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The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

2013 is here, but as movie geeks, we need the full year to give you the most comprehensive end-of-year recap as possible, so here it is on New Year's Day. As a staff, we've pooled together our ratings/scores for every movie we've seen this year (133 movies total) and come up with our collective list of the best and worst movies of the year. No creative tweaking here, it's just based on the best average score.

Below you'll find the 10 best films of 2012, the 10 worst, the 5 most disappointing (the worst movies at least four of us saw) and the best of each genre. All in all, 2012 had a lot to offer. What were your favorites?

10 BEST OF 2012 (at least 3 ratings)



10. Safety Not Guaranteed – 8.4/10 (4 ratings)

Aspiring film writers ought to study Derek Connolly’s exceptional screenplay if they want to know how to get viewers to connect equally and totally to a film’s characters and story. This indie comedy with a sci-fi twist is as unpredictable as anything this year — not an easy thing for what’s essentially a romantic comedy. ~ John


9. Moonrise Kingdom – 8.4/10 (5 ratings)

It’s a typical Wes Anderson movie in a lot of respects (e.g. the production design, the use of music, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman), but there’s an emotional component to Moonrise Kingdom that makes it one of the director’s very best efforts. Young love, it seems, has rarely been conveyed in such a satisfyingly cinematic way. ~ John


8. Headhunters – 8.5/10 (3 ratings)

Among the best foreign imports to hit North America this year, Headhunters is a harrowing tragedy of errors made all the more thrilling thanks to one of the finest villainous portrayals of 2012 courtesy of Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Elevated further by equally strong work from lesser-known Norwegian thesps, Headhunters offers up grim but tense action and moments of bleak humor and twisted justice of the most satisfying variety. Like any great film focused on an antihero, this adaptation blurs the line of right and wrong and plunges us into a world of greed and murder that never loses sight of entertainment value that can be found in such material. ~ Simon


7. Wreck-It Ralph – 8.6/10 (5 ratings)

Disney wrecked it with this one (I mean that in the cool slang way). With Pixar having a couple down years, Disney Animation stepped up in impressive fashion to deliver something of impeccable creativity. The video game references and cameos are one thing, but the way the entire world of the movie is laid out makes the Toy Story universe seem pedestrian. Heart is also a must in any animated film and Ralph’s is touching and unexpectedly complex at times. If you have kids (or when you do), this is one you’ll want them to request on repeat. ~ Steven


6. The Dark Knight Rises – 8.6/10 (8 ratings)


The Dark Knight Rises was one of the most anticipated movies of 2012, and maybe of the last four years. Much of the reception to the massive hit was positive, especially for us. The Dark Knight Rises provides another thinker of a superhero film, filled with themes of hope, fear, identity, terrorism, anarchy and duty. The Dark Knight Rises also doesn’t fail to deliver on the action. It was a fitting conclusion to the series and it is a shame Christopher Nolan’s take of the character has to end. ~ Kieran


5. Argo – 8.7/10 (6 ratings)

Argo made our calendars as soon as it was announced to be Ben Affleck’s next project. The actor’s second coming as a director has been outstanding and Argo is the next step (and best step yet) in that evolution. With an intriguing screenplay laced with humor and incredible tension, Affleck does his best to tell it in an exciting and well-paced fashion and the finished product really honors the heroism of the characters whose story it tells. The fake movie angle really helps the film stand out as original and Alan Arkin is excellent comic relief. If you haven’t yet, you really should Argo **** yourself. ~ Steven


4. Skyfall – 8.8/10 (7 ratings)


With near universal praise, Skyfall is easily considered one of the best movies in the Bond series and one of the best movies of 2012. Skyfall delivered, not just as an action movie or a spy thriller, but also as a more character-driven Bond movie, exploring Bond’s past while re-introducing old characters and elements and giving us a larger-than-life villain. It is an homage to the old series while still keeping in line with the darker, gritty angle of the rebooted series. ~ Kieran


