With Part 1 out of the way in which I talked about my experience of the year as a whole, now the time has come to push, file, stamp, index, brief, debrief and number the best worst and most disappointing of the year as well as talk about some small surprises along the way as well as those niggling regrets that passed me by.
First off I'll start with the most disappointing of the year, the ones that I had held out a genuine sense of hope and optimism for but in the end left me feeling disappointed, there have been a few this year but three stand out above them all.
3. Wreck-It Ralph: A late entry to be sure but a slight disappointment nonetheless, Wreck-It Ralph was the new animated movie from Disney studios and I had hopes that this would be the one to turn around what has been a fairly average couple of years for the genre.
Ralph sadly failed to do that and while the first half was very good, fresh, exciting and full of great gags and references the second half stalled the picture down to the point where I began to lose hope and the disappointment began to sink in as the film gives us a bratty, obnoxious character voiced by an actress that sounds like a chipmunk and it got very annoying for me after a while as it went down the traditional track these movies go down rather than the fresh track it started out with, what a shame that was the case.
2. Brave: Coming in at number 2 on this list and gaining a spot for the 2nd year in a row is Pixar's latest offering, this time the Scottish fantasy adventure Brave, one of the most anticipated animated movies of the year, could Brave become the return to form fans of the studio wanted after 2011's merchandise extravaganza Cars 2 left many of them cold.
Sadly not, for one very key reason: The film's story was a mess and lacked a sense of cohesion and a proper third act climax, the finale to the movie was very anti climatic and when it was over I said to myself "Is that it, is a Bear fight your big climax, that is just poor form?"
And yet once more, Pixar has disappointed its loyal fan base and it's fair to ask how it came to this for the once untouchable studio, perhaps it is due to the fact that they had it so good for so long, that the dream run they had could never end like this, that they would avoid the fate that Disney went through after they lost Howard Ashman a key plank in their creative team in early 1991 despite losing Joe Ranft themselves in 2005 but as Disney learned in the mid 90's nothing lasts forever and the fact that Pixar are now re releasing some of their older features in 3D will do little to change that.
But in thinking about both of these features, one thing came to my mind very clearly and that was my wish for veteran TV animation producer Bruce Timm to produce another full length animated feature after 1993's Batman Mask of the Phantasm which got a very limited run in cinemas at the time, Timm is one of the few people that I've seen that truly understands the animation genre and what the medium is truly capable of in terms of producing well written and well drawn animated TV and Movies that can be enjoyed by both young and old.
But for my biggest disappointment of all, a disappointment that shattered the true believers and caused them to no longer keep the faith.
1. Taken 2: Without a doubt the biggest disappointment for me this year was Taken 2, the follow up to the 2008 cult hit that starred Liam Neeson as retired CIA Special Forces agent Bryan Mills who goes to Paris to rescue his kidnapped daughter.
The problem with this sequel was not due to the near ridiculous action scenes but for criminally side lining its main character for much of the movie and letting his daughter (Maggie Grace) do most of the action, this was a big mistake as Neeson's character is the one we've come to see kick butt and he hardly does any in the movie and when he does its shot in such a way that there's no impact, no sense of who and where the characters are and no sense of feeling apart from boredom.
Another thing this movie did was remind me of all the bad sequels I hated from movies that I loved, ones like Highlander II, Iron Man 2, Robocop 2 and Wall Street 2 to name a few others.
But with that out of the way, we now move onto the worst of the year, the bottom of the pile, the low altitude flyers and the degraded fops that made us leave the cinema angry, annoyed and most likely wanting our money back.
3. This Means War: Billed as the big Valentine's Day release of the year, this spy-com starred Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as CIA agents who are best friends but find out they're dating the same woman Lauren played by Reese Witherspoon, hilarity should ensue right?
Wrong, this was plain and simply bad filmmaking from start to finish, McG proves how incompetent he is as an action director by failing to inject any life into his action scenes and any humor into his comedy but what felt the worst of all was the horrible stereotyping of both genders.
The men in the movie are either young charismatic men in sharp suits or big strong men with big muscles and the women are seen as being virtually powerless to both despite the possibility that neither of them have any real human traits like kindness, humor, similar interests, sweetness you know actual human feelings that attract people to one another but no just have someone be charismatic or have big strong muscles and women will fall for you like that.
And as for the women well yet again it's the stereotype of a woman who in the beginning is strong and independent and doing it for herself but when the big strong man comes into her life she turns to jelly in his presence, for smeg's sake I am getting really tired of this negative stereotyping of women in the movies, it feels insulting and I really wish it would stop so we can have decent parts for actresses in the movies as it feels like it's been too long since we've had one.
2. Dream House: Thankfully this never got a cinema release in Australia and as a result many film goers here dodged a bullet, this haunted house thriller starred Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts in a mystery regarding a house Craig buys with a tragic past.
The problem with Dream House is that not only was it not very scary or very good but it felt like we'd been here before with such films as the Shinning (Shining) and more importantly 1979's the Amityville Horror with Margot Kidder and James Brolin, Craig was the shining light but it felt like a performance where he sees the ship sinking and dashes for the lifeboat so he can watch it sink with everyone else still on board to drown in the icy deep below, what a waste of a great actor and it's no surprise he's disowned the film.
