Movies 2012: The Best and the Worst

Jessica Chastain as Maya in “Zero Dark Thirty”

By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)

Unlike so many of 2012′s films that took a slow, tortured walk to get to some dramatic kernel (e.g., CosmopolisThe Magic of Belle Isle and People Like Us), let’s jump right into the fray:

The Best: The U.S. box office, reporting $10.84 billion, versus the last record-breaking year of 2009, with $10.59 billion. (Additionally, the 2012 grosses scored a 6.6% bump over 2011′s $10.17 billion). It certainly didn’t hurt that increased ticket prices for 3D and IMAX upped the overall figures.

The Worst: Hollywood’s treatment of December audiences. Coming upon a midnight, um, drear, the studios gifted us with an cinematic sleigh of buzzkill overload. Such as Amour, in which Grandma and Grandpa slip toward inevitable death; Django Unchained, with Quentin Tarantino delighting in more blood and mayhem than ever before; The Impossible, a true story reflecting one family’s survival in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that took 230,000 lives; Les Misérables, where the Wretched Poor are indeed just that, furthered by our own misery at having to listen to the ungodly warbling of Russell Crowe; and Zero Dark Thirty, opening with the voices of the actual victims of 9/11 crying out in the dark. As a counter-programming measure, we got feeble offerings via the Seth Rogen/Barbra Streisand vehicle, The Guilt Trip, and Billy Crystal attempting to yuk it up with his grandkids in Parental Guidance. It’s hard to say which was more difficult to watch.

Further Bests & Worsts, both silly and not:

Best Odd Couple:
Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street
Additional nod to: Richard Jenkins & Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods

Worst Odd Couple:
Andy Samberg & Adam Sandler, That’s My Boy

Best & Worst John Cusack:
Best: The Paperboy
Worst: The Raven

Best & Worst Zac Efron:
Best: The Paperboy, Liberal Arts
Worst: The Lucky One

Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Promising Child Star:
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Worst Promising Child Star, All Growed Up:
From 2002′s Panic Room, Kristen Stewart (Twilight Saga, Snow White and the Huntsman, On the Road)

Best All-Around Body of Work:
Matthew McConaughey (Bernie, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Mud [debuted in 2012 Cannes], The Paperboy)

Best Performance in a Film Other Than the One That’s Getting Award Buzz:
- Robert De Niro, Being Flynn
- Keira Knightley, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
- Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games

Best (and, at this date) Overlooked Supporting Performance, Male:
- John Cusack, The Paperboy
- Jude Law, Anna Karenina
- William H. Macy, The Sessions
- Ezra Miller, Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Bill Nighy, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
- Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
- Christopher Walken, Seven Psychopaths 

Best (and, at this date) Overlooked Supporting Performance, Female:
- Emily Blunt, Looper
- Ann Dowd, Compliance
- Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
- Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed
- Alicia Vikander, Anna Karenina/A Royal Affair
- Kristen Wiig, Friends with Kids

Best Performance by an Actor Leaping Out of his Comfort Zone:
Jack Black, Bernie

Worst Performance by an Actor Leaping Out of his Comfort Zone:
Tyler Perry, Alex Cross (aka the Worst Cross-Dressing Crossover Award)

Best Opening Murder:
Seven Psychopaths

Best (or is that Worst?) Bloat:
Les Misérables, in which our senses are bludgeoned without end for 168 minutes. And while we’re on the subject, why is it that every time Jean Valjean leaves town for good, he always turns up just a few blocks away?

forefront: The Bengal tiger named Richard Parker in “Life of Pi”

Best Big Beautiful Cat Since MGM’s Leo the Lion:
Richard Parker, Life of Pi 

Best Stiff Upper Lip:
To Toby Jones, who not only depicted the stiff upper lip physically, but emotionally as well, playing a #2 Hitchcock in HBO’s The Girl to the more noticeable Anthony Hopkins in the big screen Hitchcock. Given that this is Jones’ second go-round as #2 (his Truman in 2006′s Infamous versus Philip Seymour Hoffman’s award-winning turn in 2005′s Capote), one wonders just how well that stiff upper lip is holding up.

Best & Worst Sequel:
Best: Skyfall (with an additional nod to Men in Black 3)
Worst: Taken 2, tied with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Best Exciting New Filmmakers:
- Derek Connolly (writer) and Colin Trevorrow (director), Safety Not Guaranteed
- Drew Goddard (director, co-writer), The Cabin in the Woods
- Benh Zeitlin (writer/director), Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor (tie):
-  John Hawkes, The Sessions
- Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress:
- Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

10 of the Worst Films of 2012 (in alphabetical order). Critic’s note: I sidestepped the thoroughly vilified A Thousand Words, One for the Money and Battleship. And yet, there was still plenty of bad to still go around:
- Alex Cross
- Gone
- Lay the Favorite
- The Lucky One
- The Magic of Belle Isle
- Peace, Love and Misunderstanding
- Project X
- Red Hook Summer
- That’s My Boy
- The Vow

And finally, 10 of the Best Films of 2012 (in alphabetical order):
- The Avengers
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- The Cabin in the Woods
- Frankenweenie
- The Hunger Games
- Looper
- Rust and Bone
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
- The Sessions
- Zero Dark Thirty

Here’s to a New Year brimming with films that will inspire us all!

About Kimberly Gadette

Film critic Kimberly Gadette, born and raised in movie-centric L.A., believes celluloid may very well be a part of her DNA. Having received her BA and MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, she spent many of her formative years as an actress (film, tv, commercials, stage) before she literally changed perspective, finding a whole new POV from the other side of the camera. You can find her last 450+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/kimberly-gadette/). Other than taking the occasional side trip to Cannes or Sundance, you can find her at the movies ... sitting in the dark as usual.

Comments

  1. Cathy Lea says:

    terrific lineup. We’re looking forward to what you’ve got for us in 2013.

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