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Oh hey, I guess this place still exists.

Jared

1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Calvary
3. Snowpiercer
4. The Guest
5. The Raid

Adam

1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Calvary
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4. Edge of Tomorrow
5. Draft Day

John

1. Boyhood
2. Gone Girl
3. The Boxtrolls
4. Edge of Tomorrow
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Brian

1. Heaven is For Real
2. God’s Not Dead
3. Left Behind
4. Son of God
5. Sex Tape

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General lack of participation delayed our regular top five lists until now. But with three Grouches participating, we’re back on track!

Jared

1. Nebraska
2. Gravity
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Fast and Furious 6
5. In a World…

John

1. Gravity
2. The Attack
3. The Place Beyond the Pines
4. Enough Said
5. Drinking Buddies

Adam

1. Fast and Furious 6
2. Nebraska
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. Gravity

So this place is dead, huh? I’d say it’s because we aren’t seeing any movies, but that’s no guarantee we’d actually write about them. Also, we’re not seeing any movies.

Jared

1. Gravity
2. In a World…
3. Fast & Furious 6
4. The World’s End
5. Star Trek Into Darkness

Adam

1. Star Trek Into Darkness
2. Fast & Furious 6
3. Gravity
4. Pacific Rim
5. Despicable Me 2

John

1. The Attack
2. Gravity
3. The Place Beyond the Pines
4. Drinking Buddies
5. Captain Phillips

Brian

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. One Direction: This is Us
3. Temptation: Confessions of Marriage Counselor
4. Jewtopia
5. The Canyons

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.  Hey, I finished before the end of 2013.  That’s a moral victory, right?

10.  Pitch Perfect

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So, full disclosure, I was three or four beers in when I saw this movie with at least one fellow Grouch in a spur of the moment decision.  The plot services the movie fine, though it isn’t a particular highlight and, for example, the subplot of Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin’s romance is undercooked.  But holy cow is this movie funny.  The casting is spot on, leading to the breakouts of Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, but Anna Camp and Brittany Snow are solid in support, plus who doesn’t love Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins on commentary?  I was a little skeptical the world needed another a cappella thing about people trying to make regionals, but much credit to screenwriter Kay Cannon.  The film spawned multiple hit soundtracks and a hit single for Anna Kendrick, because of course.

9.  Lockout

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The film was written and directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, but it has co-writer and producer Luc Besson’s fingerprints all over it.  Latter-day Besson movies are extremely consistent: a tough, funny leading man, a clear and economical story, action movie one-liners, a few interesting twists, and a happy ending filled with explosives.  This one is no different.  Guy Pearce is a good match for Besson, I think, and Maggie Grace has clearly shown her chops.  The only thing I’ll say about Besson is that he seemed to be successfully hitting a lot of doubles and triples lately, I wouldn’t mind him aiming for another homer.

8.  The Raid: Redemption

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The movie that made me like RoboCop less and lose Adam’s respect forever.  Though I also saw this one in theaters with him and I’m pretty sure he liked it a bunch as well.  The story structure of having all the action take place in one building and having our hero have to essentially clear floors is very compelling for a martial arts movie.  The action is confined in the sense the fighting is limited to rooms or hallways, which is a refreshing change of pace, but there are plenty of floors, so there’s lots of different action.  Writer/director Gareth Evans does a great job illustrating the fighting, I think, and allowing just enough of a story to seep through.  There was one kill, where Iko Uwais jumped backwards and impaled a guy on a doorframe that was just spectacular.

7.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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I had very high expectations for this one going in, to the point where it probably disappointed a little not to fall in my top five.  Which isn’t fair, I know.  And for the first, I don’t know, two-thirds of the film, I couldn’t figure out what people were talking about.  But the last third of the film was absolutely killer.  Ezra Miller is the bold highlight of a strong cast.  It is shameful the highest-profile awards and nominations he pulled down were Chlotrudis, MTV Movie, and Teen Choice (looking squarely at you, Independent Spirits).  Emma Watson was also quite good, adding surprising depth to a character that didn’t have to be so nuanced.  That said, if you’ll excuse a brief foray into objectification, Emma Watson in the Rocky Horror getup as part of the live cast during a screening fulfilled fantasies I didn’t realize I had.  Anyway, there’s a lot to like from Stephen Chbosky’s effort here, it gets surprisingly dark and poignant and touching.  Here’s hoping his next go-round doesn’t take quite so long to get there.

