I'm not a Top Ten sorta guy, though. These are just my personal and highly subjective choices for the best and worst of the year.
What was considered for this list? Obviously, the movies of 2012 that I have already reviewed up to this point. I do cram in a lot of movies right before the Oscars, too, and am suffering a backlog of recent reviews. Here's what I watched before coming out with this list:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Alex Cross. The Amazing Spider-Man. Amour. Argo. ATM. The Avengers. Battleship. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Bourne Legacy. Brave. The Cabin in the Woods. Coriolanus. The Dark Knight Rises. The Devil Inside. Django Unchained. Dredd. Drew Peterson: Untouchable. The Expendables 2. FDR: American Badass. Flight. The FP. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Goon. The Grey. Haywire. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Hunger Games. Iron Sky. John Carter. Lawless. Les Miserables. Life of Pi. Lincoln. Lockout. Looper. Moonrise Kingdom. Nazis at the Center of the Earth. Prometheus. The Raven. Red Tails. Resident Evil: Retribution. Seven Psychopaths. Silent House. Silver Linings Playbook. Skyfall. Total Recall (2012). Underworld: Awakening. V/H/S. The Woman in Black. Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Bit Character
While Michael Fassbender's charming/bad-ass turn in Haywire shouldn't be ignored --- he would make a good 007 if we were in the market for a new one --- nothing amused me as much as Jason Schwartzman in Moonrise Kingdom. A lot of actors (okay, maybe not Bill Murray) merely play "dry" when working with Wes Anderson, but Schwartzman embraces the dry humor with just enough excitement to make him stand out, even in the most star-studded cast.
|This needs to be a mass-produced Halloween costume|
Worst Supporting Actress
There were some pretty good possibilities in this category in 2012. Catherine Dent was noticeably bad in the noticeably bad Drew Peterson: Untouchable. Perhaps one of the lovely ladies from Battleship? No, I'm going to have to go with Bingbing Li in Resident Evil: Retribution. She was so bad that all of her dialogue was redubbed. In a Resident Evil movie, a franchise famous for not giving a crap about acting or coherence. Ouch.
|But hey, she can do...this. That's something.|
Best Supporting Actress
Look, I know that Anne Hathaway is going to win everything for Les Miserables. And maybe she should; she was good in a I'm-singing-at-the-camera sort of way. That's not my style, though. That's why my favorite this year was Judi Dench in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It's been a while since I've seen Dench play anything but a cold-hearted bureaucrat, and it was a pleasure to watch her in a warm, relatable role. Definitely the best part of a quality ensemble cast.
|Promo for M: Lost in Delhi|
Worst Supporting Actor
This was a tough one. I seriously hated a lot of supporting actors this year. 50% of the enormous cast from V/H/S were annoying douchebags. The Ionut Grama was annoying in the truly awful The Devil Inside. And how about Frank Grillo as the jackass who bitches about everything and fixes nothing in The Grey? All are compelling choices, but I have to go with someone who has been irritating me for most of the year: Rafe Spall as the world's stupidest biologist in Prometheus.
|You see a creepy alien and you smile and get close? Death is too good for you, sir.|
Best Supporting Actor
There were a lot of supporting actor roles that I loved from the past year: Javier Bardem in Skyfall, Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths, Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises, Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, CGI Hulk from The Avengers, Michael Fassbender in Prometheus, etc. The runner-up is definitely Fran Kranz as the best stoner in movie history in Cabin in the Woods. As good as all those guys were this year, I can't overlook just how much I enjoyed Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. Is the role similar to his character from Inglorious Basterds? To an extent, although I would argue switching the good/bad dynamic makes it different enough. I just can't get over Waltz speaking Tarantino's dialogue, though --- they're so damn good together!
|You're welcome. Next round's on you.|
I'm going to go with the tough-as-nails Gina Coreno in Haywire for this one. What makes her worse than any of the lead actresses wearing tight leather and shooting stuff this year? Coreno had some amazing fight scenes in Haywire, but the movie didn't work because she gave an awful performance, even with the benefit of a good director. If she was even halfway competent, she would have been on my shortlist for Best Actress. THAT's how bad she is.
|Example: I'm pretty sure this scene was supposed to be all dialogue|
This one was easy. Jennifer Lawrence in
|I like the scenes where Bradley Cooper is blurred best|
For as many bad movies as I watched this year, there were not many lead acting roles that I absolutely hated. Sure, Rob Lowe was hilariously bad in his SNL-sketch-gone-horribly-wrong portrayal of a Chicagoan in Drew Peterson: Untouchable, but at least Lowe outperformed the material. Taylor Kitsch --- who isn't really a bad actor --- played a role that emphasized all of his shortcomings in Battleship. When your character is frequently described as being smart or talented, you should probably not come off as a complete moron, even when defeating board game-obsessed aliens.
