2012 RECAP: Winners & Losers

Picture 2Well folks, that’s a wrap! After 12 months and hundreds of movies, we’ve come to the end of 2012; I know, we can’t believe it either! Like everyone seems to do this time of year, we can’t help but reflect on the year that’s passed and, for the most part, it was a pretty spectacular 12 months at the movies. Though they’re certainly was a fair share of big disappointments (Prometheus) and flat out duds (Savages), 2012 saw a handful of truly awesome films, some great (Django Unchained), some masterful (Zero Dark Thirty), even some revolutionary (Cloud Atlas). As a result, this week couldn’t be a better time to celebrate the year that was, and we’re starting our year in review here at Reel Reactions with a list of our winners and losers of 2012. What trends killed it this year? Who broke out? What died out? Without further ado, here are our 2012 Winners & Losers:

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The poster shows a man wearing a tuxedo and holding a gun, standing in front of an image that looks like it was taken from the inside of a gun barrel, with the London skyline visible behind him. Text at the bottom of the poster reveals the film title and credits.1. James Bond – Since the Pierce Brosnan era ended on an all time low, the reputation of James Bond had been sinuous, with strides back toward the top courtesy of Casino Royale being completely retraced with the lackluster Quantum of Solace. But leave it to Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and scribe John Logan (Rango) to bring Bond not only back to the top but arguably to the best he’s ever been. The dark, stylish, and heart-pounding Skyfall set a new precedent for the 50-year-old franchise and positioned viewers in a brand new direction for all upcoming installments. With nearly a billion dollars worldwide, rave reviews, and massive awards buzz (Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and the film itself have rightfully found themselves nominated by critics circles), I don’t envy the director who has to helm the next film if Mendes doesn’t return – talk about being shaken and not stirred!

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2. Directors Who Delivered – While there have been a few distinguished directors whose films didn’t quite live up to expectations, overall this year was made up of great directors living up to their high prestige. One of the most notable is Quentin Tarantino, who reminded audiences everywhere why he has long been considered the master of genre mash-ups, creating a hilarious Blaxploitation-Spaghetti Western with Django Unchained. Another great example is Ang Lee, who managed to turn the supposedly un-filmable novel Life of Pi into one of the most visually striking films of the past decade. Lastly, Joss Whedon pleased nerds everywhere by successfully combining multiple different franchises into one epic superhero film; with the entire weight of the Marvel franchise on his shoulders, Whedon more than carried the franchise to new heights – now that’s delivering!

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3. Young Adult Adaptations – Ok, so young adult adaptations win out every year, but in the year that saw no more Harry Potter movies and the final installment in The Twilight Saga, YA adaptations defied expectations and continued to dominate, thanks entirely to Katniss Everdeen and the rest of the blockbuster The Hunger Games. Released in March, The Hunger Games surpassed everyone’s expectations and grossed over $400 million domestically, a feat that not one Harry Potter film ever achieved. Yup, the first installment in this new YA film adaptation out-grossed every Harry Potter film! How crazy? Critically, YA adaptations also soared, with Stephen Chobosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower providing a heartwarming sense of nostalgia that the movies haven’t seen since the hay-day of John Hughes in the 1980s.

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4. Jennifer Lawrence – My god, if 2012 isn’t the year of Jennifer Lawrence than I’ll be damned! First, Lawrence knocked everyone’s socks off by headlining The Hunger Games, turning the strong willed female into a blockbuster superstar. Though you can say what you want in terms of how good the movie actually was, there’s no denying that Lawrence’s vulnerably determined performance as Katniss made the entire production worth the price of admission. After years of enduring the crappy Bella Swan, Lawrence finally gave us a female protagonist worth lauding! Then, to make matters even better, Lawrence blew the lid off of Silver Linings Playbook with a performance so mature, so sexy, and so comically fierce that she is rightly a frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar. Hmm, headlining a blockbuster franchise and getting Oscar buzz? Sounds like a great year to us!

