2012 Year in Review

2012-rejectawards

It’s funny. We spend so much time honoring the triumphs of 2012, and the big game won’t even roll around until February. The Academy Awards aren’t a paragon of perfection for some, and they aren’t the final word, but they are (like it or not) the closest thing we have to a standard for celebrating creative film talent. There job is to hand out the general cheers for performances, make-up, songs and the like, and since they’ve got those covered, it falls to us to hoist filmmakers and films on high for unique reasons. Reasons that might make the average Academy voter spit out their tea. From the far corners, here are the 2nd Annual Reject Awards.

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The Best Posters of 2012

This is the kind of Year in Review article that could get out of hand. Long-winded explanation of the intricacies of studio marketing and boutique-driven movie art prints. But lets be honest with ourselves, if you’re reading this article, you are here to see the posters and — if we’re lucky — have a lively discussion in the comments about the choices, the order and the ones I’ve “missed” on the list. That’s the fun part of all this list-making, it’s an ongoing discussion of the best and worst that happened over the past year. For the Best Movie Posters of 2012, we’re keeping it simple. Two categories: posters for the films released in 2012, and a group of alternates, art prints, Mondo releases and one-sheets for upcoming films. Within these two categories, we’ve selected the 12 best releases of the year. Feel free to discuss our choices and share your own picks in the comments.

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2012-overlookedmovies

The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the year’s best, but they’re still great movies that never found an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now. (Which reminds me… go see Jack Reacher!) But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 100 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault. I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid by default. These are only films that had a real chance of making a lot more money, so while I wish more people saw the LCD Soundsystem concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, I’m not surprised that it only made $510k. So here are 12 great movies that failed at the box office but deserved much better (and should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever)… and 6 terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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Best Movies of 2012

Earlier this year, we organized a vote between a bunch of internet film critics (and a handful of filmmakers) to come up with what they would cumulatively exalt as the best movies of all time. It’s not like we had to pull teeth or anything (we left our hammer at home), but compiling lists of the best movies of 2012 was a lot easier. People have just been giving away their opinions over the past few weeks. While that was a large-scale project, this ones admittedly a bit fluffier. I compiled as many Best Of lists as I could from notable online movie outlets, assigned point values for the movies listed (#10 gets 1 point, #1 gets 10 points) and plugged everything into my TI-82. It took a while to compute since I was playing this awesome game where you’re a 3-pixel wide race car and you have to avoid slamming into stuff, but the results were…

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The Best Movie Trailers of 2012

Everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover, but were you aware that movies shouldn’t be judged by a trailer either? I know, seems counter-intuitive, but while the trailer advertises a feature the two aren’t interchangeable. Terrible trailers sometimes give way to fantastic films just as brilliant trailers sometimes reveal ridiculously bad ones. It’s a crap shoot really. The list below features twelve of our favorite trailers that premiered in 2012. Some of the movies turned out to be gems, others ended up being far less impressive and a few won’t be released until 2013, but all of them made us excited to watch one more movie…

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Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

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The Best TV Shows of 2012

While the new fall line-up wasn’t too impressive (there are only two freshman series on this list, neither of which premiered in the fall) and former powerhouses have stumbled (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire), this is still an amazing time for TV. The most outstanding programs don’t just have excellent writing and actors, they’re reinventing genres and challenging viewers with daring storytelling. TV is gutsier now (sometimes literally gutsier with blood and innards all over the place) and its fantastic. When compiling this list, I chose the shows that sparked visceral reactions. These are the comedies, dramas, and (often overlooked) animated gems that made me laugh out loud, cringe, cry like an idiot, or yell “oh snap” at every wild turn.

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Film School Rejects: Staff Picks

For a movie blogger, this is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s those magical weeks at the end of the calendar year when you get to sum it all up, break it all down and check your own list a few times. Because why should Santa get to have all the fun? Here at Film School Rejects, we do this in the grandest of fashions, as part of our annual Year in Review. For a full week following Christmas, we run down the best and worst of the year. You may have noticed our 2012 Year in Review edition, which just so happens to be in full-force.  While we’re not quite finished with lists and editorials, we have reached what is, at least for me, the most fun part of the Year in Review: the annual Staff Picks article. It’s a tradition that began with our 2009 Staff Picks, which at that time included only 7 writers and a very mysterious not-pictured performance from Rob Hunter. It continued with the 2010 Staff Picks, an article that became evidence of the diverse group of writers we’d brought together that year. Including the part where Robert Fure named that film about internet porn one of the best. Last year, our 2011 Staff Picks article featured the largest and most diverse group of writers yet. This year’s group further’s that notion of diversity and quality. Each member of our team was asked to choose and write about their five best films […]

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Movie of the Year: The Avengers

