Though the GIF is now 25 years old, the raw animation format is having a moment in 2012. This internet sensation has been the source of countless memes as well as a way to succinctly capture our favorite pulp culture moments, and express oh-so-many feelings. Most prestigiously, the Oxford American Dictionary has selected GIF as its word of the year! So what better way is there to look back on the year in movies—its blockbusters, bombs, and breakouts—than through this looping web essential?

The Avengers smackdown all comers

While critics and the Academy battle out what is the best film of 2012, the biggest hit was The Avengers, hands down. The action-packed superhero ensemble not only dominated its opening weekend with a whopping $207 million, but also the entire month of May…then the summer, then the year, pulling in more than $623,000,000 domestically, and over $1.5 billion worldwide! But that's not all. Though critics delivered mixed reviews on Christopher Nolan's much anticipated Dark Knight Rises, Joss Whedon's epic won almost universal praise. Some even say it has a shot at becoming the rare superhero flick that scores a Best Picture nod at the Oscars.

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