Every year at the movies, it seems like there are shared elements that pop up in some of the biggest films. Whether its a recurring theme, plot point, or prop, every film year has its trends.
Since this year was no exception, we've broken down the biggest movie trends of 2012.
Spies Are Cool Again
There were rumblings of this trend last year when Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" performed well in the art house theaters and earned Gary Oldman his long-deserved first Oscar nomination, but this year the return of the spy movie came to fruition, just not in the way we were expecting. "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty," two of the year's best films, focused on intelligence work in two distinct ways. Spies are back, and they're total badasses.
Getting Caught Was Part of the Plan
If movie heroes take anything away from the blockbusters of this year, it should be this. When you catch your arch-nemesis during the first scene of the film or toward the middle of the second act, you should bet on it being part of his or her evil plan. Bane, Silva, and Loki all used their enemy's predictability to their advantage because no one stopped to think that maybe this was all too easy.
After a couple hundred years of being out of style, the old bow and arrow made a comeback in 2012 in a huge way. Not doing did Katniss from "The Hunger Games" and Merida from "Brave" strap on a quill, but archery was so trendy that it was cool enough to single handedly punch your ticket to get into the Avengers. Seriously, would Hawkeye really have been included if archery wasn't so hot right now?
Sticking the Landing
Unreasonably high expectations can ruin a movie, and few films have ever felt the pressure to deliver quite like "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises." Not only did both films satisfy their respective fan bases, but they did so in unexpected ways. "The Dark Knight Rises" didn't go dark, like its predecessor had, and "The Avengers" focused on character in a way that made an otherwise generic conclusion completely satisfying.
The 160 Minute Sweet Spot
Sometimes the best stories need a little extra room to squeeze all the details in. One of the common denominators of this year's great movies was that many of them nearly pushed their runtime to the three hours. "The Dark Knight Rises," "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty," and "Django Unchained" all got into range. Even "Lincoln" hit 150 minutes.