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5. Meta Movies – The term ‘meta’ refers to self-acknowledgement; movies that are considered meta are highly self-aware and embrace the fact that they are films; they reject all considerations of realism and there’s this sense that everyone in the movie is trying not to laugh at the fact that they’re in a movie. It’s a bizarre trend, but one that critics and cinephiles love and one that 2012 has somewhat landmarked. With 21 Jump Street, The Cabin in the Woods, Seven Psychopaths, and even Cloud Atlas to a degree, amongst others, 2012 warped viewers’ minds, and for those that did seek out these under-appreciated and under-seen movies, I personally thank you. The meta subgenre is one that us here at Reel Reactions adore, and though these films were not huge money-makers, if this is an indication of the creativity that is still budding in the corners of Hollywood, then let’s hope 2013 has more to offer.

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6. Epic Length Movies – We’ve been making this argument for years: If you’re adapting a major or intriguing property, tackling taboo or controversial subjects, or continuing a beloved franchise, people will happily sit in a theater for any length of time and watch the film. Need evidence? The Return of the King clocked in at 200 minutes (3 hours and 20 minutes) and is one of the highest grossing films of all time and was awarded a record-breaking number of Academy Awards. 2012 seemed to be the only year in recent memory that had been aware of this fact and movies of epic runtimes were everywhere. The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers owned the multiplexes during the summer, both exceeding two hours. In the final third of the year, The Master, Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, This is 40, Flight, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables, and Django Unchained all ran well over the benchmark of 120 minutes and many neared the ‘epic’ length of three full hours. The majority of these have been box office hits as well, so hopefully studios get the picture that longer, quality films can be made and will still register well financially.

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7. Technology (3D, 48FPS, IMAX) – If there is one thing that will be remembered about film in 2012, it will be the immense amount of technological advances contained within the year. Not only did 3D finally seem to come into its own with the likes of Life of Pi, Dredd 3D, and Prometheus, but we also had IMAX being utilized unlike ever before, with The Dark Knight Rises having over an hours worth of footage filmed in the format. However, nothing garnered more attention, both negative and positive, then the 48 frames per second in The Hobbit. The reactions to the heighten frame rate have run the gamut from “It’s going to revolutionize film” to “It’s the worst thing ever to grace the silver screen,”, but no matter what you think, it will definitely be interesting to see what the future holds for this controversial technique.

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8. Joss Whedon – If there is one person in Hollywood that deserves success and respect this year it’s Joss Whedon. While Whedon has been a well-known name within the television and film community for years now, he has also always been infamous for his wide variety of failed shows and projects like Firefly and its film sequel, Serenity. Thankfully, the public finally embraced Whedon this year thanks to his mega-blockbuster, The Avengers, and his creatively genius collaboration with longtime friend Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods. Not only were these two fantastic films, but now Whedon pretty much has free-reign to make any film he wants – thank god for that! I’d stay tuned if I were you, for the best has probably yet to come!

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9. Ben Affleck – As 2012 ends, Ben Affleck is still one of the names on everybody’s mind thanks to his critical darling, Argo, which is a high ranker on just about everyone’s nomination ballot. From supporting roles in Kevin Smith comedies, to a career-launching Oscar win for writing Good Will Hunting, to an unfortunate multi-year career lull filled with critical savagery and little fan appreciation, Affleck’s career is currently in full turnaround. Since 2007, he has directed three phenomenal films: Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and now Argo, which is a shoe-in for a Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nomination. He’s already made our list of winners, but we’ll have to see just how much of a winner he is come Oscar night. For anyone who thought Affleck was a fading star and a ‘hack-tor’ (hack actor), he’s become quite the competent filmmaker, brightly illuminating his future in Hollywood.

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10. Stop Motion Animation – When it comes to animation and the past decade, not many have been able to surpass the powerhouse that is Pixar Animation Studios. What a complete shock it was, then, to have 2 stop motion marvels blow Pixar’s annual effort, Brave, out of the water. First there was the sensational ParaNorman, a small little gem tucked away in the doldrums of late August, and then there was the gorgeous Frankenweenie, a black-and-white throwback that zapped Tim Burton’s career back to life in early October. Though both of these couldn’t match the box office heights of Brave, they absolutely demolished it in terms of creativity and pure cinematic joy. This year, these two stop motion films proved that the movies really are a place for adventure and imagination and for that we couldn’t be happier.

