Because there’s a part of all of us that never really escaped high school — I have this thing for superlatives. (Cutest Couple, Prettiest Eyes, Most Likely to Have A Baby in a Trailer, etc.) I had only planned to focus on my assigned horror movies — like I did last year with science fiction movies — but because I failed so godamned miserably, I have decided to extend these awards to any movie that meets these two conditions:
A. I saw it for the first time this year, regardless of when the movie was actually made.
B. I wrote a review of it.
And so . . . here are your winners. (Um, there are a lot of them. I had fun.)
DISCLAIMER: I’ve tried to keep the spoilers fairly light, but there are a few in there, so, sorry.
BEST JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT:
John Blake – The Dark Knight Rises
I came close to choosing Gordon-Levitt’s work in Looper, considering how uncanny his mimicry of Bruce Willis really was, but ultimately I decided that his simmering rage and ability to almost sell me on some of the worst Heart Knowledge I’ve ever seen made John Blake JGL’s best role of the year.
Speaking of which . . .
WORST HEART KNOWLEDGE:
“Right when I saw you, I knew who you really were. I’d seen that look on your face before. It was the same one I taught myself.” – The Dark Knight Rises
It’s probably self-evident, but since I don’t believe I’ve ever bothered to actually write it out — Heart Knowledge is when a character just KNOWS something because he or she FEELS it, and never mind the fact that they have no reason to actually know it. Admittedly, this particular example is technically Eye Knowledge, but I consider EK a subset of HK, and considering it’s so particularly ridiculous . . . I feel pretty confident with this one. John Blake identifying with Bruce Wayne, sure. John Blake seeing BATMAN in Bruce’s eyes? Please.
(I think this scene especially pisses me off because — excepting the heart knowledge — it’s a really good scene, so this moment of stupid drives me up the fucking wall. Why, Nolan, why? You’re so much smarter than this!)
BEST UTTERLY RIDICULOUS TALENT:
Camouflage Frosting – The Hunger Games
I mean, seriously. Why the HELL didn’t I become a cake decorator? Dammit.
Biggz – Attack the Block
Some of you might be thinking Peeta deserves this award, but despite his cake decorating mastery, he still needs Katniss to save his ass by (possibly?) pretending to love him. Biggz, on the other hand, survives the alien attack by spending most of the movie hidden in a dumpster . . . AND GOD BLESS HIM FOR IT.
I salute you, Biggz. You are my hero.
WORST WASTE OF AN ACTOR’S CONSIDERABLE TALENT:
Brendan Gleeson – The Raven
Mr. Gleeson, you are so much better than this movie. You’re certainly better than this thankless, one-dimensional part. I know everyone needs money, but you can get better work than this. Hell, you can even get better campy horror movie work than this. My hand to God, you can.
Ving Rhames – Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol
I had a couple of runners-up here: Sigourney Weaver was an awesome surprise in Cabin in the Woods — hey, I said there would be light spoilers — and casting Dee Wallace was just the icing on the 80’s homage cake that was The House of the Devil.
But this bit where Rhames popped up in MI4 just completely cracked me up. I desperately needed someone to mock Ethan Hunt for saying, “Mission . . . accomplished!” and Rhames did! Good on you, Mr. Rhames.
BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT:
I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so hard in theater as I laughed at this. Hulk, I love you. Hiddleston, I love you too.
Buried alive – The Serpent and the Rainbow
Bill Pullman ends up in a coffin a couple of times in this movie, although the picture above — while creepy in its own right — doesn’t actually show the scene I’m talking about. No, the creepiest moment in all the movies I watched this year was when Bill Pullman, dosed with paralytic voodoo powder, is buried alive with a godamn tarantula crawling over his face.
Considering that I’m both mildly claustrophobic and arachnophobic . . . Jesusfuck.
Sudden Dismemberment – Looper
The Serpent and the Rainbow came close — I’m a girl, and even I hurt a little watching Bill Pullman get a giant ass nail hammered through his scrotum — but this scene from Looper totally had me squirming in my seat. (Which, awesome.) Point is, if you come back into the past when people want to kill you, make absolutely sure that your younger self gets the fuck out of dodge too. Otherwise, when he gets captured and people start cutting pieces off him — well, guess what just happened to your fingers. And your feet. And your tongue.