“That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.” In the middle of 2008, director Christopher Nolan created a pivot point for superhero movies. Because up to the point when Heath Ledger’s Joker said, “How about a magic trick?” in The Dark Knight, movies based upon comic books had been going in the more colorful direction set forth by directors like Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi. Nolan’s Dark Knight (and the film that preceded it) changed things. And ever since, anyone with the rights to a comic book movie has been trying to capture that same gritty feel, that same realism. Thankfully, the folks at Marvel, who also scored in 2008 with Iron Man, thew that notion out the window. You see, around the same time that Nolan was booting up Batman for Warner Bros. and DC, Marvel was beginning its own journey as a stand-alone studio with a very specific kind of plan. A magic trick of their own, they set out to bring to life Earth’s mightiest heroes with a six-film roadmap that would lead to the most ambitious superhero movie ever produced. A massive risk that would pay off to produce our pick for the Movie of the Year. A movie that yielded the above quote, as spoken by Mark Ruffalo,  which could be seen as the turning point of 2012 at the movies. Every time I experience this moment, there’s no denying that years down the line when we look back at the movies of 2012, there’s no forgetting the year that gave […]

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The Best Foreign Films of 2012

The title of this list is slightly misleading in that not all of the films were released this year. The sad fact is that the vast majority of foreign language films never reach our shores, and the ones that do often appear a year or two (or more) later. So while all of the films below played in the US in 2012 (in some capacity) they may have premiered elsewhere in 2011 or earlier. Three of the titles below are also featured in my list of the 12 Best Movies of 2012. And because I know you’re curious, no, Holy Motors didn’t make the cut. (It is included in the Honorable Mentions list at the bottom of the page though!) I know every other critic loved the merde out of it, but I found it to be an occasionally engaging series of sketches highlighted by a love for cinema. Now read on for what I think are twelve better films (in alphabetical order).

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12year_disappointments

If there’s one word I think of that’s best tied to the story of film in 2012, it’s “disappointing.” That’s not to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for movies. I don’t know if it was the best in a while, as some of my fellow critics claim, but then I still haven’t seen a lot of the “best” titles of the year. What I do know is that there were enough movies that really, really, really disappointed a lot of people, and so I feel like I heard — or read — the word “disappointing” more than any other. Whether it was a long-awaited prequel to a classic helmed by the original’s director or the expected return to form for a filmmaker or a final installment of a much-worshipped superhero trilogy or a reboot of a beloved comic-based franchise or a new animated feature from a usually dependable studio, there were plenty of major releases that turned out to be less than satisfying. At least for some.

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2012year_jfc

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; eat it, Mayans! Eat it with cheese! Yes, despite our best efforts, we’ve managed to survive another year and therefore it is once again time, in clear defiance of your best interest or our lawyer’s behests, for the Junkfood Cinema Awards. This year’s Junkies marks the third anniversary…of Film School Rejects’ editors proving monumentally lax in their duties. This year, we’ve rolled up our sleeves (because of the gravy stains) and dug deep into our own 2012  archives to craft a host of new and exciting (read: meaningless) categories for which let’s face it, there could only really have been one winner. And the winners are… …not going to like being associated with this column.

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The Best Documentaries of 2012

2012′s best documentaries understand people. It’s as simple as that. They include beautiful character portraits, from group pictures like Indie Game: The Movie and El Gusto to individual pieces like Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Marley. Even the most issue-oriented films achieved their strength through keeping things personal, building powerful political and social arguments through the lives of their subjects. They chronicle the lives of victims who are also heroes, filmmakers who are also subjects, and unique characters who end up representing us all.

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Megan Ellison

If you salivated over adult dramas and auteur filmmaking in 2012, you have a Hindu Goddess and a 26-year-old film school dropout to thank. The Hindu Goddess is Annapurna, the “mother who feeds” and the namesake for the film school dropout’s production company, and our filmmaker of the year is Megan Ellison, the Goddess of Nourishment for World Class Directors. Over the past decade, the big six studios all but gave up on adult dramas, period pieces without capes and anything that cost more than ten but less than one-hundred million dollars. Movie writers love to pontificate on whether something controversial like Rosemary’s Baby could get made today (Friday nights at the bar get heated), but there’s an even shorter conversation about something like Regarding Henry or Witness – mature stories that have no real chance at the studio system of 2012. Fortunately, that need is being filled in part by Ellison and her massive personal fortune. Which is probably why, when I asked editors for three major film websites to weigh in on what would never be the same after 2012, all of them wanted to talk about Ellison. Sure, the digital takeover was big; crowdsourcing was a game-changer; but it was Ellison’s name on everyone’s lips. So what exactly do we have to thank her for?

