Movies of 2012…a review of the favorites

2012 is a good year for films. Believe it or not. There’s been a little something for everyone.

And for me, these were the stand-outs. Below is a semi-top-ten list, cheating a bit with number 8. I am on the fence about top lists, especially in a year like this because of so many good choices and, honestly, I might not feel this way forever. But for now, here goes!

10. Beasts of the Southern Wild – A wonderful fairytale-like movie with a fierce heart, this was a true experience of unexpected catharsis, and excellent photography that never feels forced. Fairytale elements felt as natural as the rain.

9. The Intouchables – A steadily entertaining and uplifting movie, in the vein of In America. This was a perfect, cozy sort of film that’s fun to watch and be absorbed in for a quick two hours.

8.1. The Raid: Redemption – Wall-to-wall action with stunts galore. Not for everyone, but fulfills in every way for fans of martial arts movies. I caught this at SXSW in a sold out crowd — the best way to watch ANY movie, home systems be damned!

8. Cabin in the Woods – I’m a fan of meta-movies, Joss Whedon, and Bradley Whitford. The first time I saw this was at SXSW sitting beside my brother on opening night, with a Q & A afterword. Now, the Q & A experience definitely bumps up a filmgoing experience, and a sold-out crowd/premiere does as well, but upon rewatch the film holds up, and I’m glad I got to share the premiere experience with my brother.

7.1 Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson is back and going strong. Every shot well-composed, which we knew would happen, but the storytelling is also greatly fun and enjoyable throughout. Kudos!

7. Looper – Great experience in a twisty, expertly made film revolving around time travel, discovering your own destiny, and then trying to dodge fate just a little bit. Expert storytelling from Rian Johnson.

6. Django Unchained – Tarantino strikes again. While I feel like there could’ve been some minutes clipped from the closing act of this movie, there is a great joy in listening to the rhythms of Tarantino-speak, and Leonardo DiCaprio gives what’s perhaps his most impressive performance in a good while.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Charming and touching, yet also sad and nostalgic. I’m sure this movie will have a personal meaning for many viewers, for me it brought back a few memories of high school, navigating adolescence in moments good and bad, with friends and mere acquaintances. This may not win a lot of awards, for whatever reason, but in my opinion this was a very great film.

4. Zero Dark ThirtyA well-crafted film, handled with a precise style of objective storytelling by Kathryn Bigelow. I was intrigued from the opening moments of darkness all the way through the final 45 minutes. Also, Jessica Chastain is getting a lot of praise, but Jason Clarke deserves all the attention he can handle. Between this and Lawless, that dude is going places.

3. Cloud Atlas – Fascinating. Truly wonderful. This is an exploration at how collaboration can bring an almost impossible film project to life. Six stories, intertwined thematically, and by characters, music, locations, sound, visual transitions…intricate and meticulous, and above all each story holds an entertaining, passionate, dramatic value.

2. Lincoln – Remarkable study of not only a man but a process, a time period, and a government system that is as strong as the peoples’ ideas. There’s a clear dramatic question, and all we’re required to do is watch as the characters pull in votes, one by one. I saw a reviewer call it a “procedural,” which feels accurate. Also, the entire cast is excellent, and surprising: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones (very Oscar Worthy), John Hawkes, James Spader (hilarious)…the list goes on.

1. Argo – Buildup is huge, and the tension of the last half-hour is extremely palpable. Ben Affleck keeps it all together quite amazingly, and I’m now on board the Ben Affleck as director train. This is the film I most want to watch again out of the past year, and has stuck with me as an example of the best film of the year.

These movies also impressed me as an audience member, and are worth mentioning: The Master, Holy Motors (what happened?), The Avengers, The Grey, Silver Linings Playbook, Lawless, Do-Deca Pentathlon, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

And these I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t yet seen. Les Miserables, The Sessions, Anna Karenina, and Amour.

Hope you enjoyed your year at the movies!

 

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3 comments on “Movies of 2012…a review of the favorites

  1. fallingshortoftheabsolutetruth says:

    Very cool. I wish I had the time/money to see the majority of these movies, especially Lincoln and Lawless. I appreciate that you say Cabin in the Woods is “not everyone’s cup of tea.” So many people (both friends and online reviewers) gushed over this movie and I was just…underwhelmed. Though I do love me some Bradley Whitford, and he was the best part of the movie, for me.

    I’m also surprised you loved The Grey so much. I thought it was silly, predictable and I liked it better back in the 90s when it was called The Edge. Also, the fact that Liam Neeson got in the shower with the Alpha Wolf (ask me about that sometime) just bothered me. It was the crux of the advertising campaign and it was nothing. Though, I suppose, I shouldn’t be surprised by by marketing.

    I have despised marketing campaigns since The Village was sold as a the horror film it was never meant to be. Anyway…

    No mention of The Dark Knight Rises? This is the one I’m truly curious to hear your opinion about, and not for the reason you might be thinking. I’m just going to come out and say it: Christopher Nolan fumbled big time with this movie.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was very entertaining the first time around, and it definitely has some truly incredible moments. The first fight between Batman and Bane, for example (no score, just the sound of these two pounding on each other), but on repeat viewing I found the plot-holes too big to ignore (even in a movie about a man who dresses like a bat to fight crime).

    And then there’s the “Robin” revelation at the end. It felt tacked on, as if Nolan was caving in to pressure from the studio. It felt Spider-Man 3ish, if you will allow me to coin a phrase (well, will you?).

    But that’s just my humble opinion, and only part of it. Jesus, I am opinionated. I’m really interested to hear what you thought of it. OK, I’m done taking up way too much space in your comment section.

    • joepezzula says:

      Hey man, thanks for commenting.
      I’m one of the “gushers” for Cabin in the Woods, but perhaps you can attribute that to the fact that I saw it at SXSW with the cast and filmmakers present, very exciting atmosphere.
      The Grey has stuck with me since I saw it. It’s an above-average thriller, an examination of power struggles in a powerless situation, and the handling of the wolves through sounds rather than FX for the majority of the film was stellar.
      TDKR I feel the same. First viewing was great because of the buildup and whatnot, but seeing it again brought forth all the wrong things about it. The first fight is still great and daring to do without a score, but I disagree with you about the “Robin” revelation. Yes it felt tacked on, but like a lot of those smaller elements in the movie, I feel like their all little winks and nods to the audience from Nolan. He’d said for a long time that he wouldn’t make a Batman movie with Robin in it. The “revelation” at the end isn’t that John Blake is Robin in the classic sense we know the character, but that he is the embodiment of the values that “Robin” holds within the universe without calling himself Robin. If the movie extended into the following year, JGL wouldn’t dress as Robin, probably wouldn’t call himself Robin at all, more likely Nightwing. It’s probably getting over-analytical to guess why, but I find it hard to believe it was the studio insisting Nolan put the name Robin in the movie without the costume or anything else recognizable about the character in there.
      Cheers on movie chatter, it’s been a great year all around, for good movies, bad movies, and discussions all around.

      • fallingshortoftheabsolutetruth says:

        It’s good to see we’re in such agreement about so much. Ha. I forgot, I did see Jeff, Who Lives at Home and I thought it was just perfect. And yes, Perks of Being a Wallflower was a fantastically nostalgic bit of celluloid (though that’s not accurate, is it? Everything is digital now-a-days), especially having read the book years ago.

        Do you have any more films (short or otherwise) in any stage of production, or are you focusing on comics for now?

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