Here’s another “let’s pretend it’s the end of the year instead of a couple of days into the new year” recap of what I enjoyed in pop culture in 2012.
This time, movies.
For more than a decade, from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, I reviewed movies as part of my job. I saw a movie or two or three every week. Considering I was a lifelong movie fan, it was cool to be paid (even minimally) to review them.
Reviewing movies for a living meant going to see movies even if you didn’t feel like it and – goes without saying – movies that you had no interest in seeing. I still haven’t fully recovered from “My Dinner with Andre.”
All this is by way of saying that I don’t see nearly as many movies in theaters nowadays. When I do see a movie, I’m pretty likely to really want to see it and have a good idea of how much I’ll like it.
So here’s a look at a few favorite movies – and why they were favorites – for 2012.
For me, no pop culture movie of 2012 topped “The Avengers.” Joss Whedon’s very-nearly-perfect big-screen version of Marvel’s ultimate superhero team was the culmination of four years of Marvel solo superhero movies that kicked off with “Iron Man.”
I don’t have to tell you that Whedon’s “Avengers” worked and worked beyond the expectations of most fans, expectations that have been building since the early 1960s but seemed pretty unlikely during the dark days of lame “Captain America” TV movies with Cap sporting a motorcycle helmet. And now, on to Marvel’s big-screen phase two!
“Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” were, in ways different than “The Avengers,” good treatments of their durable comic book characters. “Dark Knight” had a fairly lame villain but still thrilled with its dark vision. “Spider-Man” promised something it didn’t deliver – a mysterious reworking of Peter Parker’s origin – but it didn’t matter. The characters and performances really swung.
“Chronicle” was a dark and unsettling take on the kind of superhero/super villain fodder that sprang from “The X-Men” stories. Bonus: The director is remaking “Fantastic Four.”
Outside the realm of superhero stories, another movie with Whedon’s imprint, “Cabin in the Woods,” was very nearly as good as “The Avengers.” “Cabin” was a first-rate thriller with a great, twisty plot.
Backlash to the absurd title or not, “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” was a competent version of a really very good fantasy novel.
Likewise, “The Hunger Games” was a good approximation of a really good book. I’m looking forward to the sequels.
And I guess we’re back in the realm of superheroes for “Skyfall,” but the latest James Bond action picture was one of the best in the series. It felt like a reboot, in some ways, and has me looking forward to the next adventure of 007.