6.  Zero Dark Thirty

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Talked about this movie a bunch in the Oscar posts, obviously.  A very good film and if you wanted to argue it should have won the big one, I wouldn’t put up a fight.  The last chunk of the movie, the raid, was absolutely riveting, with Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal putting on a masterclass in dramatic tension.  The middle part was maybe slightly uneven, a minor quibble that makes the movie very good instead of great.  Also, needed more Kyle Chandler and Chris Pratt.

5.  Flight

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I was pretty thrilled screenwriter John Gatins received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay.  And not just because he also co-wrote Summer Catch (with Kevin Falls!) and wrote Hard Ball.  This film was taut throughout and a fantastic character study.  And of course, much credit to director Robert Zemeckis, especially for the crash scene, and Denzel Washington, who was awesome.  But it is easy to forget that the crash scene was written and Washington’s drunk hero originates from the dialogue and scenes in the script.

4.  Argo

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Wait, does this mean I agree with the Academy?  Madness!  How this movie managed to win the top prize is a well-covered topic.  And you know, I’ll grant the movie isn’t necessarily particularly ambitious or trendsetting, which I imagine is a factor for some when deciding on Oscar.  But Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio did a fantastic job crafting a movie that’s incredibly tense throughout.  They expertly wove in comic relief as a valve to temper the pressure of the tension, which led to some of the funniest moments on screen this year.  The cast was tremendous, but the name actors in nearly every role was maybe a bit off-putting.  And again, needed more Kyle Chandler.  And pretty much everyone else.

3.  Wanderlust

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I realize I’m alone here, but that’s fine, I’ll enjoy my wildly underrated Wain/Marino joints as long as they keep pumping them out.  Saw this one in theaters and felt like I was doubled over with laughter for most of the time.  The writing was hilarious, of course, but David Wain has a way of building fantastic casts comprised of a great combination of regulars (Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux), really funny people (Key and Peele, Kathryn Hahn), and high profile newcomers (Jennifer Aniston, Alan Alda) who all blend together to make me laugh a lot.

2.  21 Jump Street

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Saw this one in theaters and can’t remember ever laughing more.  At first glance, this movie sounds like a terrible idea, right?  A remake of a TV show people vaguely remembered, starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, written by a guy with a credit on Project X, directed by the guys whose only prior big screen credit was an animated film?  But then, you realize that should read “Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill” and that Channing Tatum is crazy talented and that Michael Bacall also co-wrote the excellent Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, and that Phil Lord and Chris Miller directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was an adaptation way better than it needed to be.  At any rate, this film was fantastic, with a stellar supporting cast that runs so deep, a relatively clever story, and a deep understanding of the genre.

1.  The Dark Knight Rises

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Yup.  And I’m one of the few people who like this movie more than the last one.  Let’s go through why.  I personally find the philosophical musings of the Nolans’s to be a superficial distraction in their films.  It felt like they got away from the pseudo-intellectual diversions, at least a little.  I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the Bechdel test or complaints about poorly-written women/minority/etc. characters.  I’m sympathetic to the cause, but I think it misses the point a little, to me the characters should be written in service of the story, and yes that often means women should be able to talk to each other about things other than boys.  But not always.  In any case, the women in the first two Batman films were badly-written and generally annoying.  The women in this one were almost decently-written and vaguely interesting, which was a significant step up.  The cast was probably the best of the trilogy, I mean, it is insane that along with all the regulars, this one added Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Matthew Modine, and Juno Temple.  Finally, and maybe most importantly, the fight scenes in the film were darn near a revelation.  The action was so visceral, nearly primal in nature.  They were simply fantastic, and made the film the best of the year.

Half the Grouches don’t watch movies any more. On the other hand, I was shocked to discover the movie I was going to put at #2 came out last November so what do I know.

John

1. The Attack
2. The Place Beyond the Pines
3. Drinking Buddies
4. The Great Gatsby
5. Rush

Jared

1. In a World…
2. Fast & Furious 6
3. The World’s End
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. This Is the End

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

20.  The Avengers

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Maybe you’ve heard of this movie?  I think I’m a little lower on it than most people, but I clearly still enjoyed it.  The reason the film isn’t higher, for me, is because the action felt a little generic.  Joss Whedon is so strong writing and directing heroic characters, but the fights themselves would be the one area in which I think he could stand some improvement.  He lucked out a little in that most of the main characters already had origin stories, but I think Iron Man is the only other Marvel movie that belongs in the same conversation.

