The weather might still be pretty hot, but school’s back in session and Summer 2012 is in the books. That means its time again to sort through the biggest movie season of the year (for those not obsessed with golden statuettes) and pick the very best and the very worst.
In my opinion, 2012 was the summer of met expectations. The films that disappointed did not surprise anyone for disappointing and the reboots we weren’t sure about (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Bourne Legacy”) proved to be good like we thought, but also with problems like we thought. There were a couple nice surprises, but in general we got what we wanted.
1. Michael Fassbender – “Prometheus”
2. Jack Black — “Bernie”
3. Tom Hardy — “The Dark Knight Rises”
Fassbender makes this list for the second year in a row, first as Magneto and now as the android David. He’s just a brilliant actor and he brings so much to his performance as a character who cannot feel, and without making us feel as though he’s not a believable robot.
Jack Black gets a shout-out for the biggest transformation we’ve ever seen from him, completely capturing the real-life character he played. It’s easily his best performance to date. Stepping into a bigger spotlight was Tom Hardy, filling (in a way) the shoes of Heath Ledger. His character isn’t written as powerfully as Joker, but Hardy only had his eyes and physicality to convey emotion and menace and he does both so well in his underrated performance.
1. Quvenzhane Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
2. Zoe Kazan – “Ruby Sparks”
3. Noomi Rapace – “Prometheus”
There were not many opportunities for great female performances this summer, and I didn’t see all that many independent films, so the list looks as so. Young newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis will blow you away if and when you see “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Her character, Hushpuppy, was the best written of all female characters I saw this summer.
Zoe Kazan, who also wrote “Ruby Sparks,” showed some serious talent going emotionally bonkers in that film, with many highs and many lows, so she deserves attention. Noomi Rapace was the only actress who got the starring role in a blockbuster this summer (Kristen Stewart doesn’t count) and she did really well with it.
2. The Watch
3. Snow White and the Huntsman
I should be using the title “worst,” but I don’t want to sound that cruel, and considering that I didn’t see these movies and many others that could be deemed worse than these, it wouldn’t be fair.
No one expected big things from “Battleship,” but general consensus was that it was awful. Considering the price tag, the degree of marketing and the potential for mindless fun, “Battleship” failed on all accounts.
Considering the talent involved, the simply dreadful things I’ve been hearing about “The Watch” really bothers me. I almost need to see it just to figure out how they all could have been involved in something so awful.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” was a movie I was excited for but never got around to seeing after I heard it was decent at best. It looked absolutely stunning and immersive, a true epic, but the fact that I didn’t even feel inclined to go see it means it’s already disappointing.
1. Men in Black III
2. The Expendables 2
3. Premium Rush
Not many people gave “Men in Black III” a chance to be good. I sure as heck didn’t. There seemed no good justification for this movie’s existence, yet it was actually a rather enjoyable time and if you missed it this summer, I recommend catching it this fall. More on “The Expendables 2” a little further down, but after the pleasant sense of apathy I felt toward the original, the sequel really improved the entire premise. Also, haven’t seen “Premium Rush,” but anything getting good reviews at the end of August deserves recognition.
Best Superhero Film
1. The Avengers
2. The Dark Knight Rises
3. The Amazing Spider-Man
I was really pleased with all the superhero offerings this summer, though not everyone will say that. You might be wondering why I crown “The Avengers” instead of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and I can’t necessarily give you a good answer; despite being hugely anticipated superhero movies, there’s so much that’s different. Lowered expectations for “The Avengers” allowed me to really enjoy that, and the quality of the grand finale of that film did something we just haven’t seen before. “The Dark Knight Rises” simply met my expectations and put a fantastic cap on the trilogy. “The Avengers” was exciting and new.
Best (Non-Superhero) Action Film
2. The Bourne Legacy
3. The Expendables 2
I’m not sure either that “Prometheus,” such a pure science-fiction film, deserves to be in this category, but it deserves recognition somewhere. Ridley Scott’s return to sci fi was probably the most divisive film of the summer and will continue to be, but you can’t ignore the quality of craftsmanship and the excitement of the mystery leading up to it, even if it wasn’t the tone you wanted.
“The Bourne Legacy” upheld the quality of that franchise despite not being as good as those films, while “The Expendables 2” really turned that franchise around for the better, though I recognize it’s still a mindless bloodbath.
2. The Campaign
3. The Dictator
Seth MacFarlane proved that no matter what you think of “Family Guy” right now, he’s a funny guy, and the premise of “Ted” proved to be the perfect vehicle. The movie won North American audiences over from the box office to the funny bone. It was also heads and tails better than the next funniest films of the summer. “The Campaign” showcased two shenanigans-makers at their finest, but couldn’t compete with the originality or number of belly laughs featured in “Ted.” As for “The Dictator,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s humor didn’t entirely translate into a feature, but it with enough really clever scenes to make up for the misses, it was a good time at the movies.