John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe – The Raven
Now, there were a lot of contenders for this award: Logan Lehrman was a spectacularly bad d’Artagnan (The Three Musketeers), Ben Affleck was ridiculous as an ex-FBI agent turned sheriff (Phantoms), and Tara Reid played a scientist (Alone in the Dark) so, you know, HA. And if you’re thinking, “Who could ever be worse than Tara Reid as scientist,” well, you’re right. But despite the obvious absurdity of that casting, I still went with John Cusack here for a few reasons:
1. Casting Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in the first place was almost as absurd as casting Reid as a scientist. While he’s clearly a much better actor, Cusack has a certain range, and that range seems pretty limited to this century. When I first heard about Cusack playing Poe solving crime, I was like, oh no.
2. Alone in the Dark is a Uwe Boll film. No one expects Uwe Boll to make good decisions.
3. John Cusack’s role was more important than Tara Reid’s. If Alone in the Dark hadn’t been so terrible in every single aspect, it could have at least somewhat overcome Tara Reid’s awful performance, because really, she’s just the love interest and not that crucial to the rest of the film. It’s a lot harder to overcome the ridiculously hammy performance of your chief protagonist than it is to ignore the girl that’s clearly only there for eye candy.
David Straitharn as Edward R. Murrow – Good Night, and Good Luck
This could have easily gone to a couple of superheroes (or antiheroes) actually — Anne Hathaway surprised everyone by her sheer awesomeness as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Returns, and Mark Ruffalo’s sharp, fidgety Bruce Banner made me care about a character that (prior to watching The Avengers) I didn’t give a shit about — but ultimately, I had to give it to David Straitharn as Edward R. Murrow. It’s sometimes hard to cast actors to play real-life people, but George Clooney made a smart choice here, and Mr. Straitharn earned his Best Actor nod. His presence and line deliveries are just excellent.
BEST DYNAMIC DUO:
Sitterson and Hadley – The Cabin in the Woods
Because these guys owned this movie. I mean, the movie’s great anyway — good performances by everyone involved, awesome story, terrific ending — but Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford cracked me up so hard here. (They were also on the short list for best casting.) They’re terrific actors, and if there was some kind of, I don’t know, prequel spinoff with them in it? I’d watch it in a heartbeat. So much love for these two.
Richard – Chronicle
He’s an abusive alcoholic. He blames his kid, Andrew, for his wife dying alone. And he pretty much single-handedly turns Andrew evil — which, amusingly, is its own superlative — Best Example of How Awful Parents Turn Their Kids Crazy. So, yeah. Richard (Michael Kelly) wins both of these.
(Poor Michael Kelly. He’s in a long list of actors who seem destined to always play The Schmuck. I wonder what that does to a person’s self-esteem, in the long run.)
Loki – The Avengers
There are lots of ways to play a villain — creepy, sociopathic, sympathetic — but evil grandstanding is actually pretty hard to pull off right. There’s a balance you have to hit between being funny and just being ridiculous. Tom Hiddleston hits that balance just right. He’s so much fun as Loki, and he deserves a lot of the credit for making that character as awesome as he is.
Perret – Tango and Cash
Of course, on the other side of over-the-top is Jack Palance and his mouse-fondling, scene-chewing performance in Tango & Cash. Perret is more annoying than villainous, and I spent most of the movie wanting to slap him. Especially when he shows up at the prison to torture Tango and Cash personally. Other than that whole scene just being ridiculous — when will villains learn that they have henchmen for a reason?! Honestly.
Peeta – The Hunger Games
There was a lot of bad hair this year. Logan Lehrman’s hair in The Three Musketeers? Pretty frightening. Tom Hardy in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? Yeah, some men aren’t meant to be blond. But no one proved that quite as well as Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games. I mean, good God. Just look at it. I feel sorry for this poor kid. (I mean, not a lot. He has a flourishing film career and probably a shitload of money. Still. At least I don’t have hideously bleached eyebrows.)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION:
Lord Rochester’s Purple Hat – Plunkett & Macleane
There were some other alternatives — Wes Bentley’s beard in The Hunger Games is pretty impressive, and if I could afford a replica of Loki’s helmet, I’d buy it in a heartbeat — but this shade of purple is so ridiculously bold that only Alan Cumming could pull it off, and boy, does he. God, I love him in that movie.
Caleb and Mae – Near Dark
Seriously, let me sum this up:
Caleb: You’re so hot I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re clearly crazy and refuse to take you home until you make out with me.
Mae: Well, you’re so hot that I’ll turn you into a vampire against your will and let my psycho hillbilly vampire family kidnap you. Oh, and they’ll kill you if you don’t become a psycho hillbilly vampire yourself fast enough.
Caleb: Well, somehow this behavior inexplicably makes me love you entirely, so I’ll abandon my own family just to be close to you.
