Now that we’re counting down the hours until the New Year, let’s take a few minutes to look back on 2012 and give a big round of applause for some of the best, most awesome and highest grossing movies it offered us.
Just like in 2011, we’re going to try to present you with our suggestions of the Best Movies of the Year without ranking them in any particular order except for genre, having already admitted the impossibility of saying which is the absolute best or worst release in cinematography.
Before we proceed with our very own list, please bear in mind that, because of geography and time constraints, we did not get to see some 2012 releases in due time to include them here.
On the same note, remember that this list is a disguised invitation to dialog: you are welcome to include your own suggestions in the comments section below, because we do not consider ours definite. Think of them as guidelines into what movies you should see, in case you missed them in theaters.
Now that this is out of the way, let’s get going.
Best Superhero Flick – “The Amazing Spider-Man”
Perhaps this is a film that many would not include on a must-see list for the mere reason that it’s a reboot that comes hot on the heels of Sam Raimi’s original. But the new Spidey is not without merits, mind you (though it would have to share the honor with “The Avengers”).
Starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and directed by Marc Webb, it’s riddled with clichés but also has a beating heart. There is real chemistry between the leads, and the story is incredibly touching and relatable – just like Spidey himself.
Best Comedy – “Ted”
Few expected this R-rated comedy to be this much fun. Yet Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane make of this foul-mouthed, insensitive, drug-loving, talking teddy the most endearing comedic character of the year.
Honorable mentions go to “21 Jump Street,” yet another comedy not recommended for the faint of heart, and “The Dictator,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest project. Far from being as shameless as “Bruno” or “Borat,” “The Dictator” still has plenty of sting.
Best Horror – “Sinister”
These days, it’s very hard or even close to impossible to find a horror movie that really gives you the creeps. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or not (but especially if you fall in the former category), you should definitely check out “Sinister” if you haven’t already: tense, chilling and surprising, it might just restore your faith in the genre.
An honorable mention goes to “Cabin in the Woods,” which only partly subscribes to the horror genre. Call it a horror comedy if you will, but just call it one of the best of its kind. It’s fun, it’s light and it’s refreshingly surprising, which is way more than can be said about countless other releases of the kind.
Best Action – “Skyfall”
One of the most anticipated releases of the year, “Skyfall” doesn’t disappoint in any regard. The latest James Bond installment is packed with action scenes, a solid narrative, good acting and breathtaking cinematography. Critics call it the most accomplished 007 film in the entire franchise – and we’d have to agree with them on that.
Best Love Story – “Anna Karenina”
It’s hard to take an “outdated” story like the one in Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” put it on film and then present it to modern audiences, who understand very little of the challenges, obstacles and limits of being a woman in 19th century Russia. Director Joe Wright manages to do just that, while also offering a stunning piece of cinematography with this 2012 film.
Best Rom-Con – “This Means War”
“This Means War” was, in many ways, a complete waste of potential, in the sense that Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Renee Witherspoon could have done much better. However, if you’re looking for a rom-com to distract you from your daily chores and worries, and you want it to star gorgeous, talented actors, then this is the one for you.
Best Sci-Fi Fantasy – “John Carter”
Named Disney’s biggest flop in recent years, “John Carter” cost a fortune to make and bombed at the box office. Still, it’s a fantastic exercise of the imagination, which welcomes you into a world that might seem familiar but is completely alien – and amazing at the same time. Give it a chance before you jump on the bandwagon to trash it.
Honorable mentions go here to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Prometheus,” both solid, epic releases which fell just short of fans and critics’ expectations.
2012 was the year of Snow White. Though haters rushed to pit these two movies against each other before they were out, once they arrived in theaters, it became clear that they were very different – and equally enjoyable.
“SWATH” stars Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth and is darker, more violent and adult oriented, while “Mirror Mirror” is the kind of movie you’d want to check out with your family. It stars Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer and Lily Collins.
Best Apocalyptic Film – “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”
The Mayan calendar was wrongly interpreted as predicting the end of the world in 2012. We have survived that “apocalypse” but the characters in this film are doomed from its first minute of runtime. Endearing, funny and extremely adorable, make sure to check it out when you have the time.
Best Thriller – “Looper”
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same character in Rian Johnson’s time-traveling, time-bending thriller / action movie “Looper.” Based on a solid scrip by Johnson himself and boasting stellar performances, make sure you give it a go, if you didn’t get the chance to do so until now.
Best Summer Blockbuster – “The Avengers”
That “The Avengers” would make a gazillion dollars at the box office was never questioned, but it was very surprising to see how nicely critics too reacted to Marvel’s epic superhero reunion movie. Bringing together some of the most awesome and popular superheroes in the Marvel universe, “Avengers” definitely won a place for director Joss Whedon in any comic book fan’s heart.
Best Sequel – “The Dark Knight Rises”
2012 marked the end of one of the most popular film franchises ever, Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The final chapter saw the caped crusader face his biggest and most dangerous enemy ever but also, as its name implies, fall, rise, fall and rise again to save the day – and Gotham.
Best 3D – “Step Up Revolution”
The “Step Up” franchise is all style and no substance. All installments play out like extended music videos, where no one is really paying attention to the story or the characters. The latest is no exception but, just like the one before it, it too came in excellent 3D – and had gorgeous choreography to boot.
An honorable mention goes to “Finding Nemo 3D” and “Titanic 3D,” which, you guessed it, are 3D re-releases. It’s the hottest trend in Hollywood right now.
Best Teen Flick – “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”
Yet another film franchise that ended this year is “The Twilight Saga.” Despised by many but adored by even more, this vampire saga bid fans farewell with “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” which actually managed to be better than any of the previous installments (which isn’t saying a lot, actually).
Best Sleeper – “End of Watch”
One of our favorite movies of the year, “End of Watch” plays out more like an art experiment than an actual Hollywood production. Gripping and tense, touching and violent, heartbreaking and aggressive, it also boasts solid performances from leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena.
“50/50” deserves an honorable mention, even though it started screening at festivals in 2011. Billed a comedy in promo materials, this little gem of a film goes beyond this generic labeling.
Best Underdog / The Misunderstood & Overlooked – “Lawless”
Tom Hardy is emerging as one of the most versatile and fascinating actors of our time, and “Lawless” should be on your must-see list if only for that. Director John Hillcoat’s epic take on the Bondurant brothers’ story should be another, as well as Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman’s performances.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” has been around on the festival circuit since 2011 but it reached many major territories only in 2012. It deserves an honorable mention for being the most profoundly disturbing, well-acted and chilling family drama we have seen this year. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
Before we round up this piece, another round of honorable mentions: “Les Miserables,” “Django Unchained,” “Wreck-it Ralph,” “Argo,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Life of Pi,” “Cloud Atlas.”
So here are our suggestions for the crème de la crème in cinematography in 2012. Remember to drop us a line in the comments with yours – and here’s to a spectacular 2013!