19.  Django Unchained

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Wrote about this one plenty in my Oscar roundups.  At the risk of repeating myself, I think Tarantino needs someone to reel him in.  Tarantino is a brilliant filmmaker with so many clever ideas.  But I think at some point he starts harming the quality of his films by trying to cram everything in.  That said, there’s obviously a ton to love about this movie.  Few people have mastered the interplay of action, drama, and comedy the way Tarantino has.  The Klan bit was one of the funniest scenes in movies this year, just as the climactic shootout one of the best with gunplay.  Tarantino always rounds up stellar casts, and this was no exception.

18.  Skyfall

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As a really huge Bond fan, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for me to rate this film in the same manner as everything else on this list.  Because I have very specific expectations from a Bond movie.  I’ll save you the rant, but I haven’t agreed with the direction the franchise has taken since Daniel Craig took over.  I respect that they’ve been adding highly-regarded writers and directors, but they are screenwriters I largely dislike and directors I’m not sure I love.  Mostly, while I’m completely on board with rebooting Bond after Die Another Day, it seemed that the producers had trouble committing finding a new direction for Bond.  The Craig movies have felt to me like attempts to emulate the success of a franchise like Bourne, where I’m of the opinion Bond should be the trendsetter in spy action films.  At any rate, my brother was kind enough to accompany me to a midnight showing way out at Udvar-Hazy.  I was super excited after the opening sequence, which was almost exactly what I was looking for.  And then I was disappointed by almost everything else.  Except for a couple of points near the end, which set up the series to a point where I hoped it would be at the beginning of Casino Royale.  Also in the film’s favor: it got the franchise into the Academy’s good graces, for the first time in pretty much ever.

17.  The First Time 

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I realize I’m alone on this one, and I’m OK with that.  I also realize this is going to sound crazy, because the films really are nothing alike, but for me, much the praise directed toward Amour should have gone toward this one.  This movie was sweetly romantic and funny, a coming of age story about love in high school.  Very roughly in the framework of a romantic comedy, it is less screwball and more dramedy.  Awkward and goofy, sly and poignant, the film is squarely in the sweet spot of my cinematic taste.  Leads Britt Roberton and Dylan O’Brien were quite solid, but I wanted to give shoutouts to pairing Christine Taylor and Joshua Malina as a married couple, and appearances by Tinker from FNL, and Molly Quinn from Castle.  Here’s hoping writer/director Jon Kasdan has more like this up his sleeve.

16.  Cousinhood

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Saw this at Filmfest DC with John, and I’ll direct you to his recap of the film, since it is pretty spot on.  It is a funny and touching story of some bros going back home to reconnect with their past and figure out who they are now.  Like John says, the film isn’t perfect, and with some polish could have been something special.  But the movie is still definitely worth a watch.

15.  The Expendables 2

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This movie is exactly what you think it will be.

14.  The Intouchables

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This movie made a crazy amount of money in Europe.  Here in the U.S. it did OK, suffering from a terrible title and perhaps a weak advertising strategy.  The film is amount a paralyzed millionaire and his aide who grew up on the streets.  The formula is time-tested: it is a feel-good movie about a mismatched pair with wildly different backgrounds.  The movie isn’t particularly deep, which isn’t necessarily a problem or anything.   Omar Sy is a fun actor, he’s got roles in some high-profile English-language films over the next few years, here’s hoping those work out.

13.  Lincoln

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Already talked plenty about this one.  So I’ll recommend everyone read Team of Rivalson which the film was ostensibly based.  For me, though, the fascinating part of the book was how Lincoln corralled a cabinet full of people who didn’t like him and used them to great success.  Not a knock on the film, which already had too many characters, but there’s a lot more to the story.

12.  End of Watch

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Despite some good reviews, I was a little skeptical of this one, probably owing to my (likely misguided) distrust of shaky cam.  And because how many cop TV shows and movies does the world really need?  One more, apparently, because this film was pretty fantastic.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are so great together, they have an easy chemistry as partners that really makes the film sing.  The movie needs more Anna Kendrick because, as a general rule, every movie needs more Anna Kendrick, but I dare anyone to not fall in love with her after her singalong with Gyllenhaal to Cam’ron’s “Hey Ma”.  The film, impressively, manages to be funny and sad, made me want to spend more time with the characters, established a pretty clear world, and has a continuing subplot.

11.  Ted

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Sure, story has never been Seth MacFarlane’s particular forte, which is why the film falls just shy of my top 10.  But a never-ending barrage of jokes is Seth MacFarlane’s particular forte, and this film was one of the funniest of the year.  I was cracking up in the theater starting from Patrick Stewart’s narration at the beginning (“…there’s nothing more powerful than a young boy’s wish.  Except an Apache helicopter.”) and virtually throughout the rest of the ridiculous film.  Mark Wahlberg is sneakily game to act against a teddy bear and (an admittedly underutilized) Mila Kunis.

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#40.  Safe

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There’s something to be said for the consistent level of quality of Jason Statham films.  I don’t know even know what to compare this stretch of films to.  I mean, from The Transporter through Parker, I think I’d probably only rate Crank as a great movie, but pretty much all of them have been exactly what anyone would expect them to be.  And all of them are watchable.  Not sure Safe is particularly memorable or will ever be anyone’s favorite movie, but if you are in the mood for a Statham movie, you won’t be disappointed.

#39.  Fun Size

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I think it is just about impossible to talk about this movie without sounding like, or referring to, Brian, so I’m not going to try.  You know I typed that, and then pretty much anything I could think to type about Victoria Justice or Jane Levy sounded really really creepy.  So let’s just say that it takes all the suspension of disbelief I could muster to believe they weren’t part of the cool kids.  The movie is a pretty solid one crazy night movie, and the fact that it is geared toward the younger set doesn’t hurt it.  I think there probably was the chance to punch it up with more jokes, but I could also easily see that not being the fault of screenwriter Max Werner (or director Josh Schwartz) but instead a studio thing.  I don’t think it holds up out of context, but the Explaining Rap (remix) was one of the funnier things from a movie this year.

#38.  Take This Waltz

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I can see why this film isn’t for everyone.  Seth Rogen as a dramatic (or dramedic, really) lead takes some getting used to.  The movie is about the end of a…not dysfunctional relationship, but not well-functioning one.  It isn’t overly heavy on the drama or the comedy.  But it mostly works.  A lot of credit is due to Michelle Williams, sure, because she’s great like always.  The running gag about the shower is one of my favorite things from a movie this year.

#37.  The Grey

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I understand marketing this film as “Liam Neeson fights wolves.”  That’s certainly compelling, and pretty much got me to watch.  But it creates a misconception.  This movie isn’t Liam Neeson exacting revenge against all wolfkind for kidnapping his daughter.  Rather it is a deep, dark, philosophical musing on life and death.  Which was a pleasant surprise for me, but I could see some people being disappointed with the lack of wolfpunching.  This is a sneaky good movie.

#36.  Friends with Kids

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Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, who is best known for Kissing Jessica Stein and for being with Jon Hamm.  Westfeldt also stars along with Adam Scott.  Ordinarily I’d say it is a little weird that Hamm has a supporting role in the film, but one gets the feeling that Jon Hamm maybe isn’t threatened by too many people.  Anyway, the film had plenty of charm, and a stellar cast which also includes Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, and Edward Burns.

#35.  John Carter

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Taylor Kitsch is having the exact same luck in picking his movies that I’d expect Riggins to have.  The problems with the marketing have been well-documented, from the boring name to the massive reported budget to believing in a century-old property without any apparent built-in fanbase.  Thing is, if you can evaluate the movie on its own merits, it is pretty decent.  The major flaw is that the politics on Mars seems a little muddled, which drags down the plot.  But the movie is a lot of fun, with great visuals, solid acting (with a surprisingly deep supporting cast), and a generally interesting story.

#34.  Your Sister’s Sister

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A mumblecore movie I actually liked?  Having Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as two of the leads certainly helped.  I can’t really figure out why this one clicked for me.  It basically had the plot of a romantic comedy, maybe that helped?

#33.  Goon

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The world needs more funny sports movies that have a lot of heart.  Seann William Scott acquits himself quite well as a super nice if slightly slow minor league hockey enforcer who isn’t so much good at the hockey part of the game, but can fight with the best of them.  The movie is chock full of funny bits with a surprisingly sweet center.  Co-writer Jay Baruchel seems to have a lot of fun with his supporting role, and Alison Pill is pretty great as the love interest.

#32.  Taken 2

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The thing about the recent spate of Luc Besson action flicks is that they are all seemingly pretty decent.  He’s spread himself across so many movies, and the audience for them is such that it would be understandable if some of the films suffered in quality.  But lo and behold, this movie is perfectly adequate.  Impressively, the writing crew manages to rehash the premise while still infusing some life into it.  The movie is self-recommending, I think.

