Here Comes The Boom
A very inoffensive movie. Kevin James is never unwatchable (hey, I actually liked Paul Blart), and he brings his usual likeability to this movie. The premise is slightly shaky, but there are a few good laughs and some nice moments throughout, so I'm not gonna complain. It was perfectly innocent entertainment, just don't get caught up in trying to take any of it seriously, or it will destroy you.
Zero Dark Thirty
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
From a purely technical perspective, this is one of the best movies of 2012, but for entertainment, it matches up fairly nicely with any number of whale documentaries. That's basically what it is, though (minus the whale part). There's nothing wrong, per se, about this film, but it doesn't do much to keep my interest. Even though I knew the outcome going into it, I was still let down by how little it managed to keep suspense. Argo did a much better job in this department. Chastain is terrific, and though my hopes are with Jennifer Lawrence to take home the Oscar, I wouldn't be able to complain if it instead went to her. Don't get me wrong, this is a good movie. I just wasn't all that impressed by it.
Directed by J. A. Bayona
It starts off pretty uninterestingly, but within 10 minutes we are hurled into the thick of things, and it never seems to let up from there. Starting with one of the most fantastically-made scenes of the year, and developing into the most emotionally powerful film of 2012, this is a rare treat: a brilliant combination of disaster and human drama that few other movies can match. Ewan McGregor has never been better, and Watts stands as one of the strongest female performances of the year. I had no idea going into it how good this movie was going to be, but I'm nothing if not happy to see how well it turned out.
Directed by Ben Lewin
A fairly typical (in many respects) drama, with a few strong performances and a script with just enough humor to keep it interesting. Hawkes, who seems to be continuously trying and failing at capturing Oscar nominations, gives one of his best performances yet, with very nice (though largely unengaged) support from William H. Macy. Helen Hunt also provides a surprisingly good performance, giving what is probably her best since she won the Oscar for As Good As It Gets. Really, this movie is nothing without its performances, so it's a good thing they got good actors for their roles, otherwise this one would've probably been a pretty lousy movie. As it stands, it's nothing spectacular, but surprisingly sweet and well-made.