (020-7300 8000), 23 January-18 April.

Chris Ofili

Manchester-born Chris Ofili has rolled joints from elephant dung, made paintings decorated with dung, and moved on to territory that brings together German expressionism, Trinidadian myth, lovers, prophets, gods and ghosts. Promises to be blasphemous and inspiring, elegiac and sexy. Tate Britain, London SW1 (020-7887 8888), 27 January-16 May.

Jenny Holzer

There's more to American artist Holzer's work than an endless tickertape of words spelled out  in LED lights. There are billboards, benches, condom wrappers and paintings. This is poetry with a plug, light shows with literature, an art of anger and beauty. Baltic, Gateshead (0191-478 1810), 5 March-16 May.

Sixth Berlin Biennial

The Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art is always fascinating, and sometimes great. In a city infested with artists and overshadowed by history, it attracts fewer wannabes, hangers-on, art-surfers and arrogant airheads than Venice. Berlin is serious, the food is a joke, the weather uncertain and the art at the time of writing a complete mystery. Go anyway. Venues across Berlin (00 49 [0] 302 434 5910,, 11 June-8 August.


Paul Gauguin, stock-broker turned post-impressionist and symbolist painter and sculptor, mystified Van Gogh, with whom he shared a house for a while. What an odd couple. Gauguin died in French Polynesia in 1903 at the age of 54. His art, however, is a time bomb, still ticking in the 21st century; and this is the first major show in Britain for 50 years. Tate Modern, London SE1 (020-7887 8888), from 30 September.


Whitney Houston

Houston's misadventures during the last decade made the likelihood of her touring again seem nil. But here she is playing her first UK dates since 1998, rehabbed and in robust voice – although her ability to hit those power notes has diminished somewhat. Which may be a good thing. MEN Arena, Manchester (0844 847 8000), 8-9 April. Then touring.

Green Day

Here's a thing: an overtly political US band who are big enough to play stadiums. Mind you, if Green Day's views weren't complemented by radio-friendly rock, their two British summer dates would probably be somewhere cosier. Old Trafford (0871 2200 260), June 16; Wembley, London (020-7403 3331), June 19.

The xx

It's all about understatement and nuance with this indie band, earmarked just about everywhere as 2010's ones to watch. Don't expect fireworks or obvious "wow" moments on their first major headlining tour: they and their acclaimed self-titled album are very much insidious pleasures. Komedia, Brighton (0845 293 8480), 1 March. Then touring.

Lily Allen and Dizzee Rascal

Lily and Dizzee have more in common than you would think: they easily rank with 2009's most successful British musicians, and she's as influenced by Rascal's hip-hop milieu as he is by the pop world she inhabits. MEN Arena, Manchester (0844 847 8000), 5 March; 02 Arena, London (0844 856 0202), 7 March.


The daddy of them all celebrates its 40th anniversary, and Glasto virgins U2 will be among those braving the mud to celebrate. Sold out, but returns go on sale in the new year. Worthy Farm, Somerset, 23-27 June.

Jazz and world music

Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra

Specials and 2 Tone co-founder Dammers pays tribute to mystic free-jazz bandleader Sun Ra, who died in 1993, with a mix of jazz, funk, reggae, dub, hip-hop and rock. The all-star lineup includes Nathaniel Facey, Zoe Rahman and Jason Yarde. Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (024-7652 4524), 4 March. Touring until 9 April.

Dan Berglund's Tonbrucket

Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson's death in 2008 wound up popular jazz trio EST, but bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus ­ Ostrom visit not only EST's music, but Pink Floyd, Arvo Pärt and more in their new quartet. Queen's Hall, Edinburgh (0131-668 2019), 13 March. Touring until 1 April.

Wynton Marsalis

The prolific Marsalis and his Lincoln Center Orchestra celebrate 80 years of big-band history in three major concerts, with jams all over London, including the Vortex. Barbican, London EC2 (0845 120 7550), 17 and 18 June; Hackney Empire, London E8 (020-8510 4500), 20 June.

African Soul Rebels

Mali's Oumou Sangaré, famed for her bravely outspoken views, is one of the stars of the sixth African Soul Rebels outing. She's joined by the rousing big band Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, and the veteran South African experimental political band, Kalahari Surfers. Poole Lighthouse (0844 406 8666), 18 February. Then touring.

