|Posted on January 8, 2013 at 5:55 AM|
Part Two of this whole look back at 2012 this week, we look at a few of my favorites.
Best Movie you Forget Came Out This Year:
There's a handful here, but two that come to mind is Chronicle and Mission Impossible 4, two really solid action movies. Chronicle actually made found footage likable as a style, and Mission Impossible 4 is a fun action movie that finally realized it shouldn't take itself overly seriously. It's actually quite funny and a great live-action debut for Brad Bird. I'd probably throw The Grey in there as well. Of course, those are good movies, you probably have completely forgot about mediocre ones like Savages, Wrath of he Titans and The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Favorite: Mission Impossible 4. Just a fun, surprisingly funny action flick with some amazing stunts. The fact it doesn't try to take itself too seriously is what made it work, I think. Nobody is putting this on any year-end lists, which I find strange.
Runner up: Chronicle. Hyped up, and actually lives up to it pretty well with some incredibly inventive moments. I would also like to give a quick nod to Lawless. Not a great movie, but one worth seeing as well if only because nobody really saw it or wrote about it.
Movie Better than you Expect it to Be
Favorite: Dredd 3D. Nobody expected much, but it got the job done and nailed the comic. I do hope they make another, but it's unlikely.
Runner up: Premium Rush. An exhilarating and original thriller. It ends up falling apart towards its end, but it was still far better than you think a movie about bike messengers would be. Also, again, 21 JumpStreet. Better and smarter than what you'd expect a rehash of a franchise to be.
Movie Not as Bad as People Say
Favorite: The Amazing Spider-Man. Bad script aside, the handling of action here is the best I've seen out of anything Spider-Man. The movie needs to be fixed, but I found it entertaining at least.
Runner Up: Prometheus. A problematic movie, but not as bad as some have made it out to be. True, it doesn't live up to its trailer at all, but it still had me for the most part. Now, let's get that Director's Cut out, please. No reason those scenes should have been cut.
Best Movie That Made Me Wonder Why I'm Watching It
Favorite: Cosmopolis. A very strange movie, but it's Cronenberg so that's true to form. It's made for his fans, though, but when Edward decides to get a proctology exam while conducing a meeting in the back of a limo, it really took me out of it.
Runner Up: Beyond the Black Rainbow. A movie made back in 2010 but not released until this past year, this one is made for those that love experimental, weird movies (think Pi or Lynch). It's intentionally made to feel early 80s, so enjoy it. I'm still not sure if I did or not. Another that comes to mind is Holy Motors, which is weird but sort of....I don't know. I think it's weird for sake of being weird and The Paperboy is a movie so all over the place I couldn't make Heads or Tails on it.
Most Heavy Handed/On the Nose Movie
Now let me point out that neither of these are bad. This isn't a "bad" category, but there's certainly some way-too-obvious directness that was just way too obvious.
Favorite: Life of Pi. A really good movie, but it literally tells you "I'm going to make you believe in God" throughout the entire thing and doesn't shut up about it. Ok, let's get to it, then you wait and wait all while you still have that phrase spouted to you.
Runner Up: Killing Them Softly. A movie I enjoyed quite a bit, actually, despite it being a bit polarizing for some. I just love a good gangster/mob movie. This one, though, tries to parallels the US finaincial crisis with organized crime, and it's so direct that it nearly takes away from the entire experience. Every other scene has voiceover or a TV in the background or a radio playing with politicians and pundits on it talking about the economy. Once or twice would be fine, but every other scene? Come on.
James Bond? Sure, that's one. Iron Man? Kind of a given. Django and Dr. Shultz? Yeah, dark heroes but heroes nonetheless. But I'm giving it to the one that stole the show: The Incredible Hulk. In a movie full of great heroes, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk overshadowed them all. And he really didn't even do that much. He did show that the Hulk franchise must be continued with him in the lead.
Talk about a hard one, there were a ton of awesome villains in movies this year. Though both Tom Hiddleston and Javier Bardem were amazing in their respective movies, Leonardo Di Caprio in Django Unchained just killed it. He balances charisma with ignorance, and that's tough to pull off. It's his best role in years and shows how good Tarantino is at spotting the right actor for the right role.
Best Foreign Films
When it comes to non-English filmmakers, it really comes down to three for me: The Intouchables, a melodrama with a lot of heart and comedy, and master Michael Haneke's Amour, which is completely the opposite. Then you have Oslo again, a quiet unassuming character study. Now we could also throw in an action flick here too: The Raid Redemption is just a brutal martial arts film. Not for everyone but I liked it.
Favoroite: Oslo, August 31st. The only foreign movie that really made an impression with me this year. Then again, I haven't seen everything in the world, have I?
