Monday, December 31

entertainment favorites for 2012.

My Favorite Movies of 2012:

  • Moonrise Kingdom - I love Wes Anderson films and this one did not disappoint.  I loved the colors, the costumes, and of course, the crazy situations and dry-wit dialogue.
  • Pitch Perfect - Confession:  I was an a capella stalker groupie in college.  I knew I would love this movie - Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Elizabeth Banks are great in it, the songs are really good, and it is freaking hilarious.  It even features a real University of Virginia a capella group, though not the one I was a stalker huge fan of.
  • The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins' books have turned some of my most reluctant readers into book lovers, and I loved the books myself, so I was very excited for the movie - especially since I was able to talk one of my fellow English teachers into going to the midnight showing with me.  The theater was full of past and current students which made it quite a memorable shared experience.

  • The Avengers - I am a total geek when it comes to superheroes.  I have enjoyed the Iron-Man movies, Captain America:  the First Avenger, and Thor, so I was pumped to see so many superheroes in one movie interacting with each other.  The fact that the movie was written by Joss Whedon, who I've loved since Buffy, was a great bonus.
  • Titanic 3D - my favorite middle school movie came back to the big screen in 2012, and my sister in law loved seeing Jack and Kate again, even if they kind of looked like cardboard cutouts.
  • Les Miserables - if you haven't seen it yet, get yourself to a movie theater!  Hugh Jackman was wonderful, Anne Hathaway will probably win an Oscar, and there wasn't a bad performance in the whole thing.  My sister in law started crying about halfway through and didn't stop until it was over.
  • One for the Money - my mom is a big fan of Janet Evanovich's funny Stephanie Plum books, so she'd been excited about this movie since she'd heard it was being made.  I'm sad this movie didn't do better in theaters because I'd like to see some of the other books in the series get film treatments as well.
  • Lawless - since I now live in the same town as the Bondurants (whose descendants insist it's actually pronounced Bon-durnt), it seemed like everyone I knew was excited about this movie.  It was violent and gory, and had some weird things going on with the plot that didn't seem plausible, but overall I thought it was a good story, and it had a really cool soundtrack.
  • John Carter - again with the geekiness - I read io9 pretty much every day, and there was a lot of hype about Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars being made into a movie.  I enjoyed the movie so much I saw it twice - lots of action, cowboy-type characters, flying machines, cool aliens and a love story pretty much equal awesome for me - but it pretty much flopped so I don't expect to see the series get made.
  • Breaking Dawn Part 2 - I have spent most of the period in which the Twilight "saga" has been popular mocking everything about it and trying to direct my female students toward books with stronger protagonists, but I have to say this was my favorite movie in the series.  Bella finally had something to fight for and became awesome.  And the filmmakers tricked me instead of being totally predictable - nicely done, Lionsgate.  My only complaint is that Stephenie Meyer still hasn't written a spin-off called Jasper Hale:  Confederate Vampire.

My Favorite Books of 2012:

  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - one of the few non-YA books I read this year, and my second zombie book (my first was The Forest of Hands and Teeth).  This one is different from the usual zombie story because the narrator, R (that's all of his name he can remember), happens to be one of the undead.  He saves the life of a human girl and starts to fall in love with her, making him bold enough to challenge the rules of his post-apocalyptic world of humans, zombies, and "boneys."  This was the most entertaining book I read this year - at turns funny, inspiring, raunchy, and sad.
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper - Ms. Draper was the keynote speaker at the state reading conference this spring and she is awesome.  I also enjoyed her book The Battle of Jericho, but Out of My Mind is a life-changer.  The narrator is a student with disabilities who cannot speak or write but who is very, very intelligent.  She feels trapped in her own body, and things only get more complicated when she tries to communicate.  I highly recommended this book to my students - it's a tear-jerker, but it really made me appreciate my own abilities and think twice about the way I deal with students with disabilities.
  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare - I have been reading The Mortal Instruments series for years now, and even though they can be cheesy at times, there's more than enough action, humor, and romance to make up for it.  I kind of love that Cassandra Clare is a fangirl herself so the books are full of geeky references.
  • Insurgent and Divergent by Veronica Roth - this series is what I recommend to students who've finished the Hunger Games series and want something similar - it's dystopian with a cool female protagonist, a divided society, and a brave love interest.  
  • Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie - more dystopia!  This one's a little more girly, and reminded me a lot of Lois Lowry's The Giver - in a society in which our culture has been stripped down to a few "great works," people are matched with their ideal partners, the main character sees an outcast boy's face flash on the screen for a split second before her best friend's face appears.
  • The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant and The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan - this series is urban fantasy set in Britain, and each book is from a different character's viewpoint.  Sarah's writing is funny, the characters are compelling, and the good vs. evil conflict has enough shades of gray to be interesting.  I really like urban fantasy books because of the idea that there's a whole magical world on the outskirts of everyday life.
  • Endure by Carrie Jones - Is rural fantasy a thing?  This is the last book in a series set in Maine, with evil pixies as the threat to human life and weres - werewolves, weretigers, werebears, and a wereeagle- as the protectors of humankind.  It sounds ridiculous, and sometimes it is, but like Cassandra Clare, Carrie is a fangirl and the books are chock full of allusions to Buffy and other geek fare.  The teenage characters in this book seem more like real teenagers than any other fantasy series despite the fact that some of them are not completely humans.
  • Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - it wasn't until I saw the movie trailer with the Florence and the Machine song playing in the background that I decided to take my students' advice and start this series, and now it is my jam.  These books are much longer than they actually have to be, but they're addicting.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi - the only other adult book on this list, I had to check this one out after reading so much about it online.  Scalzi's book is a parody of Star Trek, and even though I'm only familiar with the J.J. Abrams version of the classic sci-fi series, I felt like I was in on the joke.  It's not just a funny book, though - it has some sad and beautiful moments as well.
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner - 2012 is the Year of the Dystopia, and this is one I recommend to the guys in my class.  Thomas, the main character, gets dropped into a society of boys (think Lord of the Flies with a working farm) who live in a fortress surrounded by a seemingly impossible maze full of monsters.  The next day, the first girl any of them remember ever seeing arrives, and she and Thomas have a strange connection.  Thomas becomes obsessed with beating the maze and getting out.  I didn't like the second book, The Scorch Trials, but the first book could stand alone.
All images in this post are from Tumblr.


  1. Of the movies, the only ones I haven't seen are Moonrise Kingdom, and One for the Money. And overall I agree with your opinions.

    I've read a lot fewer of the books. But the ones I haven't read, Warm Bodies, Beautiful Creatures, The Maze Runner, have been on my to-read list for a while

    1. I think you'd really like the Beautiful Creatures books - they are set in a small Southern town and I think it's pretty much exactly what life would be like if there turned out to be powerful witches in a gossipy, Bible-thumping town with one stoplight :)