Well, we’re already (more than) halfway through the year and it’s been a solid one so far, especially compared to this same time last year. As a point of reference, none — I repeat, none — of the films that made my Top 11 of ’11 were in wide release during the first 6 months of the year. Ain’t that something.
Through the first six months of 2012, however, we have seen some truly solid films and some very interesting film events. For starters, The Grey unexpectedly became one of the most talked about films of the year so far, Daniel Radcliffe moved on from his decade-long stint as boy wizard Harry Potter, The Hunger Games took the world by storm by delivering a solid film adaptation, and The Avengers assembled to annihilate just about every box office record imaginable.
There have, of course, been a few missteps along the way (Battleship, anyone?), but so far, the first half of 2012 is far superior than the first half of 2011. In this post, I’m going to list my favorite films of the year so far, dole out some honorable mentions, and touch on a couple disappointments from these first 6 months of 2012. Then I’ll briefly go over the films I’m looking forward to in the second half of 2012. Ready? Here we go!
BEST OF 2012 (SO FAR)
1. 21 Jump Street — The best comedy of the year so far, and probably my favorite straight-up comedy since 2009’s The Hangover. It’s a movie that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself, and the duo of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is one I’d love to see again in the future. (B’s review)
2. The Avengers — The movie event of the first half of the year, and rightfully so: writer/director Joss Whedon did an excellent job weaving various characters’ stories together and making a truly cohesive superhero movie. The Avengers could have easily been a letdown, despite its massive star power, if not for Joss Whedon. (K’s review; B’s review)
3. The Cabin in the Woods — Much like its predecessors, including The Evil Dead I and II and Shaun of the Dead, The Cabin in the Woods is an extremely smart comedy/horror film that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself and the horror genre as a whole. In all likelihood this one will have you contemplating whether you should be committed to a mental ward given the sickness of what you are laughing at on-screen. (B’s review)
4. Jeff, Who Lives at Home — If the theme of the 3 titles listed above is self-deprecation, then the theme of Jeff, Who Lives at Home is self-loathing. And fate, as in the belief that something — perhaps a deity, perhaps the universe — has a plan for our lives and we just need to follow the signs. It’s a truly enjoyable film with an excellent performance by Jason Segel. (review coming soon)
5. Magic Mike — When I was back home for a week, in the lovely town of Mankato, MN, I saw three movies: Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Magic Mike. Who’d have thought that Mike would be the one I enjoyed most? (B’s review)
6. Moonrise Kingdom — Right now, it’s my top film of the year so far. I explained at one point in my review that it was at times hard to explain what I loved so much about this film. All I can suggest is that you see it for yourself. (B’s review)
7. Prometheus — Probably the most divisive film of these first 6 months, with critics and audiences alike. Some hail it as a modern sci-fi masterpiece worthy of its quasi-Alien origins, and others think it’s a mess with too many unanswered questions. I fall into the former category. Don’t be surprised if this is viewed as a sci-fi classic down the road. Seriously. (B’s review)
FIRST HALF HONORABLE MENTIONS
1. The Hunger Games — I raved, pretty hardcore I might add, about The Hunger Games when it was first released, but I just don’t know how well it will stand up over time. I saw it at the midnight premiere opening night and then again two days later, and already during the second viewing it felt a bit too hokey at times. Still a solid film, nonetheless. (K’s review; B’s review)
2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — A surprisingly enjoyable and ultimately light-hearted film about a gaggle of old people who take an extended stay at an Indian hotel. Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith are splendid here, though the movie was a bit slow at times. (review coming soon)
3. The Five-Year Engagement — A movie that thrives on the charm of its stars, The Five-Year Engagement is largely enjoyable despite some lagging moments here and there. I think that’s going to be my official review tagline for the film. (B’s review)
4. Jack Reacher — Saw this at a screening a couple of months ago, and while it was unfinished, it was still quite enjoyable, though there were a couple of casting choices I didn’t like and some storytelling I wasn’t fond of. Overall, it’s a decent action movie with Tom Cruise in the driver’s seat as he hopes to kick off another action franchise. (no review due to non-disclosure agreement)
FIRST HALF DISAPPOINTMENTS
1. Ted — I really wanted to like Ted, and maybe that was the problem. Ted is too much about the relationship between John (Wahlberg) and Lori (Kunis) and not enough about its eponymous star, and I found its laughs to be few and far between. While it is definitely not a bad movie, it just lagged and dragged too much for this kind of film. (B’s review)
2. The Amazing Spider-Man — Technically released on July 3, but it’s my list and I’m including it here. The casting of Andrew Garfield as the webslinger and Emma Stone as his dame is excellent, and the first half is solid. But after that, the film tends to meander, and what’s worse, I spent the rest of the film thinking The Lizard looked an awful lot like the Goombas from Super Mario Brothers. I was right. (K’s review)