Another year has come and gone and this year has been an extra special year for film. I said in one of my previous posts that 2012 was the best year for film in the last five years. I hope what I have to say is not too long but I really have a lot to mention about these excellent films. I have five movies that I discuss that re honourable mentions and directly below that I have my list of the top eleven movies of the year, in my humble opinion of course. Read on if you dare.
Wreck it Ralph
In a year that almost every animated film I saw was a disappointment, Wreck it Ralph came out and almost saved the day. Wreck it Ralph is a clever film that brings back the nostalgic of video games for 90’s kids. However, the film loses its momentum in the second act and never recovers once the character of Ralph starts to game jump.
Zero Dark Thirty
The much anticipated Zero Dark Thirty tackles the most important manhunt in human history, that of Osama Bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow fresh off her Oscar win for The Hurt Locker three years ago does a good job with the material. However, despite her best efforts the films three hour length has the film outstay its welcome leaving the audience enjoying what they saw but not necessarily loving what they saw.
Life of Pi
The movie that was said to be impossible to film by many people was finally brought to the silver screen. Based on the novel of the same name written by Yann Martel, the film brings to life a truly magical story. Visually the film is fantastic and its images will stick in your mind for days and maybe weeks when you leave the theatre. This film was so hard to cut but I use the formula of how much did the film pull me in, at times it did this magically. However, at other times I had a hard time getting into this fantasy tale.
You may love Seth Macfarlane, you may hate him but the man nails pop culture humour. I wanted to try to get a comedy on my list but Ted’s third act dissolves and is anti-climatic at best. Once again I really wanted to get a comedy on this list but although Ted had its moments I just felt the film as a whole was incomplete.
Lincoln will guarantee Daniel Day Lewis his third Oscar; you can book that and take it to the bank. The movie may also get Tommy Lee Jones an Oscar for a great supporting performance. Steven Spielberg as a director has been a little shaky over the past couple of years. Lincoln is carried by its cast but as a film it is not told in an intriguing way. It is shaky and uneven. Lincoln is carried by performances but if you strip that away Spielberg cannot find a consistent rhythm making the idea better than the final product.
My top eleven films of the year:
11) The Dark Knight Rises
Just squeaking on the list is The Dark Knight Rises. I really am having a hard time understanding the criticism aimed at this film, the movie is very dark but its execution and passion make it well worth the wait. Living up to The Dark Knight was simply impossible but the fresh introduction of two characters saved this film. Anne Hathaway knocks her role out of the park losing herself in the role as Catwoman. Tom Hardy embraced the evilness of Bane to make the audience truly fear what he was capable of. Christopher Nolan ends his trilogy in a triumphant way in my humble opinion.
Who said that original Science Fiction films could not be made. Looper proves that to be a myth with this fast paced high octane film carried by great performances from Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Director Rian Johnson blends the art of storytelling with impressively shot action scenes. Looper is the action film that this year’s other action films wanted to be but failed and is also the most original film of 2012.
9) Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods is a funny clever spoof horror film that identifies and dissects popular horror movie clichés in a clever and funny tone making it irresistible. Director Drew Goddard manages to combine multiple storytelling techniques which eventually lead up to one of the more impressive movie climaxes in recent memory. Carried by strong performances from a young and likeable cast Cabin in the Woods most certainly overachieved and it delivers on all the goods.
8) Hunger Games
Despite the hype The Hunger Games surpassed all it. I called it two years ago when I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone that she was the next big thing in Hollywood. The young talented actress carries this film on her back with a determination to make it a great film. Apart from Lawrence the films extravagant sets and costumes also allow you to become fully engulfed in the world that author Suzanne Collins wrote on the page. I feel like I have defended this movie quite a bit, fans were upset with how the novel explained the thoughts of its main character and the film did not do this. My response to that is Lawrence tells the thoughts through her talents and it worked for me. Also to answer the question everyone is wondering out there, yes I read the book before I saw the film.
Just when I was ready to quit on the found footage genre, mainly due to the overstaying and outright annoyance of the Paranormal Activity franchise along came Chronicle. A found footage superhero film that develops its characters in a way that makes you feels all of their emotions. This is something that superhero films have struggled with but Chronicle does it right. Without question this film overachieved but once again big budgets and big special effects do not guarantee quality, well told stories and enthusiasm does.
