Earlier today, I posted my favorites from the world of TV in 2012, and now it’s time for me to take a look at the best of the rest: the music, movies, books, and pop culture phenomena that made this year so memorable.
Favorite Song: “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen)
I know it’s a cheesy pop song, but it is one great cheesy pop song. When I think back on 2012 years from now, this will undoubtedly be the song I remember. It was fun, it made me want to dance, and it was the kind of song that never got out of your head until you found yourself no longer minding that it was stuck in there.
Runner-Up: “Some Nights” (FUN.)
Favorite Movie: Silver Linings Playbook
Anchored by career performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, this film was a surprisingly uplifting and yet realistic look at mental illness and the many different ways we can cope and heal. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me feel hopeful. It was the most fascinating love story I’ve seen in a movie theater in ages because it was grounded in both humor and a whole lot of heart.
Runner-Up: The Avengers
Favorite Animated Movie: Wreck-It Ralph
With a protagonist who was easy to root for and a colorful cast of supporting characters, this film showed audiences why Disney will always be at the top of the animation game when it comes to finding creative ways to tug at our heartstrings. The video game concept brought new life to a classic story of redemption, and it included enough nerdy details to truly offer something for everyone.
Favorite Movie Chemistry: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
The reason this movie worked so well (and the reason I saw it three times in theaters) was because of these two and their powerful chemistry. They made these characters come alive with a vibrancy that was missing from previous installments in this franchise, and that vibrancy was never more apparent than when they shared the screen. Together, they were by turns funny, romantic, and heartbreaking—a true movie dream team.
Runner-Up: The entire cast of The Avengers
Favorite Movie Scene: “I Dreamed a Dream” (Les Miserables)
I went into this scene incredibly skeptical, thinking it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype that it was being given. But it was everything people are saying and more: gut-wrenching, painfully intimate, and Oscar-worthy. Anne Hathaway’s lack of vanity and complete dedication to showing Fantine’s pain was astounding: She looked the very picture of desperate loss. There was something so captivating about the way Hathaway sang that classic song; her anger and bitterness gave a new edge to both the scene and the character that reminded me that the tragedy of Les Mis begins not with what happened on the barricade but with what happened to a broken young woman who lost everything: her daughter, her dignity, and ultimately her life.
Runner-Up: The reaping (The Hunger Games)
Favorite Book (courtesy of NGN contributor Leah): The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
This novel is my favorite book of 2012, without a doubt. It deals with life, love, illness, and being a teenager in a way that feels genuine and beautiful without being preachy, overwhelmingly complicated, or dense. The novel is quite sad at times – if you don’t cry at least once I would be surprised! – but it also contains a fair amount of humor, and in the end leaves you with a feeling of hope.
The Fault in Our Stars was a bit of an interesting case in terms of publishing as well. It’s not a new concept by any means, but TFIOS showed the publishing industry the power of a having a fanbase and the value of having an author who is connected to and cares about their readers.
John Green has a strong line of communication with his fans through various social media sites (YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr), and the appreciation of readers for an author who is genuine with them and who takes the time to interact with them shone through in the numbers of preorders for TFIOS as well as in the rankings on the NY Times’ Bestseller list.
Green had also promised to sign all of the preorders of his new novel (which, because of how printing works, meant he would have to sign all of the first printing of the novel), but he never expected the response the book would receive before it was even released. He ended up signing 150,000 books over the course of a few months in order to keep his promise, not to mention the thousands more books he would sign on the book tour he went on after the book’s release.
For me, The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite novel of 2012 not only because of the fantastic writing and the wonderful, heart-wrenching story, but because of the way it shows the best of author-fan interactions and the wonderful community of readers.
Runner-Up: Beautiful Ruins (Jess Walter)
The Ten Female Characters who Rocked My World in 2012:
1.) The women of Once Upon a Time
2.) Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
3.) Katniss Everdeen—and Jennifer Lawrence in general (The Hunger Games)
4.) Merida (Brave)
5.) Black Widow (The Avengers)
6.) Gwen Stacy (The Amazing Spider-Man)
7.) Kate Beckett (Castle)
8.) Sarah Walker (Chuck)
9.) The women of Game of Thrones
10.) Jessica Pearson (Suits)