‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: What To Watch While You Wait

‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: What To Watch While You Wait

Aug 10, 2011

Josh Hutcherson as PeetaThe Hunger Games may have gone without a Hall H panel at San Diego Comic Con this year, but not only did it make an impact on the event with a booth on the convention floor, Lionsgate’s been able to maintain a bit of a ripple effect, keeping the film in the spotlight with the help of Entertainment Weekly. Like with Jennifer Lawrence, EW had the honor of debuting both Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) on the cover of their August 5th issue as well as some exclusive stills and behind-the-scenes photos inside. Click here to catch the cover as well as the general consensus on the image, and here to see three of the photos from inside, two of which are The Hunger Games’ first official stills.

Just the other day, we tracked down official still #3 and #4. While they don’t offer too much more in terms of details on the costume and set design, they do provide up close and personal looks at Katniss and Peeta in the arena. You can see those and read about the announcement of Catching Fire’s November 22nd, 2013 release date right here.

In terms of unofficial photos, one popped up online that’s of interest: an image of some extras killing time before shooting a scene in the Capitol. Nailing the looks of the District 12 residents and the Hunger Games tributes are one thing, but the costume design for Capitol folk is undoubtedly a bigger challenge. Crazy hairstyles, dyed skin, odd piercings, outlandish makeup – I’d like to bet designer Judianna Makovsky is having a field day. Thanks to the Charlotte Observer we have an early taste of what she’s working on via a photo snapped while a small group of extras headed into the Duke Energy building for filming. It’s hard to pass judgment just yet as these actors are clearly not big-screen ready, but it seems as though Makovsky is heading in the right direction.

Speaking of direction, as reported by The Playlist, Gary Ross acquired quite the second unit director for this production. Whereas on most big-budget sets, the #2 man behind the lens gets litte to no attention, in the case of The Hunger Games, it’s quite different because Ross’ second unit director is none other than Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh. We could look back at Soderbergh’s body of work and pick pieces showing why he’s right or wrong for the job, but ultimately he’s there to do Ross’ bidding and in that sense, he seems absolutely perfect. Not only are they friends, but they’ve got a working relationship, too, having collaborated on Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, amongst other projects. If you’re interested in getting a feel for the dynamic between the two, it’s worth tracking down the Seabiscuit DVD to check out the commentary, which the duo did together. It’s also worth a mention that Soderbergh also has a longstanding relationship with production designer Philip Messina having worked on a number of films together.

Steven Soderbergh

Before wrapping up this edition’s news segment, there are two very important announcements to make. First off, be sure to catch yours truly on the next episode of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat. The show airs live on Monday, August 15th at 10pm ET/7pm PST. Second, I’d like to send out a huge thank you to all of you who submitted suggestions as part of The Hunger Games Comic Con giveaway. Congratulations to Blake Deemer for submitting the winning entry and snagging the coveted Mockingjay pin. Again, thank you all for your submissions and know that I plan to do everything in my power to fulfill each request!

The Fan Sites Weigh In – What To Watch While You Wait For The Hunger Games

Sure we’ve got just over seven months to go until The Hunger Games finally hits theaters, but the closer we get, the slower time seems to pass. Need something to hold you over until March 23rd, 2012? I doubt this list will take you that far, but it’ll certainly assuage the hunger pains for a bit. With the help of Down With The Capitol, HG Girl on Fire, Hunger Games Fireside Chat, The Hob and Hunger Games Network, I bring you a guide to worthy watches starring The Hunger Games cast.

