In part one of out look back over 2012’s big screen highlights, Charlotte Rowland looks at superheroes, vampires, cinematic realism and fiery animated warriors...
Despite the noise that heralded some of the year’s big-budget releases, the world of cinema has felt fairly quiet in 2012. Even now, cinema-goers have not yet unpacked the full potential of 2012's films.
Towering powerfully over the box offices of 2012 were the comic book superheroes. The Avengers was the highest grossing film of the year, taking an enormous 1.5 billion worldwide. The Dark Knight Rises followed in second place in the race for global cinema supremacy.
Hot on their heels, as always, was the equally fantastical realm of teen fiction. Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 was a highlight only for the fact that it marked the end of the painful saga! Thankfully, there was a more promising franchise destined to replace it. Based on Suzanne Collins' intelligent dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games made an entertaining début in the spring. Katniss Everdeen was brilliantly played by Jennifer Lawrence and made a commendable female lead. Farewell terrible acting and adoring fanpires, let the Hunger Games begin!
Katniss was not the only heroine to celebrate in 2012. Brave is easily this year's best animation. Pixar's fiery young scot, determined to be independent and not ruled by marriage, was a brilliant departure from the traditional Disney princess. The moving mother-daughter tale managed to escape cliché, earning genuine tears in audiences of all ages. Though there were other stereotypes that could have been avoided (not least portraying the Scottish as drunk, ginger and quick to pick a fight), Brave prompted a sense of cinematic progress.
Stars of the Harry Potter franchise certainly managed to break free and head into other genres. Daniel Radcliffe escaped the wizarding world to star in The Woman in Black, an adaptation as atmospheric and terrifying as the original page and stage productions. Meanwhile, Emma Watson displayed some talent in the otherwise mediocre The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
In the world of cinematic realism there have been some outstanding individuals. Michael Fassbender continued his steady ascent to god-like status. Alas, even his brilliant performance couldn't save A Dangerous Method from the perils of Keira Knightley’s three (and only three) expressions. He also managed the darkest, most authentic performance of 2012 in Shame, despite spending most of it completely naked.
Overwhelmingly, 2012 provided many films that failed to satisfy. Anna Karenina, widely disappointed the paying public (if not the critics), despite reuniting Keira Knightly and director Joe Wright (as in Pride and Prejudice and Atonement). Ted was quite funny, but received a largely indifferent reception.
Next week: Charlotte looks back at 2012’s indie and world cinema success stories