Best of 2012
1. Silver Linings Playbook
A romantic comedy whose leads are highly unlikeable—at first. David O. Russell, blessed with a topflight cast including Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, delivers a meaty, meaningful movie that’s equal parts love story and family therapy.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson continues to deliver movies like no others; in this, the world is seen entirely from the viewpoint of adolescents and is therefore both troubling and enchanting.
3. Les Miserables
A musical beloved by millions around the world and dreaded by this reviewer . . . ends up being a surprisingly moving and compelling story of love, redemption, forgiveness, and why the big screen is perfect for such storytelling.
Finally, a girl gets to be the hero in a Pixar film, but that’s not the sole reason why this enchanting, visually mesmerizing movie rocks.
A bit talky and plagued by some of the most infantile directing and musical choices, Lincoln nevertheless delivers an outstanding—and astounding—evocation of our greatest president’s greatest challenge an ultimate triumph.
6. Magic Mike
No, it’s not about the bod. Although, OK, Channing Tatum’s bod (and those of his co-stars) was truly majestic. But what made Magic Mike so compelling was the human element at the heart of the all American story about wanting to achieve the American dream.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Carson McCullers meets Edgar Allan Poe in an apocalyptic bayou. Creepy, spooky, and incredibly moving.
8. Wreck-it Ralph
In my review, I admitted to sort of dreading this tale about a video game avatar run amok, but it’s incredibly original and avoids the preachiness so commonly associated with so-called children’s movies.
9. The Dark Knight Rises
The trilogy concludes, but not without stunning us not just with visuals and pyrotechnics, but with the awesome sense of responsibility borne by the title character.
10. 21 Jump Street
No, I do not have a crush on Channing Tatum. It just so happens that this remake of the popular ’80s TV series that sprung Johnny Depp to fame is delightful, irreverent, and one of the best comedies of the last few years.
Worst of 2012
1. The Watch
A buddy film about a bunch of loser guys who form a neighborhood watch to protect against graffiti artists and aliens. Vulgar and painfully incompetent.
2. Playing for Keeps
Katherine Heigl in a romcom that is neither romantic nor funny.
3. One for the Road
Katherine Heigl in another romcom that is neither romantic nor funny.
4. John Carter
It wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it was a huge squandering of time, talent, and the price of a movie ticket.
5. That’s My Boy
Adam Sandler used to be funny. Really. Wasn’t he?