Herald Movie Yearbook 2012


The best and worst of the year in film.


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.

Most admirable attempt at something totally different: Will Ferrell’s Casa de Mi Padre, which was set in Mexico and spoken entirely in Spanish. The joke got old after awhile, though.

Best romantic comedy: The Silver Linings Playbook. Crazies in love.

Most surprisingly fun romantic comedy: Think Like a Man.

Worst romantic comedy: This Means War.

Creepiest romantic comedy: People Like Us, in which a man pretends to woo a woman he knows to be his half-sister.

Most convincing evidence Tim Burton has run out of gas: Dark Shadows and the warmed-over leftover Frankenweenie.

Coolest sound effect: The thwap-thwap of the propellers of the special low-noise, hard-to-detect helicopters used during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Zero Dark Thirty.

Most horrifying plot twist: In Kill List, two hit men carrying out orders try to execute the wrong guy. Suddenly, we are in The Wicker Man territory.

Best car chase: Tom Cruise chases the bad guys while cops chase him in Jack Reacher.

Worst car chase: The bicycle-messenger thriller Premium Rush.

Funniest out-of-nowhere comedic bit in an otherwise serious movie: KKK members (including Jonah Hill) complain about not being able to see through their hoods in Django Unchained.

Best documentary structured as a mystery: Searching for Sugar Man.

Best homeboy (and homegirl) made good: The Borscht Corp.’s Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer, whose short film Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke played at several prestigious festivals, including Sundance and SXSW (their latest collaboration, #Postmodem, has already been accepted to next year’s Sundance).

Most bloated movie: Flight. After that horrifying plane crash, the rest of the movie went nowhere — for 2 1/2 hours.

Most bloated movie that at least looked cool: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was at least 45 minutes too long, but the 3D and high frame rate kept your eyes entertained.

Best reboot: The Amazing Spider-Man.

Best horror movie disguised as a cop drama: Two LAPD patrol officers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) get into increasingly harrowing situations in End of Watch.

Most lurid, over-the-top movie: The Paperboy. Lee Daniels later said he intended to make a comedy. Sure, dude. Whatever you say.

Best place for single guys who want to meet women: The theater lobby showing the male stripper comedy Magic Mike.

Further proof that whenever Hollywood races to make two competing movies about the same subject, they both turn out bad: Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Best marketed movie: Prometheus. The extensive ad campaign was better than the film.

Worst marketed movie: John Carter. It’s as if the studio did everything it could to make the film look bad.

Best example of a good gag overstaying its welcome: The foul-mouthed teddy bear from Ted. Shut up, already.

Best use of 3D: Ang Lee’s eye-popping Life of Pi.

Worst use of 3D: Wrath of the Titans.

Most needless use of 3D: The Avengers.

Best photographed film: Skyfall, shot by the great cinematographer Roger Deakins ( No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski).

Most convincing proof mankind’s future is bright: Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy and the jukebox musical Rock of Ages both bombed.

Worst movie: The Devil Inside.

Most pretentious attempt to invest a simple genre movie with profundity: The Grey. Too much philosophizing, not enough wolf-punching.

Most badly squandered high-concept movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Best Blu-ray released in 2012: Jaws. Worth the money for the extras alone.

Further proof Judd Apatow needs a new editor: The endless This is 40 and The Five-Year Engagement.

Best argument for sticking to what you know: Tyler Perry set aside the Madea drag and tried to go the tough guy route in Alex Cross.

Best use of a pop song: Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On Eileen in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. When you’re young, the right song at the right time can cure any ills.

Most disappointing finish after a promising start: Martin McDonagh’s scabrously funny Seven Psychopaths deflated once the movie took the meta route and tried to turn into Adaptation for gangster pictures.

Biggest botch of excellent source material: Hitchcock, which was supposed to be about the making of Psycho but focused more on the director’s marital woes.

Biggest gross-out: A psychopath, a chicken drumstick and a bloodied Gina Gershon in William Friedkin’s NC-17 Killer Joe.

Best “all bets are off” moment: The elevator doors open in The Cabin in the Woods.

Biggest miscalculation: Going the gooey and sentimental route instead of staying funny in the apocalyptic comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

Best 2012 movie that won’t open here until 2013: Michael Haneke’s Amour.

2013 movie I’m anticipating the most: Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">“Life After Death”:</span> Zach (Dane DeHaan) finds his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is behaving strangely after somehow coming back from the dead.

    Life After Beth (R)

    Life After Beth starts out as a cracked, comical take on Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Zach (Dane DeHaan) is a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). At home, his parents patronize him and his older brother (a funny Matthew Gray Gubler) bullies him, so he starts spending time with the late girl’s family (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). Being with them make him feel closer to Beth, even though they seem to be acting fairly calmly in light of such a calamity.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Magic in the Moonlight’:</span> Colin Firth is a stage magician trying to disprove the abilities of an acclaimed psychic (Emma Stone).

    Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

    The inherent problem in cranking out a movie (sometimes two!) every year, as Woody Allen has been doing for the last 34 years, is that some of them are inevitably going to be dogs. Does someone have a gun to the filmmaker’s head that forces him to proceed with half-baked, joyless comedies such as Magic in the Moonlight instead of tossing bad ideas out and starting fresh? This is, at best, a 20-minute TV episode extended to feature length, and the stretch marks show. Boy, do they show. That’s practically all you can see, really.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

Miami Herald

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