And now we come to the very worst of the year, the real stinker that stunk more than a dead cat in the middle of the road and that made you wish you'd never seen it.
1. Any Questions for Ben?: Yes Mr. Speaker, my question without notice is to Ben, why is your movie the worst one I've ever encountered this year?
Well, I'll tell you why Smeg for brains, the lead character is an obnoxious twat who has just about anything he could ever want, a successful job, a good apartment and just about any woman he could ever want and yet all he does throughout the whole movie is go on and on and on and on about the big picture of it all and what does it all mean and how can there ever be true happiness.
And whenever he did that two things went through my mind, the first was "Would you please shut up you trumped up little Smeghead" and the other was for Megatron to come through the door and blow out his vocal chords with his Riot Cannon, one of the most despicable lead characters I have ever come across and the movie was nothing more than a 2nd rate Applause Home Video release from the early 90's, unworthy of being distributed by Roadshow Home Video themselves or even its other spin off label Premiere Home Entertainment.
And yet overriding all of this is that this came from the same team that made the wonderful Aussie comedy the Castle 15 years ago which had so many great characters and quotes in it it's not funny, this movie however is a big fall from grace and I got no pleasure from anything in it at all.
But now we exit the pit and come to the highlights of the year, you know the ones that actually made us smile, left us feeling impressed and good about ourselves, the ones that make the worst and disappointments all the more worth it for that special one that you come to hold in high esteem at year's end.
And now, without further ado, here they are:
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Based off the hit series of novels by the late author Steig Larsson, director David Fincher's adaptation of the first book in the series was a dark and exciting thriller with two terrific lead characters.
And though Daniel Craig did fine has Blomkvist and felt more like the character I imagined when reading the book, it was Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander that stole the show with her bravado performance that bared all in terms of both body and soul and again felt like the character I imagined from reading the book, Mara was rightly rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her performance and it was so thrilling to see a well realised female character in the movies for a change.
Credit for that should go to screenwriter Steve Zaillian (The Falcon and the Snowman) and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deserve mention as well as Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer, Steven Berkoff and Robin Wright in their roles as well, this was a terrific film and it gave me a feeling of "This is what I want right now" when it was over.
2. The Avengers: Without a doubt the biggest movie of the year, Joss Whedon's the Avengers was a big gamble for Marvel Studios having used the individual movies prior to this to lay the ground work for the team up film at the finish.
But wow did Whedon deliver the goods, in terms of character moments, comedy moments and action moments each character gets one of their own and the final battle is simply outstanding in its scope and editing, too many movies now over edit their action so that it feels like it was done by a team of monkeys but not here, the action is clear and exciting and rooted in its lead characters, best of all no one overshadows the other, each moment is very nicely balanced.
I walked out of this movie feeling impressed and wanted to see it again not long after, I was really pleased that Marvel had pulled it off and that they made the right choice by hiring Whedon to direct the film, anything else than this would've been a mistake in retrospect and most likely undid all the hard work Marvel put into this franchise.
But now we come to the top, the one at the top who shall be crowned King:
1. Argo: Yes folks, coming in at top spot is a movie that in all honesty I didn't think I had any chance of seeing at all and that is Ben Affleck's Argo.
This was simply pitch perfect filmmaking by a man who 10 years ago was looking at the end of his career but like a phoenix has risen from the ashes to become one of his generation's finest filmmakers.
And yet the film balances so delicately moments of big humor and moments of sheer white knuckle tension that even thinking about it causes me to have a knot in my throat, at both times I saw the movie I was convinced some of my bones were going to break or that my lower Jaw was going to come off, I loved the film both times that I saw it as much and I cannot wait to pick it up on Blu-Ray so I can relive the experience all over again.
So that was that in terms of my best, worst and disappointments of 2012 at the movies but sadly before I close it off there is one that I have to talk about, one that I sorely wish more than anything in the world that I had gotten the chance to see before the end.
And that is Rian Johnson's Sci-Fi Action flick Looper, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as future and present versions of the same character trying to prevent the other from changing the future.
So many good reviews this movie got but sadly that didn't translate into a big audience at the box office and in turn caused many theatres to shove it aside, this is one that for me would have benefited from a delayed release in Australia for mid to late October as its late September release came at the worst possible time that being the school holidays where cinemas effectively toss anything not for kids aside to the graveyard shift of the late afternoon, evening and night and this was no exception not to mention its MA15+ rating did little to change things as it dashed any hope for early afternoon sessions of the movie.
And sadly the film's Blu-Ray release is not until Australia Day so it can't be ruled into this year's lists, I have high hopes sincerely I do that this will deliver the goods after the long wait but at the same time I am bracing myself for the worst, that having had to wait so long to see it all it will do is disappoint me but that day hasn't come yet and whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, Que Cera Cera.
And so that was 2012 at the movies, it was an okay ride but 2013 doesn't leave me with a great deal that I'm looking forward to apart from The World's End, Mad Max 4 if it's released late next year as I think it will be, the Chris Pine/Kenneth Branagh reboot of Jack Ryan plus Ron Howard's F1 drama Rush said to use the doco Senna as an inspiration and Brian De Palma's thriller Passion with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace.
Will any of those be any good well only time will tell but I am greatly looking forward to finding out for sure.