2012 Year in Review: Best & Worst Movies and Memorable Movie Moments

Bye2012Can’t believe 2012 has come and gone. I don’t know about you but this past year felt especially fast for me, it just flew by before I had a chance to reflect on a bunch of things. I know a lot of bloggers have been putting their stamp on whether this has been a good or bad year for movies. Now, I personally don’t know how to really judge that, I think if someone were to ask me, I’d say it’s been a pretty good year as I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of movies, both the blockbusters and the smaller indie flicks.

Now, as I’ve done in the past couple of years, this top 10 is more of a list of favorites so naturally it’s very subjective. The movies included are reserved for those released in 2012 that I saw on the big screen (whether on regular theatrical release, screenings or at a local film festival).

So here they are in alphabetical order (it’s hard enough to pick just 10 so I sure as heck am not going to rank these):


Top 10 Favorite 2012 Films:

  • Argo (my full review)
    Ben Affleck’s third directorial work makes up for a stellar ‘trilogy’ of his work. It was an engaging, edge-of-your-seat stuff and it was emotionally satisfying to boot. Great casting on John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the scene-stealing Hollywood folks set out to make a fake movie.

  • A Late Quartet (my full review)
    One of the indie gems at TIFF that totally lived up to my expectations, especially in the performances department. If you’re a fan of Christopher Walken or Philip Seymour Hoffman, I highly recommend this one.

  • Brave (my full review)
    I actually re-watched parts of this on the plane during my vacation and I still loved it. In a year of kick-ass movie heroines, Princess Merida is a highlight. Pixar delivers once again!

  • Looper (my full review)
    One of the best action sci-fi I’ve seen in years, thanks in no small feat to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The make-up might be distracting but Levitt’s performance was still strong enough to overcome that. The first movie by Rian Johnson I’ve seen – this one certainly makes me want to seek out his other works.

  • Silver Linings Playbook (my full review)
    This one was touted as the ‘centerpiece’ feature film at TCFF and glad it lived up to the hype. Another strong performance from Jennifer Lawrence (I actually like her a bit more here than in The Hunger Games) and proves that pretty-boy Bradley Cooper can definitely act. It also marks one of Robert De Niro’s best in recent memory.

  • Skyfall (my full review)
    Thanks to Sam Mendes, his team of writers and of course the blond Bond du jour Daniel Craig, we’ve got a massively entertaining Bond film that packs both brains and heart. I love that Judi Dench’s M is sort of the unconventional ‘Bond girl’ in this one, and the gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins certainly makes this one all the more memorable.

  • The Avengers
    The loud, popcorn blockbuster is certainly the highlight of the first half of 2012. Considering the herculean hype surrounding this one, it’s quite a feat that Josh Whedon & co. managed to still meet that, and then some! There are so much to like that I listed a top 10 reasons why The Avengers rocked.

  • The Dark Knight Rises (my full review)
    It’s really a testament to Christopher Nolan that despite all the plot holes, I still enjoyed it immensely. I still rate The Dark Knight higher, but overall it’s a satisfying ending to an amazing trilogy!

  • The Hobbit
    Well I just did my top 10 reasons why I loved this movie, so naturally this would end up on my top 10. Definitely a welcome return to the visually mesmerizing world of Middle Earth. Can’t wait for Part II!

  • The Sapphires (see my review)
    Last but definitely not least. I adore this inspirational true story set in the 60s about four talented young Aboriginal girls who were plucked out of obscurity when they formed into a dynamic singing group. Such an affecting story and the music is a winner, I can’t wait to see this again soon.

10 Honorable Mentions:

These ten films are excellent, they didn’t quite make my top 10 but they’re definitely still worth checking out if you haven’t already (click each title for full review):

Cloud Atlas, It’s A Disaster, Moonrise Kingdom, Robot and Frank, Quartet, Ruby Sparks, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, The Sessions, The Hunger Games, Things I Don’t Understand.

