Mainstream Chick’s Top Picks of 2012

The good thing about being a procrastinator is that your “year-end list” won’t get buried in the list of “year-end lists”.  So with Armstrong-like apologies for the delay, here it is. Click on the links for the full reviews:

MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2012*

Argo – Great story. Great characters. Great pacing. And despite what the Academy might say, great direction (from Ben Affleck). Argo is everything a good movie should be. My #1 pick. Everything else on the list ties for second. See them all if/when the mood strikes.

Zero Dark Thirty – Gripping, but less entertaining than Argo. And again, despite what the Academy might say, great direction (from Kathryn Bigelow). The torture stuff, while disturbing, is only one small part of a much larger picture. Hoorah!

Les Misérables – I’ve always loved the music. And I think Hugh Jackman is one of the most versatile talents on the planet. So despite some shortcomings, I love this film. And despite what the Academy might say, there’s some excellent direction (from Tom Hooper).

The Intouchables – Every year, there seems to be that one movie that too few people see, despite the fact that it’s simply wonderful. Last year, it was 50/50. This year, it’s The Intouchables. Don’t let the subtitles scare you off. It’s a funny, life-affirming film. Even if it is in French.

The Impossible – This one is hard to watch and brought me to tears a few times. But it’s gripping, intense and ultimately uplifting. Excellent performances all around. Just don’t watch it while planning the next family vacation.

Wreck-It Ralph – What can I say? I’m a child of the ‘70s/’80s. This movie is a blast. My favorite animated flick of the year.

The Dark Knight Rises – I’m not a huge fan of ‘dark’ superhero movies, but Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne gives the epic trilogy a satisfying send-off.

Marvel’s The Avengers – Don’t overthink it. This one is just a lot of fun, especially if you like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. My favorite ‘light’ superhero movie of the year.

Skyfall – My relationship with Bond (movies) is complicated, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one, thanks to Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem.

Silver Linings Playbook – I wasn’t quite as enamored as many others seem to be, but SLP still wins a spot on the list because it doesn’t fit the conventional movie molds and features excellent performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.


Various Movies Worth Renting (or getting On Demand or Netflix, etc.):

Flight – I liked this one primarily for the excellent performance by Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – This movie is not nearly as boring as it sounds. It’s a sweet indie flick that’s worth checking out.

Pitch Perfect – It’s just plain fun, especially if you’re a Gleek.

Premium Rush – A quick, wild ride that’s worth taking, especially if you’re a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Looper – Same as above. Only this one is more cerebral.

The Hunger Games – Get with the program. If you plan to see the next two (or three), you’ve got to see this one first. It’s decent and fairly faithful to the book.

People Like Us – Never heard of it? It was actually quite good!

Magic Mike – Male strippers. Need I say more?

21 Jump Street – a twisted, comical trip down memory lane for anyone who remembers the TV series starring a young Johnny Depp.

Moonrise Kingdom – sweet and quirky.

The Amazing Spider-Man – Didn’t need to be made. But it’s pretty good anyway.

Worst Movie I Don’t Regret Seeing:

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 – I read the books. Time to put this guilty-pleasure saga to bed.

*NOTE: I haven’t seen EVERYTHING. And some movies may fall through the cracks. For instance, I need to see Beasts of the Southern Wild (reviewed by Arty Chick) and will try to do so before the Oscars. And ParaNorman. And Life of Pi. And Amour… But for the record, I saw a LOT. Here’s a quick and dirty rundown of my 2012 cinematic journey, as best I can recall:

Joyful Noise - fun music, weak plot

Man on a Ledge – not bad, but easily forgettable

Big Miracle – a decent sappy family drama based on real events

The Vow – mediocre romantic drama

This Means War – mediocre romantic comedy

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – good little indie

21 Jump Street – cheesy, crude and funny

The Hunger Games - good adaptation to set the stage for trilogy

Jeff Who Lives at Home – strange and forgettable

The Lucky One – typically sappy adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic drama

Marvel’s The Avengers - fun superhero ensemble

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - sweet indie with amazing cast

Battleship – pretty weak, but not totally unwatchable

Men in Black 3 – weak, disappointing sequel to blockbuster franchise

Moonrise Kingdom - sweet and quirky family drama from Wes Anderson

Snow White and the Huntsman – hmm. decent enough for the studio to order a sequel

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – fun, satisfying sequel for kids and adults

Brave - solid animated drama with strong female characters

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – not bad, but kind of a downer

Magic Mike - good movie and eye-candy, yet somewhat darker than expected

People Like Us - a nice little drama that few people saw

Ted - a sick, R-rated comedy that a lot of people saw and liked

The Amazing Spider-Man – good, but seemingly unnecessary reboot

Katy Perry: Part of Me – better than expected documentary on the pop superstar

The Dark Knight Rises – epically excellent

Ruby Sparks – disappointing indie that could/should have been better

Searching for Sugar Man - good documentary on long-lost musician

Hope Springs – falls flat, despite Meryl Streep

The Odd Life of Timothy Green - odd but decent family fare

Butter - a mediocre political satire with an all-star cast

Sparkle Dreamgirls light, and Whitney’s final curtain

Premium Rush – a fun ride with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

For a Good Time, Call – on second thought, don’t pick up

Anna Karenina – cinematically impressive, but still boring

Arbitrage - a bit slow, but solid performance from Richard Gere

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – psychological drama with awesome soundtrack

Looper – a good, original mind-bender

Frankenweenie – not bad, if you’re into Tim Burton weirdness

Pitch Perfect – hits a high note with Gleeks

Argo – a must-see

The Sessions - interesting story, good performances, and a naked Helen Hunt

Skyfall – a solid, action-packed outing with the quintessential British spy

Flight – worth watching for Denzel Washington’s performance

Wreck-It Ralph – nostalgic, animated fun for children of the ‘80s (and their kids)

The Impossible - gripping, uplifting, harrowing – and true

Les Misérables – flawed, but still great, unless you hate musical theater

Promised Land – highlights important issue, but lacks drama

Lincoln – bored by the first half; loved the second half and Daniel Day-Lewis

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part Two – disappointing, but still okay (for Twihards)

Silver Linings Playbook – the little movie that could; a solid psychological dramedy

Hitchcock - just so-so, even with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren

Hyde Park on Hudson - just okay (it’s hard to compete with Lincoln, eh Mr. Roosevelt?)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - better than expected, but can live without it

The Guilt Trip – harmless roadtrippin’ fun with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand

Zero Dark Thirty – compelling drama – not documentary! – on the hunt for Osama

This is 40 – just so-so, unless you happen to love it, which a few apparently did

The Intouchables – Excellent film. Seek it out! Trust me!

Thunderstruck - You’ve got to LOVE Kevin Durant to subject yourself to this rather lame basketball flick

There you have it – the year that was. Now bring it on, 2013! And, as always, feel free to add your own thoughts, feedback and critiques in the comments section. And join the community on Facebook (facebook.com/chickflix) and Twitter (@chickflixnet).

 

 

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