Here is one last, highly irreverent look at the year in film:
Biggest disappointment: Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.
Biggest disappointment still worth seeing: Paul Thomas Anderson’s self-obsessed The Master was a pretentious bore, but Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of a self-destructive loner was as ferocious a performance as Robert De Niro’s in Raging Bull.
Best movie that needed time to grow on you: Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress. For the first 10 minutes, you’re like “Whaaaat?” After that, you’re like “Ha ha ha!”
Best safety lesson tucked inside a summer blockbuster: Prometheus. When being chased by a giant rolling spaceship shaped like a doughnut, it’s better to run parallel to the vehicle instead of trying to cross directly in its path.
Most entertaining example of how Hollywood can help save lives: In Argo, a CIA agent hires some studio reps to pose as a film crew in order to rescue six people stranded during the Iran hostage crisis. The power of movies!
Most mind-bending moment: Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, two versions of the same man at different ages, sit down for a conversation at a diner in the time-travel thriller Looper.
Most whimsical image: An enormous treehouse sits high atop a tree as thick as a toothpick in Moonrise Kingdom.
Best sequel: None.
Most superfluous sequel: Men in Black 3.
Most disappointing sequel: American Reunion.
Worst sequel: Taken 2.
Worst remake: Total Recall.
Most satisfying end of a trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises.
Most surprising end of a franchise: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, in which things are finally allowed to get crazy.
Least promising start of a franchise: The Hunger Games.
Best entry in a continuing franchise: Skyfall. Bond has never been better.
Most distracting use of soft-focus to hide the actors’ out-of-control facelifts: The Expendables 2.
Saddest sight: A rusty Arnold Schwarzenegger wincing as he fires a machine gun in The Expendables 2.
Scariest sight: Jean-Claude Van Damme’s plastic surgery in The Expendables 2.
Best closing shot: As the music swells, a man stands before an enormous rising platform in The Dark Knight Rises: A new hero is born.
Worst closing shot: Donald Sutherland looking annoyed in The Hunger Games, as if he was stuck in a long checkout line at the grocery store.
Best action movie: The Raid: Redemption. Relentless.
Worst action movie: Red Dawn. The movie was delayed for two years. Should have stayed on the shelf.
Least exciting action movie: Steven Soderbergh’s curiously uninvolving Haywire.
Biggest cop-out: The ending of Oliver Stone’s ludicrous Savages. We were only kidding!
Most creative use of the found-footage format: The superhero movie Chronicle.
Best line that doesn’t make any sense taken out of context: “The harbinger is on line two,” from The Cabin in the Woods.
Best raise-the-roof moment: The Hulk uses Loki as a fly swatter in The Avengers.
Best close-but-no-cigar attempt at something totally different: Cloud Atlas.
Most successful attempt at something totally different: Leos Carax’s indescribable Holy Motors.