Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2012


    The rules are simple. I tell you, with an excruciating amount of exactness, what I watched and read this year, and you either read it because you are interested or you don’t because you aren’t. In other words, none of this will be on the midterm.


    I watched 503 movies this year, easily beating my previous record, set in 2008, of 430. I agree with you that this is a lot of movies.

    But is it too many movies? No! Or at least not necessarily. If each of those 503 movies took two hours (and most took less), that’s still only about 17% of my waking hours spent viewing motion pictures. There was plenty of time left over for writing about those movies (which is what actually pays the bills), pursuing other leisure activities, fulfilling social and personal obligations, and of course my first love, macrame.

    And there were a total of 74 days when I didn’t see ANY movies! Never more than three days in a row, though. You have to watch movies regularly or else your eyes will seal up. That’s science.

    Some highlights:

    – As usual, film festivals accounted for a significant chunk of my movie tally: 110 of the 503 were at Sundance, Oxford (Miss.), South By Southwest, Tribeca, Cannes, Telluride, or Fantastic Fest. All but three of the movies on my top 10 list are ones I first saw at festivals (and another, “Looper,” is one I could have seen at one). Fests are exhausting and often expensive, but they’re incredibly valuable for us movie journalist blogger reviewer types.

    – Speaking of which, I got to attend Cannes for the first time this year. Cannes! That’s the big one! In France! My podcasting partner Jeff Bayer and I did daily Movie B.S. shows from the festival, with the trip paid for by listeners. We couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to be able to do this. That’s bucket-list material there, especially since there’s a good chance I’ll never be able to do it again. Thank you to all of you who made it possible.

    – Because I like statistics and am insane, I embarked on a huge project in the last quarter of the year: I watched every James Bond movie and kept track of things like how many people he kills (at least 232), how many movies have sharks as weapons (four), and so forth. The project was for (part 1; part 2), which is where many of the refugees from the dear departed Cinematical wound up, including beloved editor Erik Davis. I’d never seen most of the earlier Bond films, so it was a great education to watch them all in a short span of time (October), ending with “Skyfall.”

    – Turner Classic Movies is a treasure for movie fans, and I was delighted this year when DirecTV started carrying it in high-definition. TCM shows everything unedited and without commercials — the only non-premium channel (i.e., not HBO, Showtime, etc.) that does this 24 hours a day. Here’s what you do. Once a week or so, you scroll through the schedule to see what’s coming up, and if there’s something that catches your interest — something you’ve always meant to check out but never got around to, or something obscure that you probably won’t be able to see anywhere else — you set the DVR. I saw about 30 movies that way this year, ranging from the little-seen silent horror “The Unknown” (1927) and the classic comedy/mystery “The Thin Man” (1934) to insane newer stuff like “Hausu” (1977) and “Possession” (1981).

    – Usually it’s at film festivals that I see the most movies in one day. But I had a five-movie day this year, and it was at Bayer’s house. As I recall, his wife was out of town, so we spent an entire Saturday watching the Eddie Murphy comedies “Trading Places” and “Coming to America” (which were both new to me), followed by the entire “Back to the Future” trilogy (part 3 of which I’d never seen). (I know!) Five movies in one day is too many, by the way. You shouldn’t do it more than once a year.

    And now, the list:

    2012 theatrical releases that I reviewed (149 of ’em!):

