The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

  • Publish Date: January 7, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

Wide releases

Breakdown of 2012 Wide Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 43 films
Mixed (40-60) 70 films
Bad (≤ 39) 27 films
2012 Average Metascore 52.9
vs. 2011 average 50.9

The past year was actually a good one at the cineplex. A total of eight wide release films in 2012 met or exceeded the 81 cutoff denoting "universal acclaim" from critics, up from five such films in 2011 and just four in 2010. Indeed, the average Metascore for all films screening in wide release last year was up a full two points over 2011's average. And the number of films receiving negative reviews was slashed from 37 films in 2011 to just 27 last year.

The percentage of all wide releases receiving positive reviews (a score of 61 or higher) from critics in 2012 also increased compared to previous years. Nearly 31% of films were positively reviewed last year, up from under 29% in 2011 and even lower percentages in 2010 (26%) and 2009 (25%). Interestingly, these well-reviewed films were a bit more evenly dispersed throughout the year than we are accustomed to. Only 18 of the 43 (41.9%) well-reviewed 2012 films were released after Labor Day, a period when we typically would expect to see closer to half of the year's good films.

Encouragingly, five of the past year's 10 highest-scoring wide releases (including our highest-scoring film, Zero Dark Thirty) featured original screenplays not based on prior films, books, or other written material. One of the remaining five—the James Bond film Skyfall—was a sequel, while the other four (Lincoln, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Secret World of Arrietty, an adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers) were based on books or articles.

The Best Wide Releases of 2012
  Title Genre(s) Netflix Metascore Users
1 Zero Dark Thirty *Action, Drama, Thriller+ Queue956.3
2LincolnDrama+ Queue867.8
3ArgoDrama+ Queue868.5
4The MasterDrama+ Queue866.6
5Moonrise KingdomDrama, Comedy+ Queue847.9
6LooperSci-Fi, Action+ Queue847.9
7SkyfallAction+ Queue817.5
8Silver Linings PlaybookDrama, Comedy+ Queue818.0
9Django UnchainedAction, Drama, Western+ Queue808.2
10The Secret World of ArriettyAnimation, Family+ Queue808.2
11Life of Pi Drama, Adventure+ Queue798.2
12The Dark Knight RisesAction+ Queue788.5
13FlightDrama+ Queue767.3
14FrankenweenieAnimation, Family+ Queue747.8
15The Raid: RedemptionAction+ Queue738.0
16The Pirates! Band of MisfitsAnimation, Family+ Queue736.9
17Wreck-It RalphAnimation, Family+ Queue738.4
18Magic MikeDrama, Comedy+ Queue725.7
19The Cabin in the WoodsHorror+ Queue727.5
20ParaNormanAnimation, Family+ Queue727.0
21BraveAnimation, Family+ Queue697.3
22The AvengersAction+ Queue698.0
23ChronicleAction+ Queue697.2
2421 Jump StreetAction, Comedy+ Queue697.5
25End of Watch Drama, Thriller+ Queue687.9

* Limited release in 2012, but opens wide this week.
Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A wide release film is one that screens at 600 or more theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 6, 2013.

Shockingly, not a single Adam Sandler film made our worst-reviewed films list this year, though it's not for a lack of trying; his That's My Boy 31 missed the bottom 10 by a fraction of a point. Despite Sandler's absence, plenty of other usual suspects did show up on the low scores list, including low-budget horror films, a videogame adaptation (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, the year's worst wide-release film), an Eddie Murphy comedy (A Thousand Words), and a Katherine Heigl comedy (One for the Money).

The Worst Wide Releases of 2012
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1Silent Hill: Revelation 3DHorror155.6
2The ApparitionHorror184.1
3The Devil InsideHorror182.5
4One for the MoneyAction, Comedy225.0
5The Cold Light of DayAction, Thriller225.1
6Atlas Shrugged: Part 2Drama265.9
7A Thousand WordsComedy264.3
8Playing for Keeps Rom-com274.4
9Alex CrossThriller305.1
10House at the End of the StreetHorror315.0

Limited releases

On the next page, we reveal the best and worst limited release films of the past year.

Comments (4)

  • Regal4point1  

    Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • dvjhdvjhfbh  

    This list shows why I hardly watch movies anymore. Looper, Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, and Lincoln? None of them were all that good. I hate to be Negative Nelly but what has happened to Hollywood?

  • rgp11  

    @dvjhdvjhfbh then what the fnck do you watch? The Hunger Games

  • FearDZ  

    Zero Dark Thirty was a propaganda movie.
    As its based on Mark Owen's work ignoring the pakistan media reports..

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