Monday, December 31, 2012

The 10 Best Movies of 2012

What a year huh? Most years, I feel kind of weird about some of the movies hanging off the end of my top 10, feel that one or two at the bottom don’t completely belong there. This year? I wish I could have 15, 20 top movies. There are tons, and I mean TONS of movies that any other year would be on my top 10 (Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Chronicle, The Grey, Looper) and a bunch of others that would probably be in my top 5 (Seven Psychopaths, Django Unchained, Robot & Frank) that just, for one reason or another, aren’t in my top 10. So please, if something isn’t here, don’t assume I don’t think it’s good. Read my review to get my opinion. So, here they are, my top 10 Best Films of 2012:

With it’s cast and director, Lincoln was always going to be a good, or at least well executed, film, the main question being how good. But, instead of being a drippy Oscar Bait drama, Lincoln takes it completely in the opposite direction. With a darkly comic tone, tight political intrigue and brilliant performances all around, this movie surprised almost everyone. Congratulations Steven, for reminding us why you’re such a big deal.

This is one of those movies where I don’t think a lot of people who see it are going to like it. But if you do like it, you’ll probably love it, because it’s just such a weirdly interesting experience, alienating and compelling at the same time, like Cronenberg’s own Videodrome. If you’d told me a few years ago that Robert Pattinson would be in the best position, post-Twilight, of the cast, I’d have laughed. Funny how that works out sometimes?

Beasts is one of those movies that seems like an impossibility in todays movie industry. Environmental without being preachy, elements of magical realism that don’t overwhelm the plot, accurate representations of the poor that aren’t pitying or fetishizing, this kind of stuff never happens. With a performance from a 6 year old that will go down in movie legends, the best analogy I can make for Beasts is that it’s like a live-action Ghibli movie. And there can be no higher praise.

Oh shut up, I’m allowed one personal pick, aren’t I? And it’s still a brilliant, beautiful movie, everything it should be. Martin Freeman is a brilliant Bilbo, Richard Armitage a note-perfect Thorin, with gorgeous CGI and technical works, and subtle callbacks to the original trilogy, this is in an incredible return to Middle Earth. It’s been far too long.

Speaking of the kind of movies we never get anymore, it’s almost impossible to make a movie about a recent event in history without politics or mythmaking. But this movie, despite being about moviemaking, manages to do it, and still have time for a ridiculously tense final act. Good on Goodman and Arkin for doing so much to carry this movie, and good on Affleck’s continued penance for the previous decade of his career. I wonder if it’s possible to do this trick twice in a year…

Oh, it is. And this one is a much more recent and much more public event, so it’s even more of a miracle. Brilliantly directed and disturbingly dark, with underlying themes of what happens when you hunt monsters and a revelatory performance by Jessica Chastain, this is one of the truly great films on the War on Terror, of which there have been far too few.

One of these things is not like the others… Oh well, great is great. The horror genre is one of the most tiresomely predictable genres out there, but here comes Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard to remind us, it doesn’t need to be that way. If you haven’t seen it, there’s no excuse now, but I’m still not going to tell you what happens. Seriously, this movie is brilliant, so go see it now.

The day Paul Thomas Anderson makes a bad movie is the day I completely despair. Don’t go in expecting a Scientology takedown movie, that’s not what it is. Go in expecting the story of a despicable man, and his tragic friendship with a man trapped in the religion he created, with a insane performance from Joaquin Phoenix my best actor of the year.

In a year of such big films, with big stories and big characters and big action sequences, it seems weird to give such a high spot to such a small movie. But while it’s small and quiet, it’s also brilliant, softly moving and incredibly acted. Wes Anderson has made good movies before, but this is the one that, to me, brought it all together, and will be the movie for him to beat for the rest of his career.

The fact that this movie got made at all, is a surprise. That it got made not as a low budget indie movie, but as a big blockbuster with an all star cast and top of the line special effects, is incredible. But the fact that it works, works brilliantly, beautifully and perfectly, is just plain a miracle. A hauntingly beautiful score, incredible CGI and makeup, directors and actors putting in career best works, and the kind of editing that can and will be taught in film school for years to come, this is easily the best film of the year. And I’m sure, when we’ve all had time to adjust to it, it will eventually stand as one of the best films ever made.


  1. Was "Looper" close to make your top ten?

    1. Fairly, but farther than you'd think. If I had an 11th spot, it'd probably be Django Unchained or Seven Psychopaths. Looper would probably make it into the top 15 or 16.