The year of the British Dames Trio


Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren all wowed me in their roles in Quartet, Skyfall and Hitchcock, respectively. Though Hitchcock is not stellar movie, Mirren’s role is the highlight for me and her casting as the filmmaker’s wife Alma undoubtedly made the film a lot better that it otherwise would. Dame Smith and Dench were also wonderful in the delightful The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which marked the second time I saw them together on screen (the first one was A Room with a View). If only these three fine dames would star in a film together one day!

Now, I’d like to give a shout out to these 10 Movies I saw in 2012 (either on a rental or on the plane) that I’d highly recommend (click each title for my full review):

  1. Side by Side
  2. Headhunters
  3. Coriolanus
  4. The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch
  5. The Whistleblower
  6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  7. 21 Jump Street
  8. Margin Call
  9. Daybreakers
  10. Endgame

Five Biggest Disappointments in 2012

Now, to even things out, I also want to list those released this year that I didn’t care for. Fortunately, there are only five of them (that I have seen) that I rated 2.5 out of 5 or below.

  1. Total Recall
    Their comic-con panel (especially Colin Farrell) was a heck of a lot more entertaining than this stinker
  2. Bourne Legacy
    I wasn’t a fan of Jeremy Renner to begin with and I wasn’t about to become one after this. Rachel Weisz was a lot more charismatic here, which begs the question as to why she signed up to do this one.
  3. Playing For Keeps
    Well, it’s the year I say goodbye to Gerry Butler 😦 I’ve written an open letter in lieu of the review, but suffice to say this is one of the worst movie I’ve ever seen in recent memory [shudder]
  4. Snow White and the Huntsman
    I couldn’t stand K-Stew but I thought I’d give her a chance in something other than Twilight. Alas, she’s as expressionless as she ever was, so my befuddlement as to why she keeps getting roles continues. The rest of the cast weren’t exactly stellar either.
  5. Nobody Walks
    This was the worst movie I saw in at TCFF, I just didn’t enjoy the story at all, it actually left a bad taste in my mouth after. It turns out that one of the writers of this was Lena Dunham, so it’s highly unlikely I’d ever be interested in her HBO show Girls.

Top Five Favorite Movie-related Moments in 2012:

Well that’s my recap of 2012 in movies, folks. I’ll have a separate list of the films I’m anticipating in 2013.

So what tops your list of best and worst of the year?

78 thoughts on “2012 Year in Review: Best & Worst Movies and Memorable Movie Moments

    1. Glad to hear, Tim. I presume you haven’t seen A Late Quartet and Silver Linings Playbook? Btw, I saw that Chronicle made your list. I quite like that one too, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it as I’m generally not fond of found-footage genre.

  1. Ted S.

    Yup 2012 flew by so fast, can’t believe it’s over. But I think most people will agree that films of 2012 were much better than 2011, I know I’ve enjoyed more film in 2012 than 2011.

    I still haven’t seen the more prestigious films since I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and watch them yet. The two films that I really enjoyed were The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall, saw both of them at least twice in theater. Of course the most disappointing film to me was Django Unchained. I’m going to see The Hobbit later today, hopefully it will be on my favorite list.

    2013 looks like another fun year for tent pole films, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit 2 are the big guns I’ll for sure be seeing on the big screen. Some other ones I’m looking forward to are Elysium, The Counselor, Only God Forgives, Gravity, Stoker and the new Star Trek film.

    1. Yeah I think I watched more good movies this year too, Ted. It certainly helps to have that Press List credentials 😀 I do hope The Hobbit lives up to your expectations since you love the book.

      Yeah, lots of good ones to see next, er I mean this year. Absolutely can’t wait for Man of Steel! Elysium and Star Trek 2 should be a good one as well.

  2. bdgill12

    Great list, Ruth! I’m publishing all of my “Best Of” stuff next week and several of those films will find a place in my top 10 as well. Fun read!