|That had better be your agent on the phone|
This was a rough year for outstanding lead actor roles. Of the nine Best Picture Oscar nods, only three of the films had Best Actor nominations! I think 2012 was far stronger in the Supporting Actor category than the Lead Actor one. Yes, Denzel Washington was terrific in Flight. But the character and actor I would choose to watch or listen to again would be Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. I've always liked Lincoln as a historical figure, but Day-Lewis was perfectly cunning and warm; he commanded the screen with a soft voice, stooped posture, and anecdotes where other actors would have gone in a completely different direction. Making America's (arguably) most legendary President into a human again was rather impressive.
|The President apparently disagrees. Or smells a fart.|
This is less about who was the best and more about what directors I liked that didn't have huge flaws in their finished products. I love Quentin Tarantino, but Django Unchained needed a damn editor. Cabin in the Woods was great, but Drew Goddard managed to make a great horror movie that was missing scares. Competence narrows down the field considerably. While Ben Affleck did a great job with the humor and pacing of Argo, I'm going to go with Sam Mendes and Skyfall. He made a James Bond movie that was actually a legitimate film! I don't like it because I'm comparing it to Bond movies --- I like it because it's awesome! This is the first time anyone has tried to make a James Bond flick with character development, good cinematography and very good acting, and he was still able to film some great action sequences. Mendes' work is sorely underrated on Skyfall. Any decent director can make a prestige picture look good; making a series known for corny action and one-liners into an actually good movie in far more difficult.
There are movies that never had a chance of being good, and then there are the blockbusters that failed, in large part due to their direction. Peter Berg took a stupid concept and did a terrible job with it, and Battleship was the nauseating result. Timur Bekmambetov did a decent job with his cast, but pieced together a soulless abomination that sucked harder than any Twilight movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The absolute worst direction this year, though, had to be Rob Cohen's work in Alex Cross. He made a police procedural that was less competent than a third-rate CSI knockoff AND the acting wasn't great AND the editing was occasionally incoherent. Stick to Vin Diesel movies, Mr. Cohen.
There were a lot of choices this year, primarily with sequels and reboots, but the one that stuck to me was Prometheus. It's not bad, but it is intentionally obtuse and refuses to deliver on anything that its shared universe with the Aliens franchise has to offer. Again, it isn't awful, but I was expecting a hell of a lot more.
|These guys? Seriously --- fuck these guys.|
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was me not noticing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's makeup while I was watching Looper, but as far as feature films go, Dredd is the winner. It should have been bad. It's a remake of a crappy movie, and it has a lead actor who specializes in not emoting. And yet, Dredd managed to get its core concept just right. I was hoping for a movie so-good-it's-bad, but ended up genuinely enjoying it.
|...because this is totally sweet|
Bottom 5 Movies
5. Iron Sky - How do you screw up a movie about Nazis living on the dark side of the Moon? By assuming that the concept was funny enough to last for an entire movie. This one had promise, but then dropped the ball when it tried to be clever, funny, or serious. So, yeah, it sucks.
|Above: my reaction|
|John Carter vs. Master Chief?|
|Get it? The bad guy's using the horse as a pommel --- you know what? Screw this movie.|
|This for ninety minutes would have made for a better film|
|They're looking at the world's largest bottle of scotch, AKA what you need to get through this movie|
Top 10 Movies:
10. Lincoln - I absolutely love Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones in this film. My biggest concern was how it would handle the whole "vampire hunter" angle, but I think Spielberg addressed the issue subtly.
Seven Psychopaths - Not a perfect movie by any means, but I adore the dialogue and I thought the supporting cast was stellar. There are not many scripts that give Sam Rockwell license to be as crazy as he can be, but he was so odd that Christopher Walken looked...well, not normal, but sane by comparison.
|Clever fan poster found on the Looper tumblr|
6. Argo - It is difficult to make a movie about a historical event suspenseful. It's almost as hard to pace it well. Ben Affleck managed to do both, and he still balanced it with humor.
|This guy says he was in Argo. I don't recall, but it's an awesome pic|
The Cabin in the Woods - This was such a fantastic homage to the horror genre that I can overlook the fact that it is not scary in the least bit. A smart script that goes in directions that you would not guess from the promos and a great script make this a personal favorite.
|This movie also finally gives stoners their own action hero|
|Do you have this poster? It was free w/purchase of the Blu-Ray. FYI.|
|Fan art poster taken from here|
|Sorry. This was better than any Django posters I could find|