Orphan Poster

Isabelle Fuhrman – Clove - Orphan
Sure, Orphan has its issues, but for those of you who enjoy some creepy suspense (with a hint of melodrama), it’s a good watch. The main reason I’m recommending this one is to get a taste of what The Hunger Games’ Clove, Isabelle Fuhrman, is capable of. Just 10-years-old when the film was in production, this is an incredible accomplishment for Fuhrman and, ultimately, it's what put her on the map. She stars as a young Russian orphan, adopted by a loving family. Too bad for them, little Esther isn’t as innocent as she seems. To this day, Fuhrman’s casting in The Hunger Games is my favorite selection, as thanks to her performance in Orphan, I’m confident she can bring District 2’s Clove to life with the appropriate dose of determination and ferocity.
(Perri of Movies.com)

Winter's Bone Poster
Jennifer Lawrence – Katniss Everdeen – Winter’s Bone
If you want to know why Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for the role of Katniss you need only look to her portrayal of Ree Dolly in Winter's Bone. Both Katniss and Ree must take care of their siblings and mother from a young age, and both fiercely protect their families. Despite incredible odds neither heroine backs down from the challenges they face and continue to fight even when they’re beaten down. Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Ree and for good reason; she is tough as nails in this part, she's not afraid to get dirty, even going as far as to learn how to skin a squirrel, and she proves she can handle anything that’s thrown her way. She doesn't just portray the character; she becomes the character before your eyes.  From her first scene in Winter's BoneHunger Games fans will look at Lawrence and know she was the right choice to step into the arena as Katniss.
(Theresa of Down With The Capitol)
The Devil Wears Prada Poster
Stanley Tucci – Caesar Flickerman - The Devil Wears Prada
If you overlook the absence of a teenage death match, The Devil Wears Prada shares a striking number of themes with The Hunger Games: bizarre fashion, a tyrannical ruler (Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep), and a spunky brunette just trying to survive (Andy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway). Stanley Tucci, who plays Nigel, the art director for Runway magazine, doesn’t have a large part, but, much like his character in The Hunger Games, Caesar Flickerman, Tucci takes on the role of unconventional ally. This film is absolute proof of Tucci’s ability to commit completely to a (relatively) outlandish character without losing the heart in his bizarre façade, a quality that will definitely come in handy when it is time to don some blue lipstick and banter with kids marked for death.
(Shylah of Down With The Capitol)
Precious Poster
Lenny Kravitz – Cinna - Precious
Much has been said about the casting of Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. His only acting credit is in the film Precious, the story of a young woman who’s endured extreme hardships in her life. Kravitz plays Nurse John who befriends Precious, becoming the only positive male in her life.  While Kravitz’s role in the movie is brief, he exudes a quiet sense of self-confidence and inner peacefulness while making a strong connection with the female lead in the movie. Sound familiar? In this performance, I see glimpses of what I envision to be some of Cinna’s key personality traits and think Kravitz will ultimately do the role justice.
(Sheila or HG Girl on Fire)
Doc Hollywood Poster
Woody Harrelson – Haymitch Abernathy – Doc Hollywood
Woody Harrelson is commonly known for playing Woody in Cheers or for his roles in White Men Can't Jump and Natural Born Killers. However, my favorite Harrelson role has got to be Hank in Doc Hollywood in which he’s hysterical as an insurance salesman who is very passionate about his job. It's a great comedic role for Harrelson and so entertaining! This role, in additional to all of Harrelson’s other works, shows his amazing range as an actor, which demonstrates how great he will be in the role of Haymitch. Throughout the series, Haymitch is required to be gruff, mean, funny and even sympathetic at times. Harrelson’s proven ability to take on diverse roles will enable him to bring the multilayered role of Haymitch to life on the big screen!
(Angie of HG Girl on Fire)
Pride & Prejudice Poster
Donald Sutherland – President Snow – Pride and Prejudice