    1. Thank you Terry. I don’t usually set out New Year resolutions as I may not keep up w/ them, but I do hope to see more classic movies I haven’t got around to last year. Btw, are you gonna do your own top 10 list?

      1. Yeah I’m not one to be making resolutions either as I probably won’t keep them. Last year I said I would try and take a photo every day of the year. I made it to March 🙂

        I don’t think I will do any top 10 lists but I may well do a summary post looking back over the year and forward to 2013, in a similar way to yours actually. So many films I missed out on though so I don’t feel I could do a proper look back over the year, I don’t tend to see an awful lot of stuff at the cinema, so I won’t see a lot of 2012’s stuff until it’s out on DVD later this year.

        1. Ahah, I probably would’ve quit my resolutions within a few weeks. I’d love to see your summary list. It doesn’t matter what movies you’ve missed, the fun thing about reading people’s year-in-review list is to see which films they’d recommend 😀

  3. Great stuff Ruth. You’ve really put out a lot of good content this past year. Anxious to see what you have for next year.

    I still have two movies to see that are considered 2012 films before I can finish my list. Anxious to get it done though. I just love hearing and sharing favorites.

    1. Thanks Keith, same to you. I’m glad I discovered your blog this past year, I really enjoy your Phenomenal Lists and reviews. Curious to see your top 10 list once you have ’em. Yeah, it’s fun to find out which films made people’s list.

  4. The year you say farewell to Gerard Butler? WHAT?? Maybe it’s a sign of how far he has fallen that even his most hardcore fan is falling off the wagon! 😦

    1. Ahah, I was wondering when someone would notice that. Yeah well, I was very disappointed in his role choices of late and suddenly I just lost interest in GB in general.

  5. Solid list Ruth. Honestly, aside from saying I’m not that high on “Brave” I can’t disagree with you… there’s a couple I didnt get to see “Late Quartet” and “The Sapphires”, but aside from that, I think all of these are in contention for my top ten, too! 😀

    1. Glad to hear Fogs! Oooh I hope you’d give A Late Quartet and The Sapphires a shot when they’re released on rental, such great performances but both flew under the radar.

  6. mettemk

    “so I sure as heck am not going to rank these” – haha.
    I haven’t seen much of 2012, comparatively, but I agree with your choices. What makes me happy especially, is that you loved The Hobbit – off to read full post 🙂

  7. Nice list, Ruth. Skyfall, Looper, and Argo will definitely be on my list, and my #1 is in your honorable mentions. It’s a testament to how diverse 2012 was that I’ve seen such a variety of lists from bloggers and critics so far.

        1. Yay, that was a wild guess but I knew a lot of people put that one on their list. I really like it, but just wasn’t enough to make the cut. I actually saw Fantastic Mr Fox around the same time and I find myself liking that one a bit more.

  8. Great post! Glad to see Brave on a top ten list, I can’t wait to pick it up on DVD or blu!
    I really like Daybreakers, we have that on DVD – the people who made that made an earlier zombie movie called Undead that is absolutely hilarious!
    Judi Dench was the highlight of Skyfall for me – she’s amazing, and I’ll see Quartet for Maggie Smith alone!

    1. Hi Ruth! I LOVE Brave, so adorable and affecting. I’m gonna get the BD as well. I missed the big Thanksgiving sale when it was only a fraction of the current price now, but I’d say it’s still worth buying. Daybreakers is really good, I was surprised how much I love it. I might check out Undead as well. Can’t say enough good things about Dame Judi and you’ll adore Dame Maggie Smith in Quartet!

  9. LATE QUARTET is definitely a film I need to see…I might not’ve seen five films in a theater last year (but none were horrible…even the ever-growing smugness of Stewart didn’t kill HUNTSMAN for me, but it didn’t help…my faint protest that she was fine in ADVENTURELAND grows fainter).

    1. Hi Todd, welcome to FC. If you’re a fan of the actors in A Late Quartet, you won’t be disappointed. Katherine Keener was great in it as well. I really can’t stand Stewart, it’s a pity that ppl like her continue to get roles in Hollywood.

