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Pop Off: Notable movies of 2012

By Brendon Field
On December 3, 2012

With this being the final week of the semester and the year rapidly coming to a close, it's time to look back at all the movies 2012 had to offer, and what they signify moving forward.
I am very pleased to say that 2012 has to be one of the best years for movies since the block of 1993-1995. Since September, it appears another four star gem is released every week, beginning with "End of Watch" and likely concluding with "Django Unchained." This year also saw a phenomenal showing of the first four months, typically dark days at the theatre. "The Cabin in the Woods," "Chronicle" and "Goon" were all released before the end of April and all are candidates for my top films of the year.
In terms of trends amongst audiences, it appears that the age of special effects driven actions films may finally be weaning, with "Battleship" and "Red Dawn" disappointing at the box office and moviegoers favoring more substantial action films, "The Grey" and "Skyfall." Limited releases also seem to be getting more mainstream attention. Both "Flight" and "Lincoln" have done very well at box office despite being in less than 2,000 theatres and many have said the biggest movie of the summer that didn't involve superheroes was "Moonrise Kingdom." Unfortunately, it appears that unnecessary and unsatisfactory sequels are still in high demand, with "Taken 2," "The Expendables 2" and "Paranormal Activity 4" all claiming the top spot on their opening weekends.
As for breakthrough stars: this year's clear winners are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jennifer Lawrence. Gordon-Levitt has appeared extensively over the last 10 years but has been unable to break into the top tier of acting. But after "Looper," "The Dark Knigh t Rises," "Lincoln" and "Premium Rush," he has proven he can create a screen presence to combat and even outmatch stars such as Bruce Willis and Christian Bale. I didn't even like all the movies I just listed (we'll get to that in a moment), but his success can't be denied. As for Lawrence, she finally caught the public's eye with her starring role in "The Hunger Games" and is an Oscar favorite for "Silver Linings Playbook," and throw in "House at the End of the Street" as a quaint little bonus.
With every year there comes one big surprise and often a bigger disappointment. For surprise, I'll go with "21 Jump Street." It was an incredibly sharp piece that remarkably combined a cop-buddy picture with a high school comedy, and it even made me reconsider my feeling on cash-in remakes. As for disappointment, I have to call out "The Dark Knight Rises." Oh boy, I'm going to get serious flack for this one. The plot was poorly constructed, full of holes and heavily overblown, considering how weak and shallow the writing was, especially when compared to "The Dark Knight." Bane was a confused and dull villain, it ran a half-hour too long and come the climax, I couldn't have been more disinterested. Sorry.
But the best part about 2012 is, it's not over yet. With "The Hobbit," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Django Unchained" and "Hyde Park on Hudson" all set for release this month, not to mention all the movies in November still in theaters, there's a lot to look forward to after the end of finals.

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