Ali and Toumani

The most eagerly awaited African album of the year, this is the final recording by the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, and the kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté – recorded a few months before Touré's death. Out 22 February.


Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

After the shock of Bausch's death this summer, her company has announced plans to continue under the joint direction of Dominique Mercy and Robert Sturm. In April, they come to London with Kontakthof, Bausch's 1978 meditation on love and human foibles. It will be performed by two radically different, alternating casts – one made up of senior citizens, the other of teenagers. Barbican, London EC2 (020-7638 8891), 1-4 April.

Mark Morris Dance Group

Morris made L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, an ecstatic embrace of a dance, more than 20 years ago; it still ranks as one of the great experiences in the repertory. Handel's score will be played and sung by members of English National Opera. Coliseum, London WC2 (0871-911 0200), 14-17 April.

Hofesh Shechter

The rise and rise of Shechter continues with Political Mother, a large ensemble piece that plays with definitions of shock and normality, and comes with Shechter's own score. Dome, Brighton (01273 709709), 20 and 21 May; Sadler's Wells, London EC1 (0844 412 4300), 14-17 July.

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

A posthumous season for the late, great Merce includes the UK premiere of the work he choreographed just months before he died. Nearly Ninety belies its title with a score including music by Sonic Youth. Barbican, London EC2 (020-7638 8891), 26-30 October.


Arthur and George

David Edgar adapts Julian Barnes's gripping novel about a Birmingham solicitor who, after being convicted of a grisly crime, recruits the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Fact merges with fiction in a story that deals with race, innocence, guilt and spiritualism - with echoes of Sherlock Holmes. Rachel Kavanaugh directs what promises to be that rare thing: a necessary adaptation. Birmingham Rep (0121-236 4455), 19 March-10 April.

Peter Pan

David Greig relocates JM Barrie's masterpiece to a gas-lit Victorian Edinburgh. Director John Tiffany (Black Watch, The Bacchae) and designer Laura Hopkins are at the helm, so this Pan shouldn't simply fly, but soar. Kings, Glasgow (0844 871 7648), 23 April–8 May. Then touring.


Once again, it looks like we're set for a major battle of the princes. John Simm has first crack at the title in a Paul Miller production in the refurbished Sheffield Crucible. Then Rory Kinnear takes on the moody Dane, with Clare Higgins as Gertrude, directed by Nicholas Hytner at the National. Some people, recalling the very recent David Tennant-Jude Law clash, resent this duplication. I say: "Bring it on." Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (0114-249 6000), from September; Olivier theatre, London SE1 (020-7452 3000), from October.


Just in time for the general election, Laura Wade's new play deals with a group of Oxford hearties, all members of an elite student dining society. They hunt, booze, take illegal substances (possibly) and are, it seems, destined to rule over us. It's good to see Wade, who made a big impact with Breathing Corpses in 2005, resurrecting the class war in a topical Court production, directed by Lyndsey Turner. Royal Court, London SW1 (020-7565 5000), 9 April-22 May.

Oh! What a Lovely War

Joan Littlewood's timeless musical satire on the first world war gets its first major post-Iraq outing, with directors Erica Whyman and Sam Kenyon leading the troops over the top. Northern Stage, Newcastle (0191-230 5151), 6 March-27 March. Then touring.

The Persians

A Brecon military range becomes the setting for a site-responsive revival of Aeschylus's great play about war and defeat. Mike Pearson, who has been using found spaces with his legendary company Brith Gof long before it became fashionable, directs. Cilieni Village, Powys, Wales (01874 611622), 11-21 August.


Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

Dynamic reconstruction of the famous 1930s theatre. New work includes a 1,030-seat modern take on a 17th-century courtyard stage, a revamped art deco foyer, a rooftop restaurant and a bridging tower linking old and new spaces. November.

Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany

Six rigorously geometrical new wings parade around four urban courtyards in this major extension by David Chipperfield of a fine museum devoted to 19th and 20th-century French and German art. The model of a modern building for a (hopefully) less wilfully ostentatious era. April.

Rolex Learning Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland

This exquisite Swiss building – a single, undulating floor boasting lake and mountain views – is a coming of age for Tokyo's Sanaa, designers of the 2009 Serpentine Pavilion. A science research centre that's as much landscape as architecture. February.


