A busy December has kept us disturbingly negligent from ranking the top players in the movie industry, but that doesn't mean Hollywood has gone silent.  In fact, even with half the industry snowed in somewhere, trying to get through their awards season screener pile or trying to figure out New Year's plans, the chatter continues via all digital means.  And one of the biggest conversation starters has been the unexpected box office strength of the Coen Bros. "True Grit."

Polling and pedigree had most assuming a very good holiday frame for the new adaptation of Charles Portis' novel, but not $55.6 million in just eight blizzard filled days.  Nor was the sight of teenage boys choosing "Grit" over repeated viewings of "Tron Legacy" or the Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon adventure challenging "Little Fockers" for the top spot every day of the week.  The Western has strong reviews and the box office reaction has actually pumped up some speculation about the picture's Oscar chances (although not landing a pesky SAG ensemble nomination doesn't help).  Moreover, with a reported budget of just $35 million, "Grit" could make a tidy profit for Paramount before it even enters its home entertainment window.  Happy Holidays for the Melrose studio indeed.

Meanwhile, a traditionally slow news week was awoken by noise that Jeremy Renner will make a cameo as Hawkeye in this May's "Thor" and the reported break that Demi Lovato would play The Wasp in "The Avengers" turned out to be quite false.  But, Marvel is looking for another female character to join the film (can we suggest Ms. Marvel?).  Needless to say, these are just more example of how "The Avengers" has replaced "The Hobbit" and "Twilight" as a 365-day a year news source and conversation starter in Hollywood.  Of course, when half the town is appearing or cameoing in one of Marvel's pictures, it's hard to avoid.

Here's the last rankings of 2010.  

Dec. 30, 2011

1. "True Grit"
America loves Rooster! (Or Jeff Bridges, same difference)

2. "The Avengers"
No, Demi Lamato, you'e not playing the Wasp, but Jeremy Renner appears to have a cameo as Hawkeye in studio stablemate "Thor" this May.

3. "Black Swan"
The movie is a box office sensation, but if Natalie Portman and her fiance (a choreographer on the film) name her first child Nina they've officially crossed the line!

4. Academy Awards (last ranked at no. 15)
You didn't miss that James Franco and Anne Hathaway are hosting this year did you?  The more we think about it, the more excited we're getting for the big show and more for Franco now than Hathaway.

5. "The Hangover, Part. II" (not ranked)
The anticipated comedy sequel makes the list for the worst reason: a stuntman got severely hurt.  No, not so funny.

6. "The King's Speech"
Anybody notice how well the Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush drama is doing in only limited and now 700 theaters? Hello?  Media? Hello?

7. "The Social Network" (not ranked)
Too many top ten lists to mention and another round of marketing dominating LA as the DVD is set for release and the film's Oscar strategists go in for the kill.

8. Golden Globes (last ranked no. 5)
With lawsuits looming, can the HFPA, NBC and Dick Clark Productions all be one happy family for the big January show?  It appears not.

9. "Tron Legacy" (last ranked at no. 7)
It crossed the $100 million mark this week, but is it a real franchise starter?  We're guessing a minimum of $175 million domestic to greenlight a sequel.

10. "Spider-Man" (last ranked at no. 8)
Don't worry true believers, Julie Taymor is not directing the new movie (Marc Webb is).  She is, however, seemingly watching her career crash and burn with the "Spidey" Broadway music.

11. Sundance Film Festival (not ranked)
Thank god for the premiere slate.  Without KStew, J.T., U2, Mariah Carey or Al Gore heading to Park City this year, we were afraid Elmo was going to be the only fun star to get over hyped about.

12. "Harry Potter" (last ranked at no. 3)
No, the second to last chapter didn't hit the $300 million mark as expected, but according to one poll the final flick is the most anticipated film of the year.

13. "Green Lantern" (last ranked at no. 4)
Ever wonder what Blake Lively, who plays Carol Farris in the potential blockbuster, looks like as a brunette?  Now you know.

14. MGM (not ranked)
Wait until "The Zookeeper" is a smash hit for co-financier Columbia Pictures next summer.  People will be saying "Mary Parent's development slate really had something going until the bottom fell out."

15. "Blue Valentine"
Amazing reviews and R-rating (whew) leads to strong per screen for mid week opening.  Gosling and Williams are those underdog kids trying to land dual Oscar nods in the best actor and best actress races respectively.

Dropping like a rock…

*"Gulliver's Travels"
Attention Jack Black, this is your career calling.   Stop with the family films.  You need something daring and wild again.  Hurry, before you hit 45!

What do you think of this week's rankings?

 

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