Runner up: The Intouchables. I know, most would expect Amour or Rust and Bone, Rust and Bone actually a movie I didn't like all that much, but the rather sweet and safe Intouchables show you can have a rather boilerplate film as long as it tells its story well.
Best Animated Films
Many are going to put down Paranorman and Wreck It Ralph, I have a feeling, but for me it was Rise of the Guardians and Frankenweenie. Then again, all four of those are damn good and each for different reasons. Strangely enough, Brave was just ok. The more I think back on Pixar's latest, the less thrilled I am about it.
Favorite: Frankenweenie. Tim Burton's best movie in years. Re-watching it a second time, I pretty much had to give it up to the thing - it's great. And Sparky is just a loveable canine character.
Runner up: Rise of the Guardians. Certainly one of the most original animated films in a while. I don't know if they'll franchise this thing, but it is a good foundation with amazing visuals and even more amazing voice performances.
Also, if it counts, didn't From Up on Poppy Hill come out this year? I know it techincally came out in 2011. Well, it was good too, so I just wanted to acknowledge it.
A hell of a year for action movies, starting early with The Grey and Mission Impossible 4 and ending strong with the likes of Skyfall. Then throw in the likes of The Avengers, The Hobbit, Judge Dredd...Choosing one is damn near impossible and I wouldn't know where to begin. But I'm going to:
Favorite: Skyfall. Just perfectly paced and a great balance of gritty action and fun, Bond-style action all the same. It uses practical effects and stunts nicely, gorgeously shot and full of memorable characters and moments.
Runner up: The Avengers. Pure fun. It's what comic book movies should be as we have great scope yet somehow have great, smaller character stories along the way.
There weren't a ton of big dramas this year. At least none that really made big impression with me to the extent I was with something like The Social Network of The King's Speech or even The Artist. So here's a couple of safe ones that did.
Favorite: Beasts of the Southern Wild. A small story, but with a lot of emotion coursing through it. Also the best soundtrack of the year, in my mind. Gives me goosebumps.
Runner Up: Take This Waltz. A bit forgotten about over the course of the past year, but Sarah Polley is making a name for herself in these great, intimate little relationship dramas.
Favorite: Argo. Affleck is three for three, folks. Just wanted to point that out that, when it's all said and done, he could go down as one of the best American directors of the past decade, if not further. Even more is that each film has been better than the last.
Runner Up: Zero Dark Thirty. Like Argo, this movie manages to be suspenseful by putting everything up against a clock. There isn't a ton of action here, just a lot of characters, a lot of rooms, a lot of paperwork and a lot of phonecalls that are all blended nicely with a very sharp script. It works wonderfully, culminating in a breathtaking climax at the end.
There's only two I would even consider this year as good horror movies. They're pretty strong, which helps, but overall the horror genre was pretty weak. Look to small, indie horror like V/H/S or something like The Citadel and Sleep Tight if you want a little bit of originality and more scares imported from overseas. Sinister was a solid little horror flick as well, despite it being a tad polarizing for the fans out there, but overall it was a lackluster year for horror fans.
Favorite: The Cabin in the Woods. My deconstructing the horror genre, it ended up being one of the best ones. It's a lot of fun and a movie really made for horror fans by horror fans.
Runner up: V/H/S. Brings back anthology movies with a vengeance. It's got some issues (the bookending story feels…weird) but the individual segments are wildly inventive and original.
Best Science Fiction
It's a no-contest here. Looper just did sci-fi right. Intelligent, interesting, it makes you think on top of being an interesting dissection of a character. The only other actual "sci-fi" film was really Prometheus, and though it had issues it managed to be creative and interesting. I would wait for the director's cut, though, even though Ridley Scott says it's never coming. It needs to, the deleted scenes are crucial in my book. I still haven't yet figured out if Cloud Atlas counts as the genre, but then again I'm not sure what Cloud Atlas could be categorized as (other than "great" to me).
Favorite: Looper. There's at least one really good if not great sci-fi movie a year, and this one is it for 2012.
Runner Up: Safety Not Guaranteed. As un-sci fit as sci-fit can get, if that makes any sense. Smaller sci-fi darling Robot and Frank I would put in the same level.
Comedy was really all over the place. You had some pretty conventional ones, ala This is 40 or Ted, then you had the odd and strange, such as Butter and Casa de mi Padre. All of which I enjoyed. But overall, it wasn't a "great" year. "Underwhelming" might be the right term for it. Then you had the surprising ones, and they're below:
Favorite: Silver Linings Playbook. A drama/comedy, but far more funny than you expect it to be. Great performances, great script.
Runner Up: 21 JumpStreet. Both better than you expect and wickedly funny. It never oversteps its bounds and plays well in the plot it sets itself up with.
Up next: Best acting, cinematography, soundtrack, script and directing...