  10. Hi, Ruth and company:

    Intriguing batch of films to end the year and start anew!

    Not a lot of surprises. I had a feeling “Brave” would rate highly. Sane with “Skyfall” and “The Dark Knight Rises”. Both surprised and pleased that “Looper” made the cut. Rian Johnson is going to be someone to watch in the future.

    And yes. Your list of “Disappointing Films” is certainly disappointing.

    1. Hi Jack! So you’ve seen all the movies in my disappointing list? I think the worst one in there is still Playing For Keeps, that’s perhaps the one movie I’d rate only a half star! Btw, hope you like my mention of Dame Mirren, I know you love her, too 😀

  11. Nice to see Skyfall, TDKR, and Argo in your top 10, and Cloud Atlas in your honorable mentions.

    Glad you liked Coriolanus and Margin Call. Love those films. 🙂

    Yay! Don’t know if I’d call it disappointing, but Total Recall is definitely the worst film I saw last year.

    1. Hi Josh! I knew Cloud Atlas would be your #1 right? 😀 Yeah, both Coriolanus and Margin Call are excellent, wish more people would see it though. Total Recall is basically lazy filmmaking, it was boring as heck.

  12. Hadn’t heard of A Late Quartet yet, but have added it to my watchlist now. Silver Linings is not out yet here, but I’m looking forward to it. Also will try to check out Sapphires.

    Reading your recommendations it reminded me to check out Coriolanus. Have seen three of those biggest disappointments and agree.

    Best wishes for 2013 and may it be filled with movies!

    1. Hi Nostra, I wouldn’t have seen A Late Quartet either if it weren’t for TCFF. It barely got any marketing push, such a shame as it was so well-crafted and the music was beautiful too.

  13. Hey Ruth! A happy new year to you my friend! May the new year be full of many blessings, accomplishments and happiness. It’s great to see that you start your new year with a review of best and worst of the year! I will be writing mine shortly, but I’m so glad to see that we share many of the films! Cheers to another outstanding year of blogging!!

    1. Hi Raul! Happy New Year to you too and right back at ya for all those wonderful wishes 😀 Curious to see your list, it’s been an interesting year at the movies, though I’ve been seeing a few of the same ones appear in a lot of people’s list. Cheers, my friend!

  14. I’m going to see the Hobbit sometime soon so I will check your post about it then, I can definitely see the film is already doing a lot for Lee and Richard Armitage, tumblr is filled with so many embarrassing posts and gifs from their new fangirls 🙂

    My best movie of 2012 is still TDKR, but I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark thirty yet and they both look amazing. The worst movie experience was Cloud Atlas as I was genuinely scared I may slip into coma during this one and never wake up. I fell asleep 3 times during this and they shot that lovely dog in the film!

    1. Hi Sati! Hope you enjoy The Hobbit. Ahah, well I do hope those two guys get a ton more new roles after The Hobbit, both are exceptional actors and of course, VERY easy on the eyes 😉

      Too bad you didn’t care for Cloud Atlas, but hey if you fall asleep during that, it’s NOT a good sign. I’ll be seeing Zero Dark Thirty next week, we’ll see if I love it as I didn’t love Bigelow’s Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker.

      1. I wasn’t a big fan of the Hurt Locker either, but this one has female protagonist which usually works in favor for the film with me 🙂 I was almost scared for my health during Cloud Atlas – I had so much coffee before yet I still fell asleep, the last time it happened it was during Tree of Life ^^

        1. Very true! And I like Jessica Chastain too, can’t say the same about Jeremy Renner. Wow, that is really too bad about Cloud Atlas. I totally understand about Tree of Life though, but with CA, I was quite busy figuring out which actors play which roles 🙂

  15. Yeah, I still can’t believe 2012 is over. The years have been flying by lately. 😦

    Awesome end-of-the-year wrapup, Ruth! I really like most of the films on your top 10 list — it’s going to be hard to whittle down my own favorites to ten. Might have to do 20. 🙂 Out of those listed, my favorites are still The Dark Knight Rises and Argo.