Oh yes. This is love.
Never-Ending Text Scroll – Alone in the Dark
Friday the 13th, Part III was pretty bad — to catch you up on the events of the last film, they just started with a ten minute clip of the last movie with no kind of narrative framing device at all — but nothing quite beats this text scroll that just goes on and on and on. I have never before seen a text scroll that has lasted anywhere near this long. And it still didn’t tell you everything you needed to know because Christian Slater had a terrible voiceover too!
Bill Pullman – The Serpent and the Rainbow
As bad as Christian Slater’s voiceover is, though, Bill Pullman gives Kevin Costner a run for his money for Flattest Delivery Ever in The Serpent and the Rainbow. His actual performance in the movie itself is fine, but that voiceover, man . . . no inflection, none of any kind whatsoever. And at some points — like when you’re finding dead, maggoty pilots, talking about evil supernatural forces, or recounting your own genital torture — you probably shouldn’t sound like you’re reciting a fucking grocery list.
MOST RIDICULOUS TAGLINE:
“Beware the stare that will paralyze the will of the world” – Village of the Damned
“Titans . . . will . . . clash!” will always be my very favorite tagline, of course, but this one’s pretty good too. (Runner Up? “You’ve made it through Halloween. Now try and survive Christmas.” – Silent Night, Deadly Night.)
Becoming a Werewolf – Dog Soldiers
How much control do you have when you turn into a werewolf? A couple of theories:
“Maybe it’s like when you need to take a piss or something. I don’t know. When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s more like needing a shite. Just cause you need one doesn’t mean you drop your kegs and pinch one off.”
I almost picked Hans Zimmer’s score for The Dark Knight Rises, but ultimately I had to go with the weirdness that is Suspiria’s soundtrack. I probably wouldn’t listen to most of these songs on their own, but the score is just such an integral part of the movie, and the theme song is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Suspiria.
Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol
I know — some of you are freaking out right now. “You picked Mission Impossible IV over The Dark Knight FUCKING RISES!” And yes, I did. Because as much as I enjoyed TDKR (or TDKFR), it definitely had a few problems. And while MI IV might not have been as ambitious of a film, it was an extremely solid, completely entertaining action movie that made the series worth watching again. God love Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner.
BEST WTF MOVIE:
This is one of the craziest damn movies I’ve ever seen, but I totally loved it against all expectation. And I can’t really tell you why I loved it without going into spoilers, but this fast-talking, genre-mashing, high school horror comedy defies all logic by being totally batshit insane and also, somehow, making sense. I figured it was a shoe-in for being the weirdest thing I would see all year, but then I saw this . . .
WORST WTF MOVIE:
I really wanted to like this one — parts of it were actually pretty funny — but this bizarre series of vignettes didn’t come together for me at all, and the ending made so little sense, even Stanley Kubrick wanted to know what the fuck was going on.
BEST MOVIE ABOUT EVIL SANTA:
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Personally, I love that I saw more than one movie about Evil Santa Claus this year. Rare Exports was easily the superior film. It’s also just a very fun movie with a little bit of gore and a great sense of humor — just what every holiday film should have.
And of course that leads into . . .
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE:
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Mostly because I had a hell of a good time watching this in theater. It was ridiculous and terrible, and when you’re in the right mood, that’s a great combination.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
This was far from the worst movie I saw in 2012, but I did have high hopes going in, and those hopes were let down considerably by this particular incarnation. (It also proved to be my least favorite movie I saw in theaters — I saw a lot of good stuff at the movie theater this year.) Despite the talent of this cast, this movie failed for me on a lot of different levels. The story is still interesting, though, so I might try reading the book sometime or checking out the miniseries, which was probably the appropriate length for the amount of material involved.
FAVORITE HORROR MOVIE:
The Cabin in the Woods
While it wasn’t a particularly scary movie itself, The Cabin in the Woods was an incredibly smart look at the horror genre in general and played around with a lot of fun ideas. Great writing, directing, and acting all around. Plus that ending — best ending of 2012. (Runners up, by the way, were Dog Soldiers and Suspiria. Oh, and Detention too, although that also wasn’t particularly scary. Funny as hell, though.)
LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver
I know it seems like a waste to give this to some low-budget horror parody, but hey, I like bad horror movies, and even with friends, this film was more painful than anything else. There were things in this movie that I never needed to see. Ever. In fact, I’m still scarred. My eyes. My eyes!
FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2012 (AND ALSO FAVORITE SUPERHERO MOVIE AND FAVORITE MOVIE I SAW IN THEATERS):
Because, hands down, this was the most fun I’ve had in the theater since Star Trek came out in 2009. I hoped I would like it, but even with a talented cast and Joss Whedon at the helm, I figured there was a good chance it would fall apart. I mean, it almost seemed doomed to. But, man, I loved this movie — it was so much better than anything I could have anticipated — and I can’t wait for the sequel. Only, what, two or three years to go, right?
And . . . I guess that’s it for 2012. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming to us in 2013: Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, Ender’s Game, Warm Bodies, Thor 2, Kick-Ass 2, The Hunger Games 2, and even the long-awaited sequel to Sin City.
SO . . . MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF 2013?
Star Trek Into Darkness
Please, PLEASE let it be good.
18 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Movies: 2012”
Thank you for NOT picking Hans Zimmer’s “Dark Knight Rises” score. Uuuuuuuuugh.
Oh, I like Hans Zimmer. And I like some of the stuff for that movie, but I was listening to the score on youtube and decided I didn’t like the whole thing enough. Plus, you know, Suspiria.
I’ll be back to read the entire post after I’ve seen Cabin in the Woods. I know. I know! My wife doesn’t like going to the movies, so I go very seldom. I’ve managed to avoid spoilers, though I’ve had to pull some Neo-esque dodges to do so. But what I’ve read was solid. No love for Brick anywhere in here? Did you not review it? If so, why didn’t you review Brick? WHY?
Oh, I know what you mean — I usually plan to see, say, something like twenty movies in theaters a year and end up seeing maybe six, although less because of my wife (considering I don’t have one) and more due to my lethal combination of being a) cheap and b) lazy. I’d love to know what you think after you watch it, though. And good on you for avoiding spoilers. Do you know I went through all of CW without getting spoiled for Prometheus? I thought that was kind of impressive. I have to watch it eventually . . . despite the fact that I can still hear Indra yelling, “NO,” in my head, I’d like to make up my own mind about it. (Also, my sister wants to try it, so I’m watching it one way or the other.)
Brick is awesome, which is why I wanted everyone to watch it, but it was ineligible for two reasons: one, this year wasn’t the first time I’d seen it, and two, I actually haven’t written a review for it yet. The first time I watched it was before I started this blog, actually. And the last time I was at CW, and I was too damn busy to be writing ridiculously long reviews. Maybe next time, though, cause yeah. So much love for that movie.
You should give the book or mini series a chance for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I enjoy both, but despite the cast just found the movie boring and badly paced.
I think I might. Neither are super high on my to-do list at the moment, but I’ll get there eventually. There are so many things to read and watch!
I’d have picked Loki for both Worst Villain and Worst Hair. He just seemed like such a dweeb. In the comics he at least had dignity – not easy when wearing that green suit.
Please, PLEASE let it be good.
Based on the trailer that doesn’t seem likely. I’m still hopeful but after the train wreck of the first one…
Oh, clearly, we couldn’t disagree more on either of these things. I loved Loki, of course, and I completely adored JJ Abram’s Star Trek. Besides, I think the trailer for this new one looks great. I’m worried because I’m always worried, but I’m also very hopeful.
The last bunch of Star Trek movies seem to be too much about action rather than ideas as was the case with all the shows, even Enterprise. I don’t mind action but it has to be balanced out, as they successfully did in the best of the movies. I’m also not sure I like the idea of a Spock who’s balling Uhura. Well, we’ll see, it might be good, anything’s possible.
I’d like to know exactly why you loved Loki, and Abrams’ Star Trek, not just that you did. I told you at least partly why I didn’t like them, and I could go into more detail if I thought anyone would give a rat’s hairy little ass. 🙂
Someday I’ll do a full review of Star Trek, and you’ll get to read the many, many reasons why I like the movie. (As well as my nitpicks because I always, always have nitpicks.) But briefly: I thought the setup was clever, the pacing was great, and I liked the entire cast — especially Chris Pine, who I wasn’t expecting to like, and Zachary Quinto, who I liked even more than expected. And while I also don’t want all action, all the time, I’ve always had some trouble with Trek ideology. Which is probably a longer discussion that I want to get into at the moment — dinner’s going to be ready soon!
As far as Loki goes, I think Tom Hiddleston’s performance was excellent. There are many different types of villains, and I wouldn’t have picked Loki for, I don’t know, Most Menacing Villain or something. But I thought he was highly sympathetic and nuanced in Thor, and he carried the ghost of that performance with him in The Avengers while also being hilarious. He was everything I needed him to be and more.
