Another year beginning, and like always the UK saw the run off from the 2011 Oscar run in the form of bad Spielberg flick War Horse, Thatcher pic The Iron Lady, ensemble sleeper Margin Call and Alexander Payne's weak film The Descendants. On top of that, 6th best film of 2011, Goon, got a release, as did Oscars 2012 hopeful The Grey and Underworld: Subtitle 3D. Remember that one? Did you see that one? Chances are you said no to both.
January was a dumping ground for films, Fox especially threw David Gordon Green's almost-unwatchable comedy The Sitter out, and disappointing 3D adventure The Darkest Hour, whilst Madonna's W.E. snuck a release to no avail. As for underrated films of the month, late release A Monster In Paris might not have been the best animation of the year, but it was a joyous, entertaining film with nice nods to classic horror and some wonderful scenes of dancing, singing and top notch animation work which belies the basic elements of its character design.
In January, the world lost John Lowry, the man responsible for preserving and restoring many old films, and who's techniques have been seen on many a screen and disk, the Bond blu ray set? Looks good? Points to Mr. Lowry. A sad loss for an innovator whose love of film saved classics from destruction.
As hopes faded for decent Oscar contenders, the year truly began, with small studio actioner Chronicle surprising everyone with good characters, great imagery and a real dark element to it. A twisted superhero story that's as enjoyable as it is innovative. Good will to cinema soon subsided as Adam Sandler's Jack And Jill saw a UK release.
But Journey 2 The Mysterious Island, featuring berries bouncing off Dwayne Johnson's pecks and Michael Caine riding a giant bumblebee, and wearing biker leathers, in what was a fun adventure film, great 3D, good sense of scope and entertaining. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody reunited for a distinctly catchphrase-free drama with Young Adult, one of the crueler, funnier, meaner films of the year to carry such a likable second lead in the guise of Patton Oswalt.
For horror, we got The Woman In Black, the latest under the Hammer banner, a genuinely terrifying experience full of suspense, imagery and loud bumps in the night. It was a huge huge hit. There's a sequel coming. Much like hit oldies epic The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring him off that thing, her out of whatsit and Bill Nighy as Bill Nighy.
This month saw the Academy Awards, whichproved that Hugo and The Artist were great films, and definitely not mediocre at best. For good time joy, however, The Muppets finally came out in the UK and wowed audiences with its joyful delights.
Sequels don't always go to plan, though, and the follow up to 2007's awful Ghost Rider, under the vision of Crank duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor should have been a dark, edgy, balls-out insane film where Nic Cage screams a lot. It was boring. Very very boring.
Notably we lost Whitney Houston this month, along with Ben Gazzara, the great villain from Road House and of course Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski.
March began by removing all the good will for the innovations of found footage styles that Chronicle suggested with Project X, a mostly hated teen party comedy from the perspective of cameras of partygoers. Rightly hated, despite being funny in some cases, it was a step in the wrong direction for the use of the found footage style, just smug. Smug comedies were also in traditional movie-marking forms with McG's This Means War, about two stalkers who stalk Reese Witherspoon and make her love them. Creepy.
That very week saw the not great but vastly underrated Wanderlust, David Wain's follow up to Role Models. Lots of talent maybe not hitting all the notes, but causing more laughter than the previous two films combined.
Comedy, however, saw the light towards the end of the month as Sony gave a one-two punch of The Pirates!: in an Adventure With Scientists, a silly, goofy comedy that, whilst a little lacking on narrative drive, is exceptionally crazy fun, and 21 Jump Street, co-written by the writer of Project X, but directed by the sane folk behind Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. The funniest film of the year, and beginning the rise of Sexiest Man Of 2012 Channing Tatum from slab of meat with satellite ears to honoured talent.
Yes, March saw The Hunger Games, but Disney's John Carter also came out, and was tonnes of fun, as was Wrath Of The Titans despite all possibilities of failing something awful, The Devil Inside disappointed anyone who didn't hear word from the US in January (I saw faces of cinemagoers as they left. Funny stuff) and no one bothered to see fantastic warm cuddle of a movie, Cameron Crowe's We Bought A Zoo. If you've STILL not seen it, good god, find it and watch it. 2 hours of pure sweetness. Lovely.
Brit flick Wild Bill popped out but people must have forgotten to see it somehow, as they did with awful action propaganda Act Of Valour.
March's comedy streak ended with the release, finally of Tiny Furniture, in which Lena Dunham made a bad film. She continued on writing bad films and making bad TV in 2012.
Next week, the excitement of April's Avengers, May's Men In Black, and June's, erm, Top Cat-The Movie...