The lesson here: If you're making movies about the "real" world, it's tough to compete with the real world. Maybe this is why there were blessedly fewer films this year about the Wall Street meltdown. One of them, "Margin Call," wasn't bad, but who wants to see yet another movie about this stuff while we are still soldiering through the wreckage? (Probably the best movie about the money culture, "Moneyball," wasn't about Wall Street at all.)
I would have wished for more first-rate family-entertainment films this year, but at least the Muppet franchise got a boost and "Hugo" had its moments and "Arthur Christmas" was a 3-D delight. There were slightly fewer male-bonding slobbola comedies than in recent years, maybe because Seth Rogen has decided to go soulful. Women, however, are starting to take up the slack. I'm not sure "Bridesmaids" is the big feminist breakthrough so many are claiming for it. So now women can be as raucously disgusting as the guys? Yippee.
And speaking of breakthroughs, I'm not in the cheering section for likely Oscar front-runner "The Artist," a faux silent movie, sweet but innocuous, that peddles its charm with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. And Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" got a free pass from most critics because it was, well, directed by Terrence Malick. Larded with high-toned philosophic voice-overs that wouldn't pass muster in a college dorm bull session, this impeccably shot movie stirred rural anomie, urban anomie, the origins of the planet, and dinosaurs into a mélange resembling nothing so much as a World's Fair family-of-man documentary gone berserk.