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11. Child Actors – While there were a wide variety of fantastic performances this year, the biggest surprise was the amount of nuanced performances we got from child actors. Probably the most obvious example is Moonrise Kingdom, in which the entire film relies on its two central kids to create an honest and awkward adolescent chemistry; thankfully, Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman were more than up to the task, successfully crafting a completely believable and emotional relationship, and their performances even managed to upstage some of the adults. Another surprise was Pierce Gagnon in Looper. The role of Cid was an extremely demanding role, entailing fierce displays of power along with moments of real tenderness and frailty, all of which Gagnon nailed perfectly. Lastly, Quvenzhane Wallis, at 6 years of age no less, shocked all of us with her revelatory work in Beasts of the Southern Wild; just one look from those big, bulging eyes of hers was enough to break our hearts and she’s rightly been in the Best Actress conversation all season long.

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12. Dark Comedy – Slapstick just doesn’t cut it anymore; audiences in the modern age are looking for shaper, wittier, smarter, and darker humor. With writers like Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Westfeldt, Judd Apatow, Martin McDonaugh, David O. Russell, Richard Linklater, The Duplass Brothers, and Whit Stillman behind a number of the year’s films (all writing and directing) and other quirky, pitch black comedic endeavors like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, God Bless America, and The Oranges, dark comedies found critical love, box office returns, and sometimes both. While Adam Sandler continued to flounder and films like The Three Stooges remake aided to the death of slapstick, audiences were flocking to dark comedies and were loving the results.

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13. Channing Tatum – The handsome Channing Tatum has long been the dude who all the girls gush over and who all the guys simply can’t stand. Well, 2012 put all the anti-Tatum haters to rest, and with 3 blockbuster films all released within the first half of the year, Tatum had a breakthrough unlike any other. In February, he once again got in touch with his romantic side and his chemistry with Rachel McAdams helped The Vow reach an incredible $125 million. Then in March, just when everyone thought he was romantic mush, Tatum shut us all up with his richly comedic work in 21 Jump Street, and his hilarious banter with Jonah Hill helped the comedy soar to $135 million. Then, to top it all off, Tatum took it all off in Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper dramedy, Magic Mike, which became the sleeper blockbuster of the summer season with a huge $113 million. Did someone say million-dollar man? I think so!

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TWDC Logo.svg14. Disney – While they may have had one of the biggest flops of the year and of all time with John Carter, Disney managed to bounce back big time thanks to The Avengers, which became the third highest grossing film of all time with over $600 million domestically, and their acquisition of Star Wars and the entirety of Lucas Arts. Since the news broke that Star Wars: Episode VII would be coming in 2015, the internet has been abuzz with casting rumors, speculation on what the plot will entail, and, of course, who will be helming the film. While it’s still a few years off, expect to hear a lot about Disney and Star Wars for a long time. Oh, and they also beat out their friends and Pixar by making the animated sensation Wreck It-Ralph, which dominated the Fall family box office all throughout November.

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https://i2.wp.com/cdn.breitbart.com/mediaserver/Breitbart/Big-Hollywood/2012/12/21/impossible/wpid-the-impossible-movie.jpg15. Disaster Scenes – Call us crazy, but 2012 was the year of the disaster sequence, and 3 different ones shook us to are most dramatic and fearful cores, proving that the movies have an undeniable power that sucks us in and doesn’t let go. In Flight, Robert Zemeckis stuck his shaky camera right in the cockpit of an airplane during a tumultuous scene of high-octane turbulence and the end result was nothing short of terrifying. Even more frightening was Ang Lee’s shipwreck sequence in Life Of Pi; thanks to the dazzling use of 3D, Lee put us right in the middle of a colossal storm, making us terrified of the gargantuan waves and frantic over a giant, capsizing freighter boat. Best of all was the devastating Tsunami sequence in The Impossible, where director Juan Antonio Bayona’s sweeping camera put us right in the middle of a devastating flood. To say we were short of breathe during this harrowing sequence would be an understatement, this was pure fear in every sense of the word.