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The Best Horror Movies of 2012

Another year has come and mostly gone and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, stupid, misbehaving teenagers have been lost at the hands of ghosts, apparitions, psychos, monsters, animals, and families with strange murder dynamics. Like any responsible site, it’s now our job to look back on a year of cinematic chaos and movie madness and sort all of this into an easy digestible list full of horrors! And family films! Because really, 2012 in horror wasn’t all that violent, but it was reflective and satisfying in a familiar way. Onward!

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Best Short Films of 2012

There are exactly 12,458 short films made every year. That number is a grossly inaccurate estimation, but the point is, there’s a hell of a lot of short films out there. The classic calling card for would-be career directors, the mistress keeping a feature filmmaker’s attention, the proof that a left field concept can work.  These brief motion pictures can pack an incredible punch, and in the world of the internet, they are everyday finding their place among the throne room of distraction entertainment that can be safely smuggled into a cubicle or a school desk. After watching close to 3,000 shorts this year, roughly 260 were chosen for our Short Film of the Day feature, so the idea of culling that list down to 12 seems both staggering and like something that violates the Eighth Amendment. The whole “Everyone’s a winner” schtick is something we all know isn’t true, but if you made it onto the site at all, you’ve got something that thousands of other movies don’t. With that in mind, here are the shorts that shined above and beyond those that survived the final cut. You’ll find a security team overwhelmed by monsters and sarcasm, two robots with immense humanity, a bit of comic book ultra-violence and a whole lot more.

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Movie Scene of 2012

Whether you loved it, hated it, or were scratching your head all the way through, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is a memorable film. This disjointed, manic work is one of the most original and boundary-pushing movies of the year, avoiding anything resembling narrative coherence and conventional character development. It also features an amazing lead performance by Denis Lavant as a huge cast of unusual characters. While many moments in the film stand out – the motion capture sex scene, Eva Mendes’s abduction by Lavant’s sewer-dwelling goblin, Kylie Minogue’s touch of tragedy through song – perhaps the film’s most exhilarating moment was its musical intermission, in which Lavant leads a band through an old cathedral where they collectively rock out with their accordions out. Even amongst the FSR staff who weren’t as taken by this film as I was (his name rhymes with Rob Hunter), we mostly agreed that this scene stands out, even in a film (and a year of films) with many great scenes to choose from.

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The Best Soundtracks of 2012

Looking back over the past year in film, it is impressive to remember the different styles and forms of music that accompanied these various releases as they bring back the memories and emotions felt when first hearing a particular song or watching a piece of orchestration pair perfectly with what was happening on screen. When it comes to music, it is not simply a question of what was the best; it is a question of what resonated the most. Music created for film is unlike any other type of music because it is intended to be listened to while watching specific images. Of course there are songs that stand well on their own (see: Adele’s “Skyfall”), but hopefully even outside of the film, those songs conjure up memories of the films they came from. Sometimes a song placed in a particular scene can take on a whole new meaning, giving you a new ideas to reflect on when you hear it (see: “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies as used in a pivotal scene in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.) Soundtracks and scores help add to the emotion of a film and this year’s musicians delivered in spades. From turning found sounds into orchestration to adding a new layer of depth to the end of a trilogy to proving that sometimes words simply are not enough, 2012 was filled with new, inventive, and memorable music. Let’s look back and listen to the twelve selections […]

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The Best Movies of 2012

I watched 439 new-to-me films in 2012 (so far), and the majority of them were new releases. So, it is with no small measure that I say that this has been a spectacular year for movies, both domestic and foreign made, and anyone who claims otherwise is a dipshit. Narrowing the great ones down to just twelve was predictably difficult… so I’ve included twenty honorable mentions. There are still a few high profile films I need to see, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, and I’ve caught the vast majority of the big titles, but stay tuned through to the end of the piece for all the necessary sidenotes. And this should go without saying, but any film critic’s best-of list is essentially nothing more than a list of his or her objectively preferred movies, and what follows below is mine for 2012. That said, the movies listed below are in fact the twelve (correct) best films of the year. In alphabetical order.

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The Best Movie Mash-ups of 2012

Some may find them frivolous, but there’s something wonderfully profound about movie mashups. They represent both the ability of an audience to reshape the art they admire as well as the commonality that all movies seem to share, no matter how radically different they appear on the surface. Turning Mrs. Doubtfire into a horror film via trailer only solidifies how the core storytelling tools passed down through thousands of years have stayed the same even while delivery methods have evolved and shifted. Okay, and they’re pretty frivolous. Mashups are fun. This generation’s mix tapes, they blend together our favorite moments of pop culture into a new monster. Of course, as the best mashups of 2012 show, they can also be poignant reminders or someone’s work, a vivid look at the sheer weight of all the movies of one year or a marked criticism of the way film marketing has ossified and overloaded us with too many images before we sit down in the darkness to be entertained. Taking on the titans of 2012, here are the best mashups of the year:

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