2012 Holiday Movie Pool - Final Report | Skyfall | The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey | The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

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2012 Holiday Movie Pool - Final Report

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Wreck-It Ralph
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
Rise of the Guardians
Zero Dark Thirty
Jack Reacher
Parental Guidance
This Is 40
Red Dawn
The Guilt Trip
The Man with the Iron Fists
Killing Them Softly
Playing for Keeps
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
Hyde Park on Hudson
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas
Alright, I'm going through my last serving of SodaStream Diet Energy Drink Syrup, so if my comments fly off the rails toward the end, I'm sure it's just because my heart is beating faster than my fingers can type.

After three months, a presidential election, Taylor Swift whirl-wind romances, Kim Kardashian pregnancies, blizzards on the East Coast and almost 54 degree days in Southern California, we've finally come to the end of the 2012 Holiday Movie Pool. How we made it through without a single Bryan Adams or Peter Cetera soundtrack song probably speaks to the fact that I've been doing these pools for way too long than to it actually being an oddity if someone had dusted off one of those guys for their movie.

[As a quick side note, it's sad how Bryan Adams, basically the Canadian Jon Bon Jovi, hasn't had the staying power of his American compatriot. Maybe none of us have really really really, really really really loved a woman. You know, but in a guy way.]

Before we get to anointing the official Top Five films of the season, let's take a moment or several paragraphs (depending on how fast you read) to reflect on where we've been, because those who forget the past are doomed to rent these crappy movies again.

The Coal In The Stocking Division

This section is reserved for the finest flops of the season. If it wasn't belly first, you're not good enough for here.

- The Man with the Iron Fists had lead feet and rusty returns. Since no one saw it, though, it's only the second-most complained about Russell Crowe performance of the year. I really hope that's the quote they run with on the back of the DVD case: "It's only the second-most complained about Russell Crowe performance of the year!"

- Red Dawn bled red from one dawn to the next. While you could understand the filmmakers changing the invading army from China to North Korea so it'd be easier to market the movie to Chinese multiplexes, we're talking about a country that hasn't even successfully taken over South Korea. How are they going to pull-off Montana?

- Killing Them Softly certainly won the award for dying the quietest.

- Playing for Keeps isn't going to be the caption for the Gerald Butler E! True Hollywood Story. The "next big thing" after 300 is now seven years past his break-out role and he's still looking for a break.

- Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away was more than a few worlds from being a hit. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. People are saying they'd rather pay $100 in person to see what they could've seen for $10. How do you say "Sucker born every minute" in French?

- The Guilt Trip is the most mish-mashed movie of the year and it's hard to believe it even got off the drawing board. The producers had to remember Albert Brooks couldn't pull off Mother with Debbie Reynolds, and if you can't pull off something with Debbie Reynolds, it can't be done.

The Still Waiting For the Tooth Fairy Division

There are some films that come out every holiday season hoping to become critical darlings and start cranking out dough once the award season starts. Hitchcock and Hyde Park on the Hudson are the poster children for films who didn't make the grade. Meanwhile, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty are the success stories that explain why studios play this game every year. Those two could both end up with $100 million grosses by the time the Oscars are through with them.

The Stuck in the Chimney Division

Sometimes Santa doesn't make it all the way into the house and all you end up with is whatever he can wiggle free and drop down the flue. These films all felt like they were dropped-off without regard.

- Parental Guidance, if nothing else, serves as a reminder that there's a reason Marisa Tomei is still making movies and Joe Pesci is making Snickers commercials. It may also serve as a reminder of why we don't cast Bette Middler in anything anymore... unless it's at least From a Distance.

- This is 40 is not a flop. That should be encouraging to any of my peeps in their 40's or quickly approaching that hallowed era. Still, there's a reason everyone has big 40th Birthday celebrations and no one ever talks about having a 50th. This is 50 has tank-a-polooza written all over it.

- Flight fared fairly at the box-office yet failed to generate the award-buzz most assumed would be coming upon its release. Still, there's no truth to the rumor that John Goodman merely motion-captured his Big Lebowski character into this film. It just feels that way.

- Life of Pi was kind of like the regular life of pie. It only has so many slices. After eight pieces, you're done. That's why most people make a cake. There's just more to go around.

