This was the first year in a long time that it was easier to come up with the 10 best movies than it was to create a list of the worst.
It may be just the simple fact that studios no longer screen really awful movies for critics, and, in fact, this was the first year that I didnt give an F to any film. There were certainly some movies that deserved the failing grade and you know who you are Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure but they were spared my wrath.
Even if I had seen movies like Dredd and One for the Money, putting together a list of the worst offerings isnt just about the films that made be doubt my career choice. This list is made up of movies that had the potential to be better, but failed miserably.
Here are my high and low picks of 2012.
1. Anna Karenina: This is a spectacular movie, both for the amazing performances and for the creative filming style. Director Joe Wright has taken the much-told tale and cast a cinematic spell to make his film version as compelling as it is creative. Its one of the best and most beautifully staged movies of the past year, and it has standout performances by Keira Knightley and Jude Law.
2. Ruby Sparks: Its the creative telling of this story about a writer and his creation that makes this movie so charming and impressive, even though it did next to nothing at the box office. Star and writer Zoe Kazan has put together a smart script that resonates with universal truths about how complicated relationships can become if one person tries to sand away the others rough edges. And, as the title character, Kazan flows between dramatic emotional changes with ease, grace and an unbridled energy.
3. Argo: Its a rare movie that can hold the audience even when they know how the story ends. Ben Affleck continues to shine as a director. His latest work is a brilliant blend of a first-rate story delivered with skill and attention to detail. While the plot sounds too unbelievable to be true, this fact-based story is as compelling and exciting as any James Bond adventure.
4. The Avengers: If the goal of a movie is to entertain, then no other movie offered more in 2012. Director Joss Whedon was able to fill this comic book-based film with loads of action scenes while still managing some character development.
5. Les Misérables: A masterful big-screen adaptation of the much-beloved stage production. While the singing voices of the principle players Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe dont have the power of those who have played these roles on stage, their sharp acting skills and the massive vistas created by director Tom Hooper are more than enough compensation.
6. The Impossible: Naomi Watts anchors a magnificent cast in this moving and emotional story of a familys fight for survival after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
7. The Sessions: No movie this year featured as much raw and naked emotion as the story of a man (John Hawkes) in an iron lung who contacts a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). Amazing performances emerge because the actors are able to strip away all of the trappings of their own lives and slip into the skin of the character theyre playing.
8. Skyfall: This is not your fathers, nor your grandfathers, James Bond. Daniel Craig brings a blue-collar grittiness to the role that makes his Bond different from all the actors before him. This Bond is good, really good.
9. The Hunger Games: This tale of a teenage girl (Jennifer Lawrence) who must participate in a fight to the death is that rare case of a movie that will please lovers of the book as well as those who have never heard of the series.
10. Seven Psychopaths: A superb script by writer/director Martin McDonagh. The best cast of screwball con men who shoot to thrill since The Usual Suspects turn what would have been a rather tepid tale of dognapping gone bad into crazy fun.
1. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: Congratulations to Dwayne The Rock Johnson for managing to turn in such a horrible performance in this stinker of a sequel that he bumped Adam Sandler from the top of the mountain. This film is a monumental failure because of clunky acting, an uninspired story, not-so-special effects and flat 3-D. But viewers liked it it made more than $100 million.
2. Thats My Boy: Sandler will have to try harder next year as this father-son tale came up just a little short of being the worst movie of the year. The reason this Sandler film is a movie version of dog droppings isnt that it tries to get laughs from topics generally off-limits in comedies. The problem here is that no one seems to try.
3. Sinister: Home movies spark a nightmare experience for a family. Youll know how they feel after watching this production, which has dumb writing, dull filming style and vapid creatures.
4. The Five-Year Engagement: Just say I dont. This tale of an engaged couple having trouble getting to the altar features another mugging performance by Jason Segel. It might have worked if it had a faster pace, more focus on the comedy, a better leading pair and a stronger plot device.
5. American Reunion: The only idea worse than going to your own high school reunion is getting this gang back together. The screenwriters force the characters into the same mold from 13 years ago, and time is not on their side.
6. Mirror, Mirror: Snow White (Lily Collins) and the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) battle for control of the kingdom. It has so many problems that seeing it will leave you grumpy.
7. John Carter: This story should have been an out-of-this-world tale of good vs. evil, but the script keeps getting bogged down by convoluted explanations.
8. Men in Black 3: The latest film in the series features a time-travel storyline. Considering how flawed this script is, it would have been nice to go back in time to stop the movie. Though the producers dont think so: It hauled in $179 million in the U.S.
9. What to Expect When Youre Expecting: What to expect from this movie about pregnancy is not very much. Watching the film based on the popular pregnancy guide by Heidi Murkoff must be what its like to have labor pains.
10. Battleship: This Navy clunker is so bad, youll want to fire a few warning shots across the bow of anyone thinking about taking a look. What do you expect from a movie thats based on a board game?