1. The Avengers
Studio: Walt Disney
2012 U.S. box office take: $623 million
Oscar No. 1. Lincoln
Studio: Walt Disney
2012 U.S. box office take: $176 million
We once again find ourselves with two films with more in common than they let on.Lincoln is about as close as a historical narrative comes to a superhero film, especially with Stephen Spielberg at the helm, Daniel Day-Lewis playing yet another lanky historical figure and Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, David Strathairn and James Spader representing just a small portion of the supporting cast. Applaud Jaime Foxx blasting the bejesus out of Leo DeCaprio and his slaveholding family all you'd like, but Day-Lewis makes pushing through the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery while holding both the Union and his family together seem like a far more grisly business. Meanwhile, balance out a CGI Hulk whipping bad guys around like rag dolls with a wisecracking Robert Downey Jr. in a rocket-propelled, weaponized suit serving as comic relief for a superhero team built from a years-long multifilm franchise, and you had a near-perfect summer blockbuster. There were no parallels to current events, no overarching allegory, no human enemies in harm's way and almost no part of the set that wasn't computer generated. Thanks to the thinking man's sci-fi director Joss Whedon taking the reins, this big chunk of popcorn fun didn't seem nearly as mindless as its release date suggested nor as long as its more than two-hour run time. Granted, The Avengers' $220 million budget was still more than Lincoln's gross, but both came up big at the box office this year. By taking in more money than big-budget fluff such as The Bourne Legacy, Ice Age: Continental Drift, 21 Jump Street and especially Disney's John Carter, Lincoln and Disney did some serious damage to the argument that the Academy doesn't nominate films folks actually buy tickets for. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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