3. Seven Psychopaths – 8.9/10 (4 ratings)


As cinephiles, it was hard for us not to love In Bruges director Martin McDonough’s follow-up. The playwright and sometimes filmmaker takes a film within a film approach to tell a mob story that’s gotten way out of hand. If you weren’t turned on by the film based on trailers or marketing, know now that you’ve been misled; Seven Psychopaths is a joyously violent, hilarious film that still manages to have a soul and some bright ideas. Absolute twisted brilliance. ~ Steven


2. Looper – 9.0/10 (6 ratings)


Looper is the type of divergent and exciting filmmaking that comes around only a few times a year at most – a compelling futuristic mind trip blended with absorbing drama which emanates intelligence at every turn. Sparingly punctuated with grisly violence that never aims to overshadow Rian Johnson’s dystopia, the world of Looper is infinitely intriguing and presents enough platforms for debate to fill a movie of its own. Looper is time travel done right. The gimmick is not just an excuse for futuristic sci-fi action or a fish-out-of-water, medieval lark but a device utilized to tell an intricate story of redemption and fate. ~ Simon


1. Beasts of the Southern Wild – 9.1/10 (5 ratings)

Rookie filmmaker Benh Zeitlin has made a hell of a first impression and it’s a shame his lack of pedigree will keep Beasts of the Southern Wild Oscar free. From an independent filmmaking perspective, this is an example of an incredible movie. The story takes the actual situation in New Orleans and spins it into a fantasy/tall tale about a fierce young girl and her sick father trying to survive after their home is flooded. Visually, it’s astoundingly vivid, finding beauty in the gritty imagery, and its characters are so easy to root for that when the credits roll, you’re utterly and helplessly gob-smacked. ~ Steven



10 WORST OF 2012 (at least 2 ratings)


10. Taken 2 – 3.5/10 (Steven – 4, Simon – 3)


As limp and lazy a sequel ever put to film, Taken 2 offers only two worthy queries: a) why? and b) how can I make the pain stop? In the end, this sequel can’t even deliver on competent action or typical plot devices smart enough to pass off even as contrivance. This is essentially the action equivalent of The Hangover: Part II, a film that goes through the motions without momentum, significant stakes of any kind and provides us with a clearly bored cast. If Taken 2 merely made the mistake of being a fun dumb retread, perhaps some leeway could be given, but not only is it incapable of delivering on that most basic tier, it is also utterly forgettable moments after the credits role. This is the kind of sequel that turned out precisely as you dread they always will. ~ Simon

9. House at the End of the Street – 3.5/10 (Max – 5, Simon – 2)

8. Piranha 3DD – 3.5/10 (Simon – 4, Steven – 3)

7. Chernobyl Diaries – 3.3/10 (Max – 3, Simon – 3.5)

6. Alex Cross – 3.0/10 (Donovan – 2, Simon – 4)


I suppose Morgan Freeman didn’t want to take his intelligent interpretation of Alex Cross from Kiss the Girls and Along Came Into Spider into this mindless action-oriented thriller. Cicely Tyson’s minimal performance as the titular character’s grandmother gives more merit to Alex Cross than any of its other elements. With a muddled leading turn from Tyler Perry, embarrassingly unhinged work from Matthew Fox as the primary baddie, uninspired action sequences, and a bad script that reads like a television procedural – and visual aesthetics that function similarly – Alex Cross cements itself as a major disappointment. ~ Donovan


5. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – 2.8/10 (Steven – 2.5, Simon – 3)


The first Ghost Rider was something awful, from beneath the depths of hell to be sure. With the directors of Crank on board, you’d hope they’d wipe the slate clean with something wild and crazy and fun, but they presumed that a Ghost Rider who pisses fire could be taken seriously. The sequel ultimately proves even worse in its utter insanity. ~ Steven


