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Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle

  1. 30 Beats 2012 That's all that happens: drift from one unrealized, uninteresting character to another. full review
  2. 360 2012 Much like its own characters, it dithers too much - and it dares too little. full review
  3. Arbitrage 2012 Features an exceedingly dapper Richard Gere in a series of nice suits and handsome close-ups that serve no purpose other than to remind us how exceedingly dapper Richard Gere looks in nice suits and handsome close-ups. full review
  4. Marvel's The Avengers 2012 Whedon, a pop-genre magician best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a master of viewer manipulation - because he never gives up his own seat in the crowd. full review
  5. Bachelorette 2012 Headland works hard to reconcile the wild and the tame; if she never quite gets the balance right, ya gotta admire her bold juxtaposition of overdose-resuscitation gags with lessons on self-loathing and bulimia. full review
  6. Casa de mi padre 2012 It's really strange, and it's really subtitled. full review
  7. Compliance 2012 We feel like gutless witnesses to a crime. full review
  8. Dark Horse 2012 [Solondz] pulls one too many narrative stunts, with one too many dream sequences, calling into question the reality of everything that's happened - including that soap-operatic finale. full review
  9. The Dictator 2012 This isn't the last word on cinematic send-ups of totalitarianism -- for that, we still have Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator -- but it's a fine and riotous jab in the ribs. full review
  10. End of Watch 2012 The best scenes are filmed inside the cruiser, dashboard shots that face inward instead of out, catching Gyllenhaal and Pena in moments so playful and true they make all other buddy cops look bogus by comparison. full review
  11. God Bless America 2012 In this "Falling Down" of pop-cultural observation, Goldthwait forgets the thrill of the chase; he's more concerned with piercing verbal barbs than actual suspense. full review
  12. The Grey 2012 A handsome but gabby take on the standard survivalist thriller that's more concerned with lofty metaphysics than which poor blockhead is about to bite it next. full review
  13. How to Survive a Plague 2012 When it's over, this documentary lingers as a testament to extraordinary human bravery. It stands as one of the most heartbreaking and suspenseful sagas of the year. full review
  14. The Hunger Games 2012 It features a functioning creative imagination and lots of honest-to-goodness acting by its star, Jennifer Lawrence, who brings her usual toughness and emotional transparency to the archer-heroine Katniss. full review
  15. The Imposter 2012 This is as much a film about self-deception as it is about deception, and as such, it is a study in pain. full review
  16. The Invisible War 2012 It is far too difficult to watch. Which means we must. full review
  17. L!fe Happens 2012 Coiro ... mixes an off-beat premise and smart, spiky dialogue with the tired old rhythms of a standard romantic comedy. full review
  18. Last Call at the Oasis 2012 One can argue the movie's finer points, but in the end, there's no escaping its creeping pile-up of evidence that Mother Earth is critically dehydrated - and we need to do something, fast. full review
  19. ParaNorman 2012 The world of Blithe Hollow exists in real space. The residents have real bags under their eyes, real bellies at their belt buckles. Ugliness alternates with rapturous beauty ... full review
  20. The Queen of Versailles 2012 Through a clear lens unclouded by politics or blame, it offers insight into the hazardous American practice of living beyond our means. full review
  21. Red Lights 2012 By strict definition, any movie featuring Robert De Niro as a spoon-bending clairvoyant superstar ought to hold a few cards up its sleeve. full review
  22. Safe 2012 None of this bears much or any resemblance to the real world, but the violence crunches, the editing snaps and the humorous one-liners pop at well-timed junctures. full review
  23. Sleepwalk With Me 2012 It all adds up to a fine, funny exercise in disheveled self-deprecation: a self-portrait of a guy who can't control a major portion of his life. full review
  24. Tonight You're Mine 2012 The script is as bland as they come. full review
  25. War of the Buttons 2012 It does not attempt to provide a complete or even vaguely realistic depiction of the rural French resistance in the endgame to World War II. full review
  26. Extract 2009 Extract isn't an instant classic, but it bumps along agreeably, its humor culled from serial bad decisions, mock-romantic discontent and lots of spirited overacting ripe with good intentions. full review
  27. Five Minutes of Heaven 2009 full review
  28. The Fourth Kind 2009 Ultimately, the film's narrative segments are far too glossy and over-stylized, larded with ponderous scoring, obvious melodrama and split-screen visuals that offset the "reenactments" with the "real." full review
  29. World's Greatest Dad 2009 There's more going on here than the age-old struggle between maturity and its surly teen antithesis. full review
  30. Food, Inc. 2008 A mind-boggling, heart-rending, stomach-churning expose on the food industry. full review
  31. New York, I Love You 2008 It's a bit too arty, and a bit too cute, but it charms and cajoles with the pluck of a native New Yorker. full review
  32. /titles/197118 There is no casting decision or character nuance or plot turn too obvious to indulge. full review

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