The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

on December 19, 2012

Best For Kids


Another slice of Disney/Pixar magic, this feisty yarn about a sassy Scottish lass who must rely on her courage (and her serious archery chops) to undo a witches’ curse and save her kingdom strung its adventure together with laughs and lots of visual treats. But at its center was a tale of a mother and her daughter that all moms and little girls--of any age--could take to heart.

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Best for Hipsters

Moonrise Kingdom

Director Wes Anderson’s quirky comedy about two kids falling in love (and running away) on a New England island in the 1960s is funny, touching, sweet and drenched in offbeat nostalgia, but reverberating with distant, haunting echoes of adolescent longing for practically anyone who grew up anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Can you dig it? I think you can!

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Best Head Trip


This multi-layered mind bender starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as younger and older versions of the same guy stands out as a thought-provoking, head-rattling ride that could easily become a new sci-fi classic. It has a has a lot going on underneath its shoot-‘em-up, time-traveling surface about the decisions we make, what we’re willing to do for people we love, and what makes us who we turn out to be.

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Best For History Buffs


Steven Spielberg brought together an all-star cast, anchored by Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, for this hurricane-force saga of our 16th president and his herculean efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. Moving, masterful, and magnificent, audiences couldn’t stop raving about it, and it’s sprinkled with Oscar bait all around, including stellar performances Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

Best Action


The 23rd movie about the world’s most famous secret agent comes exactly 50 years after the first one, and it’s the smartest, slickest, most sensational Bond in ages. With Daniel Craig in his third outing as 007, the lord of the spies grapples with changing times, the limitations of his own battered body, the emotional tug of mortality, and a cyber-terrorist super-villain. Bond is back, baby, and it’s been a long time since he’s looked, acted or felt so alive.

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Worst Disaster At Sea


A titanic tub of computer-generated catastrophe about space aliens and the U.S. Navy’s counterattack to repel them, this clangy, anchors-aweigh bombast of special-effects whoosh and wallop, ka-booming explosions and dumb action-movie dialogue starred Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch & Brooklyn Decker in a disaster-movie spin-off of the classic childhood board game. Thank goodness, it sank like a stone.

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Worst Pregnancy Advice

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

This star-packed romantic comedy (with Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks) flies under the famous brand name of the iconic self-help title but flopped around exhaustively with a lame script, multiple storylines that only lazily overlap, and a dirty diaper bag of sex jokes, sentimental mush, cartoonish claptrap and weary parent-to-be cliches.

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Worst Alien-Invasion Comedy

The Watch

Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn were marooned in this seriously mishandled romp about a motley suburban neighborhood group working to thwart an E.T. takeover. Everyone knows how crude R-rated comedies can be, but this one earns a special citation for its obsession with crotches. Everyone involved with the project has made better movies than this moronic project that aimed low--and repeatedly hit its target.

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Worst Cold War Leftover

Red Dawn

The original 1984 movie, about a squadron of guerilla-fighting red, white and blue high school resistance fighters taking on an invading Chinese army, wasn’t Shakespeare by any stretch. But it has held up relatively well in cold storage as a slice of gung-ho, Reagan Era, all-American cheese. And it’s a practically a nostalgic masterpiece compared to this misguided missile of a remake that stretched credibility at every turn.

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Worst Career Move

Alex Cross

A detective drama based on novelist James Patterson’s series of crime-thriller fiction novels, this marked Tyler Perry’s first leading action role beyond his comedic, cross-dressing “Madea” romps, in which he gets riotous laughs for putting on dresses and wigs. While short of a crash-and-burn disaster, it wasn’t anything above a run-of-the-mill cop-chases-killer-thriller flick--and certainly not what Perry needed to launch him out of the fun zone.