#31.  Magic Mike

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I feel like I’m a little lower on this one than most people, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not.  Made a ton of money, and it kinda seems to me that every year people are surprised that a movie more aimed at women than men could rake in the dough.  I’m curious as to what Hollywood’s number-crunchers say, because it sure seems like no surprise lots of women go to movies.  At any rate, I thought the story probably could have used a little bit of work.  McConaughey was stellar, though it wasn’t the best role of the for year.  Actually, same goes for Channing Tatum.  We’ll get into this later, but I have to say, I have nothing but respect for Tatum.  His range is far wider than I might have thought.  And seems to really throw himself into roles, having a ton of fun in the process, which I think shows on screen.  Her small role here just adds to how Olivia Munn has been killing it recently.  I don’t know how to say this without it sounding like an insult, but I sorta think Alex Pettyfer has been slightly miscast in the four movies I’ve seen him in, though he’s been the best here.

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#50.  Tonight You’re Mine

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He’s a famous rock star.  She’s the lead singer of a small-time female rock group.  They get handcuffed together at a rock festival, and hilarity (and maybe love?) ensues.  The premise is incredibly rom-commy, but the film’s direction is more indie rock documentary.  In my opinion, there’s way too much time spent on the festival and not enough on the story.  But it was taken at a real festival, with real artists (including the Proclaimers), which is interesting.

#49.  Bachelorette

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Had some very funny bits.  And was a lot darker than I was expecting.  It felt like the second of the film started to drag, and the characters weren’t developed as much as I might have liked.  If every movie had Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott, I’m not sure that would be the worst thing in the world.  While this movie may not have been made (or at least the distribution it got) without The Hangover, I would hesitate to make too much of the comparison.  Sure, they both involve bachelor/bachelorette parties, are funny, but tonally, this one isn’t nearly as light.  Or ridiculous.

#48.  Total Recall

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The original is one of my favoritest movies ever.  So it is difficult to judge this one with referring back.  And also, if I’m being honest, it probably means I bumped this one up a few spots because I like the premise so much.  I’m not fundamentally opposed to remakes or anything, but I’m not sure this one had too much to add to the original.  I liked the expanded role of Kate Beckinsale’s character.  And setting the film on a future Earth divided into two Have and Have-Not sections was a pretty interesting take on the theme.  By the end, though, the film had devolved into pretty much every other blockbuster, with large, loud explosions for seemingly no good reason.

#47.  Sound of My Voice

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It feels like Brit Marling watched a lot of Twilight Zone growing up, and I’m OK with that.  The vaguely mystery/sci-fi aspect of them film were fairly engrossing, and I think they did a good job sticking the ending.  I am not certain I loved the cult around Maggie as the entry point into the story.  I mean, I can see why, but I found the cult itself the least interesting aspect of the film.

#46.  Tai Chi Zero

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I saw a number of reviews compare this film to a martial arts movie by way of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  I’m not sure I agree with that, necessarily, but I would go into this one expecting a sense of humor and a more modern take on the kung fu movie.  Though not as goofy as a Stephen Chow film.  I also love that people decided both that we needed a steampunk kung fu movie and to market this one as such.  They weren’t wrong, of course, but it makes me happy.

#45.  Gimme the Loot

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One of my favorite Spirit Award nominees, the film is fun, funny, and charming.  It focuses on a pair of teenage graffiti artists, a guy and a girl, obsessed with becoming well-known and respected within the tagging community, hatching a plan to tag the apple at Citifield (at least, it was the Mets stadium, I can’t remember if they were talking about Shea or not, apologies).  That’s not really a great description, though, it is more a few days in the life of a couple of teens living in New York in the summer.  It is about graffiti, sure, but it is also about growing up and first love, and innocence.

#44.  The Cabin in the Woods

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A fascinating film, certainly getting points for originality and creativity.  Got a little strange toward the end, but that’s part of its charm.  The cast was a ton of fun on both sides of the ball, with Chris Hemsworth being able to lead anything, Kristin Connolly (who I just realized is in House of Cards), Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, and Amy Acker.  I have a few thoughts on things I’d do differently, but I’m certainly not as qualified as Joss Whedon, so let me go in a different direction.  Why hasn’t this been made into a TV show yet?  Each season could be a different scary story, with a different set of beautiful and handsome fresh-faced actors and actresses to be killed off, but keeping the same cast of people downstairs working on the horror set up.  I see loads of possibilities.  The origin stories for the people downstairs could be worked in, we could do some time jumping to see how things worked across time.  I dunno, maybe it is just me, but I think it sounds like a winner.

