Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Ten (and then some) of 2012

I am going to give the same warning for this top ten list that I did last year: these are my top ten (and then some) “favorite” films of the year.  I am in position to claim one film is technically “better” than any other film.  Sure, I might be more likely than most to comment on filming techniques, score, acting, etc., but at the end of the day, or year, I still simply pick which movies I enjoyed the most.  Was Anna Karenina more impressive from a filmmaking standpoint than Lincoln?  Yes, absolutely.  But while I enjoyed Anna Karenina, it didn’t contain subject matter that I found particularly interesting nor did it have any performances that match up with Lincoln.  The point is that these top ten lists that flood the internet and magazines around this time of the year are all subjective.  It’s all personal taste.  That said, I have kind of a boring list, as my top three films are on nearly all of the top ten lists.  I’m not one to lie just to be different, though, so I stuck with the ten films I enjoyed the most this year.  I found 2012 to be a great year for movies, which is why I also added a few comments for five more films, and have a lengthy honorable mention list.  So here it is.  Feel free to completely disagree with me.  All I ask is that you keep an open mind, especially about the movies on the list that you haven’t seen.  It’s always okay to hate a movie, but only if you’ve seen it.
Also, I did miss out on a handful of films that some people have been praising, such as Holy Motors, End of Watch, Rust and Bone, Alps, and Compliance.  

1. Lincoln

I honestly did not expect this to end up as my number one film of the year.  I knew Day-Lewis would give a great performance, but I was skeptical of Spielberg.  I was afraid this was going to be a safe, plain patriotic film.  I wasn’t entirely wrong, but I was floored by how effective, and entertaining, the film was.  Many have complained of the film being boring, and I understand that, with all of the politics and long conversations, but I love that stuff.  While some were falling asleep, I was paying close attention.  The entire film works for me.  But it was Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance that sealed the deal for me. 


2. Django Unchained

An extremely close second because of the entertainment value in Quentin Tarantino’s edgy film.  Some are offended by the very premise of the film, but what can I say?  It’s kind of hard to offend me.  I enjoy movies and that is what this is: a very enjoyable movie.


3. Zero Dark Thirty

An important but riveting film.  It’s catching a lot of flak concerning torture and all that, but if you can get past that, this lengthy film expertly recreates the nuts and bolts of the manhunt that brought Osama bin Laden to justice.  More importantly, though, the film leaves the viewer with some questions about the war on terror and how it’s being waged.


4. The Master


Paul Thomas Anderson is a filmmaker I will always find interesting, and that is the basis for this pick.  Some will watch this and absolutely hate it, and I understand that.  It’s a strange film.  I started to doubt my enjoyment of the film weeks after my initial viewing, but watching it again recently, I realized once again that I love this movie.  It’s endlessly fascinating to me.


5. Prometheus


This is one of my controversial picks and the one that will have some people completely dismiss me.  I don’t know why everyone on the internet chose this film to nitpick incessantly.  I suppose it didn’t live up to their expectations, whatever those were.  I enjoyed the film very much, though.  It’s a science-fiction film with a brain.  Yes, with a brain.  Most people criticize the film because of the “stupid” things the characters do, but that says nothing about the themes of the film.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just easily pleased, but I thought director Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi was entertaining and thought-provoking.  Also, this is a sci-fi film that relied surprisingly heavily on practical effects.  In today’s movie world, that is something that should be appreciated.


6. The Dark Knight Rises


Another film people are now ripping to shreds because of plot holes online.  (Because the first two films of the trilogy were documentaries, right?)  I thought this was a pleasing and fitting conclusion to my favorite superhero series of all time.  I know the battle was between this and The Avengers, but I liked both.  I just enjoyed this one more.  And as with Prometheus, the amount of practical stunt work and visual effects deserves much more credit than it has received thus far.


7. Cloud Atlas


This film could have easily been a complete mess (and some would argue that it is), but somehow the filmmakers took a complex book and compiled an amazing film experience out of it.  It gets bonus points from for the sheer ambition of it, but more than that, the film grabbed me and made me care about what was happening. 


8. Wanderlust


This pick might leave people simply asking, “What is Wanderlust?”  Unfortunately, this hilarious comedy failed to find much success at the box office or on home video.  I think this movie is worthy of cult status and hopefully time will rectify that.  Maybe not, though.  It is a truly absurd film, and is certainly not for everyone.  But in a year filled with great comedies, I found this one to rise above the rest.  It features that rare self-aware comedy that never has to sink to the level of actors winking at the camera.  If you like comedies off the beaten path, check this out.


9. Looper


I’m a sucker for sci-fi and even though the paradoxes of time travel films tend to bother me, this film does it right.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific and his Bruce Willis impression is worth watching alone.  Thankfully, writer-director Rian Johnson makes this stylish, interesting film much more than a lengthy Willis impression.

10. Lawless


This is a film that I feel has been unfairly forgotten by year-end lists and awards.  This story of bootlegging in Virginia is an interesting period piece that features a great cast.  Definitely one of the most crowd-pleasing films on my list (I have yet to talk to someone who did not like it).  I really just think this film needs to find a larger audience because it is a very fun film.
Five close picks
The Cabin in the WoodsAny horror movie fan should check this horror-comedy out.  Don’t expect an actual horror movie, though.
Moonrise KingdomWes Anderson being Wes Anderson.  At this point you either like it or you don’t.
The Avengers A truly entertaining, fun time.  I just like Batman more.
Argo – Terrifically tense film that is getting plenty of love for Affleck’s directing and rightfully so.
SkyfallAn extremely satisfying Bond film that might even please old-school fans…might.
Honorable Mention
Flight, The Grey, 21 Jump Street, Ted, Anna Karenina, Room 237, and Silver Linings Playbook

1 comment:

  1. I'm intrigued now about Wanderlust. And no need to explain yourself- these are your top movie choices on your blog. Me myself, I would have added Les Mis to the mix. :)