4. Battleship – 2.7/10 (John – 1, Kieran – 4, Simon – 3)


People did not expect much from Battleship; audiences predicted that a film based on a board game was going to be a stupid affair. But it is even dumber than you can possibly imaginable. Battleship is a cynical exercise in filmmaking and an example of what would happen if a computer tried to make a film. It is unintentionally funny, has plot holes galore, bad acting and special effects that look like they are from a computer game rather than a blockbuster. This is a film that makes Independence Day look like an intelligential masterpiece. ~ Kieran


3. The Three Stooges – 2.3/10 (Max – 3.5, John – 1, Simon – 2.5)

Everyone who participated in this film should receive a minimum one-year ban from the movie industry so they can think about what happened here. There isn't a single funny moment over the course of this 90-minute "comedy." The real Moe, Larry, and Curly are likely turning over in their graves. ~ John 

2. The Devil Inside – 2.3/10 (Sam – 2, Simon – 2.5)


1. The Apparition – 1.5/10 (Max – 1, Simon – 2)


The Apparition was the kind of movie that gave its (very few) viewers pause, and not for the reasons they were aiming for. How can so many talented filmmakers with great stories to tell, not manage to secure funding but The Apparition got made for some form of money? How did they think putting every, single "thrill" shot in the trailer would help the final screening of the film? How stupid do they think horror audiences are? Everything about the movie is an insult, from the dreadful acting to the even worse script centered on a confusing antagonist. It isn't even a "so bad it's good" category kind of horror. It's just very, very bad. ~ Max





THE 5 MOST DISAPPOINTING FILMS OF 2012 (worst films with at least 4 ratings)


5. The Bourne Legacy – 6.9/10 (4 ratings)


The Bourne Legacy wasn’t a bad movie, but when your predecessors set the bar as high as the Matt Damon films did, it’s an uphill climb. Legacy ended up hurting itself by trying too hard to bridge the gap to new hero Jeremy Renner, and director Tony Gilroy stuck too closely to the formula of the original trilogy for Legacy to be a great film on its own. ~ Steven


4. The Campaign – 6.3/10 (4 ratings)


3. Snow White and the Huntsman – 5.6/10 (6 ratings)

Expect gorgeous costumes and scenery in almost any film about “the fairest of them all” and her jealous stepmother. Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman proves, though, that the results of a Snow White adaptation can be iffy beyond the visual details. Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth fit into their titular roles well, but neither is commanded to do much. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron does a bit too much as Snow White’s stepmother. The film promises a darker take on the classic fairy tale, and that’s what we’re treated to. But what purpose does it really serve with no actual twists and, more importantly, poor writing? ~ Donovan



2. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – 5.5/10 (4 ratings)


Stephen Daldry's latest, Best Picture-nominated film tries to make sense of one of the worst days — perhaps the "Worst Day" — in American history. It does so through the eyes of a pre-teen boy who appears to suffer from Asperger's Disease. And what does it ultimately tell us? That New Yorkers are kind and resourceful people? That hands-off parenting is the best way for a child to get through an emotional crisis? That it's OK to go on the swings? Yes, Daldry's film is based on a beloved novel, but perhaps the biggest truth to be gleaned from its cinematic interpretation is that not everything on the page needs to make its way onto the screen. ~ John


1. Haywire – 5.4/10 (4 ratings)


There was a lot to be excited about when Haywire was first announced: it was an action movie directed by Steven Soderbergh, had a cast featuring Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Michael Douglas and was a starring vehicle for MMA fighter Gina Carano. It had positive a critical reception, earning an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But what we really got was a dull, lifeless film with a basic plot, wooden acting, one of the most mismatched film scores in recent memory. For something marketed as an intense action thriller, the action sequences were incredible spar. Audiences hated Haywire, giving it a D+ on CinemaScope and a 5.9 on IMDB. Some might be just disappointed, but it is my most hated film of 2012. ~ Kieran