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
    Act of Valor
    Alex Cross
    The Amazing Spider-Man
    American Animal
    American Reunion
    The Apparition
    The Avengers
    A Bag of Hammers
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Blue Like Jazz
    The Bourne Legacy
    Breaking Dawn — Part 2
    The Cabin in the Woods
    The Campaign
    Casa de Mi Padre
    Celeste & Jesse Forever
    The Central Park Five
    Cloud Atlas
    The Cold Light of Day
    The Collection
    The Dark Knight Rises
    Dark Shadows
    The Devil Inside
    The Dictator
    Django Unchained
    End of Watch
    Fat Kid Rules the World
    The Five-Year Engagement
    Friends with Kids
    Funeral Kings
    Fun Size
    Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
    God Bless America
    The Good Doctor
    The Grey
    Here Comes the Boom
    High School
    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Holy Motors
    Hope Springs
    Hotel Transylvania
    The Hunger Games
    Hyde Park on Hudson
    The Innkeepers
    In Their Skin (aka Replicas)
    Jack Reacher
    Jeff, Who Lives at Home
    John Carter
    Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
    Joyful Noise
    Kill List
    Killer Joe
    Killing Them Softly
    Les Misérables
    Liberal Arts
    Life of Pi
    The Lorax
    The Lucky One
    Magic Mike
    Man on a Ledge
    Mirror Mirror
    Moonrise Kingdom
    96 Minutes
    The Odd Life of Timothy Green
    On the Road
    Oslo, August 31st
    The Paperboy
    Paranormal Activity 4
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Piranha 3DD
    Pitch Perfect
    Playing for Keeps
    Premium Rush
    Project X
    Promised Land
    The Raid: Redemption
    The Raven
    REC 3: Genesis
    Red Dawn (2012)
    Red Hook Summer
    Red Tails
    Resident Evil: Retribution
    Rise of the Guardians
    Rock of Ages
    Room 237
    Ruby Sparks
    Rust and Bone
    Safe House
    Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
    The Sessions
    Seven Psychopaths
    Silent House
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Sleepless Night
    Sleep Tight
    Sleepwalk with Me
    Snow White and the Huntsman
    Sound of My Voice
    Step Up Revolution
    Taken 2
    The Tall Man
    That’s My Boy
    Think Like a Man
    This Is 40
    This Means War
    This Must Be the Place
    The Three Stooges
    Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
    To Rome with Love
    Total Recall (2012)
    Trouble with the Curve
    21 Jump Street
    The Vow
    The Watch
    The Woman in Black
    The Words
    Wrath of the Titans
    Wreck-It Ralph
    Your Sister’s Sister

    Movies I reviewed at 2012 festivals that have not yet opened theatrically:
    (with links to U.S. distributors’ websites if you want to keep an eye on release plans)

    Antiviral [IFC Films]
    At Any Price [Sony Pictures Classics]
    The Attack [Cohen Media Group]
    Beyond the Hills [Sundance Selects]
    Dario Argento’s Dracula [IFC Films]
    Frances Ha [IFC Films]
    I Am Not a Hipster [film site]
    The Iceman [Millennium Entertainment]
    No [Sony Pictures Classics]
    The Playroom [Freestyle Releasing]
    Reality [Oscilloscope]
    Somebody Up There Likes Me [film site]
    Whole Lotta Sole [Ketchup Entertainment]
    Wrong [Drafthouse Films]

    New films that I saw but did not review:
    (links are to Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider podcast episodes where we reviewed the films with our voices instead of our writing)

    At the Sundance Film Festival:
    Black Rock
    The Comedy
    Hello, I Must Be Going
    John Dies at the End
    Nature Calls
    The Pact
    Red Lights
    Safety Not Guaranteed
    Save the Date
    Shadow Dancer
    Simon Killer

    At the Oxford (Miss.) Film Festival:
    Rhino Resurrected

    At the South By Southwest Film Festival:
    The Aggression Scale
    The Babymakers
    The Do-Deca-Pentathlon
    The Imposter
    In Our Nature
    Leave Me Like You Found Me
    Los Chidos
    Lovely Molly
    Modus Anomali
    See Girl Run

    At the Tribeca Film Festival:
    Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal
    While We Were Here

    At the Cannes Film Festival:
    After the Battle
    Ai To Makoto (For Love’s Sake)
    The Angels’ Share
    Like Someone in Love
    The Sapphires

