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.