- Rise of the Guardians never quite rose to the occasion. Was it too serious? Was it too confusing? Was it too much of every voice actor trying to sound like someone else except for Jude Law who can never not sound like Jude Law? I'm going with the latter.

- Jack Reacher is apparently based on a series that has 21 books. Looks like we're not going to see those other 20 films. Despite what the movie posters say, he does have limits.

The Stocking Stuffers Division

By the time the Best Picture Oscar is handed out, both Django Unchained and Les Miserables will likely have passed the $150 million plateau. In most Holiday Movie Pools, only a few films ever reach this level of success. This year may have seven! If only they'd combined these two films and made Django Unchained into a musical set in France, this would've cracked the Top Five for sure. Just think about how cool it is to say Django Miz?! I'd have seen it just so I could tell everyone I saw it. Did you see the Django Miz? Oh yeah, I saw the Django Miz!

Without further adieu (because I just love typing in French), here are the Top Five Films of the 2012 Holiday Movie Pool because Monday was actually Martin Luther King Jr. Observance...

#5. Lincoln - $161.9 million
I have a long-standing Steven Spielberg curse when it comes to the movie pools. I didn't believe in Saving Private Ryan yet banked on Amistad. I was all-in with A.I. but passed on Minority Report. The Terminal was "can't miss" and Catch Me If You Can seemed uncatchable. I'd finally felt like I sorted this issue out after going with War of the Worlds and passing on Munich and War Horse. To me, Lincoln, seemed right in that Munich, War Horse, and Amistad vein. Even if it's good, it's only got so much interest. It'd be like HBO making a mini-series about John Adams. Who really cares?! Oh wait, HBO did? Crap, I'm back to square one on my Spielberg curse.

#4. Wreck-It Ralph - $181.4 million
The Toy Story of video games was a retro-style hit Disney couldn't have been happier with. It not only bested the previous November DreamWorks releases of MegaMind and Puss In Boots, it beat out this year's November release of Rise of the Guardians. Of course, anytime filmmakers are able to make Sarah Silverman into a sympathetic character, those are the kind of results you can expect.

#3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - $288.8 million
While it still made no sense to anyone that Guillermo del Toro was going to originally direct these Hobbit films instead of Peter Jackson, that probably pales to the sense of filming in 48 frames-per-second when not a single soul seemed to like it. Thankfully, it seems people were finally able to see something that reminded them of the Middle Earth they'd left behind after the 18 false endings in Return of the King. While the totals may have been a little less than the Lord of the Ring heights, that's what's going to happen when Cate Blanchet is the lone female character in a nearly three-hour movie. You can only look at dwarf beards for so long. There's a reason they extended Liv Tyler's character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sometimes you need more than just CGI eye-candy. That and I'm still not convinced she's not really an elf to this day.

#2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two - $290.8 million
All good things must come to an end... and the same is true for the not good things. Look, I don't want to go back to the vampire baseball game. Who needs one more whiney Jacob scene of "Why him and not me?" Remember when it was supposed to be a big deal that Bryce Dallas Howard replaced an actress I can't even recall as a character I didn't even really remember? None of this stuff ever even mattered. This series was a phenomena and made almost $3.5 billion worldwide. It's like trying to explain the Pet Rock... even if it's obvious the Pet Rock had more personality than most of the Twilight characters.

#1. Skyfall - $300.9 million
Forget Adele. Skyfall was much more Vanessa Williams in its Saving the Best for Last. After a half century of Bond films, the 23rd edition of 007 broke franchise box-office records across the globe to become the first Billion Dollar Bond. Sure, accounting for inflation, Skyfall lags behind Thunderball and Goldfinger, but that's how far you have to go back to find when so many people cared about Her Majesty's Secret Service. While the Bond fan in me is way nervous that somehow the producers will think 007 is more than what he really is and this will all blow back in their faces if they try to outthink the room with the next film, I'm just going to raise a martini to my favorite film series and thank all involved for keeping this going for so long... even if that includes Tanya Roberts unfathomable performance in A View To A Kill. It's nice to live in a world where you know James Bond Will Return.

by Matt Neuenburg on 01/22/2013

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, Django Unchained, Flight, Hitchcock, Hyde Park on Hudson, Jack Reacher, Killing Them Softly, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Parental Guidance, Playing for Keeps, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, The Guilt Trip, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Man with the Iron Fists, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, This Is 40, Wreck-It Ralph, Zero Dark Thirty
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