    At the Telluride Film Festival:
    The Act of Killing

    At Fantastic Fest:
    The ABC’s of Death
    Berberian Sound Studio
    Black Out
    Cold Blooded
    The Final Member
    Here Comes the Devil
    The History of Future Folk
    I Declare War
    Lee’s Adventure
    Memory of the Dead (Memoria del Muerto)
    New Kids Nitro
    Taichi Zero
    Two Rabbits
    Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
    Vanishing Waves

    Amour (review to come)
    Anna Karenina
    The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best
    Chasing Mavericks
    Chicken with Plums
    The Deep Blue Sea
    The Expendables 2
    For a Good Time, Call
    Hit & Run
    Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians
    The Impossible (review to come)
    The Loneliest Planet
    The Master
    Men in Black 3
    Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
    Promised Land (review to come)
    The Queen of Versailles
    2 Days in New York
    Zero Dark Thirty (review to come)

    Pre-2012 releases that I had seen before, and reviewed, that I re-watched this year:

    A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
    All the Pretty Horses
    All the Real Girls
    American Animal
    American Beauty
    American Psycho
    Any Given Sunday
    The Artist
    Bad Boys II
    Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever
    Beautiful Creatures
    Big Trouble
    Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
    Bubble Boy
    Casino Royale
    Cheaper by the Dozen
    The Clearing
    The Devil’s Rejects
    Die Another Day
    Drowning Mona
    Eight Crazy Nights
    The Fall
    Fantasia 2000
    Fat Albert
    Galaxy Quest
    Gosford Park
    In the Loop
    Intolerable Cruelty
    King Kong (2005)
    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    The Man Who Knew Too Little
    Masked and Anonymous
    Million Dollar Baby
    Moonlight Mile
    National Lampoon’s Van Wilder
    The Next Best Thing
    Point Blank
    Quantum of Solace
    Remember the Titans
    A Room for Romeo Brass
    Scott Pilgrim vs the World
    Series 7: The Contenders
    She’s the Man
    Silent Hill
    Small Time Crooks
    Spirited Away
    Stuart Little
    The Tailor of Panama
    Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
    Team America: World Police
    The Way of the Gun
    Wet Hot American Summer
    The World Is Not Enough

    Pre-2012 releases that I had seen before, but did not review, that I re-watched this year:

    For Eric’s Bad Movies:
    Children of the Corn
    Chill Factor
    Hard Target
    The House on Haunted Hill

    For other columns:
    American Graffiti
    The Public Enemy

    For other reasons, or no reason, or accidentally:
    Alien 3
    Alien Resurrection
    American History X
    Back to the Future
    Back to the Future Part II
    Blazing Saddles
    Boogie Nights
    Death Becomes Her
    Die Hard
    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
    The Game
    The Giant Gila Monster (via Mystery Science Theater 3000)
    A Horrible Way to Die
    Hot Shots: Part Deux
    The House of Yes
    The Lion in Winter
    The Matrix
    National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
    A Night at the Opera
    Office Space
    Parts: The Clonus Horror (via MST3K)
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Singin’ in the Rain
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
    Spy Hard
    This Is Spinal Tap
    Three Amigos
    Time Bandits
    Tomorrow Never Dies
    The Usual Suspects
    Weird Science
    Withnail & I
    Witness for the Prosecution

    Pre-2012 releases that I saw for the first time this year:

    For Eric’s Bad Movies:
    BMX Bandits
    Carnival of Souls (1998)
    Case 39
    Cherry 2000
    C Me Dance
    The Color of Night
    .com For Murder
    Double Trouble
    The Dungeonmaster
    Give My Regards to Broad Street
    Hot to Trot
    Ice Cream Man
    The Initiation
    Jaws of Satan
    The Karate Dog
    King of the Camp
    Lock Up
    Mask of Death
    The Minis
    The Mod Squad
    The Phantom
    Slappy and the Stinkers
    Terminal Velocity
    Theodore Rex

