2012 was destined to be the best year of cinema since 1999. And we needed a good year, especially after the trainwreck that was 2011.
In many ways, 2012 was the Year of the Franchise. Franchises ended (Twilight, The Dark Knight), franchises were launched (Hunger Games, Jack Reacher), franchises were re-launched (The Amazing Spider-Man, Dredd), franchises continued (The Hobbit, Skyfall) and Marvel's five-film uber-franchise finally culminated in Marvel Avengers Assemble. Plus, no franchise news was bigger than the announcement of a new Star Wars trilogy. Thank you Lucasfilm and Disney!
So did 2012 live up to expectations? Well... mostly.
We had a solid Oscar season with The Artist, The Descendants, War Horse, Shame, The Iron Lady and the rest dividing the judges.
There were plenty of unexpected hits, with the indie circuit offering us Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Chronicle.
And even the expected hits managed to win the crowds over despite the burden of incredibly high-anticipation. The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises and Marvel Avengers Assemble all deserve a round of applause.
Spider-Man and Dredd were given stylish reboots, Channing Tatum reinvented himself as a comedy genius in 21 Jump Street and The Muppets won an Oscar for Best Song. Best of all, the Twilight saga has finally come to an end!
Sadly, 2012 was not without its share of disappointments, none more devastating than Prometheusand John Carter. Young Adult marked the first misfire for director Jason Reitman and Aardman's Pirate Adventure lacked their usual spark.
Even some of the better films fell slightly short of classic status. Skyfall slowly edged back towards the camp days of Bond, Brave was far from Pixar's best and the much-hyped The Raid grew tiresome after the first hour of ass-kicking.
But this is being picky. 2012 will be remembered fondly.
So, like many cinephiles, I write a Top Five every year. I have only included films that were released in 2012. There are also plenty of big films that I have not seen. For instance, I cannot give an opinion onBeasts of the Southern Wild, L'Amore, Moonrise Kingdom and Bourne Legacy.
There are lots of great five-star films and guilty pleasures that didn't make the top five. The two closest reserves were The Artist and the brilliantly-clever, meta-horror Cabin in the Woods.
Anyway, here are my Top Five Films of 2012:
5) THE DESCENDANTS
Alexander Payne returns to the director's chair with another Oscar-standard indie, although it was criminally overlooked by the Academy. George Clooney delivers another world-class performance (dramatic, heart-breaking, hilarious), whilst newcomer Shailene Woodley steals several scenes as his daughter. The Descendants tackles big issues with a light-hearted approach and offers great acting, original writing and a life-affirming sense of humour.
This sleeper hit of 2012 was a mash-up between Cloverfield and X-Men... or possibly Carrie for the YouTube generation. Debut director Josh Trank gives superheroes the found-footage treatment, casting a talented group of unknown actors and capturing the super-powered antics through home videos, CCTV footage and any available Smartphone. Chronicle is refreshing, captivating, edge-of-your-seat film-making.
3) THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
A welcome return to Middle-Earth packed with the humour, horror and heart that we now expect from Jackson's Oscar-winning team. The Hobbit seamlessly embodies everything that was great aboutLOTR, whether it be grotesque monsters, over-the-top action or stunning scenery. And Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo. Bring on the dragon.
2) THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
a beautifully-presented coming-of-age drama based on director Stephen Chbosky's own critically-acclaimed novel and driven by a talented trio of young actors. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller each reinvent themselves, crafting unforgettable characters and deserving of award recognition. This is Lost in Translation for teenagers. Feel-good, magical cinema.
1) MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
After years of franchise-building, Avengers finally happened. Josh Whedon assembled the greatest superhero film to date and certainly the most fun. This is perfectly-balanced, laugh-out-loud, dream-come-true Friday night entertainment and proof that crossover comic book franchises can work on the big-screen. Marvel's faith in both the Avengers and in Whedon has paid off. Anyone for shawarma?