    1. Yeah it did feel super fast doesn’t it? Especially the latter half of the year.

      Whittling it down to 10 is agonizing, I was thinking of making it a top 15 but decided to just have the Honorable Mentions instead. Can’t go wrong with TDKR and ARGO, I’ve been seeing those on a lot of ppl’s lists.

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  17. Ow…we only have one in common! the Hobbit 😉
    I haven’t seen most of your movie list…I am going to see Brave somewhere this year…I hope I will like it like everyone else.

    1. What, you didn’t like TDKR? Even with Cillian’s cameo?? 😉
      I hope you enjoy Brave. I’m a big fan of Pixar and Disney Princess movies so naturally I loved it.

      1. hahaha even Cillian can’t make me put TDKR in my top 10 😉
        I hope so too…not a fan of princess movies but not a hater too…it all depend on the story

        1. Whoa! I didn’t know you’re not a fan. I’ve got to admit it’s got issues but overall it was still hugely entertaining for me.

          I’m curious to hear what you think about Brave. I hope you’ll blog about it.

          Btw, my open letter to GB is up later today. I wish I didn’t have to write it, but I felt I needed to 😦

          1. I am now watching in theme…so I will watch Brave along with another animation…before I find the other animation, I will postpone my review. It’s fun writing in theme 😉 My next movie review is laughing at the Brits because both are British comedy.

            aaah…poor GB

            1. Don’t feel sorry for GB. He did it all himself. I can’t believe he actually produced such a stinker like PFK. It made me embarrassed to be his fan actually, so it’s time to say good bye.

  18. Happy new year Ruth. You’ve highlighted many of my favorites from 2012 – glad to see you saw Headhunters…I really enjoyed that one. What a great year it has been for Mirren, Dench and Maggie Smith. Both Mirren and Dench are starring in West End shows in the coming months – I think I’ll be making a trip to London to see them in action “up close and personal”! 🙂

    1. Hi Dan! OMG, I’m soooo jealous of you to be able to see both Dame Dench and Mirren, two of my all time favorite British ladies. What’s the name of the play? I’d love it if you wouldn’t mind sharing some pics from the play. That sounds wonderful!!

  19. Excellent post, Ruth! Of your top 10, so far I’ve only seen Brave, and I plan to see Looper tonight. Thanks for reminding me that I want to see A Room With a View again soon.

    1. Thanks Steph! Oh I hope you enjoy Looper. I saw A Room with a View quite a while ago, I wasn’t too in love with it but I do like the two Dames in it.

  20. Bill Cooper

    I always respect your insight. Thanks for the great list overall and your kudos to numerous TCFF films. The Sessions, Silver Linings, Ruby Sparks and The Late Quartet made it into my top ten list as well. Keep an eye out for SOME DAY SOON coming out. Alan Cummings.
    Looking forward to working together again in 2013!

    1. Hello Bill! How wonderful to hear from you! TCFF sure had a great lineup, I have at least 5 in the main list and honorable mentions. I googled Someday Soon, but I couldn’t find it. Did you mean Any Day Now? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2066176/ Sometimes they changed the title before its released.

      Yes I look forward to working with you again, too bad I was on vacation during the staff party.

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      1. Not yet. There are still a lot of 2012 films that haven’t opened here yet and I’m waiting to check out those. I’ll do my best/worst at the end of the “movie year” aka just before the Oscars.

        1. Ah I see. I was thinking of waiting too but I figure that my 2012 list should be films I saw last year. Ahah, that’s a good idea to put down ‘just before Oscars’ as the movie year though 😀

  22. Great list Ruth! I’m still waiting to see Brave from your top 10 and most of your honourable mentions! Really looking forward to Side by Side and Headhunters too!

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