Many prefer the BBC mini-series, but the 2005 shorter adaptation is a personal favorite. Donald Sutherland plays the Bennett patriarch, a father of five young ladies, and it's his job to get them married off. What of President Snow will you see in Mr. Bennett? Well, absolutely nothing. In fact, Sutherland is such an impressive actor, in one film he can play a loving pushover of a father in the 19th century English countryside, worrying about taking care of his family, and in the next he can manipulate and oppress an entire country through violence and deprivation in a dystopian society. So, while I can't recommend Pride and Prejudice to prep you to see Sutherland as Snow (I'm not sure any role he's done is quite that sinister), I can recommend it so his moral depravity might all the more blow you away in The Hunger Games.
Lindsay HG Girl on Fire)
Colombiana Poster
Amandla Stenberg – Rue – Colombiana
For those of you who want to get a preview of 12-year-old Amandla Stenberg’s adorableness and acting talent before she breaks our hearts as Rue next March, be sure to see the new Luc Besson film, Colombiana, when it opens on August 26th. Directed by Olivier Megaton and starring Zoe Saldana and Michael Vartan, Colombiana features Stenberg as the younger version of Saldana’s character, Cataleya Restrepo. While this may be Stenberg’s first film role, it certainly isn’t a lightweight one: as a child, Restrepo witnesses the murder of her parents and, driven by vengeance, grows up to become a professional hitwoman. Despite her age, Stenberg clearly isn’t afraid to sink her teeth into dark, meaty roles, which makes me confident that she’ll fill Rue with all the depth and tragic beauty that the part requires.
(Savanna of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat)
Ever After Poster Toby Jones - Claudius Templesmith - Ever After
Of all the dynamic roles Toby Jones has tackled in his career - ranging from the munchkin-esque to the downright creepy - perhaps his most unheralded performance came in Ever After. Despite limited screen time, he plays the easily duped Royal Page with a brilliant display of nuanced eyebrow lifts and nose curls, turning a minor character into someone memorable. Expect to leave The Hunger Games with a similar impression, as the lovable voice of Dobby electrifies the arena with the classic line: "May the odds be ever in your favor." With Jones populating Claudius Templesmith's miniscule - but impressionable - persona, the odds are ever more in Lionsgate's favor, and thus, the fans' as well. You can also see Jones displaying his most chilling behavior in theaters in Captain America.
(Adam of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat)
The Kids Are All Right Poster
Josh Hutcherson – Peeta Mellark – The Kids Are All Right
If you've seen The Kids Are All Right, it's pretty apparent from the moment Josh Hutcherson hits the screen that he has something so integral to Peeta's character: likability. Playing Laser, a teenager dealing with his sperm donor father's sudden entrance into his life, you can't help but hang onto Josh's every word and every facial expression - and that's certainly one of Peeta's strengths. Ultimately, Laser and Peeta are both trying to figure out where they belong in their world, how they fit in with friends and family, and Josh brings the subtlety, vulnerability, and charisma that has us rooting for these two boys to find that.
(Michelle of The Hob)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno Poster
Elizabeth Banks - Effie Trinket - Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith always provokes a strong reaction from his fans and detractors, but he does have a great eye for talent. Elizabeth Banks shows how versatile an actress she is in this broken love story between two old friends who find love through poverty and adversity. Banks brings an energy and intelligence to Miri whom, similar to Effie, starts out hating her job, but through a character arc, learns to embrace the world around her. I suspect she’ll be a very fierce Effie, as Banks has the ability to embody the comedy of Effie and the drama of the games.
(Lee of The Hob)
The Last Song Poster
Liam Hemsworth – Gale Hawthorne – The Last Song
There isn't any other substantial acting material you'll see Liam Hemsworth in before The Hunger Games - although he's lined up some amazing projects including Arabian Nights and AWOL. For now, bear with the mushy Nicholas Sparks story, The Last Song. It’s a coming-of-age drama about a rebellious teen named Ronnie played by Miley Cyrus. Hemsworth, as Will, helps Ronnie along the way. Some tender moments between the two and convincing acting shows Hemsworth can handle both the soft and brutal sides of Gale Hawthorne with ease. The movie about family, first love, second chances and reconciliation has its moments, and some nice cinematography. It was this movie that had me pro-Hemsworth in The Hunger Games.
(Tanvi of Hunger Games Network)


The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 225 days until release.

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