43.  Seven Psychopaths

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Considering I had Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges near the top of my list along with his brother’s The Guard, I think this film’s placement has to be considered a huge disappointment, keeping in mind I started with crazy high expectations.  There were some funny moments, and the script could be clever at times.  But it didn’t seem nearly as clever as it thought it was, though it did get some points for originality.  And the actors are a ton of fun.  Although it is a little strange how little the women are in the movie, given their billing.

#42.  Man on a Ledge

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Granted, I’m a little bit of a sucker for heisty/prove my innocence films, but this one wasn’t half bad, if not particularly memorable.  The setup was pretty decent, I thought.  But I’m not sure they nailed the ending.  In that they way they “proved” Ed Harris did the crime or whatever wouldn’t really stand up in a court run by twelve year olds.

#41.  Compliance

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Ann Dowd’s Oscar story was quite compelling last year, I just wish her performance was a little bit better here (which probably actually means I wish her character had a little bit more screen time) to justify it all.  It has been kind of fascinating watching Dreama Walker go from The Good Wife to this to Don’t Trust the B.  Partially because she/her character were pretty awful in The Good Wife, so it seems like something in clicking in the more recent projects.  This film did make me think, so well done, film.  It is harrowing, actually.  The ending felt a little bit off, though.

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#60.  The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars.  I thought the film actually had a pretty clever sense of humor at times, but the witty dialogue was too sparsely interspersed with the underdeveloped plot.  Which included Charles Darwin mooning over Queen Victoria, so in retrospect, maybe I’m being a little bit too harsh.

#59.  The Decoy Bride

Like I wasn’t going to watch a romantic comedy starring Alice Eve, Kelly MacDonald, and David Tennant.  The story, on the very slight chance you don’t know, is that Alice Eve is a famous actress (from the film: “You know, they asked 10,000 men to name their ideal partner and 9,800 said Lara [Eve’s character]. Statistically that includes at least 800 gay men. If you’re male and Lara Tyler’s interested in you, she’s the one; it’s kind of a rule. You can’t be happy with Lara Tyler, you can’t be happy with anyone.”) who is marrying David Tennant, a well-known author.  Tennant had set his book on a tiny island in Scotland, so they decide to get married there.  With the slight problem that Tennant never actually bothered to go there to research what the island is like.  Kelly MacDonald plays a local girl, desperate to get out, who, through a totally realistic series of events ends up being a decoy bride to fool the paparazzi, but accidentally gets married.  MacDonald shines in the role, not unexpectedly.  As I think I mentioned earlier in this series, I really hope Eve can break out of playing the incredibly hot love interest, because I’m convinced she can do more.  That said, it isn’t like she’s miscast in the role, and her come hither look is out of this world.  The film felt like it had been chopped up a little too much and (spoiler alert) MacDonald and Tennant maybe fall in love a little too quickly.  And I do think there’s some fascinating ideas in here.

#58.  Bernie

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I felt like this film had a very consistent sense of humor, unfortunately that sense of humor didn’t exactly overlap with mine.  Though it did with John, so consider yourself warned.  We talked about the movie some in our Spirit Awards wrap, so feel free to check that out.  Both of us chose the movie for film of the year, though for me that was more due to the weakness of the other nominees.  I liked Jack Black in the role, it was similar to his other characters, but with a little more depth.  And MacLaine and McConaughey were both pretty solid as well.

#57.  The Hunger Games

hunger games

I’m sure other people have mentioned this, but Jennifer Lawrence is an incredibly beautiful woman, so why the need to turn her into plastic on the posters?  I haven’t read any of the books in the series for whatever that is worth.  And I have seen Battle Royale.  Multiple times.  Actually, I think as an Orientation aide one year at college, I may have forced some first-years (or “freshmen”) to watch the movie.  The comparisons are obvious, of course, and while Battle Royale is the better movie, I think it is also important to keep in mind that the two have some significant differences.  Anyway, again, not having read the books, it felt like the movie bit off more than it could chew.  It introduced a number of different story points which all sounded pretty interesting, but the film just couldn’t adequately explain all of them.  I mean, I love me some The Running Man, so I’m all for movies about dystopian game shows where people have to kill each other.  Having kids kill each other on screen is naturally going to be very difficult to pull off, so while I definitely don’t want to call the film a cop out, I am not certain I loved how Katniss performed in the games.

