Maybe it was because Hollywood assumed the world would end that they were especially avant-garde in what they allowed to hit the silver screen in 2012. With topics as far-ranging as over the top parties (Project X) to male strippers (Magic Mike) to, what else, the world ending (Seeking A Friend for the End of the World), there was something for every demographic. But let's start with the worst: Joyful Noise: Possibly the worst movie of the past ten years. Which is difficult for me to say because I really wanted to believe in the infallibility of Dolly Parton.
One for the Money: Another bad Katherine Heigl rom-com in which she plays a recently fired and divorced woman who starts working at a bail bonds business.
This Means War: A love triangle-based rom-com involving two CIA agents (played by Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) vying for the affections of the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). Throw in Chelsea Handler and you've got yourself a recipe for that unfortunate breed of movie that has a stellar cast and a shit script.
Wanderlust: George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) chuck their plans to live in their dream apartment in the West Village after they both lose their jobs. Forced to move to Georgia with George's brother, their car breaks down near a cultish community. It's terrible. But at least Jennifer Aniston started boning Justin Theroux as a result.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: This is where a lot of people will disagree. But just because a movie has Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in it doesn't mean it's Oscar gold. If the title doesn't say it all, just know that salmon fishing is not interesting.
Mirror Mirror: It's a shame that after a series of lackluster movies (starting with Valentine's Day), Julia Roberts as the evil queen in Snow White didn't remedy her slew of forgettable films. Lily Collins and Armie Hammer as Snow White and Prince Charming don't really make for ideal casting complements to someone of Roberts' caliber either.
American Reunion: Should have just stopped at American Pie 2.
Rock of Ages: Another example of why Broadway musicals should stay on Broadway. As much as 80s hair bands secretly allure us all, nothing could have saved this movie from its high cheese quotient, not even Paul Giamatti.
That's My Boy: Another Adam Sandler attempt at resuscitating a flatlined career. Also, Leighton Meester's attempt at breaking away from the role of Blair Waldorf. And then there's Andy Samberg, who's just Andy Samberg.
Now that we've explored most of the riffraff from 2012, let's explore the more quality output. Here's a look at the best:
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life: You shouldn't have to be a gay man to understand the monumental importance of Broadway legend Carol Channing. This documentary reiterates why.
Haywire: Steven Soderbergh proves time and time again that he knows how to direct a cerebral action movie better than anyone. A former black ops agent named Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is set up by the people she trusted on her final mission for the agency. Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender round out the perfection of an amazingly well-acted film.
Casa De Mi Padre: Another choice that will ruffle feathers. Will Ferrell in a Spanish soap operaesque movie about saving his father's ranch from a drug lord takeover is about as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned. Add in Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, not to mention Nick Offerman as a DEA agent, and you've got one of the funniest movies of 2012.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home: In these oh so destitute times, there is something incredibly relatable about Jeff (Jason Segel), a jobless stoner slacker who lives with his mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon). Directed by the Duplass brothers (who seem to improve every time they're allotted a higher budget), the film deftly explores the concept of destiny and interconnectedness.
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World: A bittersweet story about two people who find each other just as the world is ending, this is a film that proves it doesn't matter when you meet the love of your life, so long as you meet. Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley also share a surprising amount of chemistry.
Ted: Seth MacFarlane's first feature film showcases all of his talents: A satiric sense of humor, pop culture references galore and an incredible knack for creating a voice. Plus, there's Giovanni Ribisi as the ultimate creeper.
Katy Perry: Part of Me: Yep. I did it. I chose a Katy Perry documentary as one of the best movies of 2012. The story of her struggle to rise to the top, as well as slick intersperals of her California Dreams tour (in the style of Truth or Dare), makes this one of the most entertaining and heart-wrenching (Russell Brand breakup, you know) movies of 2012.
Savages: Oliver Stone gets back into the groove with Savages. While still displaying his predilection for violence and long running times, Stone incorporates one other secret weapon: Blake Lively.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Based on the seminal 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is just as good onscreen as it is in print. With newcomer Logan Lerman in the lead role and Emma Watson in her first role since Harry Potter, this film is momentous for reasons beyond its soundtrack.
Looper: Joseph Gordon-Levitt may look a bit mangled in this role in trying to look more like the younger version of his future self, Bruce Willis, but you quickly get past that. Directed and written by Rian Johnson (who worked with Gordon-Levitt on Brick), the complex--time-traveling--storyline of Looper is what makes it so riveting.
The Paperboy: Based on Peter Dexter's novel of the same name, The Paperboy demonstrates Nicole Kidman's ability to toe the line between virgin/whore personas ever so trashily. And Zac Efron can actually act!
Argo: Ben Affleck schools us on a somewhat revisionist history of the Iranian hostage crisis. With Alan Arkin and John Goodman in supporting roles, history hasn't been this fascinating in quite some time.
Killing Them Softly: Brad Pitt as a hitman during the 2008 financial crisis has manifold metaphorical layers. Adroitly edited to constantly feature campaign footage from Obama and McCain, the film leaves no room for misinterpretation of its meaning.
Searching for Sugar Man: A documentary that details the search for a poetic singer from the 60s named Rodriguez, this film reveals that you can change and impact people's lives without even realizing it.
Moonrise Kingdom: Like some sort of directorial Energizer bunny, Wes Anderson keeps going and going and going with his cinematic brilliance. Using his usual staples, like Billy Murray and Jason Schwartzman, you can count on Anderson to consistently delight and amaze.
Django Unchained: The triumphant return of Quentin. Like Anderson, one can always rely on Tarantino when it comes to being enthralled at the movie theater. Constantly addressing controversial historical topics and incorporating incredible soundtracks are just some of the things you can bow down to the auteur for.
So there you have it, the best and the worst. If I forgot anything, it was because it was forgettable--or just didn't seem worth talking about.