There’s the likelihood of sounding like a broken record, but 2012 certainly has been a great year for cinema. Unlike 2011, in which even Pixar flopped and a weak kid’s film was a serious awards contender, every area of film seems to have delivered. Not only are we faced with one of the most open Oscar races of recent memory, but, casting our eyes back to the summer, there was a wealth of blockbusters that delivered on and exceeded their lofty, explosive promises.

As with any summer, there were those that flat out stunk. Thankfully, there were fewer than in previous years and in most cases they bombed. By comparison, many of the films that reaped big at the box office also did well with the critics; maybe general audiences are wisening up to quality. And we got it good; we got some brilliant blockbusters. 2012 presented a mixture of bombastic action and ventures into cerebral territories, exploring ideas normally saved for small releases.

Here we present the stand outs from both camps – the cynical cash grabs with no artistic merit and the grand stamping successes that always manage to restore your faith in cinema. All films on the list are undisputed blockbusters. Any film that I deemed too niche haven’t appeared, so there’s none of the likes of Looper here.

There have been some more middling films that would be quite easy to say ‘sucked’, but are in fact just mild disappointments from series that should have done better; The Bourne Legacy, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Two are guaranteed and the third is likely to be getting the sequel treatment, so here’s hoping the franchises can pull themselves back to greatness.

Light spoilers are present for all films.

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This article was first posted on December 31, 2012