Seriously, chow time now 🙂
I thought the setup was clever
Hm, I don’t know, it involved time travel, which is overused by Trek but which is forgiveable except it was time travel through a black hole. I’m not physicist, and I know most science fiction involves a lot of suspension of disbelief (and that element to space opera in general can be fun) but still. As you’re fond of saying – Seriously? Seriously?!
Yeah, the thing is, I just don’t care about any of that. I mean, not at all. I certainly get why people would, but I am one of the least science-y nerds I know, and I know nothing about black holes, nor care to, being honest. So it didn’t bug me at all.
When I said it was a clever set-up, I guess I meant more as a narrative device. Time travel is definitely overused in Trek, but what I liked about it this time is that we’re not going back in time to fix some terrible atrocity that killed half the Enterprise crew or something. We’re not trying to hit the restart button and get us back to the original timeline where everyone is happy again. Instead, the Romulans come back, fuck with the original course of events, and create a darker, parallel timeline, which everyone just has to deal with it because that’s what they know. That’s their universe. It’s an interesting way to approach a remake because it allows you to look at old characters in a new light, and we get to see how people remained the same in some aspects but changed in others. And I think that’s, in a borrowed word, fascinating.
Well, see, I wouldn’t claim to know very much at all about science either which is why that bothered me – if I noticed it and said “Wait, that’s not quite right” then I figured it must’ve been really lazy. I’m sure that, back in the day, watching TNG 99% of the science errors went unnoticed by me. I would have been mostly okay with the time travel if the portal had been some other way – I’m sure you can think of movies where otherwise unimportant details like that just sort of gnawed at you. I could also have done without original Spock in it, that seemed kind of unnecessary as there are apparently no plans to undo the new timeline anyway, so did Kirk really need to know what had happened?
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot they did right, and I agree with you about Pine – he’s a good Kirk, I liked Karl Urban as Bones, Chekov was far superior to his TOS version, and Sulu was okay. I didn’t like Scotty that much because he lacked the dignity he had in TOS and was a bit of clown here – I can’t believe I’m the only one who thought so. Even with the lens flares I’d still give it a B.
Oh sure — little unimportant details catch me all the time. I’m having something of a brain problem right now, so I’m struggling to come up with a good example, but I definitely know what you mean. That particular problem with Star Trek just didn’t bug me at all. Also, I like both Scotty and original Spock. I’m sure I haven’t seen nearly as much of TOS as you have, but I guess I’ve never really taken Scotty all that seriously. (Plus, I love Simon Pegg, so there’s a bias there.)
And I think I like older Spock in the story, if only for the surprise that he didn’t die. Often, when Old and Young Character meet in a time travel story, Old Character dies in order to save Young Character and/or fix the timeline. Besides, I like that the characters know what’s going on. I think there’s a lot of room for character development there, always wondering what your life not only could have been like but actually was like. I’m kind of hoping that someone at least brings up that idea in the sequel.
John Blake seeing BATMAN in Bruce’s eyes? Please.
I haven’t seen that movie yet but this isn’t that far fetched – I mean it’s the reason they put a black bar across someone’s eyes. The eyes do tell you a lot. If seeing half of Bruce’s face wouldn’t give him away (as it would in real life), his eyes – or a combination of half the face and the eyes – would instantly tell anyone who even met him once who he was. It’s like what Marge said about Homer being the Pieman, and I’m paraphrasing here because I don’t remember it exactly, but she said she knew it right away, that “you’d have to be an idiot” not to notice it. It’s one of the things we pretend not to notice, one of the conceits of the whole superhero idea, and maybe they violated that by having a character within that universe pointing something like that out. Almost like breaking the fourth wall.
They sure didn’t seem to be saying that he’d actually recognised Bruce Wayne as Batman though. He wasn’t like “You got out of that car, and I noticed how similar you looked to Batman.” As I understood the monologue, he realised because he recognised the same pain within Bruce Wayne that he held within himself, and apparently Batman was the only other person in the entire city who could be going through the same emotional shit that he was.
Exactly. If Blake recognize Bruce Wayne’s eyes, that would be one thing, but he didn’t. Blake literally recognized his own pain in Batman’s eyes — and like Teacups said . . . are there really no other orphans in Gotham? Drove me CRAZY.
Well, okay, that does seem kind of stupid, but like I said I haven’t seen it yet. Now that’s going to really bug me when I do. (I wasn’t as impressed with Nolan’s Batman as other people which is why I haven’t been in too much of a hurry.)