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16. Ensemble CastsOne thing this year has proved is that audiences love films with large ensemble casts. Almost all of the year’s biggest blockbusters and best films were filled with a large, abundant amount of fantastic actors. The Avengers was easily the biggest film of the year and contained a large cast of superheroes and secret agents. While Cloud Atlas may not have caught on at the box office, it was easily one of the most ambitious films of the year, with its large cast playing a wide variety of different races and genders. Meanwhile, Oscar contender Lincoln had a staggering cast of amazing actors in pretty, authentic period clothing. Add in great work from the ensembles of The Dark Knight Rises, Moonrise Kingdom, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and more, and it’s clear that this year proved that audiences and critics are big fans of movies with casts full of star-studded and reliable actors.

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Seth MacFarlane17. Seth MacFarlane – Long known for being the comedic mastermind behind the perverse and highly outrageous Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane transitioned to the movies this year with unprecedented success. In a year that saw the death of the R-rated comedy, MacFarlane rapturously prevailed with his debut feature, Ted. Taking the random pop culture jabs and the extreme raunch of his television show and beefing it up with an R-rating, MacFarlane’s Ted was dirty and completely wrong in all the right ways. With a prime release date around July 4th, Ted grossed an impressive $218 million, becoming the R-rated comedy blockbuster that Hollywood had been waiting for ever since The Hangover in 2009. To make his year even better, MacFarlane was also awarded the lucrative job of Oscar Host for the 2013 Ceremony – not bad for a man who loves his fart jokes is it?

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18. Supporting Months – It’s no secret that the beginning of the year (Jan-May) is the home of cinematic fodder. It’s literally a dumping ground for the movies that the studios just need to get rid of (how they perform or how they are reviewed is of little concern). Bottom line: It’s the weakest time of the year for movies…except for when it came to 2012. January brought us Haywire and The Grey, February had Chronicle and The Secret Life of Arriety, March unleashed blockbusters 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, and The Lorax, and April sneaked in The Cabin in the Woods and Bernie. With other mixed bags/big grossers like Project X and The Devil Inside also in tow, 2012’s first third was the strongest those supporting months have been in many years, commercially and with critics as well.

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An Academy Award statuette, depicting a knight, rendered in Art Deco style, holding a crusader's sword19. Oscar Race – You know how it goes, the Oscar race starts off with a lot of different possibilities and then ends up with the same people and movies winning over and over and over again. Not this year! After a handful of lucrative critic and guild groups awarded a slew of different performances and movies, the race to the Academy Awards has become the most unpredictable its been in recent memory. Will Zero Dark Thirty and Kathyrn Bigelow prevail? Will Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence win Best Actress? Can Looper rightfully score a Best Original Screenplay nomination? Who the hell is the Best Supporting Actor/Actress frontrunner? The fact that the answers to these questions can go a ton of different ways is a great sign that the Oscars will actually be tense and exciting this year. I know, we can’t believe it either!

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20. Makeup – We’ve become so accustomed to immaculate production value in movies over the years that we tend to forget just how crucial the small things are, and this year, makeup proved to be a little tour-de-force. For starters, there was the revelatory work done in Cloud Atlas, where makeup transformed Hugo Weaving into a plump old woman, Jim Sturgess into a South Korean revolutionary, and Halle Berry into a white German women, among many others. How this jaw-dropping work was left off the Oscar shortlist is a true travesty and one of the biggest snubs of all time. Luckily, effective makeup was everywhere; Daniel Day-Lewis became a stand-in for our 16th president in Lincoln, nearly a dozen actors became cheery little dwarves in The Hobbit, Naomi Watts lost a chunk off the back of her leg in The Impossible, Joseph Gordon Levitt became a young Bruce Willis in Looper, Anthony Hopkins turned into the master of horror in Hitchcock, and Hugh Jackman got grimy as a prisoner in Les Miserables. Without these seamless makeup jobs, the movies would have been a much different place in 2012.

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The 5 Losers:

A female figure in silhouette stands before an enormous statue of a humanoid head. Text at the middle of the poster reveals the tagline "The Search For Our Beginning Could Lead To Our End". Text at the bottom of the poster reveals the title, production credits and rating.1. Summer Movie Season – While 2012 has undoubtedly been a fantastic year for film, there is no denying that the summer was a complete and utter disappointment. While The Avengers delivered big time, The Dark Knight Rises was met with very mixed responses from audiences; many had too high of expectations after The Dark Knight and unfairly expected the film to live up to or exceed its predecessor, which was realistically never going to happen. Another major disappointment was Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated return to the Alien universe, Prometheus. With this one, many felt the story was lacking and claimed the script was riddled with plot holes. The season was also filled with franchise non-starters like Battleship and Total Recall, not to mention Brave, which failed to live up to Pixar’s high standards. Hopefully next summer turns out better.

