With 2012 drawing to a close and the box office tallying up the best of the year behind it, it’s time to start deliberations once again about that arbitrary pick of Movie of the Year. Being that we were spoiled with some particularly great movies this year, this hasn’t been the easiest decision to make. But, it was made anyway, so without any further ado, allow me to present the honorable nominees:
I’m pretty sure the whole nerd world would have my head if this wasn’t on the list. Joss Whedon’s interpretation of the beloved Marvel comic series managed to rack up some impressive numbers in its box office debut, and for good reason. It’s pure fun from start to finish, with great action sequences and interaction between characters. There are enough plot holes and inconsistencies within the film, however, to mar the story and steal a bit of the film’s overall quality. Still, there’s no denying that The Avengers managed to uphold the Marvel legacy in an impressive way.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit came under heavy scrutiny prior to its release, thanks to the controversial nature in which the director chose to present it to the public. 48 fps? Three movies from one 300-page book?
But once again, he managed to transport us back to the fantastic world of Middle Earth, taking viewers along for the epic journey Bilbo embarks on with Thorin Oakenshield and company.
It was a fun return to Middle Earth, but awkward story pacing and video game-ification of the world stole a bit of the magic from the film that made the original trilogy so great. But the chance to see Gollum in his natural element again was a standout experience indeed.
The Hunger Games
The adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ brutal novel trilogy, The Hunger Games brought Jennifer Lawrence into the limelight and gave us a great on-screen depiction of the film.
Lawrence’s Katniss was a knockout performance that truly captured the essence of the character from the novels, the tone of the book was well conveyed, and there was something pretty awesome about seeing the world of Panem on screen.
Much of the subtle conventions that made the book so fantastic were not quite as well-realized or even explored in the film, however, and making the film PG-13 robbed it of much of the brutal violence that made the book so hard-hitting. Despite that, The Hunger Games was by far one of the best book-to-movie adaptations yet, and certainly one of the standout films for 2012.
Whatever criticism Daniel Craig received for his past portrayals of Bond were quickly reconciled in Skyfall. From start to finish, Skyfall was a straight-up Bond film filled with the best conventions the series has to offer; gadgets, girls, evil villain masterminds, and the suave James Bond at the center of it all. Combine that with tasteful nostalgia and re-imagining Bond in a modern context, and you’re left with a film that both revitalized the series while giving us the long-awaited true Bond experience not seen in years.
The Dark Knight Rises
The final film in the standout Christopher Nolan trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises saw the return of the Batman as he faced off against one of his greatest adversaries in Bane. Also making an appearance in the film was Thalia Al Ghoul, Catwoman, and a somewhat strange imagining of Robin in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character.
While it had its goofy moments and plot inconsistencies, The Dark Knight Rises still managed to uphold the legacy of Nolan’s trilogy all too well, combining both the tone of the comics and the overall gritty presentation Nolan has become known for. It’s a fantastic imagining of the Dark Knight in all his glory, and a more than fitting conclusion to one of the best superhero film series of all time.
It’s no secret that movies based on video games typically wind up as a heap of garbage, never becoming much more than a laughable mess best left at the bottom of the bargain bin.
Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, however, managed to take what makes video games so special and blend it with a fun and clever animated film that showcases the best of what Disney has to offer. From start to finish, Wreck-It Ralph had all the charm of classic arcade games mixed with great humor, clever writing, and more video game references and cameos than you could shake a stick at. There’s something unique about a great animated film, and Wreck-It Ralph scored big on everything the genre has to offer.
Seth MacFarlane fans rejoiced upon the release of Ted, the Family Guy creator’s first foray into the film market. Following the exploits of a grown man and his teddy bear of a best friend, the film was essentially a collection of jokes and scenes MacFarlane was never allowed to explore on network television. Sure, it was a simple raunchy comedy, but it was nothing if not fun.
The standout sci fi film of the year, Ridley Scott’s epic Prometheus tried to recapture some of the same shock and fun of the original Aliens films in a modern context. It was well written, well-realized, and nothing if not entertaining. Many plot holes, cliches, wonky delivery, and the fact that sci fi movies just don’t have necessarily the same impact as they did in the early 80′s anymore (largely thanks to advances with CGI), however, served to keep this movie from rising to greater heights among the rest of the great films released in 2012.
AND THE WINNER IS…
The Dark Knight Rises
While there were other superheroes on the ticket for 2012, nobody managed to come close to the epic conclusion of Nolan’s trilogy. Few films have managed to capture the essence of Batman in the same way, and I’d be hard pressed to imagine many doing it in the foreseeable future. Like any other film, it had its problems. But its problems were easily overlooked by everything the film excelled at, making it one of the most fitting conclusions to a Batman trilogy and a master class in how superhero films should be done. For that, The Dark Knight Rises takes top honors as movie of the year.