    For other columns:
    An American Werewolf in London
    Dr. No
    East of Eden
    The French Connection
    Jackie Brown
    La Strada
    Nanook of the North
    The Night of the Hunter
    Once Upon a Time in the West
    Schindler’s List

    Catching up with films from 2011:
    Albert Nobbs
    Certified Copy
    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    The Iron Lady
    My Week with Marilyn
    A Separation

    Just because:
    After the Thin Man
    Animal Farm
    The Arbor
    The Awful Truth
    Back to the Future Part III
    Bad Day at Black Rock
    Bande a part (Band of outsiders)
    Born to be Bad
    Casino Royale (1967)
    College (1927)
    Coming to America
    The Dark Crystal
    A Day at the Races
    Dial M for Murder
    Diamonds Are Forever
    Dr. Monica
    Dressed to Kill
    For Your Eyes Only
    Fright (1971)
    From Russia with Love
    The Girl Who Knew Too Much (aka The Evil Eye)
    Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
    The Invisible Man
    Jailhouse Rock
    The Kid
    Kind Hearts and Coronets
    The Legend of Hell House
    Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural
    Licence to Kill
    Live and Let Die
    The Living Daylights
    The Madwoman of Chaillot
    The Man with the Golden Gun
    The Naked Kiss
    Near Dark
    A Necessary Death
    A Night in Casablanca
    On Golden Pond
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    Pootie Tang
    Possession (1981)
    Red Riding: 1974
    Red Riding: 1980
    Roman Holiday
    Safe Men
    Samson and Delilah
    The Sheik
    Sherlock Jr.
    Shock Corridor
    The Spy Who Loved Me
    Tarzan the Ape Man
    A Taste of Honey
    The Thin Man
    The Town That Dreaded Sundown
    Trading Places
    The Unknown
    A View to a Kill
    Wake in Fright
    Watermelon Man
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
    What’s Up, Tiger Lily?
    Why We Fight I: Prelude to War
    The Wolf Man (1941)
    You Only Live Twice



    For the first time in a while, I didn’t pick up any new shows this year. My DVR is already loaded with shows I “watch” that I never watch. But here are the shows I viewed semi-faithfully in 2012, listed in approximate order of how much I like them.

    “Breaking Bad”
    “Mad Men”
    “30 Rock”
    “Parks and Recreation”
    “American Horror Story: Asylum”
    “Childrens Hospital”
    “Saturday Night Live”
    “The Walking Dead”
    “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
    “South Park”
    “Bob’s Burgers”
    “Happy Endings”
    “Modern Family”
    “The Simpsons”
    “The Killing” (This was it for me. Season 2 was a slog. I’m done.)

    Also: Season 1 of “Downton Abbey” (love!), seasons 3 and 4 of “The Wire” (also love!).

    (By the way, I logged about 237 hours of TV programming over the course of the year, which is only about 170 hours when you skip the commercials.)



    The Kindle helps. So do audio books during 12-hour car trips to and from Utah. (I made that drive twice this year.) Though I only read (or had read to me) 17 books in 2012, I’m pleased that the number was even that high, considering I’m not part of a book club or anything else that forces me to read. More in 2013? I say that every year, but sure, let’s say it again. More in 2013!

    Horns, by Joe Hill. Dude wakes up one morning after a night of drinking and other forgotten debauchery to find he has horns growing out of his head. What’s more, he seems to have the ability to make people confess their innermost shameful secrets. Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. The dark, twisted apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey. Several chapters are devoted to her childhood, college years, and early career — all hilarious, and all useful in explaining how her “SNL” and “30 Rock” stuff came to be. This woman is amazingly funny, smart, and self-aware.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. I read this as a kid, re-read it as a grown-up because it was free on Kindle. Still enchanting. I was surprised at how short it actually is. When I was a kid it was this big NOVEL.

    Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis. I discovered Sinclair Lewis when I was in high school. It was a great pleasure to re-read “Babbitt,” a satire of American middle class values that haven’t changed much since the novel was published 90 years ago.