6) The Avengers
This Avengers has been years in the making and rarely does a film live up to the expectations placed upon it. The Avengers however does just that. Director Joss Whedon knew the responsibility when he was given this franchise he knew that he had high expectations to live up to. He did just that for the big special effects although enjoyable is not the films strongest asset. The clever writing and great casting makes The Avengers feel like more than a superhero movie but rather a well executed dram/action film.
5) Les Miserables
I can proudly say that this is the first time a musical has ever made my best of list. To be honest I am just as surprised as some of you are. I mentioned Hathaway on my list in another film but this movie could very well get her an Oscar. Her back-story and the way she tells it through song and acting brought me to tears. Les Miserables also benefits from a juggernaut cast which also includes Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and director Tom Hooper fresh off his Oscar for The King’s Speech handles these performers well. What also makes this film work is how it blends its music and storytelling without getting lost, something that is very difficult for any director to do. Hooper did just this and proved he is not a one trick pony.
4) Moonrise Kingdom
You can say many things about Wes Anderson you can say he is a little quirky and possibly self indulgent with his movie filming techniques. However, Moonrise Kingdom is his most complete film since Rushmore and I would argue that is it better as well. Jared Gilliam and Kara Hayward prove that a romance between two teenagers can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming. These young performers pull you right into the film and they never let go. I caught myself saying “Yes” and “No” throughout this movie because I was so invested in the story. Mr. Anderson you deserve far more credit then you will get for this film and I really hope you get some recognition for this gorgeous movie.
3) Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild took the Sundance film festival by storm and when I saw it and I can certainly understand why. I am pleading with everyone please seek this film out for it is such a phenomenal movie. Young Quvenzhane Wallis will shock you for the nine year old actress shows more of a screen presence then most adults do. Director Benh Zeitlin handles the subject matter of a post Hurricane Katrina Louisiana with great care and maturity. Zeitlin always knows where the line is showing the audience the horror and devastation but not going to the point where you do not want to see it anymore. This film got a standing ovation at Sundance and I gave it a standing ovation when I saw it as well.
Ben Affleck in the span of two years has gone from an actor that was seen as a joke to a director that is a force to be reckoned with. The Town two years ago blew audiences away and was robbed of the recognition it deserved. Affleck comes back with Argo which hopefully will get him the credit he deserves. Argo is a political thriller that is so intense that you almost begin sweating while watching it; this is due to the fact that as an audience you know the consequences for the characters if they get caught. These types of films are so enjoyable that you never wanted them to end; I wanted Argo to be another hour longer. Great acting, directing, and writing are such a great combination but it is its execution that allows Argo to reach the next level. Argo balances all these film elements making it rank almost at the top of my list.
And the number one movie of 2012 is……..
1) Silver Linings Playbook
Director David O. Russell has been called many different things by many people. He has been called intense (just see the clip of him and actress Lily Tomlin getting to a fight on the set of I Heart Huckabees), stubborn, and at times too difficult to work with (just see what George Clooney has to say about him). These accusations may be true; however, the man knows how to direct. Russell somehow manages to balance characters that have serious mental problems in a way that is both sympathetic and entertaining. This is mainly due to the fact that they are treated seriously. Their lives are treated in a way in which the audience just feels so bad not just for them but for their families and friends because you see how difficult it is living with these problems. Lawrence once again just goes for it in this role and she will get her second Oscar nomination and she is only twenty years old. She might be the smartest actress in Hollywood when it comes to choosing scripts or she has the best agent money can buy. Either one works to be honest. This is also the first time I have seen Bradley Cooper in a serious role in which his true talent has come out, he shocked and amazed me with his performance in this film. By the time this movie ended every possible emotion in human existence was felt by me I was floored by this film. O. Russell congratulations showing that respecting sensitive material can go a long way in film, long enough to make a masterful movie.
Once again thank you so much for taking the time for reading my list, I hope you enjoyed it. I apologize for its length but I just had so much to say.
Leave comments below if you wish, remember respectful disagreements are encouraged all films are open to be liked or hated by anyone.