I used to prepare an annual Worst 10 Movies of the Year list, but now studios hide so many films from critics (as in they don't screen ones they believe will generate overwhelmingly negative reviews) so creating a Worst of list just doesn't seem right anymore. So instead of pulling together some of the year's worst films, I've put together this Best of/Worst of list covering different topics but all recognizing films released in theaters in 2012.
Without further ado, here are movies that distinguished themselves from the pack:
- Best ensembles: Perks of Being a Wallflower, Argo, Pitch Perfect, Seven Psychopaths, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Hunger Games. Look no further than these six films for examples of perfect casting.
- The beginning of franchises: The Hunger Games kicked off the film series based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novels by delivering a movie that was better than fans could have hoped for. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which meandered its way through a 3 hour running time and has us worried about the next two Hobbit films.
- And the end of franchises: The Dark Knight Rises sent Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy out with a bang, delivering a film that answered questions while moving the story forward. I'll miss visiting Gotham and I'm sorry to see the end come to the Nolan/Bale Batman era. And while I'm not sorry to be saying goodbye to the Twilight franchise, director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg were finally able to let go of the restrictions of having to bring Stephenie Meyer's sparkling teen vampire love story to life exactly as plotted out in her books and instead veered away from the final book in spectacular fashion with Breaking Dawn Part 2. Breaking Dawn Part 2 left me wondering what the film series would have been like if Rosenberg hadn't been constrained by the demands of being faithful to the first three books of Meyer's bestselling series.
- Most underwhelming: Lincoln, The Master, and Life of Pi. These three movies are in the battle for year-end awards, but I'm not boarding their bandwagons.
- Movies you should have seen but probably missed out on: Celeste and Jesse Forever, Take This Waltz, Smashed, Starlet, and Butter. None of these earned the audience they deserved, but fortunately you'll be able to discover them on DVD.
- The old bait-and-switch: Magic Mike. We were promised lots of naked males and, yes, the dancing/stripping was fun for all, however the film got sidetracked and turned out not to be nearly as entertaining - or risque - as advertised. What a shame, and what a waste of some serious eye candy.
- Best bromance of 2012: Ted. Mark Wahlberg and a foul-mouthed stuffed teddy bear have better onscreen chemistry than all the other movie buddies of 2012.
- Worst ongoing decision by studios: Not to screen horror films for critics. Seriously, not all of us give automatic bad grades to films of the genre.
More of the Best of 2012
(Poster © CBS Films)