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Richard Roeper’s year in movies and his Top 10 list

This outfit didn't cover up all it should have when Anne Hathaway arrived for premiere 'Les Miserables.' | AP photo/Evan

This outfit didn't cover up all it should have when Anne Hathaway arrived for a premiere of "Les Miserables." | AP photo/Evan Agostini/Invision

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The best movies
of 2012

1. “Zero Dark Thirty”

2. “Argo”

3. “The Grey”

4. “Life of Pi”

5. “The Dark Knight Rises”

6. “Django Unchained”

7. “Flight”

8. “The Sessions”

9. “Prometheus”

10. “Lincoln”

The worst movies
of 2012

(In this case, “1” means worst)

10. “The Vow”

9. “Red Lights”

8. “Bachelorette”

7. “Joyful Noise”

6. “Playing for Keeps”

5. “The Watch”

4. “Hit and Run”

3. “Taken 2”

2. “This Means War”

1. “That’s My Boy”

Year in Review: 2012's top concerts, photos, and more
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Updated: January 31, 2013 6:17AM

When movie reviewers compile their annual recaps, they almost never gush about the year as a whole. Either it was a horrible year or an average year or at best a pretty good year.

Maybe it’s because we’re still too close to the experience to put it in perspective, or we’re screening-scarred from enduring two-hour films based on mediocre TV shows from our youth and reboots of a franchise that just “booted” a decade ago.

Or maybe it’s just the nature of the movie-reviewing beast.

One imagines a critic in December 1939, pounding away on his Underwood Master typewriter:

“If there’s one phrase to sum up the year in movies, it’s ‘sentimental hogwash.’ From ‘Gone With the Wind’ to ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ from ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ to ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips,’ it was the corniest year in movie history. And don’t even get me started on Shirley Temple!

“Fortunately, no one will even remember most of these titles in a few years.”

So here we are looking back on 2012, even though some of the best releases of 2012 haven’t even opened and some won’t reach Chicago until January 2013.

Still, I believe it was one of the strongest overall years in movies I’ve ever experienced.

Consider these titles:

“The Master,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Skyfall,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Rust and Bone,” “The Deep Blue Sea,” “Les Miserables,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Amour,” “End of Watch,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Lawless,” “Pitch Perfect.”

And those are just some of the stellar titles that didn’t make my Top 10 list.

Here’s a look back at some of the highs and lows at the year in movies, 2012.

Fade to a flashback of a critic in 1994, tapping away on his Commodore computer: “When the top-grossing film of the year is a Disney cartoon (‘The Lion King’) and you get a movie with the worst title ever (I still don’t know what ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ even means), you know it’s not a great year for movies. Some of my colleagues loved ‘Pulp Fiction,’ but does Quentin Tarantino have staying power? I doubt it. And the highly touted ‘Interview With the Vampire’ only served to raise doubts about the staying power of young actors Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt while putting a stake in the heart of the vampire genre once and for all. Twenty years from now, they’ll be laughing at us for flocking to see a film about sexy vampires. How ridiculous.”

The year in movies

Comeback player of the year: Ben Affleck. A decade ago, Affleck was starring in big-budget embarrassments such as “Gigli” and “Daredevil” and enduring the tabloid madness that came with being half of the celebrity couple known as “Bennifer.” In his early 30s, he was more punch line than serious player.

Cut to 2012. Having regained respect from his critically acclaimed directorial efforts “Gone Baby Gone” (2007) and “The Town” (2010), Affleck directs and stars in “Argo,” which gains nearly universal praise and grosses more than $100 million and counting. Some 15 years after winning a best screenplay Oscar for co-writing “Good Will Hunting,” Affleck is on a very short list of contenders for best director.

Regardless of whether Affleck actually wins the gold, it’s already one of the most stunning comeback stories in the history of Hollywood.

Best fight scene: Forget all those battles and confrontations in “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Skyfall,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Hobbit,” “The Bourne Legacy,” “MIB 3,” “The Expendables 2,” “Looper,” “Underworld Awakening” and “Total Recall.” On one level the most satisfying battle sequence of the entire year was the decapitation fest in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”

Until, well, you know. Or you don’t know and I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Worst fight scene: In a cage match no one wanted to see, Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah squared off in “Joyful Noise.”

The Bella of the ball: Kristen Stewart continues to divert her gaze, bite her lower lip and act like she’d rather be anywhere else than on the red carpet or on the talk-show circuit, promoting her movies. Even though she’s been in show biz since she was a kid, apparently she missed the memo about living in the spotlight.

Stewart’s romance with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson had already erased any semblance of privacy in her life, and then boom! The tabloid world exploded with the revelation Stewart had made out or something with her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert the Cad of London. (Real name Rupert Sanders.)

OMG! A young woman in her 20s stepped out on her boyfriend with an older, married man in a position of authority. That’s never happened before, in the history of the world!

Give the girl a break already.

Some “Twilight” fans, apparently unable to distinguish between real-life human beings they don’t know and characters in movies, seemed to think it was Bella cheating on Edward. Wait until they see “On the Road,” in which a topless Stewart sits in the front seat of a car between two men and, um, lends a hand to both.

It was a good year for: Channing Tatum, “Magic Mike,” “21 Jump Street,” “10 Years” and let’s just forget about “The Vow”; Jessica Chastain, “Lawless,” “Zero Dark Thirty”; Tom Hardy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Lawless” and let’s just forget about “This Means War”; Matthew McConaughey, “Magic Mike,” “Bernie,” “Killer Joe,” “The Paperboy.”

It was a bad year for: Adam Sandler, “That’s My Boy”; Tom Cruise, “Rock of Ages,” “Jack Reacher”; Brad Pitt, “Killing Them Softly,” those ridiculous Chanel ads, and Hobbits.

Movie that should never, ever be shown on an airplane: “Flight.”

She forgot her utility belt: While getting dressed for the New York premiere of “Les Miserables,” Anne Hathaway opted for a complex, sexy, light bondage outfit, sans panties. Big surprise, photographers captured Hathaway in a compromising position as she emerged from her limousine. The actress then expressed shock and disappointment in the photogs for not deleting the photos.

Oh, please. You don’t want the paparazzi to take pictures of you arriving at a premiere with no underwear, then don’t arrive at a premiere with no underwear.

Best opening action sequence: “Skyfall.”

Most satisfying ending sequence: “The Dark Knight Rises.” In the last 15 minutes of one of the great film trilogies of all time, director Christopher Nolan gave us one satisfying denouement after another while also leaving the door open for new adventures.

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