A retrospective of the cinema of 2012 wouldn’t be complete without snidely given awards for ridiculous categories. Think of it as Film Misery’s Golden Globes. And please share your own goofs in the comments below.
Least Accessible Movie of the Year
One of the year’s most rollicking, wild and unusual films is also one of its most inscrutable, cryptic, and plain old bonkers movie experiences. Is this one of those movies about movies that movie people always gush about? What’s up with that motion-capture lizard-monster sex? Was that a leprechaun that just made Eva Mendez put on a burqa? Is this about reincarnation? Wait, who’s that guy? Is that the same guy? Cool – accordions! Oh hai, Kylie Minogue! I loved you on Doctor – NO KYLIE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Ok, so the limo is clearly a metaphor, right? What the f— is this f—ing – oh, ok. Ok, I think I get it. The guy’s dying and- NO I DON’T, NEVERMIND.
Film Most Likely to be Attended Ironically…And Then Enjoyed
Some audiences may have flocked to Steven Soderbergh’s menagerie of male strippers expecting a so-bad-it’s-good night at the movies, but they got more than eye-candy with its surprisingly rich performances and thoughtful exploration of youth, experience, agency, and ambition. Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey are impressive in their roles, playing the swagger and the vulnerabilities of their characters with grounded confidence. The dance numbers are really fun, too. As the most frequently shirtless brah in the biz might say (while playing bongos in the nude), “Alright, alright, alright.”
Longest Build-Up to Disappointment
Ridley Scott’s epic return to the sci-fi genre was anticipated with fevered swooning from film nerds the world over. “He’s been waiting for the right script and the right project for over THIRTY YEARS!” we said to each other, “and this is IT!” A viral marketing campaign that tied into TED talks was enough to push us over the proverbial edge. Unfortunately, though Scott’s tale of Alien DNA is ambitious in its big ideas and visually impressive, its narrative is muddled, its characters thinly drawn, and its overwrought revelations too much like the last season of LOST and not enough like… the other seasons of LOST.
Film Most Spoiled by Aggressive Spoiler Warnings
I’m not going to tell you the ending of Cabin in the Woods. But that’s because the ending doesn’t really matter. In a film that’s primarily concerned with its own disturbing tropes and the dismantling of genre conventions, the deus ex machina (or absence of one) is probably the least interesting thing about it. Rather than giving away the existence of a big twist on the level of The Usual Suspects, the spoiler warnings that dogged all discussion of Whedon and Goddard’s fun slasher flick only served to heighten expectation and investment in some big reveal, which results in a letdown when faced with an acceptably okay ending that’s not particularly revelatory.
Best Impression of an Older Co-star
It was a good year for actors that like to pretend to be other actors in front of the bathroom mirror. 2012 gave us two truly studied and dead-on embodiments of a couple of larger-than-life fixtures of Hollywood: JGL’s subtle and raspy Bruce Willis, featuring some of the best eyebrow work of the season, and Brolin’s pitch-perfect Tommy Lee Jones, equal parts drawl and bark. Both were awe-inspiring homages to the men playing older versions of the same character, and both sold the concept of their films’ time-travel premises as inherently plausible, if not downright uncanny.
The “Wait, They’re Doing That Again?” Award
Once The Incredible Hulk proved that they could remake a film a mere five years after its 2003 predecessor Hulk (despite its producers’ insistence, the word “requel” will never be a thing), the floodgates opened for studios to begin the work of rebooting before the other shoe had yet to drop. So follows The Amazing Spiderman, in what promises to be a long and fruitful tradition of adding an adjective to reinvent a franchise. Look for this award to pass into the capable hands of Zack Snyder next year, who might even double down on his whack at Superman with a Batman cameo.
The Trendiest 2012 Movie Never Made
Red Sister Slaves: Happy Hallotween
This spooky, Halloween-themed animated feature offers a new, lighthearted look at the Civil War, starring a precocious young girl and her sister’s sister’s sister, which is really just her sister (but secretly might be something else!), while upholding the grand tradition of films starting with the word “red.” Awash with nostalgic whimsy, this coming-of-age story takes a cyclical view of history, traveling through time with a wacky limousine ride! Expect to encounter some characters from your childhood, heads of state, and guys in assless chaps as our two protagonists discover they’re competing in a Gladiator-style fight to the death against Osama Bin Laden. Will they condone torture? You gotta watch to find out! RSS:HH is the first-ever musical to be recorded live before the lyrics were written and shot in 48 fps 3D & IMAX.