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A season of blockbusters and bullets

DKR-37446r CHRISTIAN BALE as Batman Warner Bros. Picturesí Legendary Picturesí actithriller ìTHE DARK KNIGHT RISESî Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM

DKR-37446r CHRISTIAN BALE as Batman in Warner Bros. Picturesí and Legendary Picturesí action thriller ìTHE DARK KNIGHT RISES,î a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM and © DC Comics Photo by Ron Phillips

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Updated: October 1, 2012 5:05PM

We Marveled at “The Avengers.”

We sunk that “Battleship.”

We wondered how Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum could be funnier than Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

We paid too much attention to some loud mediocrities, in the meantime missing some beautiful gems.

And we were horrified by the mass shootings in a Colorado theater on the first night of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In many ways the summer of 2012 was reminiscent of nearly every summer season since the dawn of the Blockbuster Age in the mid-1970s. Thrilling, big-budget, audience-participation blockbusters, stupid comedies, the occasional surprise hit.

In one horrific way, it was like no other summer. We are a nation — a world — that loves our movies. We still love going to the theater for that communal experience, even with all the other platforms available to us. We think of movies as a place to escape the hardness of the outside world.

On July 20, we woke to the news of a lone gunman going on an insane rampage at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring 58. So many survivors said the same thing: At first we thought it was part of the movie.

The beauty of a great film is its timeless nature. We’ll never forget the tragedy of July 20, but a generation from now, “The Dark Knight Rises” will still be thrilling new viewers watching it on whatever devices have been concocted by then.

This was the best film of the summer of 2012, with a perfect final 10 minutes. It cemented Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as one of the greatest trilogies of all time.

Winners and losers

At the movies, the summer season began on May 4 with the release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” and it ended right about the time you finished reading this sentence.

Worst comedy: It was painful to watch the talented trio of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill doing caricatures of their respective personas in “The Watch,” but even worse was Adam Sandler’s grotesquely inappropriate “That’s My Boy,” in which Sandler played a washed-up B-lister who had fathered a child with his teacher when he was 13. At this point it’s almost as if Sandler is daring us to loathe his movies.

Best comedy: For pure comedies, it’s a tie between “The Campaign” and “Ted.” But the most memorably funny films are the ones that combine genres, giving us some genuinely believable dramatic moments along with the big laughs, e.g., “Celeste and Jesse Forever” and “To Rome With Love.” My favorite was Richard Linklater’s sublime “Bernie,” which was equal parts documentary, true crime story and satire. Jack Black gives the performance of his career as an assistant funeral director who is clearly guilty of murder — and yet still has the support of nearly everyone in town.

Least scary movie: Only a truly great actor like Robert De Niro can be this epically awful. In “Red Lights,” De Niro does his worst De Niro imitation maybe ever as a blind, spoon-bending, levitating paranormal — or is he a con artist, and most of all, who cares! The big reveal in this film would have had M. Night Shyamalan throwing his popcorn at the screen.

Scariest movie: It’s coming out this week! Check out “The Possession,” which touches on myriad devil-inside-girl cliches but also yields some wonderfully twisted and terrifically warped gotcha moments.

Oscar-worthy work: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones gave a master class in acting in “Hope Springs,” a fall movie with a summer release date.

Most overblown tabloid story: Grown adults called Kristen Stewart a “trampire” because she made out or whatever with the director of “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Gee, and I thought the romance between two young actors who co-starred in a hit film series was going to last a half-century.

Best films you probably didn’t see: In addition to the aforementioned “Bernie,” there’s “Take This Waltz,” “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” “People Like Us” and “Hysteria.” They deserve new life on home video.

Let the fall season begin. Already looking forward to “The Master,” “Trouble With the Curve,” “Argo” and can anybody top Daniel Day-Lewis as “Lincoln”?

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