Mad Men

The immaculately dressed alcoholic misogynists of the Sterling Cooper ad agency return to alternately horrify and entrance us. Nine months on, how is the company's merger with a London firm working out for boss Don, copywriter Peggy and co? And what state is Don's estranged wife Betty in? BBC4, from 27 January.


Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy's new musical comedy-drama about a high-school choir (the "glee club" of the title) is huge in the US. The club's show tunes and chart hits have sold millions, while viewers and critics have embraced the cast of engaging misfits (Murphy has a sharp eye for school dynamics, as fans of his shortlived cheerleader show Popular will recall). E4, from 11 January.


This two-part slice of 1980s nostalgia, based on Martin Amis's novel, should offer a thought-provoking look at the era of flash cash and queasy living. Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shawn of the Dead) stars as anti-hero John Self in a cast that includes Mad Men's Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). BBC2, spring.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

Maxine Peake (Shameless, Criminal Justice) plays a lesbian who keeps a coded journal of her love-life in a 19th-century Yorkshire village. Everything about this 90-minute drama screams "record", "hit" and "award-winning". BBC2, March/April.


Furtive hotel sex; frantic muffin-baking; guilty pinot grigio guzzling. This soapy drama about four Bristol thirtysomething women returns for a third series with some inspired new casting: Joanna Lumley joins as the bossy mother of muddle-headed doctor Katie, played by Sarah Parish. BBC1, late 2010.

Classical and opera

Mahler in Manchester

The most innovative celebration of Gustav Mahler's 150th birthday you'll hear all year: the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic's cycle of his symphonies, in which each symphony is paired with a new piece from an international line-up of composers, from Austrian surrealist Kurt Schwertsik to Parisian organist Olivier Latry. ­ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (0161-907 9000), 16 January-5 June.

Placido sings Handel

Whoever thought you'd see this at Covent Garden? Placido Domingo takes the composer's greatest tenor role, Bajazet, in Tamerlano, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the pit. Mouth-watering. Royal Opera House, London WC2 (020-7304 4000), 5-20 March.

Elegy for Young Lovers

English National Opera continues its part-time residency at the Young Vic with Hans Werner Henze's 1961 opera on crazed creative amorality in the Alps, with a libretto by WH Auden, and a production directed by Fiona Shaw. The only chance to see Henze, the greatest living opera composer, in the theatre in the UK this year. Young Vic, London SE1 (020-7922 2922), 24 April-8 May.

WNO's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

The operatic role of the year: Bryn Terfel sings Hans Sachs for the first time in Wagner's Meistersinger. It's a part he should play even more convincingly than the Wotan he sang in Covent Garden's Ring. This new staging by Richard Jones could be the one that cracks Wagner's complex comedy. Welsh National Opera, Cardiff (08700 40 2000), 19 June-10 July.

Total Immersion: Wolfgang Rihm

No composer alive has written as much music as Wolfgang Rihm; yet no major figure in new music is as shamingly unfamiliar to British audiences. With this two-day event, part of its Total Immersion series, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with the help of the London Sinfonietta and the Arditti Quartet, put that right. Barbican, London EC2 (020-7638 8891), 12-13 March.


Dara O'Briain

From Three Men in a Boat to one man on a stage, TV favourite O'Briain takes to the nation's concert halls for a 64-date tour. A civilised and smart standup long before TV fame came calling, this is the Mock the Week anchorman's first tour in two years. Regent, Stoke (0844 871 7649), 1 March. Then touring.

Laura Solon

With her latest show, Rabbit Faced Story Soup, the winner of the last-ever Perrier award has turned her talent for creating comic characters into a comedy play about an ailing publishing house and its missing star novelist. Now she's taking it on a national tour. Junction, Cambridge (01223 511 511), 29 January. Then touring.

Pappy's Fun Club

The fast-rising young quartet take to the road with their Edinburgh 2009 hit show World Record Attempt: 200 Sketches in an Hour. It's less Fast Show, more nonsense cabaret, supplying music, anarchy and good cheer. Komedia, Brighton (0845 293 8480), 21 January. Then touring.

Chosen by Judith Mackrell, Michael Billington, Caroline Sullivan, Lyn Gardner, Jonathan Glancey, Peter Bradshaw, Adrian Searle, John Fordham, Robin Denselow, Brian Logan and Tim Lusher © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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