1. Wreck-It Ralph – 8.6/10 (5 ratings)

2. ParaNorman – 8.4/10 (4 ratings)

It’s a simple story of a boy who’s a little bit of an outsider, who’s a little bit weird, and who ends up saving the day. An impending zombie apocalypse serves as the major plot device for this beautiful story of tolerance. For good measure, the film also throws in in some fun horror references along the way. Instead of masking its own simplicity, ParaNorman embraces it in a way uncommon in animated features. You know what? Forget about this being a great animated film — it’s just a great film. ~ Donovan

3. Brave – 7.8/10 (7 ratings)




1. The Dark Knight Rises – 8.6/10 (8 ratings)

2. The Avengers – 8.3/10 (8 ratings)

Since the release of Iron Man the endgame for Marvel was the release of The Avengers, easily one of the most ambitious blockbusters as it set out to team up Marvel’s greatest heroes. It was a massive success with audiences and critics. The Avengers supplied fantastic action sequences, plenty of comedy and was a movie that wanted to give us a superhero film on a grand scale. It provided us with everything we would want from a movie this big. ~ Kieran

3. The Amazing Spider-Man – 7.0/10 (7 ratings)




1. Skyfall – 8.8/10 (7 ratings)

2. The Grey – 8.1/10 (5 ratings)

3. Chronicle – 8.0/10 (6 ratings)


An insult to really even really consider “found footage,” Chronicle is the anti-superhero movie – the yin to the yang of The Avengers and other Marvel properties but one that delivers action on the same visceral level. This low-budget sci-fi gem offers a cautionary tale about the influence of power, an exploration of teen angst and the hardships of growing up and first and foremost a gripping and tragic descent into the melancholy. Chronicle went nowhere I expected it and with strong performances and impressive low-budget special effects to support the weighty story arc, Chronicle has become a testament to the skill possessed by first-time director Josh Trank and the viability of its approach. ~ Simon




1. 21 Jump Street – 8.1/10 (5 ratings)


Most of us had the most basic expectations for 21 Jump Street, and it blew them away. No one thought we’d be getting a sharp satire of high school comedies. Channing Tatum earned serious respect from dudes after proving how funny he could be, and it led to one hell of a year from the guy whose biggest previous credit was Dear John. The sequence showcasing the many stages of the drug at the center of the film’s plot ranks among the year’s funniest. ~ Steven

2. Ted – 7.6/10 (3 ratings)

3. Pitch Perfect – 7.5/10 (3 ratings)




1. Argo – 8.7/10 (6 ratings)

2. Headhunters – 8.5/10 (3 ratings)

3. End of Watch – 8.5/10 (2 ratings)


Considering how played out the "shaky-cam" style of filmmaking is, how poorly End of Watch follows its own rules, and how many gritty cop thrillers we've seen over the past few years, David Ayer's film shouldn't have worked at all. That it's actually one of the year's most exciting and visceral movies is unfathomable, but Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena smolder as two Los Angeles cops who're circling around a major crime ring. ~ John




1. The Cabin in the Woods – 8.2/10 (5 ratings)

Although not the most outwardly scary horror offering of 2012, The Cabin in the Woods is such a raucous horror treat brimming with gleeful energy it makes up for any shortcomings in that area with aplomb. It is also blessed with the single most important trait of a scary movie: re-watchability. Perhaps too meta for those not versed in horror lore and the abundant clichés, it still possesses more unadulterated flair and guileless mirth than most pure-comedies. And for those who are afflicted with the horror bug, the twisting of convention and black humor was the gift of the year. If you don’t nearly wet yourself with happiness at the sight of unicorns, zombies and mermen teaming up to tear into hoards of faceless mercenaries linked to an organization tasked with preventing Armageddon, well, I have nothing left to say. ~ Simon

2. Sinister – 8.0/10 (2 ratings)

3. The Woman in Black – 7.7/10 (3 ratings)


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