As we close the book on the second year of a new decade it’s hard not too look back on 2011 in Hollywood with a little bit of a worried expression. While your feelings may vary on how the year turned out for movies overall, I’ve seen very few proclamations that 2011 was “the best year for movies since XXXX.*”Along with the (at best) “okay” release slate, there was a general sense of confusion as VOD reshaped the landscape for genre indie release (and began obfuscating B.O. numbers even more), while traditionally platforming indies couldn’t found it harder than ever to find a foothold, major studio efforts flopped, movies based on brands took an even higher share of the success, and studios pulled the plug on projects with no regard for the clout of the people involved.

It was a rough year in a lot of ways, and the masters of Hollywood pessimism at Deadline have recently run an extensive recapitulation focused on the follies of the film industry in 2011. Written by the very sharp Mike Flemming, the piece systematically checks off all of the major controversies and shocks of the year. A few highlights:

…it’s hard to blame Hollywood’s slavish devotion to sequels, prequels, reboots, and brands. Especially when 2011′s top seven grossing films of the year were sequels  — Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, The Hangover II, Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, Fast 5, and Cars 2. The next three on the list were brands — Marvel’s Thor, Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Marvel’s Captain America

…for all but the biggest stars and their dealmakers, it has made an already hard job much more difficult. First dollar gross deals are a distant memory, and agents tell me that now. So is the system where supporting players establish a quote from previous studio jobs. Now studios assemble lists starting at the top and then go down until they find the actor who’ll work for the discount price allotted for the role. The pendulum swing of leverage away from talent isn’t helped by the fact that studios no longer trust the star system…

…writer reps tell me that a mindset of one-step deals and the demeaning practice of sweepstakes pitching (where scribes must prepare ideas to win a job) has become commonplace. There is no shortage of competition for those gigs because good jobs are harder to find….

…shortening theatrical windows and even issuing major movies day and date in theaters and home viewing at premium price points seems inevitable, but not when major theater chains assume an over-my-dead-body position…

The piece goes into much more detail, and I would encourage you to read it and let it stew in your chewer mind. To them, I’d add a few things to think about as well…

• Has the power of the film blogosphere (forgive the term) to act as a driver of buzz completely vanished? One need only look at the simple case-study of Attack The Block to say “yes.” Did that power ever exist at all for the film sites and their readers? If it did, has it simply been diluted by the water-cooler conversation moving onto Facebook and Twitter, where the oceanic waves of public opinion move with a power and speed all their own?

• Has this been a year of gasping at cinematic straws? While the reactions have certainly been divided to some extent, do films like Dragon Tattoo, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, and even films like Melancholia and War Horse truly represent the best work of many of the master filmmakers that put out releases this year? Will these efforts stand the test of time and sit high among their respective oeuvres in twenty years? Or has this been a year of minor successes made to look better for how shitty a year it was generally?

• How does the current state of Hollywood reflect the current state of the economy and the tumultuous political culture? Do you expect to see the country’s economic downturn grow as a common theme/backdrop in film?

• Will a slew of hugely anticipated films like The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers on the way, might we see audiences reinvigorated a bit? Or are we just cruising for a series of disappointment, and a crushing disillusionment to follow?

• With all this out in the air, what are you hoping you do see from movies in 2012?

So with all these thoughts in mind, and the Deadline piece as a jumping off point…

I want to hear your thoughts.

Many sites (including CHUD in the past) have open threads or comment columns, but few have the relative might of the chewer brain-trust. So, I’d like to see you tackle any of these questions or trains of thought that you’d like with diatribes, rants, filibusters, or quick thought-farts all welcome.

I think it would be great to have a robust conversation in the comments below, but we also have the message boards still going strong (the post-releases during the fall prestige season have been great).

Also, you can always hit me directly on twitter.

You don’t have a voice unless you use it, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for particularly interesting and insightful posts to highlight, so don’t be shy…

*To be fair, I have seen one or two very good critics say exactly that, but it’s still a rare sentiment.