    Long Drive Home, by Will Allison. In a brief moment of anger, a man accidentally causes a deadly car accident — but no one knows he was involved, except for his 6-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat. This relatively short novel delves deep into the psyche and makes you ask a lot of “What would you do if…?” questions.

    Your Body is Changing, by Jack Pendarvis. This collection of short stories, ranging from the satirical to the absurd to the surreal, is probably the funniest thing I read all year.

    Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith. This would be a fairly ordinary detective-murder-mystery thingee except for one thing: it’s set in Soviet Russia under Stalin, where such things as “serial killers” don’t officially exist, and where questioning the system can get you sent to a gulag (or worse). Harrowing stuff, and Smith paints a vivid picture of Russia in the ’50s.

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. I was quite delighted by this young adult novel about a teenage boy who goes to a remote Welsh island to learn more about the mysterious orphanage where his grandfather supposedly grew up. Think Harry Potter or “X-Men,” filtered through the whimsical and macabre imagination of someone like Tim Burton (who, appropriately, is set to direct the movie adaptation). I’m eager to read the sequel, due this spring.

    The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus. The sound of children’s voices has become lethal and toxic to adults, even (especially) their own parents. A man who has already had to leave his daughter to preserve his own life works to find a remedy. I remember being somewhat unsatisfied with it overall, but it’s a terrific premise, and I enjoyed it for the most part.

    Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander. First of all, the title. Love it. This is a scathingly funny novel about a put-upon Jewish husband who has just moved with his family to an old farmhouse, only to discover that living in the attic is a crazy old lady who claims she’s Anne Frank. Hilarity, examination of Jewish identity, and fierce scrutiny of our desire to be victimized ensue.

    The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt. One of my favorites from this year, a comic and melancholy story about two brothers (with the last name Sisters) who work as guns-for-hire in the Old West. Conventions of the Western genre are uprooted and examined, all in a rip-roarin’ story.

    The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler. I’d never read anything by the much-lauded author of detective novels that inspired some classic film noirs, so I chose this one. The old-timey cliches are marvelous, especially when you can picture them coming out of Humphrey Bogart’s mouth.

    No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy. Loved the movie a few years back, and skimmed the book at the time but never read it in full. UNTIL NOW! It’s good. It’s also much clearer about some of the things that are ambiguous in the movie.

    At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft. Having never read any Lovecraft, I gave this novel (about an arctic expedition that uncovers scary things) a whirl. Possibly most useful as an artifact and a trendsetter, since the horror of the story doesn’t pack much of a punch today. I’m curious to read more Lovecraft, though, as I enjoy his grandiose language.

    Seating Arrangements, by Maggie Shipstead. The various members of a wealthy WASP-y family in New England, gathered for a wedding, all have their points of view represented in this amusing and insightful novel. I admire an author who can write from multiple perspectives and make every character seem authentic.

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. On the day of their fifth anniversary, a man’s wife disappears. He comes under suspicion but can’t believe anyone would think he did it. Entries from the wife’s diary, found among her things, alternate with chapters describing the current action from the husband’s point of view. And then … there are marvelous twists. Very twisted twists. Don’t learn any more details about it. Just read it.

    Going Too Far, by Tony Hendra. Hendra, a writer for National Lampoon in the ’70s, gives a broad, insightful history of how American comedy changed after World War II. (As with most things, the Baby Boomers were responsible.) MAD Magazine, Lenny Bruce, the Smothers Brothers, improv comedy, Second City, National Lampoon, and “Saturday Night Live” are considered, among many other influences. The book was written in 1987, and Hendra goes into perhaps too much detail about the Lampoon, so it’s not as thorough as it could be. But for a comedy nerd — especially one who’s interested in the notion of “going too far” — it’s great stuff. Out of print, but I found a used copy on Amazon for like ten bucks.