2012 Year In Review: 10 Things That Jumped Out Part 2

I listed the first five things that jumped out at me yesterday and now I am on to Part 2:

When Did Bruce Willis Become Nick Cage

I love Bruce Willis. I think he is a better actor than he is often given credit for and I think he knows how to strike the right tone when he is making movies whose aspirations aren’t as lofty as a lot of awards season stuff. Not only do I love Bruce Willis generally, he was also in two of my top 5 movies of the year, Looper and Moonrise Kingdom (my favorite movie of 2012). But in 2012 Bruce also starred in Fire with Fire, The Expendables 2, The Cold Light Of Day and Lay The Favorite. SIX MOVIES! Did Mr. Willis have some kind of outstanding tax debt that I didn’t know about (maybe I have to watch more TMZ). And he has at least three more coming out in 2013 (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, A Good Day To Die Hard and RED 2). This all makes the five movies Nicolas Cage did in 2011 seem like child’s play. Far be it for me to begrudge anyone a paycheck but Bruce, buddy, when Wes Anderson or Ryan Johnson call or when the Die Hard producers reach out or even when Sly texts you, by all means answer and do those movies. But if it is Josh Duhamel or the guy who’s going to be Superman remember, it’s OK to say no. You don’t want to become a parody on SNL’s weekend update like this do you:

The Death Of The Middle Class

This has been coming for some time, but 2012 seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the middle class movie. What’s a middle class movie? It is a movie that is neither a blockbuster or a bomb, it’s just a movie that does OK, makes it money back and is generally forgotten. As a rule middle class movies make somewhere between $65 million and $85 million a the box office. You know, movies like Real Steel or No Strings Attached or Limitless in 2011 or The Tourist or Dinner For Schmucks in 2010. Were any of those movies “bombs”? No. Were any “hits”? Not really. They are the movies that take up space before the next movie your excited about hits theaters. They are the movies that are meant to bridge the gap between The Hunger Games and The Avengers and in 2012 they weren’t there. In 2012 only 9 movies fell into the middle class range in 2011 there were 20. There was a time when all the studio made were middle class films and if a few became blockbusters that was just gravy, today movies are either blockbusters or bombs or art house fare or documentaries. . The studios have become Dave Kingman (as a 40+ year old baseball fan to understand the reference). It has made for more big movies but fewer OK movies.

Having said that …

The 655th Highest
Grossing Film of 2012
Grossed $117.00

Man Do They Make A Lot Of Movies

I suppose to be fair, the middle class movie perhaps isn’t so much dead as it has been remade into the limited release, direct to DVD or On Demand model. And hollywood makes a ton of movies that fall into this category. According to Box Office Mojo 655 movies were released into domestic theaters in 2012. SIX-HUNDRED-FIFTY-FIVE! That is over 12 per week (no wonder Bruce Willis made six movies, they needed someone to step up in order to get that many out). And the number is growing. In 2011 601 films were released. In 2000 hollywood released 374 movies. And in 1980 they released 161 films. Maybe they can break the 700 barrier in 2013.

Only Tarantino Is Allowed To Re-Write History

Inglourious Basterds was my favorite movie of 2009 and while Django Unchained didn’t achieve that for me this year (I thought it should have been cut into two movies) it was still firmly in my top 10 and, like most of Tarantino’s movies, I feel like I am liking it more and more the more I think about it. Tarantino has perfect the historical revenge fantasy, although after Hitler and slavery I am not sure what great evil there is to attack next (maybe the Spanish inquisition). He has perfected it but he isn’t the only one who has tried it. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter tried to re-write history to, just nobody wanted to see it. Tarantino has marked his territory and no one else is allowed to play there apparently. Not that I’m complaining.

Nobody Writes Or Directs Teenagers Better Than Wes Anderson

My #1 movie of 2012 was Moonrise Kingdom. As is true of most of Wes Anderson’s films, be it Rushmore or The Fantastic Mr. Fox or The Royal Tanenbaums, the movie defies anyone to try to sum it up in a sentence. I mean, yes, it is technically the story of two thirteen year old kids, one a boy scout the other the daughter of two unhappily married lawyers, who run away together on an island off the eastern seaboard that has no roads or connection to the mainland, but that description gives the reader no idea about what the movie really is. One of the things that it is is a story with terrifically well drawn main characters, played by actors who really are as young as they are supposed to be. As he showed in Rushmore, no one writes more interesting characters for kids than Wes Anderson and no one gets more out of the actors playing those parts. Are the adults good too? Sure, Bruce Willis and Bill Murray and Ed Norton and Harvey Keitel and Frances McDormand are all terrific, but it really is 12 year old Jared Gilman and 12 year old Kara Hayward that carry this movie and steal it all at the same time (much as Jason Schwartzman did with Rushmore 14 years ago when he was 16).

Conclusion

I am not sure if 2012 was a great year for film, we may need a few years of perspective to make that judgement, but it certainly was an entertaining year. It was definitely a year were stuff happened, where comic books and teenage literature completely took over (a trend in the making for the last five or six years), a year where 3D started to die (maybe that is me just hoping 3D is dying) and a year where I started this silly blog. Not bad 2012, not bad at all.

But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.