While this hasn't been an overly exciting movie year so far, it is shaping up to be better than last year. At the midyear point of 2011, I was already calling it one of the worst movie years imaginable, a feeling that stuck when the year changed over. I'm feeling a little better about 2012.
And while it isn't one of the year's worst films, I would have to call The Amazing Spider-Man the most disappointing film of the year thus far. That movie is getting off way too easy with the critics; it's a mess.
Here are the 2012 five best and worst as of early July.
The Best So Far
1. Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson returns to live action after Fantastic Mr. Fox with a very Wes Anderson movie. It features a great cast, awesome cinematography and shot-for-shot genius. Any year in which Anderson makes a movie is a happier movie year for me.
2. The Grey: Liam Neeson should be an Oscar contender for his work as a man battling a harsh, snowy wilderness and wolves after a plane crash. Joe Carnahan's movie is a great survival flick, and an excellent monster movie to boot. There are a lot of people out there whining about the ending. To these people I say: "AAAAHHHH SHUDDUPPP!!!
3. The Avengers: A rousing, funny, overall exciting meeting of the Marvel superheroes that has made a huge impact on the box office, but most important, depicts the Incredible Hulk in a way that most everybody seems to be happy with. Well, perhaps Edward Norton isn't a fan. And maybe Eric Bana, but everybody else is stoked.
4. Prometheus: Ridley Scott's return to the Alien universe is a mind-bending and somewhat perplexing movie that qualifies as one of the year's most-beautifully shot films. Scott has used 3-D technology much to his advantage. Oh, sure, the film's logic is all over the place, but I don't really care. Bring on more Prometheus movies, please.
5. Bernie: Jack Black gives one of the year's best performances so far as Bernie, the real-life murderer of an elderly widow (played by Shirley MacLaine) in Carthage, Texas. Richard Linklater, reteaming with his The School of Rock star, knows how to handle Black better than anybody else.
The Worst So Far
1. The Devil Inside: The year's worst movie so far is a found-footage movie. Can you believe it? I'm seriously hoping that crap like this has rung the death bell for found-footage films. If I have to sit through another found-footage exorcism, I'm going to enter a convenience store, gather up all of the flu medicine, and put it in the ice cream freezer where people won't find it. I know that this particular act isn't all that awful or impactful, but it's all I can come up with right now.
2. Battleship: Oh, yeah ... let's make a boring movie based on a boring board game. Let us tap that untapped mine of gorgeous cinematic ideas that is the American board game. I want a Chutes and Ladders movie now!
3. Act of Valor: Please, members of the military, don't beat my ass for hating this movie. While it was cool to cast real soldiers in this thing, it wasn't cool to give them a script that makes the Chuck Norris film Missing in Action look like Rambo: First Blood Part II. (Let me make this perfectly clear ... RAMBO RULED!)
4. Contraband: Mark Wahlberg action films have a tendency to suck, as does this one. I still love him, and found Ted to be extremely funny. As for this, he should be ashamed of himself.
5. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: I'm so lame that I actually went into this hoping it would be good. I usually like it when Nicolas Cage gets all weird. Not this time. While the skull looks better in this movie, everything else looks like it was produced by 10-year-olds during a massive papier-mache arts-and-crafts session.