As this year comes to a close, it’s clear the global economy isn’t the only thing in crisis. True to the nature of the business, moviemakers are trying to put a positive spin on what looks like a marked lack of interest in going to the movies. I’ve noticed it, too; just a couple of weeks ago in “New Year’s Eve,” there were no more than 20 seats filled. Halfway into it, though, I understood why.
It has been a lackluster year punctuated with some great films — some I have seen and some I have yet to see, I’m sure. Let’s look back at the year in movies:
Worst trend: Spray tans. So many actors are now sporting that alarming shade of orange, I wonder why they aren’t told to knock it off (yes, I’m talking to you, Katherine Heigl). They look like Oompa Loompas.
Second worst trend: Veneers. Nothing goes more horribly with unnatural orange skin than perfectly shaped, brilliant white teeth. Seriously? Is everyone in Hollywood that vain? Um, yes.
Worst attempt at a foreign accent: Anne Hathaway must take the prize for the veddy bad British accent in “One Day.” Come to think of it, the movie was veddy bad, too.
Honorable mention goes to Sam Worthington, an Aussie who tried on a Texas drawl for “Texas Killing Fields.” I didn’t understand a word he mumbled.
Scariest wake up call: “Contagion” had me running to the store for hand sanitizer. I may never touch my face again.
Coolest movie: “Drive” with its heavily stylized look and mood. It was retro and modern all at the same time, thanks to its cool star, Ryan Gosling.
Best boy of summer: The mighty “Thor” with hunky breakout star Chris Hemsworth. It was campy and fun and surprisingly well directed by Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branaugh. Who knew?
Worst boy of summer: Sorry, Ryan Reynolds, but you bombed out not once but twice. First the very disappointing “Green Lantern” answered the question, “Can super heroes be boring?” Then followed “Change Up,” a rom com that was equally awful. Calling Sandra Bullock.
Worst shameless casting based on looks: That Robert Pattinson is handsome is not up for debate, but does he have the acting chops to go with? “Water for Elephants” is not a good indication. He brooded. I was bored.
Best career moves: Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids.” One word: Hilarious. The cherry on top was her hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live.” Three words: Hidden Valley Ranch. First runner up was Jessica Chastain, who popped up everywhere and in all the right movies, co-starring with Brad Pitt in Terence Malick’s “Tree of Life” and then as the new wife in town in “The Help.” She finished the year in “The Debt” and any of these roles could get her a nomination in the Best Supporting category. It is certain one of them will.
Worst careers on life support: The dishonors go to Sarah Jessica Parker in “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” which came and went from theaters so fast my head spun. Like greasy Tex-Mex, it disagreed with me. Ditto for Cameron Diaz, who was so mean in the black comedy “Bad Teacher,” it made a funny movie un-funny.
The miracle: “Moneyball” has turned me into a baseball fan. Thanks, Brad.
The longest goodbye: No, silly, it’s not Oprah. It’s our friends from Hogwarts. The Harry Potter series has now officially come to an end, and what an end it was. “Deathly Hallows: Part II” was surprisingly sentimental and a fitting conclusion — the best kind of goodbye.
Sadly, this year we also said goodbye to some very talented people. There were too many to mention here, but I will greatly miss film composer John Barry. Only Elmer Bernstein was more prolific. Barry is noted for the James Bond theme, the music for “Out of Africa” and a host of films that were fortunate enough to be graced with his notes. I’ll miss directors Sydney Lumet and Ken Russell. Lumet for his solid storytelling in movies such as “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and one of my very favorites, “The Verdict.” It wasn’t until many years later that I realized he was also the director of “The Women” early in his career. No wonder I liked that one, too. Russell was cipher on screen; it was hard to predict (or even comprehend) what you were going to get, but you knew it would be interesting and when he was good, he was very good as “Altered States” demonstrates.
I’ve seen some good films this year and some of them like “The Descendants” and “My Week with Marilyn” were great And, there will be more in the next few weeks as award contenders premiere. Unfortunately, there were plenty of bad movies, too — too many.
Here’s to 2012 and better things to come.