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2. Taylor Kitsch – For all of you Friday Night Lights fans, this must be a real bummer of a realization. If any young actor wants to know exactly how to avoid the A-list, they need only to follow suit with Taylor Kitsch who, hands down, had the worst year out of any other Hollywood actor: three major bombs within a four month period. Andrew Stanton’s turkey John Carter was avoided by viewers and reluctantly panned by critics, while the atrocious looking Battleship was expectantly low scoring on all fronts and Oliver Stone’s supposed comeback, Savages, turned out to be the biggest showcase of clusterfuckery seen this year. While he may have been perfectly suited for FNL, Kitsch has yet to hit a stride or prove his value on the big screen and 2012 made his living room to multiplex leap even more difficult. Let’s hope Kitsch has a new agent for 2013.

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3. John Carter – In a year filled with numerous flops at the box-office, none compared to the disaster that was John Carter. While the film itself was far from horrible, audiences simply didn’t connect with the material, and the film only made a weak $30 million in its opening weekend opposite a mighty $250 million budget. The film ended its run with around $282 million dollars world wide, but most analysts assume that the final budget with marketing costs included was around $800 million – can you say big financial loss? Most attribute the failure to the horrid marketing campaign that focused too much on the title character rather than the illustrious setting and plot. At the end of the day, the film lost millions and millions of dollars, not to mention scrapped all plans for future sequels, so we’ve probably heard the last from this fledgling franchise.

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4. R-Rated Comedy – Though 21 Jump Street and Ted found great success with critics and audiences alike, the R-Rated Comedy had an abysmal year, made all the more disastrous considering 2011 was a blockbuster year for the genre. In 2012, however, audiences mostly ignored the genre as Hollywood tried its best to replicate the smash success of hits like The Hangover and Bridesmaids. Unfortunately, Hollywood failed miserably; the original R-rated gang got back together in American Reunion but were completely forgotten, Paul Rudd died out with duds like Wanderlust and the current This Is 40, Adam Sandler continued to bomb with That’s My Boy, Will Ferrell continued his downward spiral with Casa De Mi Padre, Sasha Baron Cohen proved he’s still a one-hit-wonder with the lousy The Dictator, Jason Segel couldn’t help The Five Year Engagement, and the combination of Vine Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill couldn’t save The Watch, etc. Need we say more?

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5. Franchise Do-Overs – If we really are in the age of sequels, reboots, prequels, and adaptations, than, my god, do we need change quick! This year, a handful of franchises attempted to reenter the marketplace and set up prosperous futures for their respective brands, though audiences hardly embraced them. The Bourne Legacy was perhaps the biggest failure, and while setting up a new franchise with Jeremy Renner in the lead wasn’t a terrible idea, the film was too out of focus to stick without the reliable Matt Damon. Will Smith also couldn’t do anything to jump start the Men in Black franchise, with the third installment being a box office failure this summer. Other franchise re-entries like The Amazing Spider Man and Snow White and the Huntsman performed fine at the box office (enough to warrant sequels that is), though each had its fair share of critical problems. There was also the previously mentioned disasters known as Prometheus and Total Recall, and even the perfectly suitable The Hobbit is finding trouble at the box office and at this point it has no chance at getting anywhere near the final grosses of any of the Lord of the Rings movies, even with IMAX/3D/HFR surcharges.

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Well, there you have it! Those were our 2012 Winners & Losers here at Reel Reactions! Do you guys agree with our picks? Any choice nagging you? Who were your winners and losers of the year? Sound off below and stay tuned for more 2012 RECAP articles

Article by Reel Reactions Staff

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3 thoughts on “2012 RECAP: Winners & Losers

  1. Pingback: 2012 RECAP: The Best & Worst Movie Moments « Reel Reactions

  2. Pingback: 2012 RECAP: Best & Worst Performances « Reel Reactions

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