Yes, it is the beginning of the year and with the studios dumping the left-overs and the unassorted trash into theaters I figured it would be best to get-out my final tally for the recently departed 2012 movie season. Since this was such a great year for me movie-wise, at least, I figured a listing of 20 would be much more fitting than a usual ten spot. From psychopaths to wallflowers, Honest Abe to Bruce Wayne, Killing Softly to Silver-linings, it was such a diverse year for all types and characters. So without further ado lets start the list off with a bang shall we?
In Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to his brillant In Bruges, he reunites with Colin Farrell to tell a bizarre, unendingly twisting tale of screenwriting, revenge, shitzus. Add a little Christopher Walken to the mix and you have the makings of dark humor gold. The laughs don’t always come free and easy like McDonagh’s previous effort, but nonetheless the best comedic ensamble of the year, including Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, gives it their all. Everything is thrown at the audience some of it sticks some of it not so much, it took major risks that all mostly paid-off to hilarious effect in the end.
I have stated my gripes with this one, really only over one scene, but this one does work for a really long time. It doesn’t quite work all the way, but nonetheless the performances from Lawrence and De Niro more than make up for it. The family dynamics are well-played out and fully realized, and the overall issue of mental health mostly feels like it has the proper gravity to it. Although, Bradley Cooper isn’t on the same level of performance as his co-star he does a fine enough job of selling the unstable Patrick. Although it falters towards the end, the strength of the interactions of Cooper, De Niro and Lawrence overrides the end stumbles.
Without a doubt the best Home-Alone sequel ever! Alright, ok, all kidding aside it is our favorite spy in an action flick with more going-on than usual under the hood. Daniel Craig gives the second best performance of Bond in the franchise, and if you have to ask who’s number one, please, leave right now. Javier Bardem gets under the skin of both Bond and the audience as Silva unleashes his payback to MI6. Judi Dench finally gets to stretch her range as M. All in all definitely one of the better outings for the much maligned super spy. Once again we all look forward to when James Bond Will Return.
Heart wrenching and tense, this documentary chronicles the efforts of an entire populace under siege by the AIDs epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s. Carefully not revealing who lives and dies as the sickness spreads, the talking heads evoke a lot of emotion retelling their stories of survival. Standing as both a testament to those who struggled and survived and as a monument to those who died, the film does what any social issue documentary should do: put a face on the human condition.
This indie-sleeper has grown in following since it’s release, and it is easy to see why. All the characters are relatable and true to life, almost to the point that you feel you went to this quirky little High School. Dealing with some heavy material, especially towards the end, this heart-felt dramady wins you over early and often. With top-notch performances from Lerman, Watson and particularly Miller. It’ll make you nostalgic for days long past, but also glad that the time spent in High School is in books.
Argo, yourself Ben Affleck, as his tenure as a director has yielded three consecutively good works. Argo couldn’t have had a better time to come to theaters, as middle eastern tensions rose to tragic results in Benghazi, Libya. One of the many outbursts of a firestorm of anti-American portests all around the region. Argo chronicles one of the CIA’s more elaborate operations in rescuing diplomatic workers in the wake of the Iranian revolution in 1979. Using a B-movie script and some Hollywood friends Tony Mendez, Affleck, must convince the revolutionary office and soldiers that the stranded diplomatic workers are his film crew. Displaying great command of building tension and suspense Argo doesn’t only show conflict between nations. Canadian diplomats were the key to the survival of the workers, the operation helped bring the two nations America and Canada closer as allies in an ever changing and volatile world.
“Wanted: Someone to time-travel with, Safety not Guaranteed” is the headline in the classifieds that sets beat-writer Aubrey Plaza’s Darius and company to head on the outskirts of Seattle to find the author. In an effort to do a humor piece on the subject. What follows is a journey of the impossible, there is no such thing as time-travel, what could this man be up to? Kenneth, played to great effect by Mark Duplass, is that man, clearly an unlikely choice to be the person that discovers time-travel, a grocery store stacker in the middle of nowhere. However, something about the man’s determination gets to Darius, she doesn’t really think he can travel through time, but maybe there is something to the impossible after-all.
I can hear the naysayers now, too many “plotholes”, too little Batman, too hard to understand Bane. Rest assured there are definitely problems with Christopher Nolan’s finale to his groundbreaking Dark Knight Trilogy. However, one just has to look at the forest in the trees, Nolan had crafted a city on the verge of complete anarchy in his previous acclaimed ‘The Dark Knight’. Here he presents the tipping point of Gotham falling completely into chaos. Also in turmoil is Christian Bales’s Bruce Wayne, left a shell of his former self and trying to find his way back into the suit. As the toll of being the caped crusader weighs on him he also must find a way to move-on from the Darkness haunting his life. The specter of a Heath Ledger loomed large it seems in the movie-going audience’s minds, and certainly Bane isn’t a substitute for the maniacal clown prince of crime. So it’s no ‘The Dark Knight’, it’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ take for what it is, as a proper bleak, dark, inspiring conclusion to the Dark Knight saga.
I got into this a lot more than I thought I would, seeing all the negative press that it had gotten upon its release and having Pitt’s worst opening weekend ticket sales in decades. From the title sequence I was hooked into this world of crooks and criminals, double-dealings and beatings. Brutal and beautiful at the same time, this crime-drama is just expertly paced and shot. With Brad Pitt at his most vicious in a decade. Is it a metaphor for how the financial collapse occurred or is it one for how it was handled? Who knows, in a world this corrupt and inept, there is no accountability for the perpetrators, that would all be left for the numerous victims in the wake.
I’m in shock this didn’t make the top ten, it just speaks to the quality of films to come. I was as enamored with the film as I was going into it (A rare thing nowadays). Steven Spielberg puts out his best effort in years to tell the story of the last great struggle of the 16th President. The dialoge is pointed and forceful, cinematography simple and steady, and performances a plenty. With Daniel Day-Lewis all but a lock to win his third best actor statue come February. His Lincoln comes through clear as a bell through the celluloid and the ages.
Early next month the cream-of-crop, the top shelf stuff, the ten best movies of 2012.