#56.  Trouble with the Curve

Trouble-with-the-Curve-Poster

I think I spent three innings at a Potomac Nationals game going over this movie with a friend in quite explicit detail, so sorry, any people sitting around me who hadn’t yet seen the movie and who will never read this blog.  It is too simple to call this film a response to Moneyball, but it wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate.  I won’t go into every single problem I had with the movie, as someone who knows a little bit about this stuff, but let me bring up three points.  First, there is no serious person high up in any major league team who would advocate for taking the #2 overall pick in the draft solely based on what his computer tells him.  Second, any team with the #2 overall pick would have extensively scouted prime candidates for the pick prior to two months before the draft.  And third, the odds of someone being considered that high in the draft having  trouble with the curve but no other scout picking up on it AND that player not being exposed to top quality pitching talents at various high school tournaments is extremely small.  That said, I’ll watch the heck out of any baseball movie, and if the movie is about Clint Eastwood being a curmudgeonly scout, with Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake flirting and spouting Orioles trivia, well, it can’t be all bad.  The subplots surrounding Amy Adams (her strained relationship with her dad and her burgeoning relationship with Timberlake) weren’t terribly well-developed, which really is what is holding this movie back more than any issues I had with the depiction of baseball.

#55.  Paranorman

paranorman

My notes on this Best Animated Film nominee read: “Got deep at times, except for story.”  Hm.  I think what I was trying to say is that the plot isn’t really anything to write home about.  Which isn’t necessarily a mortal sin for a film targeted at a wide audience.  But I found the subject matter rather thought-provoking.  The film takes a nuanced look at what it means to be an outcast.  And not just the superficial “oh he wears glasses and likes sci-fi” kind of “nerd” outcast.  I was pretty surprised.  If the story was more interesting, this really could have been a knockout of a movie.

#54.  This Is 40

thisis40

I mean, sure, I’ll keep watching anything Judd Apatow makes.  But it sure seems like there’s been a steady decline in the quality of his films.  I’ve got a few theories why his past two movies haven’t been as good as his earlier output, but I’m not really satisfied with them, and it is a small sample size anyway.  But this one is probably only memorable for Megan Fox being in it (and not being half bad).  I don’t want to say that Apatow has lost his sense of humor, but it seems like maybe in an attempt to make us sympathize with his main characters, he’s lost sight a little bit of what made his TV and films so good.

#53.  The Man with the Iron Fists

ironfists-poster

The first five actors billed in this one are: RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, and Dave Bautista.  Which is probably all you need to know.  I want to make sure to give credit to RZA for his direction.  Many of the fight scenes were strikingly bold and showy without being distracting, a fine line to hold when making a martial arts film like this one.  The screenplay from RZA and Eli Roth was…well…it got us to the fight sequences, so it had that.  The problem, of course, is figuring out how to develop a sensical screenplay while devoting so much time to the fights and to setting up the fights.

#52.  The Impossible

Impossible-Digital-Poster-1080x1584

I was really dreading seeing this movie.  Bad on you, publicity department.  But I ended up seeing the film and liking it more than I expected.  Good on you, publicity department.  I think the subject matter is just tough to watch.  I have no idea, for example, to whom I would recommend the film.  It is kind of depressing and vaguely uplifting.  Naomi Watts was good, but it was clearly a supporting actress performance, in my humble opinion.

#51.  Gayby

gayby

A Spirit Award nominee.  Maybe gets lost a little bit among all the unorthodox ways people are raising kids movies.  But it was actually pretty funny at times.  The character, in particular, were amusing, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  I almost want to argue this set up would have been better as a TV show.  I mean, the characters were better-developed and the writing sharper than the vast majority of first-season sitcoms.  I think it would be pretty doable as a TV show.  Just not sure anyone would watch.

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#70.  A Royal Affair

I actually read The Royal Physician’s Visit (the book on which this film is based) a few years ago, so when this movie started generating buzz on its way to an Oscar nomination for Foreign Film, it took me a little to realize why it sounded so familiar.  It is a pretty good book, and I think the adaptation is faithful.  I think the story deceptively works better as a book than a film, though.  Because while a doctor coming to court and essentially seizing power and romancing the queen may sound cinematic, they are small moments amid the meat of the story, which is palace intrigue and less exciting on screen.  The role is absolutely perfect for Mads Mikkelsen, and Alicia Vikander seems on her way to a bright career.

