In anticipation of a new release, there's a single statement that, without fail, gets theater-goers going: "I heard that was supposed to be really good."
Reviews have served as a guide to some of the most exquisite -- and excruciating -- movies of 2012. True, there are those films that you just have to see, no matter what, but some (ahem, "John Carter") couldn't escape their black-and-white wounds.
With 2012 almost at an end, what better way to wrap up the year than with a review round-up? Put on your party hats, below are 20 of the best and worst reviews of this year's most buzzy-worthy flicks.
'Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2' (Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine)
"If anything, this series has gotten dumber and more inert as it has progressed, <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/11/movie-review-twilight-breaking-dawn-part-2.html">with this last one finally reaching over into an extended wallow in camp</a>."
'Beasts of the Southern Wild' (Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail)
"Beasts of the Southern Wild marks <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/beasts-of-the-southern-wild-an-uncompromising-celebration-of-the-strange/article4410613/">one of the most auspicious American directorial debuts in years.</a>"
'Celeste and Jesse Forever' (Justin Chang, Variety)
"Celeste & Jesse Forever earns points for bucking formula, <a href="http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117946877/?refCatId=31">but its fusion of snark and sincerity has a calculated slickness that rings increasingly hollow</a>."
'Magic Mike' (Richard Brody, New Yorker)
"Soderbergh has created a spicy yet lucid, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/film/magic_mike_soderbergh">surgingly high-energy yet smartly modernistic musical</a>."
'Cloud Atlas' (Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor)
"The result is maddening, exasperating, occasionally exhilarating -- <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2012/1026/Cloud-Atlas-is-occasionally-exhilarating-but-mostly-confusing-trailer">and mostly boring</a>."
'Cabin in the Woods' (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
"If it's true that you always kill the thing you love, then horror honchos Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have taken an ax to slasher cinema in 'The Cabin in the Woods' and <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-cabin-in-the-woods-20120412">chopped it up for kindling</a>."
'The Master' (Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald)
"The actors' commitment to their roles is impressive, but it's tethered to a weightless, airless movie, <a href="http://www.miami.com/master-r-article">a film so enamored of itself, the audience gets shut out</a>."
'Prometheus' (Christopher Orr, The Atlantic)
"Prometheus -- like, in its telling, the human race itself -- <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/06/prometheus-a-gorgeous-mess/258265/">is a creation spliced from the DNA of superior forebears</a>."
'Hunger Games' (Scott Bowles, USA Today)
"Like the select participants of its savage sport, The Hunger Games stands triumphant, <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/story/2012-03-23/the-hunger-games-jennifer-lawrence-josh-hutcherson-elizabeth-banks/53714638/1">if scarred and a bit wobbly from the contest</a>."
'Amour' (David Edelstein, NYMag)
"Can a film be a great work of art with so little affect in the face of human agony? That is the problem posed by everything Haneke has done. But the wintry Amour seems to me to be the closest to pity he has come, if only because Nature beats him to the punch. It is <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/12/movie-review-amour-michael-haneke.html">a stunning film</a>."
'Life of Pi' (Dana Stevens, Slate)
"The movie's energy peters out in a series of book-club conversations about divine will, the power of storytelling, <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2012/11/life_of_pi_directed_by_ang_lee_reviewed.html">and the resilience of the human spirit</a>."
'Looper' (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com)
"This is a genuinely tough-minded and unpredictable movie, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/09/28/pick_of_the_week_a_tough_smart_time_travel_thriller/">one of the fall's most enjoyable entertainments</a> ..."
'Skyfall' (David Denby, New Yorker)
"The director, Sam Mendes, has taken a pop concept and solemnized it with Freud, which is not, perhaps, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2012/11/12/121112crci_cinema_denby">the best way of turning Bond into grownup entertainment</a>."
'The Avengers' (Anthony Lane, New Yorker)
"If you are a Marvel fan, then 'The Avengers' will feel like Christmas. Thanks to the merry doings of the director, Joss Whedon, all your favorite characters are here, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2012/05/14/120514crci_cinema_lane">as shiny and as tempting as presents under the tree</a>."
'Lincoln' (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)
"The film masterfully captures the dual dilemmas facing the president in the final months of his life: how to bring the war between the states to an end, and how to eradicate slavery, <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/movies/20121116_As_Lincoln__Daniel_Day-Lewis_stands_very_tall.html">once and for all</a>."
'Brave' (Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon.net)
"As much as it pains me to say it, <a href="http://www.comingsoon.net/news/reviewsnews.php?id=91743">this is my least favorite Pixar film</a>."
'Argo' (Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor)
"The movieland satire is laid on thick, but it's also deadly accurate. Schlock has never seemed so patriotic, <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2012/1012/Ben-Affleck-crafts-a-nail-biting-thriller-in-Argo-movie-review">and Arkin and Goodman have rarely been so good</a>."
'Killing Them Softly' (Dana Stevens, Slate)
"It's hard to deglamorize the criminal life when you can't resist showing a bullet leaving a gun barrel in <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2012/11/killing_them_softly_starring_brad_pitt_reviewed.html">stylized super-slow motion or scoring the anti-hero's first entrance to a Johnny Cash song</a>."
'Zero Dark Thirty' (Christopher Orr, The Atlantic)
"A powerful, morally complicated work on an urgent subject. It is a film that <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/12/why-zero-dark-thirty-is-the-best-film-of-the-year/266446/">deserves-that almost demands-to be seen and argued over</a>."
'John Carter,' (David Denby, New Yorker)
"<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/film/john_carter_stanton">A mess</a>."
Earlier on Moviefone: