By RJ the Movie Critic
Okay folks, here’s my top ten films of 2012! I wish I had more space and more time to have a top 20, but hey! Enough of my yappin! Let’s boogie:
BONUS #11: CLOUD ATLAS
I feel bad about many movies that didn’t make my top ten that deserved to, but none makes me feel worse than CLOUD ATLAS. I honestly have almost no problems with it. The plot, which deals with the undying bonds that its characters have with each other through many lifetimes is told in a manner which is, at varying times, epic, quiet, action packed, and even funny. The cast is amazing, especially when you consider that most of them played no less than six different parts each! every actor gives his and her all here and they are just as willing to go out on a limb as the directing team of the Wachowski’s (the makes of THE MATRIX) and Tom Tykwer (The man behind the incredible RUN LOLA RUN). It’s another movie that defenitley rewards the filmgoer with very smart and entertaining stuff on the screen!
10. THE GREY
So many people I talk to about movies get very angry when THE GREY comes up. They don’t like how it was sold to them as an action movie, but when they went to see it...it was “boring”. Well, don’t bring that s&*t to me man! To me, THE GREY is the ultimate guys movie for coming to terms with your own mortality. At face value, THE GREY is about a group of oil pipeline workers who must fight for survival after the plane that they are flying back home to family and friends on crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, but to me it says at nearly every turn “your going to wins some and lose some in life, but ultimately we all have to face the fact we are mortal”. I will concede that the commercials for the film pulled a slight bait & switch by showing Liam Neeson wrapping broken glass around his knuckles in a pre-wolf fight ceremony, but it’s that image that made me excited to see it and when the movie showed itself to be more than mere “cool” images, I respected it even more! THE GREY respects the movie goer quite a bit by never spoon feeding them the plot, and for a big hollywood release, that is kind of a rare thing that should be done more often.
An amazing display of how to do a summer action picture right, Joss Whedon makes mytop ten a second time (He did help write CABIN IN THE WOODS) because of his amazing job of bringing AVENGERS to the big screen. I love an action movie that builds up to a big finale by layering the action to the point where a million things are happening at once. DARK KNIGHT RISES did that well, but AVENGERS did it best this year, and really, nothing more needs to be said about it...except maybe...more Hulk next time!
8. WEST OF MEMPHIS
If you have had HBO for a while and your a fan of documentaries, you may have come across a film called PARADISE LOST. It’s a documentary about a group of young men convicted of murdering three little boys in 1993. The evidence that put two of the young men in prison for life and another on death row could be called “shaky” at best and almost immediately after they were convicted, calls came from around the world for a re-examination of the evidence. WEST OF MEMPHIS documents a grass roots effort that snowballed into a massive call for justice. Along the way new evidence is introduced that not only casts serious doubt on the prosecution’s case against the three convicted murderers, but shines a light on a new suspect that the prosecution never carefully considered. It’s an amazing film that, although it revolves around a horrific murder case, really shows the good that people (both famous and not so famous) are capable of when they really put their hearts and minds to.
Okay, this is the “art picture” that is making my top ten, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, it is something that many of us may face as we get older. AMOUR is the story of a couple in their 80’s, Georges and his wife Anne, who’s lives change drastically when Anne suffers a severe medical condition and slowly begins to physically deteriorate. Watching Georges confront both the physical and mental challenges of caring for his elderly spouse’s as she continues to slowly slip away from him is at times sad, at times scary, and at times beautiful. It may be one of the harder movies to find around town this year, but if you take a chance and search it out, I can’t say you’ll enjoy it (it’s not really that kind of movie), but you will be very glad you saw it.
6. CABIN IN THE WOODS
If I could rank movies as my inner child would prefer, then CABIN IN THE WOODS would be my number one movie of the year, but as a real, honest to goodness film critic (I promise), I don’t think placing sixth is too bad either! No movie genre is more maligned for good reason than the horror genre. People do stupid things in horror films for no good reason...or do they? CABIN breaks down horror movie cliches in grand fashion, and it has great fun doing it!
5. LIFE OF PI
Kind of a sleeper this year, LIFE OF PI, as directed by the incredible Ang Lee (THE ICE STORM, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON) is a feast for the eyes and the mind. It’s one of the few movies that really deserves to be seen in 3D to be fully enjoyed. For a movie that takes place mostly on an ocean, with just a boat, a boy and a tiger to focus on, Lee weaves a story that is heartbreaking, but also wholesome. See it if you can at the theater, and if you miss it, find a friend with a 3D TVTV and watch it at his house!
While writing this top ten piece, MALLRATS just happened to pop up on Comedy Central, and who should show up on screen but Ben Affleck playing a sleazy merchant. My, how far he’s come! Sure, he earned an Oscar in his twenties for co-writing GOOD WILL HUNTING, and the other two features that he directed have garnered praise from colleagues and critics, but ARGO is a masterwork, and amazing achievement. Affleck manages to take a story that seems too far out to be true, and not only tells it honestly and suspensefully, but he also manages to inject healthy doses of humor into it as well (with much help from the amazing duo of John Goodman and Alan Arkin, who should get their own film together). You’ll be saying “ARGO &*^% yourself!” for days after seeing it!
Tackling the story of Americas greatest president has got to be a daunting task, but Steven Spielberg was certainly up to the challenge. It’s no big secret that I was not a big fan of his last film, WARHORSE; I found it to be beautifully shot, evoking the classic style of the great directors of the 40’s and 50’s, but the story was lacking. With LINCOLN, Spielberg keeps a very stylized look to the film, again evoking that old Hollywood look, but he weaves a much more engaging story than he did with WARHORSE. I was very impressed at how he portrayed the complexity of the political battle going on amongst the Democrats and Republicans over slavery, while juggling the larger story of the civil war without leaving the audience feeling. And even while deftly telling these two stories, Spielberg (with major help from Daniel Day Lewis, who gives an Oscar worthy performance here as Lincoln) finds ways to showcase the many personal aspects of Lincoln that made him so beloved. I admit, I’m still hoping for one more great Spielberg action / adventure film, but as long as he’s making movies this good, I can’t complain at all.
2. DJANGO UNCHAINED
Quentin Tarantino, who, last time he made a film, decided on a revisionist, fictional retelling of the assassination of Adolph Hitler in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, returns to cinemas in 2012 with a western that, while I’m sure some will have problems with, I found to be more entertaining than the adventures of Lt. Aldo Raine and his band of Nazi scalping brothers. DJANGO is a dazzling, violent, visceral film set in the American south years before the civil war. Just because it’s a western, don’t go in expecting it to be like any western you’ve seen before. It’s a western filtered through the most astute student of all film genres that the art form has ever seen, and Tarantino shows that he is most certainly at the top of his game with DJANGO.
1. ZERO DARK THIRTY
Without a doubt, ZERO DARK THIRTY is the powerhouse film of 2012. Packed with amazing performances, especially that of Jessica Chastain, who plays a CIA agent on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It is very much the flip side of LINCOLN'S high moral platitudes. Keeping America safe isn’t always pretty, but ZERO DARK THIRTY shows us that the men and women who tirelessly work behind the scenes keeping us safe are just as much heroes as the men that physically handled the raid on Bin Laden.
There ya have it! I hope that you guys and gals have seen a few of these and I would love it even more if any of you cared enough about any of them to chat a bit about them! I am always on the twitter at @RJ_TMC or shoot me a mail with your top tens on it to firstname.lastname@example.org or throw your list in the comments section here.
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