The decade in review: 2012

By Julien Rodger

In 2012 the much anticipated The Avengers headlined the year. It lived up to expectations at the box office by breaking the opening weekend record with 207.4 million and grossing 623.3 million domestically. As importantly audiences loved the film with Joss Whedon’s blend of drama and comedy being perfectly at home in the Marvel Comic Universe. With 448.1 million the Dark Knight Rises fell from its predecessor The Dark Knight’s 535.2 million in part due to poor timing of the Aurora shooting during a screening of the film. The two major surprises of the year were The Hunger Games at 408.0 million and Skyfall at 304.4 million. With the books having not yet reached the popularity of young adult series like Twilight, The Hunger Games used its marketing campaign, a strong concept and burgeoning star of Jennifer Lawrence to open to a massive 152.5 million at the time. Skyfall became by far the highest grossing Bond film of all time by miles away with 304.4 million and 1.1 billion worldwide. The Bond series has been a consistent performer as it gets domestically but had never had a true breakout on this level thanks to an appealing storyline of M. being in danger, Javier Bardem’s villain and Adele’s song. The last three films before it in Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale and Die Another Day had all grossed between 160.9 and 168.4 million and the earlier Brosnan films adjusted to a similar number. Other films in the top ten included The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s 303 million and The Amazing Spider-man’s 262.0 million both falling from their previous trilogies and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 having its usual consistent performance with 292.2 million. Brave was received as a mid level Pixar film and grossed a solid but unspectacular 237.3 million. Two comedy hits that later produced sequels were Ted with 218.8 million and 21 Jump Street with 138.4 million. These days breakout comedies of their genre seem more and more rare. This was an abnormally strong year for Oscar nominated films at the box office with Lincoln’s 182.2 Million, Django Unchained’s 162.8 million, Les Miserables‘ 148.8 million, Argo’s 136.0 million, Silver Linings Playbook’s 132.1 million, Life of Pi’s 125.0 million and Zero Dark Thirty’s 95.7 million, a far cry from the 2018 environment where even a crowd pleasing Best Picture in Green Book only grossed 85 million.

At the Oscars sympathy for Ben Affleck’s shocking Director snub led Argo to rebound and win Best Picture. Earlier in the race Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty had emerged as threats but Spielberg was competing against himself to get his 2nd Best Picture and 3rd Best Director, and the clinical Zero Dark Thirty proved more appealing to critics than Oscar voters with Kathryn Bigelow not even receiving a Director nomination. With Affleck out of the race, Ang Lee took his 2nd Best Director without Best Picture win for Life of Pi. Daniel Day-Lewis won his 3rd Oscar for his tour de force as Lincoln and Jennifer Lawrence was crowned as the It girl with her Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook. For most of the race it looked like Best Supporting Actor would come down to Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook or the inexplicably snubbed Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained, with the expectation Christoph Waltz wouldn’t win a 2nd Best Supporting Actor for a Tarantino film. But in the end they decided they liked Waltz’ performance best and came from the back of the field to take the award. Anne Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables in perhaps the worst thing to happen to her career as after the resentment of her class valedictorian personality and how hard she campaigned for the win at the time, perhaps it’s no coincidence she has avoided Oscar bait projects where she belongs since.

Quick hits on films released this year:

The Master – An essential Paul Thomas Anderson with Joaquin Phoenix giving the performance of a lifetime

The Cabin in the Woods – The horror satire was embraced by fans of the genre

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A nice finding your identity in high school drama and vehicle for Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller

Cloud Atlas – The Wachowskis ultra ambitious adaptation of characters spanning time and space

Pitch Perfect – The breakout a cappella film led to multiple sequels

Looper – A solid time travel entry by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

American Reunion – Like Scream 4 it performed poorly as audiences comedy tastes had evolved since the first three films

This Is 40 – Apatow’s spin off of the Rudd and Leslie Mann characters in Knocked Up was another standout comedy

Moonrise Kingdom – The start of an excellent few years for Wes Anderson

Amour – The ultra depressing Haneke elderly film was nominated for Best Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild – The poverty bayou indie led to a surprise Best Director nomination for Benh Zeitlin in addition to a Best Picture nomination and the youngest actress nomination in Quvenzhane Wallis.

Safe House and Flight – A strong year for Denzel Washington as both films grossed over 100 million and he received a Best Actor nomination for the latter.

Wreck-It Ralph – A fun Pixar-less entry animated entry by Disney

Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror – Snow White was in this year, but audiences mostly shrugged their shoulders at each.

Magic Mike – The McConnaughssaince was on as he received Best Supporting Actor buzz for Steven Soderberg’s male stripper movie

John Carter and Battleship – Two of the most iconic bombs of this decade

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