#69.  Safe House

This was the first 2012 movie I saw, I believe.  Watched it in theaters with Adam about a year and a half ago.  So I’m not exactly prepared to give it the most trenchant analysis.  Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson were underused, which is a shame.  My biggest problem with the film, I think, is that they didn’t really nail down the relationship between the two leads.  Which would have been the key to success in this relatively generic-feeling film.

#68.  Celeste and Jesse Forever

I expected this one to be a little funnier and not quite so moody, I think.  Rashida Jones and Will McCormack’s take on a romantic comedy did feel relatively fresh, but also a little undercooked.  In particular, I have in mind the relationship with Emma Roberts’s character, which seemed like it had potential, but was instead used more as a prop.  But the relationship between Celeste and Jesse was definitely worth exploring.

#67.  God Bless America

Was actually just talking about this one with my brother.  In his words, the opening was one of those scenes where you can’t think they’ll actually go there, but then they do.  The premise of the movie: a normalish guy snaps a little and starts killing douchebags is one that seems like it would resonate with Adam.  I have to give credit to writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait, though.  This film easily could have been preachy, bogged down in its message.  Or it could have devolved into a cheap Tarantino ripoff.  But it stays true to its voice.  I’m just not certain if that voice had a point.  And if it did, what the point was, exactly.

#66.  This Means War

One of the most disappointing movies of the year.  The casting was perfect.  Chris Pine is a classic male lead, handsome, dreamy-eyed, capable of being a cocky action star with a quick quip.  And those of us who’ve seen Bottle Shock and Blind Dating know he can do romantic comedy.  Tom Hardy might be the most visceral actor working today.  More than just a big lug, in movies like Warrior and Bronson, he shows how he can expressively use his brawn in mesmerizingly impactful performances.  And although Reese Witherspoon has found herself in a series of bad movies since, geez, Walk the Line, there are few actresses who can carry a comedy the way she can.  Toss in a charming premise of Pine and Hardy being best friends, CIA spies, and fighting over Witherspoon without her knowing?  Should have been gold.  Somewhere along the way, the film lost its sense of fun.  And the decision to tack on a serious subplot with a bad guy seems like a poor choice, feeling shoehorned in and a poor attempt at, I dunno, 80s screwball?

#65.  A Girl Walks Into A Bar

So long as Sebatian Gutierrez keeps putting together these great ensembles, I’m going to keep watching.  Although I think he’s maybe fallen a little too much in love with the disparate stories and should consider either tightening up, or going to Showtime with a pitch for a TV show.  I will say, though, that the naked ping pong club was a thing of sheer brilliance.  One of the best reveals of the year.

#64.  Robot & Frank

It’d be a spoiler if anyone saw the movie, but Lovely, Still did this better.  Of course, this one has a robot and catburglary, so the movie does have a few points in its favor.  The robot was done very well, I thought.  It was a neat take on the concept of a helper robot in the near future.  Frank Langella’s performance was strong, and Susan Sarandon seemed to be having some fun.  The film, like others before it, does have some valid points to make about the elderly, but the plot is ultimately too lightweight to make a major impact.

#63.  The Five-Year Engagement

Was also recently talking about this one with my brothers.  We disagreed on its merits.  I thought the film started off strong, but then petered out.  Seemed to lose focus as it went on, as the beginning was funny, but then things went long and sprawling.  The film did have a mature, serious point, I suppose.  And the cast, which included Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Jacki Weaver, and Dakota Johnson, was pretty fun.

#62.  Red Dawn

The original is, of course, an American treasure.  Which I’ve seen many, many times.  I wasn’t immediately opposed to the remake, though, because I think the story is even more resonant today.  The thought of an foreign nation parachuting into the country and knocking out all electronics is a frightening thought.  So I was disappointed to see this version emulate so much of the original.  I didn’t really see the point.  Especially with this cast, I mean, Chris Hemsworth can clearly carry a movie heavy on action, and Adrianne Palicki is also wonderful at the more physical roles.

#61. Superclasico

Saw this one at DC Filmfest with John.  It has some funny moments.  And there’s a good story in there not too far below the surface.  But the movie could stand some tightening up, it gets a little lost among the myriad subplots.  The one about wine, for example, doesn’t really go anywhere and chews up a significant chunk of time.

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